Tony Award winner Ali Stroker (Ado Annie “Oklahoma!”) brings her magic to the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday July 24. The live, in-person performance is next in the storied theater’s summer cabaret series.
Stroker — who recently starred in the Lifetime film “Christmas Ever After” — made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway, in 2015’s “Spring Awakening.’
Stroker has soloed at the Kennedy Center, New York’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Her mission is to improve the lives of others — disabled or not — through the arts.
Stroker’s appearance at the Playhouse has special resonance. It’s the same stage that premiered “Green Grow the Lilacs” in 1940. Richard Rogers checked it out here — and was inspired to collaborate with Oscar Hammerstein on a play that became “Oklahoma!” The rest — including Stroker’s role — is history.
Tickets for “An Evening with Ali Stroker” start at $25 for performance only. Supporter tickets — raising funds to reopen the Playhouse — start at $150; they include VIP perks and a pre-show cocktail party. Click here for tickets, call (203) 227-4177, or email email@example.com.
Soccer fans have known 1999 Staples High School graduate Kyle Martino as the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, MLS pro with the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy, US national team player and NBC Sports analyst.
Soon, Bridgeport youngsters will know him as the man who brought an innovative soccer court to their city.
This Saturday (July 17, 3 p.m., Cesar Batalla Elementary School, 606 Howard Avenue), Martino introduces the Over Under Initiative. His unique invention is an in-ground goal that pops up quickly and easily, converting basketball courts into multi-sport surfaces, for soccer, handball and floor hockey. It could be a game-changer (pun intended).
The public is invited to Saturday’s ceremony at the Batalla School. For more information click here, and watch the video below.
Speaking of sports: There are thousands of reasons to support Westport PAL — as in, the thousands of youngsters who are helped each year by their sports programs and college scholarships.
Support is especially important now. For the past 2 years, PAL’s biggest fundraiser — the July 4th fireworks — have been canceled.
So be sure to head to this Sunday’s car show (July 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.
Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. That’s how PAL rolls: Even at their fundraiser, they’re all about the kids.
Very talented Weston photographer Alison Wachstein is offering special “Porchtraits” — 20-minute photo sessions on her porch, and a retouched digital file posted on Facebook — for a $100 minimum contribution to International Waldenstroms Macroglobulemia Foundation. It funds research, education and support for people diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The “Share the Love” portraits can be of families, couples, siblings, best friends — even with a cherished pet. Larger groups that can’t be accommodated on the porch will be photographed in her garden.
A limited number of sessions are available. Click here for the donation link. Call 203-226-5296 for an appointment.
Alison Wachstein took this Woog family portrait in 1991.
Three Saugatuck Rowing Club alumnae medaled at the World Rowing U23 Championships last weekend in the Czech Republic. The event included 800 rowers from 55 countries.
Two sets of medalists — the women’s pair and women’s lightweight pair — were coached by Gordon Getsinger, SRC director of rowing and junior girls head coach.
The women’s pair, including SRC’s Caitlin Esse and Lucy Koven, rowed to silver in an exciting finish. SRC rower Bonnie Pushner and Lindsey Rust raced to a bronze medal in their event. Both pairs trained in Westport under Getsinger’s watch for the past several months.
Westport resident, SRC alum and 2018 Staples High School graduate Kelsey McGinley medaled twice. She earned silver in the 4- (4 without coxswain), then 2 hours later rowed to gold in the 8+. McGinley has been training in Iowa City with the USRowing Selection Camp since early June. She rows at Stanford University, and is a first team All-American.
Alan Hahn Eugley died June 30. He was surrounded by family at his Westport home, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
A retired banking executive, Alan graduated from Lehigh University with a BS in economics and an MS in business economics. His 45-year career included executive positions at Bankers Trust, Marine Midland Bank and Fiserv.
Alan grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, and spent summers at his family’s cottage in Lincolnville, Maine. He played guitar in college and high school bands, and later delighted in his daughter Allison’s flute performances and playing guitar with his son Seth.
During retirement, Alan spent every Sunday with his special needs daughter Elizabeth. Alan also helped with his wife Emily’s art exhibition installations.
A 27-year resident of Westport, Alan enjoyed boating and golf, and was an active member of the Longshore Men’s Golf Association. Known for his jovial and upbeat approach to life, Alan appreciated a 5 p.m. martini, no matter where he was.
Alan is survived by his wife Emily Hamilton Laux; mother Mary Louise; daughters Allison (Geoff) and Elizabeth; son Seth; sisters Gwen (Rick) and Melissa (Paul); stepchildren Madeleine and Jack; niece and nephews Nicolina, Paul and Will, and grandchildren Amelia and Brady. He is also survived by his former wife Susan McShane. His wife Karen Treadwell predeceased him.
