Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Association

Roundup: Josh Koskoff & Alex Jones, Fashionably Westport, Sunflower Bean …

For an hour and a half yesterday, Josh Koskoff kept a packed Westport Library crowd rapt.

The Staples High School graduate — and lead attorney in the recent groundbreaking Alex Jones defamation lawsuit — took the Trefz Forum audience through the entire case.

Josh Koskoff, at the Westport Library. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston — sponsors of the very informative talk — recorded the event. Click below to learn all about “The Case Against Alex Jones.”

Fashionably Westport is back!

The raised runway event– sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association, and held in the Westport Library’s Trefz forum — has 2 key elements.

It showcases downtown Westport’s fashion and beauty merchants, while benefitting Homes with Hope.

Professional stylist Amy Guzzi returns as runway director. The date is Saturday, March 4.

But Fashionably Westport is also a 2-day event, with in-store activities and promotions.

VIP tickets include light bites, a DJ and gifts. Click here for all tickets.

And hey: Do you want to model? Click here for details.

For more information, including sponsorship opportunities, click here or email Jill Dunn: events@westportdowntown.com.

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Speaking of the Library:

First they announced that the Smithereens and Marshall Crenshaw would headline the Friday night (March 31) show at VersoFest 2023.

Now comes news of the opening act, on Thursday, March 30: Sunflower Bean.

The Brooklyn-based band kicks off the 4-day festival at the state-of-the-art Verso Studios’ Trefz Forum. Hysterica does the DJ honors.

Sunflower Bean singer-songwriter Julia Cumming returns to her home base of Fairfield County, hot off the band’s headlining presence at South by Southwest 2023.

The band’s “Headful of Sugar” was named #41 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Albums of 2022.”

Sunflower Bean formed in 2013. The next year, Jon Pareles of The New York Times described their sound as “… what might have happened if psychedelia had emerged after punk and the Police rather than before.”

The band has toured extensively with artists like Beck, Cage the Elephant, Interpol, Courtney Barnett, The Pixies, The Kills, DIIV, Courtney Barnett and Wolf Alice.

Tickets for the show are $25; click here.

Sunflower Bean

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A new mixed-use development — with 136 apartments, more than 6,800 square feet of retail space, and a pool, dog run  and walking trails — has been okayed for the Westport border.

“Nancy on Norwalk” reports today that the Norwalk Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved plans for the proposal on Renzulli Road. It currently runs from Kings Highway South in Westport — between Rivard Crescent and Strathmore Lane — to Westport Avenue (Route 1) in Norwalk. Kings Highway South marks the Westport/Norwalk border.

Renzulli Road begins on the Westport/Norwalk border.

Renzulli Road would now become a cul-de-sac, with no outlet onto Westport Avenue.

The principal engineer for the project promises a “significant amount of landscaping” including trees around parking areas and the back property as a buffer with neighbors, and plantings throughout. The site will also include feature an improved storm water management system.

The site now houses a dry cleaner, and a vacant building that was once a liquor store.

The next step: approval from the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Westport Avenue is a state road. (Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

A rendering from Bruce Beinfield Architecture of the proposed Renzulli Road apartment and retail complex.

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Staples High School is justly proud of its Players theater troupe and Orphenians, the elite a cappella singing group. Both have been around since the 1950s.

But Soundings — the award-winning literary magazine — is a decade older.

Founded in 1947, it’s now an annual print and digital magazine showcasing student submissions ranging from prose, poetry and short stories to 2D, 3D and digital art.

But a few years ago, Board of Education funding was cut. Soundings now relies on a GoFundMe appeal. The goal is just $1,000 — but ever dollar helps. Click here for more information, and to contribute.

(Need more incentive? Click here to browse the archives.)

Meanwhile, Soundings seeks submissions from students. This year’s theme: “The world is your playground.”

Short stories, essays, visual media and more (and questions) can be sent to Soundings@students.westportps.org. To be eligible for a cash prize, include a $5 submission fee (not mandatory).

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Speaking of literature: Staples High School graduate Bruce Lawder reads his poetry at Westport Book Shop (February 2, 6 p.m.).

After graduating from Dartmouth College, and earning a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Zürich, where he also taught, Lawder now lives in Europe.

Space is limited. RSVP:  bookshop@westportbooksaleventures.org; 203-341-5141.

Bruce Lawder

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Speaking of reading: The Westport Library is sponsoring a winter program for kids.

It’s a way to decorate the Children’s Library with colorful mittens. Here are instructions for young readers (or their parents)

  • Log into READsquared and create an account. Then start logging your reading.
  • Keep track of reading progress in the READsquared program.
  • For every 50 minutes read, you can decorate a mitten for display in the Library.
  • When you’ve read 250 minutes, you’re halfway to the end. You’ll get a coupon for a free shake at Shake Shack.
  • When you’ve read 500 minutes: congrats! Go to the Library to choose a free book to keep.
  • Winter Reading ends March 4 — or when you’ve read 500 minutes.

