Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Merchants Association

Roundup: Super Bowl Sounds, PAL, Minute Man, More

===================================================

I’m not a fan of the fake crowd noise that’s pumped into sports broadcasts, ever since the pandemic slashed — or eliminated — crowds.

But I’ve always wondered how they did it.

Yesterday, on his regular “CBS Sunday Morning” gig, David Pogue explained.

He took a trip from his Westport home — where some of the segment was filmed — and headed to Met Life Stadium for a chat with (among others) Harry Carson. I guess the actual Giants team was unavailable, although there is some doubt as to whether they have an actual team.

At any rate, it’s an intriguing piece. Click below to watch:

=======================================================

Westport PAL president Ned Batlin is stepping down.

The Westport police officer — a former 3-sport athlete at Staples High School (football, wrestling, lacrosse) — has led the organization for 5 years. PAL serves thousands of youngsters through football, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, rugby, track and cheerleading programs.

PAL also runs a robust scholarship program — and Westport’s annual Independence Day fireworks.

Batlin — who will remain on the Westport Police Department force — will be succeeded by PAL vice president and veteran police officer Craig Bergamo.

Officer Ned Batlin, at Westport PAL’s 2015 July 4th celebration.

======================================================

Love is in the air. And the Westport Downtown Merchants Association want you to feel it, by using an eGift Card.

Or giving a gift card, as a gift.

The card can be used at many locations downtown, including retailers, restaurants and service providers. Click here to purchase. Click here for a list of participating businesses.

======================================================

They’re not called Friends of Sherwood Island for nothing.

On Friday, the group’s garden team kept Connecticut’s first state park looking good — and healthy. They pruned suckers from the base of several 200-year-old trees on the west beach. Many are from Westport.

It’s all part of their year-round effort to maintain and enhance wildlife habitat.

From left: From left to right: Barrie Holmes, Michele Sorensen, Chris Swan, Jackson and Johannes Cregan, Lavinia Larsson and Pamela Nobomuto.

======================================================

A certain segment of Westporters loves decorating our Minute Man. They decorate him with Santa Claus hats, Easter bunny ears, and (last spring) a COVID mask. It’s all part of humanizing our town’s most recognizable symbol.

Another segment thinks that’s disrespectful. He’s a patriot, they say; don’t make light of what he symbolizes.

Whichever side of the memorial’s wrought-iron gate you’re on, you must agree: Yesterday’s decoration was certainly different.

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

======================================================

The Fire Department responded to a potentially dangerous blaze yesterday, on Bayberry Lane.

First arriving units found a 2-story, 2-family home with fire on both floors, and the attic.

Second floor residents were alerted to the fire by a carbon monoxide detector. They notified residents of the first floor to evacuate. There were no injuries, but 3 residents were displaced by the fire.

Wilton and Fairfield Fire Departments assisted on scene, and with station coverage during the fire.

The Westport Fire Department reminds residents to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all floors of their homes.

Aftermath of the Bayberry Lane fire. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

======================================================

Anne Lowrie’s snowman looks suspiciously like her father, Tom — right down to the Sunrise Rotary cap.

(Photo/Anne Lowrie)

=======================================================

And finally … James Dean was born on this day, in 1931. He died in a car crash in 1955, age 24. Had he lived, the star of “Rebel Without a Cause” would be celebrating his 90th birthday.

 

Roundup: Downtown Merchants, Let It Be, More

Just in time for the new (shopping) year: the Westport Downtown Merchants Association updated their “Merchants” page.

Dozens of downtown stores and restaurants now have a photo of the exterior, a short description, and links to their websites — all searchable, of course. Click here to see.

Savannah Bee and other Church Lane merchants are featured on the Westport Downtown Merchants Association website.


For a Covid-time project, the Gerards of Westport decided to teach their 11- and 8-year-old children to build a song.

They chose “Let It Be.” It’s a great tune for times of trouble — or any time.

