Tag Archives: Westport PAL skating rink

Roundup: PAL Rink, Lithium-Ion Batteries, Christine Ohlman …

The Westport PAL skating rink at Longshore has enjoyed a banner vacation week.

Westport PAL Longshore skating rink. (Photo/Rowene Weems)

The ice — just a few yards from Long Island Sound, between the tennis courts and La Plage restaurant — is one of our town’s semi-hidden gems. Perfect for skating under a bright sun (or moon), it’s open nearly all the time to the public.

Click here for the full schedule, and more information.


The Westport Fire Department responded yesterday to a call about a garbage truck on Fairview Drive.

Firefighters found that the truck operator had already dumped trash from the truck, and extinguished the blaze with a fire extinguisher.

The cause of the fire was lithium-ion batteries for a vacuum cleaner. The garbage truck operator had heard an explosion and seen smoke from the truck’s rear.

Lithium-ion batteries are unlikely to catch fire if handled and disposed of properly. But faults inside the battery or from external damage can cause fires, with potentially severe consequences.

Lithium-ion batteries are found in cell phones, laptops, tablets, electric cars and scooters.

The Fire Department offers these tips:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, bed or couch.
  • Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made for the device.
  • Keep batteries/devices at room temperature. Do not place in direct sunlight.
  • Store batteries away from anything flammable.
  • If a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape/color, leaking, or odd noises from a device, discontinue use immediately. If safe, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 911.
  • Do not put lithium-ion batteries in the trash.
  • Recycling is always the best option.
  • Take them to a battery recycling location or contact your community for disposal instructions.
  • Do not put discarded batteries in piles.

Westport residents may recycle these types of batteries at the transfer station. For more information, click here.

Lithium-ion battery, after garbage truck fire. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)


In the past year, the Westport Library has hosted the multi-genre Verso Fest, and 4 Sundays f blues.

Rock n’ soul rules on January 7 (7:30 p.m.). Christine Ohlman — the platinum blonde “Beehive Queen,” and longtime “Saturday Night Live” — joins Rebel Montez to the Trefz Forum for a Winter Dance Party.

She is no stranger to the Library. She collaborated with Mark Naftalin — the Westport resident and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician — on his “Blue Sunday” series last month.

Ohlman’s career includes appearances with Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo, Smokey Robinsons, Graham Nash, Steve Miller, the B52s and Elvis Costello. She has sold out the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s David Bowie tribute and the WC Handy Festival in Muscle Shoals.

She has recorded with Al Green, Bruce Springsteen, the Blind Boys Of Alabama, George Harrison, Sting, Ian Hunter, Bonnie Bramlett, Ronnie Spector, Charlie Musselwhite, Irma Thomas and Chrissie Hynde, among others.

DJ B The T Jr. gets the gig started, with all-vinyl soul classics at 6:30.

Click here for tickets. Use “BLUES” for a $5 discount.

Christine Ohlman


Mark Shanahan — chief curator of the Westport Country Playhouse’s popular script-in-hand reading series — wrote “A Sherlock Carol.”

Launched with a virtual world premier at the Playhouse in January 2021, the show is ending a 6-week season run at New World Stages Performing Arts Complex in New York.

The final three are today (Friday, December 30, 2 and 8 p.m.) and Sunday (January 1, 8 p.m.).

The show is also performing to full houses at London’s Marlybone Theatre. It runs there through January 7.

Shanahan says: “When a grown-up Tiny Tim asks Sherlock Holmes to investigate the peculiar death of Ebenezer Scrooge, the Great Detective must use his tools of deduction to get to the bottom of the crime. But it is a dark and treacherous Christmas Eve, and once again the holiday is haunted by the spirits of the past, present and future.“

The New York show ends with curtain speeches each night asking for donations to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Shanahan has written and directed fundraising galas for them for years, with Annie Keefe of the Westport Playhouse.

Click here for “Sherlock Carol” tickets, and more information. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Mark Shanahan


Laurie Sorensen was walking back from the Longshore golf course at sunset. She snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo at Gray’s Creek.

“May we continue to enjoy such serene scenes in 2023!” she says. “Happy New Year to all ‘06880’ readers, and to the beautiful wildlife that graces our environment.”

(Photo/Laurie Sorensen)


And finally … Ian Tyson died yesterday, at his ranch in Alberta. He was 89.

Half of the folk duo Ian & Sylvia, he was “a revered figure in his home country, celebrated both for his music and his commitment to the culture of Canada’s ranch country,” the New York Times said.

“Before Canadian musicians like Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen, there was Ian Tyson.”

His song “Four Strong Winds” was voted the most essential Canadian piece of music by listeners of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2005. He also wrote “Someday Soon,” a classic Judy Collins tune.

Click here for a full obituary.

(If “06880” reminds you to skate at the PAL rink, saves you from a lithium-ion battery disaster, or helps in any other way, please consider a donation. Just click here — and thank you!)

Special Resources, For Special Kids

For many Westport parents, kids’ activities — sports, arts, organizations, lessons, you name it — are easy to access. And there are gazillions of them.

For parents with special needs children, it’s not as easy. There are many excellent programs, but they can be hard to find.

And even though the PTAs’ SpED (Special Education) committee spreads the word through an info-filled weekly email — including options outside of school, and resources for parents too — plenty of Westporters don’t even know they can join that list.

Some of the programs — here and in nearby towns — are inclusive. Others are adapted, making them attainable to those who did not think they could participate.

So how can parents learn what’s out there?

Westporter Johanna Kiev has compiled a massive database of material. She’s shared it with “06880” — which is honored to offer it to our readers.