Click here for details.

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Applications are now being accepted for an affordable 2-bedroom rental at 52 Church Lane.

The 822-square-foot unit must be rented to families whose annual income is equal to or less than 80% of the state median income (family of 1, $63,056; of 2, $72,064; of 3 $81,072; of 4, $90,080). The rental rate is $1,622 a month, plus utilities.

Email info@davidadamrealty.com, or wrote BW Church East, c/o David Adam Realty, PO Box 5040 Westport, CT 06881 to request an application.

52 Church Lane

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MoCA Westport’s “Cocktails and Conservation” series continues next Thursday (January 26, 6 p.m.).

This extra-special event includes a collaboration between several Westport-based female influencers, in the areas of art, fashion and design.

“The Intersection of Art, Fashion, and Lifestyle” conversation will be led by Sade Strehlke, editor of POPSUGAR of Westport.

Panelists include style maven and WEST owner Kitt Shapiro; noted photographer Jane Beiles; content creator and founder of Designport Jen Berniker, and social “artrepreneur” and founder of Invest in Her Art Diana Mashia.

Guests who arrive early can explore the Paul Camacho and annual high school exhibitions, and buy a drink or cocktail from the new bar service, The Cup Bearer.

Advance registration requested; click here.

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Pamela Kesselman spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene at Compo Beach.

“You must always keep your guard up,” she warns.

(Photo/Pamela Kesselman)

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And finally … if you’ve never heard of Sunflower Bean, the band that kicks off this year’s Verso Fest on March 30 (story above), click below.

You won’t be alone. It’s already got over 3.7 million views.

(After you’ve finished listening to Sunflower Bean — and buying tickets to VersoFest 2023 — there’s one thing left. Please click here to support “06880,” Without us, you’d never know about stuff like this. Thank you!)

More Retailers, Restaurants Join Holiday Stroll

Every day, the Holiday Stroll adds more stores and restaurants.

From Main Street, Church Lane and the Post Road to the west bank across the river, downtown will rock with Santa Claus, carolers, kids activities, shopping and restaurant deals, and free cocoa and nibbles.

The December 3 event (5 to 7 p.m.) is co-sponsored by “06880” and the Westport Downtown Association.

Among the recent additions: Greens Farms Academy’s Harbor Blues will sing holiday songs at 5 p.m. Staples High School’s Orphenians follow at 6:30. Both will be at the tent in front of Cold Fusion.

The Staples Orphenians, at last year’s “06880” Holiday Stroll.

In addition, Nick Calabrese — a professional singer and music teacher — will lead anyone who wants to join on a carol sing through downtown.

A box will be set up for donations for the PAL holiday toy drive. Feel free to bring an unwrapped, new gift (or two!).

Meanwhile, here’s the latest list of Holiday Stroll participants:

  • Bartaco: Hot chocolate on their patio
  • Basso: TBA
  • Black Bear Wines & Spirits: 15% off all wines
  • Blossom + Stem: Complimentary mini-bouquets, and a chance to win a fresh holiday prize
  • Bobbles & Lace: Glass of wine & Bobbles Bucks ($$$ off your purchase)
  • Bridgewater Chocolates: Complimentary chocolate tastings and hot chocolate
  • Brooks Brothers: The entire store is 30% off all weekend
  • Capuli: Giving out churros
  • Cold Fusion Gelato: Handing out wrapped chocolates
  • Don Memo: Giving out festive adult and children’s beverages

Don Memo is one of many participating Holiday Stroll restaurants.(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

  • Fred: Complimentary holiday treats
  • Jeera Thai: 20% off on takeout meals
  • Joe’s Pizza: Garlic knots
  • Kerri Rosenthal: 15% off read-to-wear and accessories
  • La Fenice: Buy 1 regular coffee, get 1 free
  • Le Route Aartisan Chocolates: Free hot chocolate
  • Lift Wellness Group: Discount on bundled psychotherapy and nutrition services; gift cards with 10% discount
  • Lux Bond & Green: Refreshments and surprises
  • Manna Toast: Hot chocolate
  • Megan’s Martha’s Vineyard Boutique: 20% off, and a giveaway bundle
  • Moxie Salon & Beauty  Bar: Spin The Wheel to Win! 20% off hair extensions; $20 off voucher; $25, $50, $75, $100, $200 gift certificates; complimentary spray tan or blowout; $50 off Balayyage or Ombre; complimentary makeup application, girls hair tinsel and/or braids
  • Nomade: Candied almonds in bamboo cone, and cookies
  • Noya Jewelry: Hot holiday drinks

Across the river, Noya will particpate too.

