Tag Archives: Westport Library Book Sale

Roundup: Book Sale, Fine Arts Festival, Ben Casparius …

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Has the dreary weather got you down?

Think back to a year ago this Memorial Day weekend. Life was a lot worse. So go out and enjoy Westport’s 2 big events. They’re great. Many people have worked hard to make them happen. And they’re important to the sponsors.

The 48th annual Fine Arts Festival runs from now through 5 p.m. Artists on displya includes painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, graphics and print making.

There’s music, food, and plenty of activities for children. Click here for more details.

Today is also the last day of the Westport Library Book Sale — which means all books, CDs and DVDs are half price.

Every customer gets a coupon for The Westport Book Shop (used book store on Jesup Green). The sale is open from noon to 5 p.m. And you’ll be dry: It’s all inside the library!

Westport LIbrary Book Sale

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The University of Connecticut baseball team plays in this afternoons Big East finals (1 p.m.).

Yesterday, Ben Casparius got them there.

The 2017 Staples High School state championship team captain and Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year pitched 7 innings great innings against Creighton. The Huskies won 2-0 in the conference semifinal, played in Mason, Ohio.

Casparius struck out 13, while allowing just 3 hits. After the game he said, “it was an awesome experience, an awesome day for us, and we’re ready to go [Sunday]. We’re not even close to done yet.” (Hat tip: David Goldstein)

Ben Casparius, in a post-game interview yesterday.

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Speaking of Staples grads: Class of 2012 alum Ellen Kempner leads Palehound, an indie rock duo. She met Melinda (who records as Jay Som) on tour

They realized they’re compatible — “two breathy-voiced songwriters whose music can be fragile or bruising, offering both vulnerability and resolve,” the New York Times‘ Jon Pareles writes — and joined forces.

In January 2020 they rented an Airbnb house for two weeks, and recorded an album. They called themselves Bachelor.

It’s been released as “Doomin’ Sun.” Pareles says:

Kempner and Duterte brought out the best in each other. In the songs they wrote together, satisfaction often stays just out of reach. They look at desire, estrangement, insecurity, pop fandom, shoplifting and, in the album’s title song, climate change. And they sing like sisters who know each other’s secrets.

Click here for the full Times story. (Hat tip: John Karrel)

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Up on Weston’s Kellogg Hill, Jolantha celebrates Memorial Day:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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On Friday night, MoCA Westport welcomed the Alexa Tarantino Quartet. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist performed a great set — including the Connectcut premiere of their “Firefly” album. Attendees enjoyed a Firefly aperitif too.

Next up in the Music at MoCA Series: Jocelyn and Chris, a sibling rock duo seen recently on “The Today Show.” They perform outdoors on June 11 (7 p.m.). Click here for tickets.

Alexa Tarantino Quartet, at MoCA Westport.

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Tina Green sent along today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, of a newly hatched peregrine falcon. She notes that the birds been nesting in the Saugatuck area for many years.

(Photo/Tina Green)

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And finally … in honor of Westport’s Fine Arts Festival:

 

Roundup: COVID Spread, Book Sales, Westport Blanket, More


Yesterday, 2 officials advised Westporters about the rapid increase of coronavirus in town.

Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice said that while COVID cases have been discovered in the school population, administrators’ swift response to new cases has resulted in “little to no widespread COVID contamination.”

However, new cases require immediate attention, like quarantining and contact tracing. While the lack of spread demonstrates that the processes in place are working, the schools are continually challenged by new cases resulting from outside activities.

These include recent large gatherings, parties and sports activities involving students or parents. Photos and social media posts caused 1st Selectman Jim Marpe to ask Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava to consider reinstating earlier COVID-related policies at local parks, fields and recreation facilities.

Marpe says: “The ability for our schools to remain open for in-person learning is dependent on the actions of our entire community. I urge all residents to follow the appropriate public health protocols so that our community can remain open, but safe.

“Please refrain from contact sports, wear a mask, social distance, avoid gatherings and practice good hygiene. Residents are strongly urged to avoid gatherings where adherence to social distancing and mask wearing cannot be accomplished.”

Anyone awaiting test results, whether taken because of symptoms or COVID exposure, should not go out into the community until receiving those results.

Staples Players have done most rehearsals for their radio shows remotely. When they do get together, they are diligent about wearing masks. (Photo/Kerry Long)


The Westport Library’s Holiday & Winter Book Sale is always eagerly anticipated by gift givers.

The bad news: COVID-19 has knocked out in-person shopping. This year it’s all online.

The good news: It’s already there.