A memorial will be held in Westport in August. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to STAR, which provides services to special-needs children and adults in Connecticut.
And finally … sure, today is Bastille Day. But I paid homage to France’s national day last year.
July 14 is also the date when, in 1881, outlaw/gunfighter/murderer Billy the Kid was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in New Mexico.
Everyone of a certain age remembers Billy Joel’s “Billy the Kid.” Most of the lyrics are “artistic license” (a kind way of saying, “BS”). And of course, we’re all left to wonder: Is the “Billy” from “Oyster Bay, Long Island” in the final verse actually Billy Joel himself?
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What a combination! MoCA Westport and the Westport Farmers’ Market are collaborating on a new project. It culminates in an exhibition in late August.
“Between the Ground and the Sky” will feature photography from the “Who Grows Your Food” initiative, a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the WFM.
As part of the collaboration, a Family Day (Saturday, September 11) at MoCA includes art, food and music.
The centerpiece of “Between the Ground and the Sky” is over 50 large photographs of local farms by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff. They tell a compelling story of the importance of local farms and farmers.
Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran says, “This program embodies the essence of our organizations. Bringing together art, education, community and knowledge of agriculture, featuring the hands that tend the land, results in more than a fun event – it creates an impact that will last a lifetime.”
MoCA executive director Ruth Mannes adds, “We are thrilled to partner with the Westport Farmers’ Market to share this important aspect of our economy and our lives with the public.”
“Lost Ruby” by Ashley Skatoff — part of the Farmers’ Market/MoCA exhibit.
The Westport Library and Artists Collective of Westport are collaborating on their first live, all-member show since December 2019. The theme could not be more apt: “Community.”
The 2-part exhibit — on view from July 10 through September 28 — will occupy all 3 Library galleries.
“Piece by Piece” is a 5’ x 12’ installation created by 60 Artists Collective members. Each artist received a 12” x 12” blank panel, and a 6-inch square section randomly selected from an iconic painting.
Each artist thencreated an individual piece, replicating a part of the larger painting in their own style. They will not know what the final painting looks like until it is revealed when the exhibit opens.
Each 12” x 12” piece can be purchased online for $100. Proceeds support the Library and the artist. Click here to purchase, and for more information.
Along with the exhibits, there is an art trunk show in the lower parking lot this Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Part of the Westport Library/Artists Collective show.
The 59th annual event Westport PAL Golf Tournament — named for former Police Chief Samuel Luciano, a staunch PAL supporter — tees off on September 13, at Longshore. With the 4th of July fireworks canceled for a 2nd straight year, this is PAL’s biggest — and most important — fundraiser.
The day begins at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and putting contest. There are 2 tee times: 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
There’s a shotgun start, scramble format; lunch; more golf, then dinner, raffles and prizes (hole-in-one, hula hoop, longest drive, closest to pin).
The cost is $175 per golfer, $700 per foursome. Sponsorships are available too, from $150 to $5,000 (largest sign at first tee, banner on dinner tent, complimentary foursome). Click here to register, sponsor — or just donate to PAL.
There have been some scintillating games at this year’s Euro 20 (the European soccer championship, postponed from last year).
Games are particularly great on a big screen. There’s no bigger screen than the one at Vivid-Tek. That’s Mark Motyl’s store a few doors from Fortuna’s. He sells 110-inch theater screens — which, with the tap of a button, hides in a customized credenza or bench when not in use.
Mark invited me over yesterday to watch the Spain-Italy semifinal. We were in Westport, not Wembley.
But it was hard to tell the difference.
Mark Motyl, minutes before the Euro 2020 semifinal.
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Wally Meyer, former Westport 2nd Selectman and longtime member of the RTM. He served with my predecessor, Marty Hauhuth from 1985 to 1989.
“Wally was also an active participant in making Westport a better place by helping found Project Return, and through his many years of service and leadership with the Westport Rotary Club.
“Wally was a special Westporter — always willing to share his opinion, but also willing to lend a helping hand. He will be missed by all who knew him. My deepest condolences to his many friends and to his family.”
But Salsa Fresca is betting the 3rd time’s the charm.
The idea is the same: build your own Mexican meal — burrito, bowl, taco, salad, nachos, quesadilla — from a list of items.
Salsa Fresca is a lot smaller than either of the 2 chains that preceded it. They had hundreds. This will be just the 9th Salsa Fresca in New York and Connecticut. The closest locations now are Danbury and Bedford Hills.
They’ll open in the exact same spot — at the foot of Playhouse Square, underneath Kennedy’s Barber Shop — that Qdoba vacated more than 3 years ago.
So I’ll say this about Salsa Fresca: They’ve got some big cojones.
With no 4th of July fireworks yesterday, “06880” reader Jennifer McCarthy floated the idea of rescheduling the pyrotechnics — this year only — to Labor Day.