  • Rye Ridge Deli: Free hot chocolate, tea, coffee
  • Savvy + Grace: Holiday treat, and mailbox for kids to drop off letters to Santa
  • Scout & Molly’s: 20% off purchase, light snacks
  • Sorelle Gallery: Gif boxes with discounts from 5 to 15% for any Holiday Collection item; light festive refreshments (prosecco, candy canes, sparkling water, etc.)
  • The Cashmere Sale of Westport: Holiday candy
  • The Tailored Home & Studio Café: Complimentary Santa’s cookies and hot chocolate; 50% off sale on all pillows
  • The Toy Post: A small toy for each child
  • Upnorth: 20% off, and a giveaway
  • West: Raffle for $150 gift card (no purchase necessary); winner drawn at 7:30 p.m.
  • Walrus Alley: Happy hour prices for food and drinks
  • Westport Book Shop: Free book, and a coupon for a future visit
  • Winfield Street Street Coffee: Hot cocoa and cruffins (pecan cinnamon rolls with a croissant dough)
  • Yoga45: Participation in a yoga event.

“06880” Podcast: Maxx Crowley

Everyone has an opinion about downtown.

So does Maxx Crowley. But his means more than most: He’s president of the Westport Downtown Association.

Just 30 years old — and a native Westporter, from a noted local family — he plays a key role in the retail, restaurant and entertainment life of this town.

The other day, we chatted on the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum stage for the latest “06880” podcast. Click here for our wide-ranging (and very upbeat) conversation.

Screenshot of Maxx Crowley.

Roundup: Holiday Stroll, Veterans Day, Old Dominion …

Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual Holiday Stroll. It’s Saturday, December 3  (5 to 7 p.m.).

Last year’s first-ever event was sponsored by “06880.” This year, we’re teaming up with the Westport Downtown Association, for an extra-special event.

It’s family friendly, with a visit from Santa, special activities for kids, and songs from the Orphenians and more. There will be a tent outside Cold Fusion.

Downtown merchants — including some across the river — will offer promotions. For example:

  • Walrus Alley: Happy hour prices for food and drinks
  • Bridgewater Chocolates: complimentary chocolate tastings
  • Noya Jewelry: hot holiday drinks
  • The Toy Post: free small toy
  • Lift Wellness Group: discount on bundled psychotherapy and nutrition services, gift cards with 10% discount applied for virtual and in person psychotherapy and nutrition services.
  • Upnorth: 10% off, and a giveaway.

Merchants and restaurants wishing to participate can click here for more information.

See you at the Stroll!

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Before the holidays, there’s Veterans Day.

Westport honors its vets tomorrow (Friday, November 11), with a ceremony at Town Hall.

The Community Band welcomes visitors with patriotic tunes, at 10:30 a.m.

At 11 a.m. — the hour the armistice ending World War I took effect — the program begins.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Staples High School senior Tyler Clark will speak. The Westport Police Department will fire a salute. The Community Band will play the “Armed Forces Salute.”

The public is invited.

The doughboy statue on Veterans Green. Tomorrow’s ceremony takes place in nearby Town Hall.  (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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Carnivores: read on.

Saugatuck Provisions opened yesterday.

The new shop in the former Fleishers Craft Butchery is the creation of  chef (and Staples High School graduate) Matt Storch and Susan McConnell — both of Burger Lobster and  Match — plus Jimmy Bloom (Copps Island Oysters) and butcher Paul Nessel (well known from his Craft Butchery days across Riverside Avenue).

Stephanie Webster of CTBites calls Saugatuck Provisions “a new concept offering customers a curated selection of the very best ingredients from the land, sea and grocery, enabling guests to create beautiful restaurant quality meals at home.”

Saugatuck Provisions (Photo and hat tip/JD Dworkow)

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For Old Dominion, winning “Vocal Group of the Year” at the CMA Awards never gets old.

The country band — whose lead guitarist is 1997 Staples High School graduate Brad Tursi — took top honors for the 5th time, at last night’s 56th annual event.

Tursi was best known at Staples as a star soccer player. Now he’s scoring on a much bigger stage.  (Hat tip: Jeff Lea)

 

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The first evening of the Westport Library’s Short Cuts Film Festival earned rave reviews.

The second night is Thursday, November 17 (7 p.m., Trefz Forum).

Four short documentaries — all from the Tribeca Film Festival — will be shown.

  • “More Than I Want to Remember,” by Amy Bench. Winner, Best Animated Short, Tribeca. In the Congo, 14-year-old Mugeni runs to the forest, escaping bombs and surviving without her family.
  • “Beirut Dreams in Color,” by Michael Collins. This heart-rending story follows an openly gay Arab rock star and his activist fan. Tragedy results “in Cairo.
  • “Kylie” by Sterling Hampton. A Black ballerina tries to make it in the traditionally white ballet world?
  • “John Leguizamo Live at Rikers Island,” by Elena Francesa. The actor performs and spends time at the prison, inspiring justice-involved young men to reflect about their lives and the challenges of incarceration.