The Gerards then filmed the process, at various sites in Westport. Take a peek:


And finally … Phyllis McGuire, the last surviving member of the McGuire Sisters, died this week in Las Vegas. She was 89.

The trio “bewitched teenage America in the 1950s with chart-topping renditions of ‘Sincerely’ and ‘Sugartime,’ in a sweet, innocent harmony that went with car fins, charm bracelets and duck-tail haircuts,” the New York Times said.

It added, “The McGuire Sisters were one of the many white groups that covered 1950s R&B hits, many by Black artists, in what critics called blander versions though better-selling ones.”

And The Holiday Window Decorating Contest Winners Are …

Only a few people can watch NFL games in person. You haven’t been to a concert in longer than it takes to conceive and deliver a baby.

But anyone could have gone around town, checked out holiday window decorations, and voted for their favorites.

In fact, many people did.

Yesterday, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the annual contest. This year for the first time, it encompassed the entire town. 

And the winners are…:

Mom and Pop Shop:  The Plumed Serpent Bridal 

Plumed Serpent Bridal 

National chainAnthropologie

Anthropologie

Restaurant/Deli:  Joe’s Pizza

Joe’s Pizza

Non-retail:  Artistex Salon & Spa

Artistex Spa & Salon

And the grand prize — for the window with the most total votes: The Plumed Serpent Bridal.

They win dinner for 4 at Don Memo.

Click here for a list of all participating venues. Voting in closed — but you can still enjoy them!

Roundup: Celestial Convergence, Barnes & Noble, Downtown Employees, More


It was a bit too cloudy and foggy yesterday to really see the convergence of Saturn and Jupiter. It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed so close to each other, and nearly 800 years since their alignment — seeming to form one “Christmas star” — occurred at night.

But that didn’t stop a number of Westporters from heading to Compo Beach to look.

Jo Shields reports, “I heard someone say there was a lot of applause and cheering on South Beach. But then someone said it might have just been a plane.”

Here’s what she saw, on the jetty:

(Photo/Jo Shields)


It’s official!

Barnes & Noble signed its new lease yesterday, for the former Restoration Hardware site. “06880” reported that the deal was imminent last week. The opening is slated for February. David Adam Realty was the realtor.

Restoration Hardware moved out in June. Soon, Barnes & Noble will move in.(Photo/Chip Stephens)


Last summer, as the pandemic (first) raged, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association partnered with ASF, on a fundraiser to support local businesses. The community helped raise over $2,700.

Last month, the WDMA asked retailers to nominate employees who have gone “above and beyond.”

There were many stories about heroes who put in extra hours, offered creative ideas to keep businesses afloat, provided extraordinary customer service, or remained strong in uncertain times.

Now the WDMA has awarded 26 of those very deserving employees $100 Downtown Dollar eGift Cards. Congratulations and thanks go to:

Karyl Scott (Massage Envy)
Kimberly Lavigne (Sorelle Gallery)
Francisco Moreno (Winfield Street Deli)
Henry Potter (Athleta)
Ellyn Weitzman (Franny’s Farmacy)
Stephanie Soares (Don Memo)
Alba Antun (Don Memo)
Zach Hinman (Don Memo)
Owen Wiseman (Kawa Ni)
Kelly Clement (Kawa Ni)
Marco Almanza (Kawa Ni)
Lux Bond & Green Team
Paulino Garcia (The Whelk)
Lupita Cristostomo (The Whelk)
Matt Balga (The Whelk)
Julie Cook (Savannah Bee)
Will Newman (New England Hemp Farm)
John Vaast (Walrus Alley)
Patricia Andrade (Splash of Pink)
Isabelle Johansen (Cotelac)
Jinkuk Hong (Manna Toast)
Victor Mejia (Manna Toast)
Jessica Zito (Manna Toast)
Karen Martella (Catherine H)


The ink is barely dry on the new federal COVID relief package.

But this afternoon (Tuesday, December 22, 2:30 p.m.), Congressman Jim Himes and officials of the Small Business Administration join a live Zoom discussion to explain it. Click here for the link; the passcode is 509950.