Looks like a washout, though (just like Friday night’s would have been). Westport PAL — longtime sponsor of the annual event — says that town officials nixed the concept a while ago, not wanting to risk being a super-spreader.
In addition, staffing would be tough. Many seasonal employees will already be back in college.
See you at Compo in early July, 2022!
Fears of another super-spreader event mean no fireworks until next year. (Photo/Rick Benson)
Posted onJune 8, 2021|Comments Off on Roundup: Craig Melvin, Car Show, Circle Of Friends …
Fathers Day is June 20. Which makes a perfect tie-in for Craig Melvin.
The NBC “Today” show anchor — and Westport resident — has just written a new book: Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father.
On Thursday, June 17 (7 p.m., in-person and via Zoom) he’ll discuss it — along with fatherhood, addiction and resiliency — in a Westport Library program. He’s got the perfect co-host too: his wife, Lindsay Czarniak. She’s a sportscaster and NFL sideline report for Fox Sports, after 6 years with ESPN.
Melvin calls his book more an investigation than a memoir. It’s an opportunity to better understand his father; to interrogate his family’s legacy of addiction and despair, but also transformation and redemption, and to explore the challenges facing all dads.
Pops also includes tales of the inspiring fathers Melvin has met reporting his “Dads Got This” series on “Today.”
Click here to register, either in-person or via Zoom. Copies of Pops are available for ordering and pickup at the library, or for shipping.
The past 15 months have not had much to joke about.
As we emerge from COVID though, there’s plenty to smile about.
There’s no better place than at Homes with Hope’s “Stand-up for Comedy” fundraiser. Set for this Saturday (June 12, 8 p.m.), it’s a livestreamed event with 4 fantastic comedians — and for one of the best non-profits in Fairfield County.
See the link below for comedian details. Then click here for tickets.
And finally … Patrick Sky died last month. A folk singing/songwriting contemporary of Dave Van Ronk, Buffy Sainte-Marie and others in the Greenwich Village 1960’s scene, he never achieved their fame. But albums like “Songs That Made America Famous” remain cult classics. Of Irish and Native American ancestry, he mastered the very difficult uilleann pipes late in his career. Click here for his obituary.
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I’ll admit I got a little breathless when I received a Sundance email headlined, “Visit Our New Store in Westport.”
Westport?! This catalog has served as my retail therapy vision board for years; the source of countless subtle, dog-eared “tips” I’ve left for my spouse re birthday and holiday gifts.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Robert Redford-stamped brand, think Millie Rae’s meets Anthropologie — high-end, carefully curated, bohemian-Southwest-y silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothes, shoes and housewares.
I can’t wait to see how they deck out their brick-and-mortar store on Main Street (the former Ann Taylor — it’s only their 18th retail location). Am I excited enough about it to get the free gift for booking an “early access appointment”?
Why yes, actually, I might be. If they do this right, I think it’s about as perfect a fit for Westport as any catalogue-come-to-life could be.
Tracy Rosen offers a shout-out for a local business.
The other afternoon, she and a friend went to Shearwater for coffee. But they close at 4 p.m.
They decided instead to have a glass of wine next door, at Ignazio’s Pizza.
“They couldn’t have been nicer!” Tracy says.
“They set up a table for us outside, and lit a wood-burning fire pit. They were so hospitable, just letting us sit there with our wine, never pushing us to order anything else. But their pizza smells amazing!”
An opening reception this Friday (May 14, 4 to 7 p.m.) showcases “A Glimpse Ahead.” The figurative exhibit focuses on summer, with artwork that includes swimmers, surfers, pool scenes and waterscapes. The aim is to create a sense of peace, relaxation and joy.
Among the artists: Westporter Dale Najarian. She contributes abstracted waterscapes on canvas and wood panel.
It was the correct public health decision — but it comes at a cost to the Police Athletic League.
The fireworks display is their major fundraising event, and it has now been canceled for the second consecutive year. In addition, the PAL suffered a serious loss from this winter’s revenue at the Longshore skating rink, which they also sponsor.
Westport PAL suffered a severe hit from COVID this year. (Photo/Michael Wisner)
The funding gap for these events is about $165,000.
The PAL is a wonderful institution. It provides youth programs in a wide variety of sports and outdoor pastimes. It particularly tries to support families that, for whatever reason, cannot afford these important activities.
In order to keep the momentum of this fabulous organization rolling, I encourage all Westporters to join me in sending whatever amount you feel comfortable. Click here to donate online, or send a check to the Police Athletic League: 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.
The skies over Compo Beach will be dark this Independence Day holiday.
For the second straight year, the annual fireworks display has fallen victim to COVID. The decision was made by town officials, in collaboration with the sponsoring Westport Police Athletic League board.