After the screenings, Kevin Wilson Jr. — an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, chats with Short Cuts producer Nancy Diamond.

The festival continues December 8, with an evening of narrative shorts.

Tickets are $25. Refreshments and popcorn will be served. For more information and tickets, click here.

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Deej Webb writes:

“I always thought of ‘Compo’ as coming from the Native American ‘Compaug.’ So I was surprised to see this clock at The Castle Museum in York, England.

“I looked it up and found: ‘Original Metal Front/Vanner & Prest’s Molliscorium Compo Embrocation Trade Mark/Advertising Clock with Restored Paint, circa 1905 to 1910.

“Etc., etc. — but with no explanation of ‘Compo.'”

Deej hopes the “06880” crowd can crowdsource this mystery. If you have any idea where “Compo” fits in all this, click “Comments” below.

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for November 2-9.

Three people were detained in custody. One was charged with identity theft and larceny, 3rd degree.

One was arrested for sale of hallucinogenics, drug paraphernalia, weapons in  a motor vehicle, carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit, misuse of plates, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle under suspension, insurance coverage fails minimum requirements, failure to wear safety belt

One was detained for for violation of parole and narcotics possession.

The following citations were issued:

  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation (11)
  • Traveling unreasonably fast (7)
  • Misuse of plates (3)
  • Operating an unregistered vehicle (3)
  • Speeding (2)
  • Failure to  obey control signal (2)
  • Insurance coverage fails to meet minimum requirement (2)
  • Larceny, 6th degree (2)
  • Stop sign violation (1)
  • Operating vehicle without proper load cover (1)
  • Failure to have stop lamps/turn signals (1)
  • Failure to display plates (1)

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Readings of the new musical “Psyche,” starring Jay Armstrong Johnson and Johanna Moise, are set for today and tomorrow (November 10 and 11 at New York’s DiMenna Center .

But you can be forgiven if you think it’s a Staples Players’ Class of 2017 reunion.

The musical’s book and lyrics are by Emily Garber. The score is from Jake Landau.

Rounding out the production team are developmental producer Lauren Weinberger, dramaturg Phoebe Corde, and gender and sexuality consultant Shira Helena Gitlin. All collaborated on many Players productions.

“Psyche” was featured in Broadway World (click here). Click here for the website, with a full synopsis and link to demos.

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Speaking of performances: “Cheese Fries & Froot Loops” — the funny, poignant solo show written and performed by Weston’s Chris Fuller, about this lifelong dream to play on the PGA Tour while living with bipolar manic disorder — returns to the Fairfield Theater Company November 30 (6:30 p.m.).

His brothers Jeff and Judd Fuller (both professional musicians) and Chris’ step-sister Vicky — all raised in Westport — offer a special musical performance prior to the show. The theme is mental health awareness.

Chris was recently invited to join the United Solo Festival on New York’s Theater Row.

Click here for more information about the FTC show, including tickets.

Chris Fuller, in “Cheese Fries & Froot Loops.”

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Art of Everyone is launching Connecticut’s first Hybrid NFT & Traditional Art Exhibition.

The 2 mediums will be merged under one roof. The exploration of the convergence of traditional visual arts and NFTs puts artists back in control of their careers.

Set for this Saturday (November 12, 4 to 9 p.m.), it’s part of the Bridgeport Arts Trail. The Knowlton (305 Knowlton Street) has donated their entire 10,000-square foot space, audiovisual resources, staging and technology for the event.

Among the participants: Westport artists James Chantler Brown (Art of Everyone co-founder), Linda Colletta and Alison James.

Westporter Herm Freeman is showing too. He helped curate and hang the entire exhibit.

The Knowlton: a bird’s-eye view.

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“06880” readers sent plenty of beaver moon photos. But only one — today’s “Westport … Naturally” image — included a dog.

Tessie and the beaver moon. (Photo/Richard Abramowitz)

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And finally … on this date in 1775, the US Marine Corps was founded at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. Happy 247th birthday — and thanks for your service!

 

 

 

 

Westoberfest Arrives October 15. We’ll Drink To That!

Oktoberfest: It’s not just for Germans with huge steins anymore.

Westport’s version — “Westoberfest” — returns to downtown 2 weeks from yesterday (Saturda, October 15, 2 p.m., Elm Street).

There is (of course) a wide selection of local and regional brews. But the Westport Downtown Association-sponsored event also features food (from Walrus Alley, Manna Toast, Kneads, Nit Noi, Dough Girls and Brigy Bites) and music (Amber Anchor).

A family area will host a pumpkin giveaway, with Artists Collective of Westport members on hand to help kids decorate them.