Congressman Jim Himes


Jewish Senior Services is located in Bridgeport, but its Westport roots are strong and deep.

Ken Wirfel and Alan Phillips are the 2 most recent board chairs. Dozens of Westporters are board members and/or supporters, including the Nevas, Kassen and Magidas families.

Scores of Westport relatives are in long-term care there, have gone through short-term rehabilitation, or utilize JSS’ home care or community services.

Yesterday, the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine were administered there, to nearly 300 people. CEO Andrew Banoff called it “a day we will never forget.”

Although JSS’s mission is grounded in Jewish traditions, well over half of the residents and clients are not Jewish. They are “the largest faith-based not-for- profit senior care community in Connecticut.”


Amy Schneider captured the winter solstice sunset — the first one of the season — last night.

Here’s the “bright” side to winter: For the next 6 months, every day there’s a little more light.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)


The Saugatuck River Dancers keep dancing — and keep raising funds for suicide prevention.

Suzanne Harvey’s latest choreography is Meghan Trainor’s “Holidays.” She created it to share the joy of dance and the holidays with others. Tomorrow (December 23) is the 28th anniversary of her brother Michael‘s death. He was just 15 when he took his life.

Hilary Solder, Jill Alcott, Deb Montner, Michael Chait and Eva Rawiszer joined Suzanne in dance. The video is below. Click here for a link to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


And finally … on this day in 1984, subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz shot 4 would-be muggers on a Manhattan subway. Five years later, he was part of a Billy Joel song.

 

Holiday Window Decorating Contest: Let The Games Begin!

Last year, Noya won the downtown holiday window decorating contest.

Can the jewelry design store on the west bank of the Saugatuck River defend its title?

It won’t be easy. This year’s contest has expanded. It’s now townwide. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has joined with the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, as co-sponsor.

And instead of a judge’s vote, the 2020 champ will be chosen by residents and shoppers. Votes can be cast online. Some stores display a QR code in their windows, to vote by phone.

44 businesses are registered. They’ll compete in 4 categories: local independent retailers (“mom and pop”), national chains, restaurants/delis, and non-retail.

Competition begins today, and runs through December 21. You can vote once per category. Winners will be promoted on social media. The grand prize for most votes is a dinner for 4 at Don Memo.

Click here for a list of all participants — and to vote.

One of Noya’s windows. Will it win this year?

Roundup: Michael J. Fox, Big Bucks, Downtown Dollars, More



Two days after the high school sports governing body pushed the start of interscholastic winter sports back to January 19, Governor Lamont did the same for youth teams.

His order — effective Monday — ends club team practices, games and tournaments, indoors and outdoors, for the next 2 months. Several COVID outbreaks have been traced back to youth sports.

Youth basketball has been played in Westport since the early 1900s. This was an early YMCA team. It — and all other kids’ sports — have been canceled through January 19.


The other night, Ian O’Malley’s Ring app notified him there was a visitor at his Greens Farms-area door.

The Westport realtor and New York radio personality was not expecting anyone.

“He was a lot bigger than he looks” (below), Ian reports:

He was not the only buck hanging around. James Chantler Brown has seen this handsome animal several times in the past few days, off Whitney Street:


Speaking of big bucks: The Westport Downtown Merchants Association has just launched “Downtown Dollars.”

The goal of the digital gift card is to encourage local shopping. Purchasers can write a personal message on the card, and send it to family, friends and colleagues by email, text, even physically (!).  

Click here to purchase; then scroll down for a list of participating merchants.


David Krasne has created a Google spreadsheet that tracks daily coronavirus updates in Connecticut. Each tab reflects a different town in southern Fairfield County.

David also tracks the rolling 7-day and 14-day average new case rates, per 100,000 population. Click here to see Westport; click other tabs at the bottom of the page.


Two years ago, Westporter Andrew Goldman launched an independent podcast, “The Originals.”

