Tag Archives: Westport PAL Rink at Longshore

Roundup: Masks, Ben McFall, Skating Rink …

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As COVID cases soar in Westport, a concerned “06880” reader writes:

“Our positivity rate is through the roof. The statistics as of Wednesday were near 18%. When other variants were circulating, an indoor mask mandate was in place.

“Currently there is no mask mandate, except government or municipal buildings. I cannot comprehend why there is no mandate reinstated for all indoor spaces in Westport.

“Masks have proven to work in preventing the spread of COVID. As we are all aware, the Omicron variant is extremely contagious. Westport residents, as well as people who work here, would be much safer with a mask mandate in place.

“Not having everyone wear masks indoors puts all of us in danger, especially the older and immuno-compromised populations.

“This has nothing to do with politics or the economy; it has to do solely with health. Whether people agree or not, it is honestly not much of an inconvenience to mask while indoors in order to protect people.

“Let’s keep everyone safe. Let’s reinstate a mask mandate.”

Masks did not detract from Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert earlier this month.. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Yesterday’s New York Times carried a fascinating obituary of Ben McFall. It calls him “the longest-tenured bookseller in the history of the Strand, New York’s renowned bookstore, who for decades peered above his spectacles at a line of acolytes, tourists and young colleagues for whom he incarnated the store’s erudite but easygoing spirit.” He died last week at his home in Jersey City. He was 73, and suffered from pulmonary fibrosis.

The story notes that after graduating from Olivet College with a degree in French and music in 1971, he moved with college friends to Connecticut — and worked at the Remarkable Book Shop in Westport.

“A co-worker told Mr. McFall she could see him at the Strand,” the Times says. “He had never heard of the place, but in 1978 he arrived in New York and interviewed for a job.” He was hired on the spot.

Click here for the full obituary. (Hat tips: Tom Prince, Jackie Kaplan, Adam Stolpen, Mark Lassoff and Fred Cantor)

Ben McFall (Photo/Julie Glassberg for the New York Times)

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The Longshore skating rink is sponsored by Westport PAL. That stands, of course, for “Police Athletic League.”

To promote this year’s season, the Police Department took this image:

It’s a great one. And we’re not the only ones who think so.

It’s now the Photo of the Week on Police1.com — the go-to site for national police news.

Like the rink itself, that’s very, very cool.

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If you’re like 90% of Westporters*, your New Year’s resolution is: “Get fit” (or “fitter”).

Why wait?**

The Joggers Club starts 2022 on the right foot (ho ho), with their annual 3.5-mile run (Saturday, January 1, 8 a.m., Compo Beach).

But wait! There’s more! Cool off with a Polar Plunge at 10.

For a $50 annual fee, you’ll get access to exclusive parties, 41 group runs, post-run coffee and treats, a Brooks running shirt ($35 value!), a ton of fun — and you’ll get in great shape.

Click here, or check out Instagram (@TheJoggersClub).

PS: Save the date: Joggers Club Jr. (ages 5 to 13) returns April 3. Six weeks of 75-minute coached sessions, for just $99.

*The other 10%? See below.

**Because then you won’t do it.

This could be you! (Photo/Armelle Pouriche-Daniels)

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Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to find inner peace.

Pause + Purpose is ready. A new studio on 21 Jesup Road — right near Westport Book Shop — they offer drop-in meditation weekdays (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.). They also plan to launch mindfulness gatherings soon.

Founder Emily Vartanian-Tuttle says: “The world is especially stressful right now, and our collective mental health and wellness is suffering. We have built a positive communal space for meditation and discussion in the heart of Westport.

“Scientists are beginning to understand that meditation is essential to a healthy mental landscape, and there is no better way to dedicate yourself to a practice than with the backing of a whole community behind you. We offer meditation modalities and group support, backed by science to improve mental, social, and emotional wellbeing.

“Our professional staff includes psychologists, counselors, nutritionists, and the like, addressing issues such as postpartum depression, social anxiety, dietary challenges, and mourning, among others.

“Drop in for a self-led practice or join one of our high-quality children and adult mindfulness gatherings, where a seasoned meditation teacher will lead you and a group in meditation and discussion.” Click here to learn more.

The soothing interior of Pause + Purpose.

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Jolantha — Weston’s most famous (or at least most visible) sculpture — greets the New Year:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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Our final “Westport … Naturally” photo of 2021 shows one of our town’s most popular (and most photographed) scenes: Grace Salmon Park.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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And finally … good riddance, 2021!

There was not a lot to laugh at this year. But try this:

 

PAL Skating Rink Celebrates Silver Anniversary

Longtime residents think of it as the “new” skating rink.

Newcomers assume it’s been here forever.

In fact, this year the Westport Police Athletic Rink at Longshore celebrates its 25th anniversary.

That’s right. Every winter since 1997 — with support from Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department — the PAL has operated one of the town’s best family (and solo) activities (and bargains).

Skating at the Longshore PAL rink. (Photo/Michael Wisner)

That first year, a small rink was set up in the parking lot next to the Longshore Inn.

But — thanks to generous donors, and a huge demand for wholesome, fun outdoor entertainment — a larger rink was purchased.

The rink is a magnet for all ages.

In its 5th year, the rink was expanded to its current size: 75 feet by 144 feet.

The rink is versatile. In addition to public skating, lessons and private party rentals, it’s also used by area hockey teams.

Hockey at the Longshore PAL rink. (Photos/Larry Untermeyer)

For lesson information, call 203-341-5090. For party and event info, email wpalrinkparty@gmail.com. For the rink’s website, click here.

Of course, the rink is not the only PAL project. Established in 1948, they run youth programs in football, cheer, basketball, rugby, wrestling, lacrosse and track and field.

The PAL awards annual scholarships too.

And of course, they do all the heavy lifting for Westport’s annual July 4th fireworks show.

This week though — with the opening of the 25th Longshore skating season — the focus is on the PAL’s rink.

Everyone has a favorite PAL skating rink story. Click “Comments” below to share yours.

Longtime Longshoroe PAL Rink manager ony Lantier.

Unsung Heroes #83

The Westport PAL Rink at Longshore doesn’t get a lot of press.

But every winter for over 20 years — quietly, efficiently, and very, very joyfully — the outdoor skating center just a few feet from Long Island Sound has provided thousands of kids and adults of all abilities (and none) with hours of good fun, and a lifetime of memories.

It’s not easy keeping an ice rink going — especially one without a roof. There’s ice to groom (and remove snow from). There’s the weather — sometimes too cold, sometimes too warm.

There are schedules to make (and adhere to), lessons to give, parties to help out with, reckless teenagers and worried parents to tend to.

The Westport Rink at Longshore. (Photo/Michael Winser)

I can’t imagine how the PAL Rink staff does it. But they do — and they do it in a way that makes it all seem easy. They smile often, extend helping hands when needed, and create a warm environment on even the coldest nights.

So to longtime manager Tony Lantier and his loyal, hard-working and often-overlooked crew: Thank you! You are our deeply appreciated yet Unsung Heroes of the week.

Manager Tony Lantier, at his rink.