MoCA Westport adds a “decorate-your-tote” activity, while Earthplace will have seed bomb making and animal artifacts. (I’m not sure what either of those are, but I’m sure your kids will love them.)

Westober family activities are free. The craft tasting area — with dozens of offerings — runs from 2 to 5 p.m. Click here for tickets, or purchase them on-site (for $10 more).

See you there. Lederhosen is optional.

A scene from last year’s Westoberfest. (Photo/JC Martin)

 

Roundup: Kowalsky Farm, Westport 10, P&Z …

Most teardowns in Westport are quick wrecking ball affairs.

The demise of 117 Morningside Drive South — the famed Kowalsky property — seems to be going more slowly. It looks like some of the original construction — the beams, perhaps? — are being saved.

(Photo/David Squires)

It’s the end of an era. “Thousands of kids enjoyed our little local farm,” Greens Farms resident David Squires says.

“But alas, no more. If the walls could speak, I’m certain they’d have tails/tales to tell. Let’s hope the future of this plot retains some of its original beauty and charm.”

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Westport10 is a thriving social community for people of color. Adults attend cultural events, and dine out together; they organize beach parties and other events for their kids.

Once a month, some of the men get together for lunch.

They had a great time yesterday at La Plage. Check out the photo:

Clockwise from far left: Harold Bailey Jr., Rod Simmelkjaer, Craig Melvin, Roy Adams, Kevin Christie, Vincent Spencer, Jay Norris. Harold Bailey III arrived just after the picture was taken. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club is one of Westport’s best-kept secrets.

The 63-year-old club near Saugatuck Shores, with slips for 160 sailboats and powerboats, usually hums with maritime activity.

It’s also a very social place. Members are all ages, and from all different walks of life (“yacht” club is really a misnomer). They gather often in the clubhouse (a former horse stable and carriage house, dating to the 1890s).

They build all their own docks; clean up their own grounds every fall and spring, and invite the marine police to store their boats there.

Last night was something different: an art show highlighting members’ talents. Watercolors, photographs, woodcarvings, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, knitwear and more — all were on display.

It was a great event. Plus, a raffle raised funds for Westport’s Volunteer Emergency Medical Services, and Save the Sound.

PS: The food and drinks were great too!

Glen Heller created these wood carvings. Eva Rosenblatt helped organize last night’s Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club event. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club wasn’t the only organization paying tribute to EMTs last night.

DNR — the ghoulishly named, (almost) all-physician rock band — played their annual Levitt Pavilion concert tribute to Westport EMS, and first responders.

A large crowd danced all night.

And if anyone got too excited, and had a medical emergency — well, that was the place to have it.

Dr. Bob Albtaum, without his stethoscope. (Photo copyright by Ted Horowitz)

DNR rocks the Levitt. (Photo copyright by Ted Horowitz)

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Meanwhile, a few yards away across the parking lot t the Westport Library, StoryFest 2022 got underway.

The largest literary festival in Connecticut attracts authors from across the U.S. The event kicked off with readings and a conversation between best-selling authors (and best friends) Isaac Fitzgerald and Saeed Jones.

The celebration of reading, writing, ideas and community began in 2018. It continues all day today. Click here for workshops, other sessions, and tonight’s final event. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Isaac Fitzgerald (left) and Saeed Jones. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Last night’s full moon brought out many Westporters’ cameras (and cell phones).

I received tons of photos. Among the best: this one from Steven Rothenberg.

(Photo/Steven Rothenberg)

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Among the items on Monday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting: discussions of the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck project, and the redevelopment of the Westport Inn.

The meeting will be held via Zoom, livestreamed on www.westportct.gov,  and shown on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Public comments may be emailed to PandZ@westportct.gov by noon Monday. Click here for the full agenda.

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There’s a full (and healthful) schedule of events next Saturday (September 17), at Downtown Fitness & Health Day.

The Westport Downtown Association event supports local health and exercise businesses, and promotes a healthy lifestyle for all Westporters.

Fleet Feet kicks off the day with a 5k and kids runs at (9 a.m.). Registration is required; click here.

WDA has partnered with many fitness studios, including TAP Strength, Club Sweat, Pure Barre, Row House, Pause + Purpose, Kaia Yoga Centers and Body Shock. They’ll give participants fun, rigorous outdoor exercise classes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., all along Main Street. To register for a free class, contact the individual providers.

The Alzheimer’s Association and Circle of Care for Families of Children with Cancer will be there too.

You don’t have to participate in a class to enjoy the day. Strolling all around downtown is healthy too!

The 2020 Downtown Fitness Fair.

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Whenever some dude — and you know it’s a guy — parks his car like this (behind CVS) …

(Photo/Matt Murray)

… he’s saying, “My car is special. Stay away!”

Hey: Everyone cares about their car.

And if everyone parked this way, there would be half the number of available spots anywhere.