(Johanna has also developed a Facebook resource page — click here to see it).

Thanks, Johanna. And everyone: Feel free to forward this far and wide!

About the Westport SpED Committee

Westport SpED PTA committee representatives work closely with each school’s administration, and the district’s assistant superintendent of pupil services. They meet monthly. Co-chairs are Julie McMahon and Kate Grijns.

Members are parents of children who receive special education services. The committee hosts social events and shares information, such as:

  • Sip ’N Chat – informal parent coffees held monthly at Panera Bread
  • Community Fun Day each November
  • Teen Nights at the Westport Weston Family Y
  • Parent education seminars on topics like “Navigating Your IEP” and “Assistive Technology”
  • Weekly emails with information about local events and activities, plus summer opportunities and post-high school transition options

The committee also works with local agencies like the Parks & Recreation Department and Westport Library, for advocacy and programming.

To be added to the PTA SpED mailing list — or if you would like to add information about a program not listed below, or are a business that can help — email westportspedpta@gmail.com.

Programming Options for Children with Special Needs:

The Westport Weston Family Y sponsors:

Swim Team: The program includes participation in Connecticut Special Olympics summer games. Fee: $100 (September-June)

Basketball: Junior Team (8 -12 years): Saturdays 8:45 to 9:30 p.m.
Senior Team (13+ years): Saturdays 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
This program includes participation in the CT Unified Sports tournament. Fee: $65 (September-February)

Track & Field: This program includes participation in the Connecticut Special Olympics summer games. Fee: $45 (March-June)

Floor Hockey: This began for the first time last month. Fee: $45 (December-March)

Smiles all around on the Y’s Special Olympics swim team.

Special Needs Swim Lessons: The Y offers private and semi-private swim lessons at a greatly reduced rate for children with special needs. Lessons can be booked at any time, but because the pool can get noisy and distracting, instructors are also available during quieter hours (evenings, Fridays, early Saturday and Sunday morning). Rates: Private 30-minute lesson, $25; 2-person 30-minute lesson, $15 each.

Long Distance Running: This program is for children who are interested in completing a 5k (combination of walking and running). Practice times: Tuesdays, 4-4:45 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:45 to 11:30 a.m.

SPED Teen Fun Nights: Offered on various dates.

For more information or to register for any Westport Weston YMCA special needs activity, click here or call 203-226-8981


Earthplace provides necessary resources to allow children to access and enjoy all programming. For more information or to register, click here or call 203-557-4400.

MusicWorks! Individual Music Therapy Sessions for Children with Special Needs

MusicWorks! (Westport School of Music, 18 Woods Grove Road) sessions employ structured and improvised musical activities including singing, instrument playing, rhythm and movement, songwriting, listening, imaging and relaxation to meet individual needs. Activities are specifically designed for cognitive, emotional, psychological, physical and social concerns. They are facilitated by board-certified music therapist Patricia Ashford, who encourages children and adults to express themselves without judgment and to grow in creativity and self-confidence.

For more information or to register, call director Sarah Miller: 203-227-4931.

Music Works! is specially designed for children with special needs.

“Break an Egg – The Social Kitchen”: 

Break an Egg – The Social Kitchen” builds the communication skills of people with special needs through the motivating element of food. Each participant in the cooking class prepares a new recipe each week. The fall/winter program includes pumpkin muffins, apple berry salsa with cinnamon chips, garlic and lemon butternut squash noodles, and apple stir fry with whipped cream. Dietary needs can be accommodated.

Classes are taught by licensed speech and language pathologist Shari Goldstein, and Penney Parkes, a food technologist and mom of a special needs young adult.

Classes are held in Fairfield on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They can be held at home kitchens if parents form a group of youngsters to cook together. There are classes for elementary, middle and high school students. A preschool class could be organized too.

For more information or to sign up, email Shari@breakaneggsocialkitchen.com or Penney@breakaneggsocialkitchen.com

The Drew Friedman Foundation: New Arts Program for Kids

The Foundation introduces a pilot youth arts program for children with special needs this month in Westport. The hands-on program, conducted by local artists, includes 10 to 15 children around ages 8 to 16 to work on a mosaic-type project.

For more information, email michellevitulich@gmail.com or call 203-349-0455.

Inclusive Ice Skating : Ages 5 – 13

Saturdays, 11am to 11:45am (through February 9) at the Westport PAL Rink at Longshore.

Individual and group instruction in basic skills is offered at the Westport PAL Rink at Longshore. Parents are encouraged to skate with their children. The program runs Saturdays through February 9 (11 to 11:45 a.m.). To register, click here.

Little League Baseball – Challenger Program

This program pairs young volunteers with children with special needs. Details on the spring season will be available soon; click here.

Hillary Lipper shares a laugh with Coach Scott, during the 2013 Challenger season.

Circle of Friends

Norwalk-based Circle of Friends includes many Westporters. The organization matches special needs children with teenage volunteers for play dates. The group also organizes monthly gatherings for youngsters with special needs. For more information, click here.

The Jewish Community Center of Stamford

The JCC  offers winter programs designed to improve children’s social skills and build positive peer interactions:

  • Music, Movement & Yoga – fun and interactive for all ability levels.
  • Music Mania – provides opportunities for children to explore their creativity, using music to improve skills.
  • Zumba Kids Jr – kid-friendly routines based on original Zumba choreography.
  • Ready, Set, Move – enables children to engage their muscles by moving through an obstacle course and yoga positions.

(Have we missed any programs? Click “Comments” below!)

Pic Of The Day #643

Longshore skating rink changing area (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)