Fiction, mystery, arts, biographies, photography, cookooks, sci-fi, puzzles, kids’ books, plus CDs, puzzles an games — they’re all available from the comfort of home.

Click here to browse. All books are available for pickup by appointment at the library’s upper parking lot, 7 days after purchase.

New items are added weekly. So bookmark the page, and check back often.


Speaking of holiday gifts: This is my favorite so far.

Savvy + Grace — the wonderful, whimsical Main Street gift shop across from Rye Ridge Deli — sells some very cool Westport-themed items. What stands out is a fleece blanket, featuring an 1890s topographic map of the town.

Click here to check it — and much more — out. In-store shopping, curbside pickup and shipping are all available.

Savvy + Grace’s Westport blanket.


And finally … today is Friday the 13th. Just what we need in 2020!

Roundup: Library Book Sale; Parks & Rec Programs, More


The Westport Library Book Sale is back! Yes — it’s live and in person!

A 3-day sale is set for Friday, September 4 through Sunday September 6, in the Library’s main level.

Thousands of books are available in over 30 categories, including children’s books, graphic novels and comics, classics, fiction, sci-fi, mysteries, art, photography, history, science, psychology, biographies, cookbooks, gardening, performing arts, travel, even antiquarian books. Vinyl records, CDs audio books and DVDs are also on sale.

For safety, the number of volunteers and employees on site will be limited. Masks and social distancing are mandatory.

Admission on the first day of the sale (Friday, September 4) is by timed admission tickets only. They go on sale this Monday (August 24, 8 a.m.; click here.) There are just 25 tickets per time slot: 9 to 10:50 a.m. ($50), 11 am to 12:50 ($40), 1 to 2:50 p.m. ($30) and 3 to 4:50 p.m. ($25).

Admission to the book sale on Saturday and Sunday is free — first come, first served.

Book sale hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.  For more information, click here.

Can’t make the sale? It’s also online. A curated selection of books, CDs and jigsaw puzzles is available for purchase on the book sale’s website, with pickup of purchased items by appointment in the library’s upper parking lot.


Parks and Recreation Department fall program registration begins next Wednesday (August 26, 9 a.m., online). Click here to see the offerings.

If you have trouble accessing your online account, or have an address change, do not create another profile. Instead, call 203-341-5152, or email recreation@westportct.gov.


And finally … in 1985 Aretha was (as usual) way before her time:

Roundup: Outdoor Dining And Fitness; Downtown Flowers and Barber; More


Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission took steps to hear 2 COVID-related text amendments. Both respond to the changing business environment in town, and will be voted on July 23.

One amendment would extend temporary outdoor dining permits through the end of March 2021. Commissioners spoke of their desire to support local restaurants during an uncertain time, and reassure owners that investments they make for outdoor dining will be worthwhile beyond summer.

The second proposed text amendment would extend similar restaurant flexibility to fitness studios and gyms hoping to temporarily locate equipment outdoors. This applies to facilities like JoyRide, nearly all of which are locally owned.

Drafts of both text amendments will be posted Monday for review by the public. Comments may be emailed (pandzcomments@westportct.gov). To request a Zoom link to participate with “in-person” testimony at the July 23 meeting, email maryyoung@westportct.gov.

Romanacci’s Xpress is one of 3 Railroad Place restaurants with outdoor dining.


The pots and flower barrels lining Main Street, and hanging from poles throughout downtown, look gorgeous.

But they don’t water themselves.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association needs volunteers. Watering takes about an hour a day. To learn more about the sign-up system — and how to choose your time — email events1@westportdma.com.

Main Street planters


Speaking of downtown: There will be one less barber next month.

Ron Provenzano — owner of the shop named for himself at 190 Main Street, in the old Sally’s Place space — is closing around August 7. He, his wife and their children are moving to Wilmington, North Carolina.

It’s not COVID-related, he says. His wife’s business is booming, and she loves that area.

Ron has been in his present shop, above Le Rouge Aaartisan Chocolates, for 6 years. That follows more than a dozen on Railroad Place.

With the closing the other day of Compo Barbers, 2 old-school men’s hair cutters are gone. Westporters will miss them both.

Ron Provenzano


Scott Smith writes:

“In all my years enjoying Old Mill Beach and Compo Beach (this social-distanced season, more than ever), I’ve never seen such a large boat working the waters so close to shore.

“I took photos from near the jetty at Soundview Avenue as this sturdy boat churned in a tight loop up and back, just off the far rocks at Compo Cove. No nets or traps; near as I can tell, it looked like it was sluicing a mound of dirt-like material piled amidships over the gunwales with a water jet.