You’re not special. And neither, really. is an Alfa Romeo.

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Never been to Cuba? Wondering what that island just 90 miles off Florida is like?

On Tuesday (September 13, Saugatuck Congregational Church Hoskins Hall; $10 admission). World traveler/adventurer/photographer/local resident Darryl Hawk presents a collection of spectacular photos, from his 6 (!) recent trips there.

He’s tell great stories about them too.

The event is sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club, and marks their first in-person gathering since COVID struck.

There are appetizers, drinks and dinner at 6:15 p.m.; the presentation begins at 7:30. RSVP: easasso7@icloud.com.

Street scene, Cuba (Photo/Darryl Hawk)

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Everyone is invited to a Japanese Fall Festival next Saturday (September 17, 1:30 to 4 p.m., Jesup Green).

The family-friendly event includes taiko drum performances, a martial arts demonstration, Seiza meditation sessions, traditional Bon dancing, a Japanese water yoyo game, children’s origami, demonstrations of the traditional Japanese Go and Sushi GO card games, and a Japanese language table.

Other features: displays of Japanese tenugui (colorful hand-dyed traditional Japanese), ceramics and kimonos.

Japanese snacks and drinks will be available too.

Click here for more information.

Taiko drums, at the Japanese Fall Festival.

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The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston sponsor a very active tennis group. They play every Tuesday and Friday morning, throughout the summer at Longshore.

Former Y’s Men president Dewey Loselle does the organizing. Here’s a shot (pun intended) after the final session:

(Photo courtesy of Scott Broder)

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I’m batting about .100 identifying Sherwood Mill Pond wildlife lately. So I’ll just say that this handsome bird was spotted just off shore the other day, posing handsomely for Matt Murray and “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … in honor of Darryl Hawk’s very cool Cuba presentation (story above):

=======================================================(“06880” is “where Westport meets the world” — including Cuba. To help support us, please click here.) 

 

 

Roundup: Sales Tax, Harvest Fest, Muhammad Ali …

Connecticut’s 22nd “Sales Tax-Free Week” is underway.

Most clothing and footwear items under $100 are available without the 6.35% sale and use tax.

It’s timed for back-to-school shopping. Exceptions including specialty items like athletic uniforms, gloves, specialty shoes, ice skates, wet suits and jewelry.


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Tickets went on sale this morning for Wakeman Town Farm’s 10th annual Harvest Fest. The “fun-raiser” is set for Saturday, September 10 (6 to 10 p.m.).

The always-sold out outdoor affair includes seasonal fare and drink, contributed by local farmers and rock star chefs

This year’s event is cocktail-party style, with tents and multiple food stations (no sit-down dinner) so guests can mix and mingle. When the stations close, there’s Champagne, dessert and a live auction — followed by dancing to a live band. 

The online auction opens September 6. Click here for more information, and details.

Scenes from a previous Wakeman Town Farm Harvest Fest.

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The Westport Library has added 5 new works to its collection. All are hung inside — and all are the works of 3 artists, all with Westport connections.

They include a piece donated by 1966 Staples High School graduate and internationally known artist Charles Joyner; an iconic image of Muhammad Ali donated by photographer Richard Frank, and 3 collages by Fred Otnes.

Joyner came to Westport in 1964 from North Carolina. He was 16 years old, part of the American Friends Service Committee’s “Southern Negro Student Program” which placed Southern Black students with Northern host families.

Joyner graduated from Staples High School in 1966. He’s spent the past 50-plus years as an artist, printmaker, photographer and college professor. His work has been shown across the US and Africa. This past spring his exhibit — “Charles Joyner: Stepping Out on Faith” was featured in the Library’s Sheffer Gallery.

“Stepping Out on Faith” (Charles Joyner)

Frank has lived in Westport for more than 30 years with his wife Leona, a painter and art teacher. In addition to many notable works, he documented the Library’s Transformation Project, completed in 2019. His 1969 Ali image is one of his most famous.

“Muhammad Ali, Jake’s Diner, Athens, Ohio” (Richard Frank)

Otnes moved to Westport in 1953. He quickly became part of the town’s community of illustrators, working and living here until his death in 2015 at age 89.

The 2 paintings by Fred Otnes and the Joyner piece all hang in the Library’s mezzanine. The Otnes illustration is in a conference room, while the Ali image is located prominently in the 1st-floor stairwell.

For more on the Library’s art, click here.

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Save the dates:

The Westport Downtown Association’s 3rd annual Fitness & Health event returns on Saturday, September 18, on Main Street and nearby.

Fleet Freet, TAP Strength, Club Sweat, Pure Barre, Row House, The Dance Collective, Pause + Purpose, First Step and Kaia Yoga Center have already signed on. More details will be announced soon.