In April — with his interview with “The Nanny” Fran Drescher — it became the Los Angeles Times‘ only official podcast. Since then he’s chatted with Danny DeVito, Joan Collins, Barry Sonnenfeld and many others.

Goldman’s most recent guest is Michael J. Fox.

The episode is “different and more personal than any I’ve done,” he says. Goldman begins by talking about his “almost inconceivable privilege” — but admits he is still not particularly happy.

Fox, of course, has many more reasons to despair. His Parkinson’s is increasing; a recent accident took away his ability to walk, and send him into depression.

Yet the actor found a way to rekindle his optimism. His message is inspiring — and particularly meaningful at this unlike-any-other-holiday time.

Click here to listen.

 

Michael J. Fox’s book was released this week.


Gabriel Marous is a Westporter teenager, Pierrepont School student and Saugatuck Rowing Club racer.

He’s also seen the effects the coronavirus has had on area residents. So, with 2 friends, he formed the North Stamford Youth Action Group.

Their first initiative — a drive-through food pantry — helped them feed 33 families. A second one is set for this Sunday (November 22). With the holidays coming, the need is even greater.

To help, email digital gift cards from a local grocery story to contact.NSYAG@gmail.com. You can also search for Cash App under the name “NSYAG.” To volunteer, use the email address above or call 203-744-9796.

Gabriel Marous


Fourteen Staples High School seniors have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. They are among more than 1.5 million students who took the PSAT exam. Congratulations to:

Back row (from left): Alexander Toglia, Simon Rubin, Sebastian Montoulieu, Rishabh Mandayam. Front: Charoltte Zhang, Mira Mahendru, Gary Lu, Lucas Lieberman, Frederick Linn.

(From left): Elana Atlas, Reed Caney, Mohit Gupta, Hannah Even. Missing: Max Montoya.


And finally … 35 years ago today, Microsoft unleashed Windows 1.0 on the world.

Roundup: Real Estate, Good Deeds, More


We all sense it. Now we have proof.

Jason Mudd of Cindy Raney & Co. realtors sends a Bloomberg statistic: This fall, Fairfield County had the fastest-rising real estate prices in the country.

Sales rose 80% in September county-wide from a year before. The median home price increased by 33%.

Westport saw a 72% rise in all sales, from January 1 through October 27, 2020, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. It was highest (135%) in the $2 million-plus price range.

Jason hears the same thing as realtors all over town: As quarantine cases increase, buyers (many from New York City) want more space — in their yards, and in their ability to work from home.

They want good schools for their children — and room for their kids to spread out, if they need to learn remotely.

Interestingly, open floor plans are not always the most popular. With families increasingly confined to their homes, “nooks and crannies” enable people to separate from family members for privacy.

Westport is attractive for many reasons, Jason says, beyond space and schools. There’s a vibrant restaurant scene. Plenty of shopping.

Another selling point: proximity to New York. Though the railroad station parking lot seems abandoned, the ease of hopping a train to the city is a big selling point for our town.

Plus it’s just a really pretty place, with tons of great people. But we already knew that.


Among the many people moving from New York to Westport (see above) is Maxx Crowley.

It’s a return home. His father Steve is the longtime owner of SCA Crowley Real Estate Services, and Maxx has joined the family business.

He’s also a new Westport Downtown Merchants Association board member. It did not take him long to help beautify Main Street and environs. He and his dad helped repurpose the summer barrels.

They’re also providing the holiday community tree. It goes up tomorrow, just outside Savvy + Grace.


Just in time for the holiday season: Good Deeds.

Westporter Bill Pecoriello launched the cashback app on Tuesday.

Good Deeds lets shoppers earn cash back while accessing their favorite brands and retailers, then automatically give some or all of those earnings as donations to the causes and nonprofits they care about.

Bill created the app after facing challenges raising funds for his nonprofit Sweet P Bakery, and The Porch to sell those baked goods. For more information, click here.


For 3 decades, ABC News correspondent and anchor Jay Schadler reported around the globe for “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and “World News Tonight.”