“After an hour or so, the big black boat was off, headed for deep water and turning west.

“Anybody know if the boat was indeed offloading material into the Sound, and if so, where it came from and what it is?” If you have a clue, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Scott Smith)


Westport Library Book Sale donations are back!

Beginning next week, materials will be accepted every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, during any hours the library is open.

Donors should come to the gray brick shed in the upper parking lot. Donations will be quarantined there for 3 days, before being handled by sale volunteers.

You can bring used books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, vintage magazines and other ephemera. Please: no water-damaged or mildewed materials, VHS tapes, audiocassettes, or self-recorded CDs and DVDs.  For more information, click here.

New book sale volunteers are always welcome. Help is needed all year to sort, research and price donated materials; provide merchandising and customer support at book sale events, and supervise and train employees with disabilities.  To learn more, email  info@westportbooksales.org


As noted in yesterday’s Roundup, MoCA Westport’s Helmut Lang exhibition is now open. There’s plenty of room to enjoy the show — just be like these visitors, and wear a mask!


And finally … yesterday’s “06880” story on the Paycheck Protection Program noted the 137 Westport businesses that got loans of at least $150,000, helping them meet payrolls and keep folks employed.

Another Paycheck — Johnny — had a different view of work. Back in 1977, he sang:

Roundup: Library Book Sale Begins; Comedy Show Saturday; More


The Westport Book Sale’s silent auction opened for bidding this morning.

Items include a virtual visit with Lauren Tarshis, Westport Country Playhouse tickets, a golf outing, photo sessions, artworks, counseling services, fine wine, items for home and garden, and of course rare and interesting books (and more).

Silent auction bidding ends this Friday (June 19, 6 p.m.). There’s also “book bundles” — surprises in a variety of genre (available through Friday, June 26).

Click here for more information, and to bid.


Another important fundraiser that’s moved online is Homes with Hope’s “Stand Up At Home” special event. Set for this Saturday (June 20, 8 p.m.), it showcases 4 great stand-up comedians. There’s also a special performance by Staples High School graduate Justin Paul, and guest appearances by Westport’s own Dr. Scott Gottlieb and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

It’s a great way to laugh together — in the comfort of home — despite being apart.

It’s also much-needed benefit for Homes with Hope, which since 1984 has helped homeless families and individuals through emergency shelter, supportive housing, case management, mentoring, education, and daily meals and groceries.

A suggested $25 donation for “Stand Up at Home” covers your entire family. Click here to register for Saturday’s show. For more information on Homes with Hope, click here.


Ariana Napier continues to make weekly runs to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. And Westporters continue to help.

Her next donation is this Friday (June 19). Items most in need: peanut butter and jelly (no glass), cereal and canned vegetables.

Drop-offs can be made at a bin in her driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane). She’s also happy to pick up at your house. Email ariana.napier@gmail.com for details.


1st Selectman Jim Marpe spoke with Staples High School graduate/Persona Interviews intern Becca Rawiszer about the town’s reopening plans, and his thoughts on how Westport has handled the COVID crisis. 

Click here to download the Persona app, to watch it all.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe.


And finally … Tori Amos caught a lite sneeze. But she’s fine!

Another Sign Of The Times

Westporters have a complex relationship with advertising signs.

We don’t want them clogging traffic islands — particularly when they’re illegal.

But for non-profits, they’re great vehicles for passing the word to passersby.

Alert “06880” reader/avid volunteer Amy Ancel writes:

People have been removing non-profits’ event yard signs from areas all over town — even those permitted and approved by the first selectman’s office.

This week’s thefts include signs for the Westport Library Book Sale and Wakeman Town Farm’s Family Fun Day.

I checked with Chip Stephens of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He and fellow commissioner Al Gratrix stopped removing illegal signs a year ago.

So it appears that members of the general public are removing our signs from town roads. They can’t do that!

Of course, commercial signs — like for Mosquito Joe, Hauling Unlimited and kids’ camps — are not legal anywhere.

But non-profit event signs are legal. They are approved by the first selectman’s office, for specific locations. They should not be touched by the public. This includes traffic islands maintained by local businesses.

These signs are one of two main ways non-profits have of advertising special events. (The other is social media.)

And these signs cost a lot of money. We try to reuse them, to create less waste!

We spend a lot of time and energy placing them. We’re only allowed 15 signs per event. It’s so aggravating to see them go missing almost as soon as we put them up!

Book Sale Begins Soon; Volunteers Needed

The Westport Library is transformed. But the annual book sale will be as familiar as your favorite novel.