Also back: the 4th annual Westoberfest (Saturday, October 15, Elm Street). It’s a day of Oktoberfest-style entertainment. Local and regional craft breweries offer seasonal and classic pours, plus live music, plenty of food, market vendors and family-friendly activities. Click here for more information, and tickets.

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Violins and golf don’t often go together.

But Suzuki Music School plans a fundraiser for September 16 — at the Yale golf course.

The non-profit serves many area youngsters, including those through the KEYS of Bridgeport program. They receive free music instruction and performance opportunities.

The event — one of the last chances to play golf at Yale, before a 2-year renovation — includes cart, food and beverages, prizes and live music.
Entry is $350 for a single player, $1200 for a foursome. For more information, click here.

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Today’s very cool “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Lucy Zeko. She took it this weekend, at Burying Hill Beach.

(Photo/Lucy Zeko)

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And finally … Malvina Reynolds was born on this day, in 1900. You may not know the singer/songwriter/political activist’s name — but you probably know her music. She died in 1973.

Roundup: Compo Beach Lots, Korean War Vets, Horseshoe Crabs …

For years, Compo Beach guests have been greeted by a gorgeous display of flowers and shrubs, at the main entrance directly opposite the Soundview lot.

Sometimes they’re greeted too by small signs saying “Lot Full.” They’re hard to read, and traffic backs up as drivers try to figure out what to do next.

This year, there should be less confusion. A large electronic sign at the entrance will announce how much space is available in the Soundview, main and daily ($$$) lots.

I’m sure people will still stop and ask the gate attendants all kinds of questions, and try to talk their way in despite seeing “0” availability.

At least they’ll have plenty of warning.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Across America yesterday, the red-white-and-blue flew in honor of Flag Day.

At the Senior Center, meanwhile, flags — and an honor guard, and dignitaries — honored Westport’s Korean War veterans.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, state Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Thomas Saadi and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker presided at the luncheon and ceremony.

Pete D’Amico described his experiences in that 1950s conflict. Alexander Boboc recalled a fallen comrade. Other veterans like Bill Vornkahl, Bob McCarthy and — in uniform — Tom Lowrie shared stories too.

The ranks of Korean War veterans are diminishing quickly. Yesterday’s recognition was truly important. (Hat tip: David Lowrie)

(From left):VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 3999 quartermaster Phil Delgado, Navy Lt. JG (ret.) Tom Lowrie. and fellow Westport resident Bob Tirrerno — local commissioner to the State Veterans Affairs office — look at a photo of Lowrie’s radar aviation squad.

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Summer arrives Tuesday. But you can get a jump on it Saturday.

That’s the first of 2 “Summer Outdoor Shopping Days.” Main Street from the Post Road to Elm Street will be closed, for better strolling (and strollers). Brooks Corner will be closed too, for vendors. Church Lane is already closed, for the summer.

Merchants on upper Main Street and Elm Street will also participate.

Some stores will offer discounts. Others will highlight special merchandise.

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Horseshoe crabs are very weird creatures. (I know: So are humans.)

Living on Long Island Sound, we’re used to them. But most of us don’t have much horseshoe crab knowledge (beyond “don’t step on them”).

This Sunday (June 19, 3 p.m., Sherwood Island State Park Nature Center), Friends of SP hosts a talk by Dr. Jennifer Mattei. The Sacred Heart University biology professor and director of Project Limulus (named for a horseshoe crab genus) will discuss why they’re important for the health of the Sound — and for your own good health.

The family-friendly session includes a walk on the beach, to look — very carefully — for spawning horseshoe crabs.

Dr. Jennifer Mattei and friends.

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It’s college scholarship time.

And the Westport Woman’s Club is doing its part.

As it has for many decades, the organization recently gave grants to graduating Staples High School seniors.

This year’s total was $36,000. Recipients include Chloe Manna (Emily Duvoisin Scholarship), Tatiana Dragun (Lea Ruegg Scholarship), Juliette Savarino (Emily Fuller Scholarship), Sam Betit (Most Active Member Scholarship, in honor this year of Suzan Murphy), and Olivia Pace, George Kocadag and Malachi Evans (WWC Scholarships).

Funding for the grants comes in part from the Yankee Doodle Fair. The annual event runs tomorrow (Thursday) through Sunday, at the WWC Imperial Avenue grounds.

Attending the ceremony were Congressman Jim Himes, State Senator Will Haskell, State Representative Stephanie Thomas, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and Staples High School administrators and counselors.

Westport Woman’s Club scholarship winners, with government and school officials.

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You never know what you’ll find on Cablevision Channel 78.

The educational access channel is the home for town meetings, board schedules — and videos produced in the Westport public schools.

Two of those earned honors in the Area 9 Cable Council contest, for their public service announcements. The prize: an “Eddy” (Ed Access Trophy).

Kings Highway placed first in the Elementary School category, for “Think Before You Print” (discouraging printing unnecessary copies of anything).