He hitchhiked 20,000 miles across America.

On Tuesday, December 8 (7 p.m.) he lands in Westport.

Virtually, anyway. The Westport Library and “Live at Lincoln Center” producer Andrew Wilk team up for this online presentation.

“I come not as a teacher or a guide, but as a fellow traveler who’s still somewhere between being lost and finding his way home,” Schadler says.

Wilk adds, “I worked with Jay when he anchored the National Geographic Channel. I developed great admiration for his talent as a storyteller. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do in television. There aren’t many in Jay’s league.”

Click here to register for the free event.

Andrew Wilk (left) and Jay Schadler.


 

And finally … On this day in November 19, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In just 271 words — at a time when the nation’s very existence was in doubt — the president reminded listeners of our highest ideals.

He concluded by urging “that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 

An Artsy Saturday

Who says Westport is no longer an artists’ colony?

Yesterday, store windows all across town were transformed into Halloween-worthy works of art.

The paintings were done by local youngsters. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event — which was also a contest. MoCA’s Anne Greenberg and Ruth Mannes judged the windows today. Winners will be announced tomorrow.

Calvin Carreras (1st grade, center) was helped by Julian Carreras and Aaron Slomich.

Elsie Mergenthaler (6th grade)

Julia Natarajan (3rd grade)

Sally Nathan

Sophie Jacques (6th grade)

Meanwhile, over at MoCA, Westport artist Trace Burroughs led families as they pained an 8’10” x 20′ canvas. It was part of the the Guinness Book’s world’s largest abstract painting.

The style was all Jackson Pollock. And that’s who held the previous record!

Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell (left) helping validate the painting’s size …

… while young artists work …

… and the finished product!

Roundup: Pumpkinfest, Hoops, Compo Beach, More


What’s new on Main Street?

Hundreds of pumpkins, pounds and pounds of apples, and bushels of art supplies.

It’s all part of Sunday’s “Pumpkinfest” (October 25, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)

Thanks to he Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Parks & Recreation Department and Westport PAL, hundreds of (costumed) families will have a chance to decorate pumpkins, take selfies in front of hand-painted backdrops (created by the Artists Collective of Westport, MoCA Westport and One River), and take home delicious (well, Cortland orchard) apples, courtesy of Camp Playland.

Pre-registration was required — and space was quickly filled. Earth Animal stepped up to underwrite an extra session, for 30 more families.

Families that want to gamble can stop by, in case there are last-minute openings.

The event is also the inauguration of a new program: Downtown Dollars. Gift cards for local stores will be awarded to families with the most creative pumpkins.

For more information, click here.


First, March Madness fell victim to COVID. Then the major sports leagues. High school spring sports were canceled — and so was 11-man football this fall.

Now comes news that one of the best sporting events on the planet — Westport Parks & Rec youth basketball — will not be played this winter either.

The department is following recommendations of the state Department of Public Health. They categorize indoor basketball as “moderate risk,” and suggest no team play.

In addition, Parks & Rec does not have access to the school facilities used for the program, director Jen Fava says.

She adds:

We understand this may be disappointing for some, but we must put the health and safety of our youth, and the community as a whole above all else. With the current rise in cases, events moving inside for the winter months and several upcoming holidays, there is uncertainty about what lies ahead. Adding a basketball league is an additional risk we feel should not be taken at this time.

Fava said that Parks & Rec is looking into alternative programs. Some basketball might be played if the DPH changes its recommendations, and school facilities become available.


This is a normal scene — in May, June, July or August.

Late October: not so much.

The beach sweeping crew was out yesterday, as the temperature neared 80.

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Temperatures will still be in the 60s today and tomorrow. Everyone into the pool!


Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s “Show of Shows” (October 24, 7 p.m.), livestreamed from the Westport Library.

The great David Pogue MCs. Award-winning producer Andrew Wilk is the (very) creative director.

The show includes local personalities, comedy sketches, musical numbers with unexpected twists, and more.