Beginning Saturday, July 20 — the same weekend as the Fine Arts Festival — the 27th annual event features tens of thousands of books, in every category imaginable: art, children’s, graphic novels, foreign language, gardening, history, humor, music, mystery, nature, photography, poetry, religion, science fiction, sports, teens, travel.

That’s just the Jesup Green tent. Inside the library you’ll find DVDs, CDs, vinyl and paperbacks.

One scene from last year’s Book Sale.

This year’s specials include books from Ed Vebell, the famed illustrator whose heirs have donated much of his collection of military, American West and Native American objects, plus literature from Manny Margolis, the prominent civil rights attorney.

The Book Sale — whose proceeds benefit the library — needs over 300 volunteers. Set-up (starting July 15), sales, shelving, greeting, security, clean-up — there’s a job for everyone, of any physical ability.

If you’re a teenager, retiree or anyone in between, click here to sign up.

Book it!

(The Westport Library’s Book Sale is Saturday, July 20 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, July 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday, July 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fine Arts Festival is Saturday and Sunday, July 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Unsung Heroes #57

Last week’s Westport Library Book Sale went off without a hitch.

Thousands of visitors bought tens of thousands of books. And CDs, DVDs, even LPs.

The library earned thousands of dollars. Even yesterday — when everything was free (contributions gladly accepted!) — the library earned something just as important: grateful good will.

One scene from last weekend’s Book Sale.

But as easy as it all seemed — hundreds of volunteers hauling boxes, posting signs, pointing patrons in the right direction, smilingly totaling up purchases, answering idiotic questions (“Do you have …?”), handling setup, security and cleanup; volumes sorted superbly into categories from Art to Zoology; no problems despite the loss of the library space itself during the Transformation process — none of it would be possible without a few great leaders.

Mimi Greenlee and Dick Lowenstein are the Book Sale co-chairs.

Suzy Hooper and Heli Stagg have full-time library roles, in addition to their Book Sale duties.

They lead with inspiration — and by example. They give new (and literal) meaning to the phrase “heavy lifting.”

This is not the only Westport Library Book sale, either. There are others, in winter and spring. None would happen without the many volunteers — and these 4 at the helm.

(From left) Heli Stagg, Suzy Hooper, Mimi Greenlee and Dick Lowenstein yesterday. They don’t even look tired! (Photo/John Karrel)

We hope Mimi, Dick, Suzy and Heli enjoy being this week’s Unsung Heroes.

But they probably won’t see it. They’re finishing up last weekend’s book sale.

And starting work on the next.

(Hat tip: John Karrel. Want to nominate an Unsung Hero? email dwoog@optonline.net)

Friday Flashback #99

At first glance, this photo looks unremarkable.

Fred Cantor took it in 1977, he thinks — during the Great Race. That was the fun, funny and often alcohol-infused event in which people dressed in costumes, created their own vessels, ran from Taylor Place to the river, jumped in their watercraft, raced out to Cockenoe Island, filled a bag with garbage (the cheaters already carried pre-packed trash), then rowed or sailed or whatever-ed back to shore.

Meanwhile, Main Street merchants held sales. This was the scene outside Remarkable Book Shop. The stalls were always outside, but on this day they attracted huge crowds.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

The Great Race is (regrettably) long gone. But this weekend the Fine Arts Festival returns to Main Street. It’s a great show.

Unfortunately, few Remarkable-type stores anymore offer something else to all those art-lovers (though Savvy + Grace is worth a trip from anywhere).

Also this weekend, the Westport Library hosts its 26th annual Book Sale. Those squintillions of volumes make this Remarkable scene look, well, unremarkable. But whenever and wherever people buy books, it’s a good thing.

Finally, this Friday Flashback raises the question: Now that Remarkable Book Shop is gone — and Talbots too is a long-ago memory too — will anything ever take their place?

P&Z Signs Off: The Sequel

I was busy this afternoon, posting a story about the Planning & Zoning Department’s decision to remove all illegal signs from town-owned property.

Chip Stephens and Al Gratrix were busy too.

They did the actual removal.

The P&Z Commissioners — call them the “De-Signers” — uprooted several dozen offending placards, all over town. Many were in otherwise handsome traffic islands and gardens, like those at the eastern end of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Post Road bridge. (Regulations concerning such signs have been in place since at least 2002.)

A small bit of Chip Stephens and Al Gratrix’s haul.

They’re not finished.

Every illegal sign — even those for beloved institutions like the Westport Library book sale — is fair game, Chip says.

(Photos/Chip Stephens)

Westport’s streetscape is changing. The signs are everywhere.