Kings Highway winners (from left): Kylie Dorfman, Presley Levin Samantha Frank, Adrienne Bihl, Alexander Sheefel, Grey Shugrue.

Staples took second place in the High School division, for “After.”

Staples winners (from left):Jane Weil, Ava Waldman, Jacob Baker. Not pictured: Cooper Tirola

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To plan ahead: Here’s the Levitt Pavilion schedule for June:

  • June 19: Michael Franti & Spearhead (limited tickets remaining)
  • June 21: Comedy Night #1
  • June 22: Children’s Series launch (Josh Lovelace/Young Folk)
  • June 23: Isle of Klezbos
  • June 24: Isabella Mendes Bossa Nova Project
  • June 25: James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band
  • June 26: Danny Jonokuchi & the Revisionists
  • June 28: Queer + Quiet: An Evening with  Treya Lam
  • June 29: Children’s Series (Falu)

Free tickets are available on the Levitt Pavilion website, and at the box office window 2 hours before show time.

A small portion of the Pops Concert crowd last Friday. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Live theater is back at the Westport Country Playhouse.

And so is their London Theater Tour.

In April, audiences returned to the historic local institution. In October, the WCP hosts a week-long, theater-filled trip.

Managing Director Michael Barker and Artistic Director Mark Lamos led similar trips in the past, with great success. This time, Lamos will pick 5 of the most exciting shows, plus non-theater activities. Past trips have included tea with a cast member, a discussion with a London theater critic, and backstage tours.

For more information (and to book a spot), click here.

The West End Theatre

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UPDATE: The mistake below is on me. Molly Alger sent 3 photos; I misunderstood her. She knows the difference between raspberry and milkweed. I don’t. My apologies.

Molly Alger sends this photo and report, from the Baron’s South walking path:

“The raspberries are ready to bloom. They must be checked daily if you want to save any from the birds and deer.”

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … as raspberries (above) and strawberries start to ripen:

(“06880” would not exist without reader contributions. Please click here to donate!)

Downtown Pulses With Art Show Life

The 49th annual Westport Fine Arts Festival was bopping along today.

Just-right weather — the sweet spot between last year’s unseasonably cold rain, and previous years’ sweltering July temperatures — drew a couple of thousand folks to Main and Elm Streets.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

At 2 p.m., a brief thunderstorm rolled in.

But it quickly passed. The sun returned. Dozens of artists — and many more art-lovers — smiled again.

Popular photographer (and Westporter) Tom Kretsch.

The show is on until 5 p.m. today. It runs tomorrow (Sunday, May 29) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more information.

One work for sale …

… and another.

Great Stuff, for sure …

… and more sculptures.

Westporter Nancy Breakstone exhibits …

… while others came from all over.

Booths line Main Street …

… and artists of a different kind take the “stage.” (All photos/Dan Woog, unless otherwise noted)

PS: It takes a ton of work to make a show like this happen. Kudos to the Westport Downtown Association — including their Abbey Road-like volunteers (below):

(Photo/Robin Tauck)

Officials Okay Outdoor Dining+

Two years ago, in the early days of the pandemic, indoor dining was banned. Restaurants grew desperate.

Moving with unprecedented speed, town officials okayed outdoor dining in areas like Church Lane and Railroad Place.

It was such a hit, they allowed it again last summer.

Now it’s back for a third year. And it will continue for at least 2 more after that.

Outdoor dining on Church Lane. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Last week, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 6-1 in favor of a text amendment that gives even more space to outdoor tables and chairs. The previous allotment was 25% of a restaurant’s indoor space. It’s now 75%.

Restaurants can also use a neighbor’s property, with permission.

The Board of Selectwomen gave their okay too. And rather than go through the process every year, they extended approval through 2024.

Maxx Crowley — president of the Westport Downtown Association — is thrilled.

“Church Lane is a key piece of downtown,” he says, referring to the short road that — closed to traffic — has turned into a street festival. Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Pink Sumo serve al fresco; bands play, and everyone strolls.

Musicians play …

“There’s a real sense of community” when cars are banned, Crowley says. “There’s excitement and life, especially at night.”

And, Crowley notes, it’s not only restaurant owners who benefit. “People sit or walk, they see all the shops, and they want to go in and explore. Walkability is the key to retail.”

… and so do little kids. (Photo/Jordan Schur)

Church Lane’s closure will last through November 6.

Saugatuck — Westport’s “other” downtown — is another hot spot for outdoor dining. The Selectwomen approved the continued use of parking spots by Romanacci’s and Tarantino. Two nearby restaurants may also apply.

Outdoor dining is here to stay. It’s one of our town’s newest, and most popular, traditions.

Now all we need is the weather to enjoy it.

Romanacci’s outdoor dining, It’s since moved several yards east.