First Selectman Jim Marpe made the announcement moments ago. The press release says:
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current and expected guidance from the State’s Department of Health regarding large-scale events, and the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and its variants have been considered. Based on this information, it is in the best interest of residents, visitors, employees and the organizers to forego this highly attended event this year.
Although mask wearing rules are being relaxed and we are headed toward widespread vaccination, the CDC and other health and government officials continue to recommend social distancing in large gatherings of any kind for the foreseeable future.
Scenes like this at typical July 4th fireworks went into the decision to cancel this year’s event.(Photo/Rick Benson)
Westport Weston Health District Director Mark Cooper said, “The CDC recommends that everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should social distance and continue wearing masks in crowded settings and outdoor venues like concerts and sporting events where you will be around large groups of strangers. In most outdoor scenarios, the transmission risk is low. However, when outside in places where you are likely to be with many people from outside your household, people must maintain social distancing and should still wear face coverings.”
As a practical matter, there is no way to enforce social distancing and mask wearing in the crowded environment of the Compo Beach fireworks event. It is inadvisable to plan for an event like the annual fireworks display where thousands of people congregate in close proximity and cannot socially distance. The possibility of alternative sites was considered, but all of them created even greater concerns regarding accessibility, safety and logistics.
Unfortunately, there is no luxury of taking a “wait and see” approach to determine where the community is in its COVID recovery efforts come July. The logistics and the need for early planning, permitting, and funding, as well as arranging for the display itself, requires significant lead time.
PAL is the longtime sponsor of this annual event, and, although the Town is very much involved in planning and conducting, it is not town funded. The decision as to whether to hold this major, large-scale event needed to be made now, based on the information available at this time, and in coordination with all the organizers.
Fireworks will return in 2022. (Photo/David Squires)
Marpe said, “I am disappointed that this year Westport could not hold the large celebration we had hoped for. But our town has come too far in our successful battle to overcome COVID to risk a possible setback by conducting a major gathering prematurely. I am happy that this year’s July 4th holiday still offers an opportunity to celebrate safely with smaller groups of families, friends, and neighbors.
“We have had tremendous support from so many individuals and town organizations throughout this past year. It took a community-wide effort to manage this devastating health crisis. We have not yet completed the race, but we are closer to the finish line, and nearing a return to normalcy. I am confident that next year’s celebration at Compo Beach will be the most memorable one in many years.”
Marpe noted that the annual Memorial Day parade will be held as scheduled on Monday, May 31. Crowds along the parade route are less dense, and the event is of shorter duration.
The Memorial Day parade will be held as scheduled this year. (Photo/Fred Cantor)
He grew up “everywhere,” he says — in and out of shelters. He and his brother were shuttled from place to place.
When Bergamo was 17, his parents died. He wanted to join the military, but for his brother to keep Section 8 housing, Bergamo had to live there as his dependent.
During tough times, police officers had always been nice to Bergamo. He looked up to them. To give back, he studied criminology in college.
In 2006 — just 22 years old — he was hired by the Westport Police Department. His duties include overseeing the car seat program, motorcycle instructor and field training.
Bergamo won the Medal of Valor, for his actions in the Westport force’s first shooting in 30 years.
He also earned a Community Service Award for his fundraising with LivFree, a pediatric cancer support group.
Giving back is a key part of who Bergamo is. He coached in Norwalk’s Pop Warner football program for 6 years.
Early in his Westport police career, PAL athletic director Carmen Roda suggested he get involved with the local program. He became head football coach for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, then volunteered as secretary and vice president.
Now he’s in charge of the entire Westport PAL.
Earlier this month, Bergamo succeeded Ned Batlin as president.
It’s a big job. PAL serves thousands of youngsters through football, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, rugby, track and cheerleading programs.
PAL also runs a robust scholarship program, the ice skating rink at Longshore — and Westport’s annual Independence Day fireworks.
Plenty of (pre-COVID) action at the PAL Rink at Longshore.
“This is an amazing organization,” Bergamo says. “The motto is ‘All about the kids and community.’ It’s safe and friendly. There are not many Police Athletic Leagues still out there. But ours is going strong.”
Bergamo is already planning new fundraising efforts — like a car show, digital events, perhaps a gala “when things are normal.”
Wrestling is one of Westport PAL’s many programs.
For someone who grew up in shelters, and lost his parents as a teenager, offering hope and activities to youngsters is crucial. In addition to his PAL efforts, he coaches his daughters in softball.
“When I see 3rd graders I coached move up to high school, and then graduate. I get chills,” Bergamo says. “I’ve had great interactions with them, and their parents. That’s what PAL is all about.”
(To learn more about Westport PAL — and participate in the See’s Candy Shop fundraiser — click here.)
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:
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.
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.
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)
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