Click here for information and tickets.


Westport Masks — the volunteer effort begun in the early days of the pandemic — has now made over 5,300 face coverings.

Thanks to sales, they’ve donated $1,500 to local food banks.

And they’re still going strong.

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 24) they’ll have their first pop-up shop mask sale. It’s at 19 Center Street (the corner of Brightfield Lane). Stop by — to keep yourself safe, and your neighbors fed.


And finally … yesterday was the 75th birthday of the Rascals’ Eddie Brigati. The vocalist/tambourine player helped write “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure” — and this classic:  

Roundup: Munchkins, Drugs, Halloween, More


Hey, Westport kids (age 5 to 13 ). If you’ve wanted to be in an amazing Staples Players production, here’s your chance!

Players’ radio theatre kicks off with “The Wizard of Oz” this Sunday (October 25, 6 p.m.) — and they want to hear your best munchkin voice.

Send a recording of you saying “follow the yellow brick road!” (munchkin-style). Players’ senior officers will pick 5 winners. Those recordings will be played on air during the live “Wizard of Oz” broadcast. (Click here for details.)

Winners also receive a $10 gift card to Saugatuck Sweets.

Click here, then click the blue “Submit Recording for Munchkin” button to upload your file. Include your name and phone number in the recording. The deadline is 6 p.m. Friday (October 23).

Need inspiration? Click below.


This Saturday (October 24) is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

You can celebrate with the Westport Police Department. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ll be at the Senior Center collecting unused and/or outdated pills and patches. Vape pens are okay if the batteries can be removed.

If the vape pen battery cannot be removed, try an electronics chain store. Also not accepted on Saturday: liquids, needles and sharps.

The service is free and anonymous — no questions asked. For more information, click here.

PS: A year-round collection bin is located in the lobby of Westport Police headquarters. Prescription drugs can be properly disposed of there at any time.


The good news is: This Saturday  (October 24) over 100 Westport kids will take part in the 10th annual Window Painting Contest. They’ll vie for prizes in 3 categories: Scariest Artwork, Best Halloween Theme, and Most Original.

The more good news; 48 businesses all around town — shops, restaurants, services, delis, fitness centers and more — have offered up their windows.

The bad news: That’s not enough. The sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce needs at least 20 more, to fill the demand.

They plead: Please donate your business window! You’ll do the town a service. In fact, it will be the perfect Halloween “treat.” Click here to register your window.


This Saturday (October 24), the United Nations turns 75 years old.

For over 50 of those years, Westport has celebrated that birthday with colorful flags. They fly every UN Day on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. That’s fitting: its namesake founded by the local United Nations Association, and Westport’s’ UN International Hospitality Committee.

On Saturday (11 a.m., Town Hall front steps), a public ceremony marks United Nations Day. First Selectman Jim Marpe, Hospitality Committee vice chair Bill Hass, and Staples High School Model UN president Lucas Slater and vice president Aidan Rogers will speak.

Special guest speaker Aye Aye Thant will discuss the importance of the UN. She should know: The Westport resident’s father is former UN Secretary General U Thant.

After the event, a bipartisan expression of support for the UN takes place at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. Marpe and local legislators will gather near the flags of UN member countries — which have flown there proudly, for decades.

(Photo/Jeff Simon)

Mike Burns spotted this sign on Compo Road South, near Longshore.

Finally, a candidate we can all agree on!


The Westport Public Schools’ guiding principles include social and emotional awareness, sincere kindness, principled thoughts and actions, and constant learning.

Several students have been selected, for embodying those principles. They are Caroline Caggiano, James Dobin Smith, Rachel Greenberg, Colin Konstanty, Natalia Maidique and Kyla Race.

Congratulations to all!

Three honorees (from left): James Dobin-Smith, Colin Konstanty, Caroline Caggiano.


How foggy was it last night? Very, as Andrew Colabella’s shot of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge shows:

And finally … in honor of Staples Players’ “Wizard of Oz” radio broadcast (see story above):