Tag Archives: Westport PAL

Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Halloween Stuff, Pumpkin Toss …

For several years, a proposed gas-powered leaf blower ordinance has been blowin’ in the Westport wind.

On Tuesday (November 1, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall), a proposal — already approved by the Ordinance Committee — heads to the full Representative Town Meeting. for a first reading.

The text of the amendment is not yet available online. It is available at the Town Clerk’s office during business hours.

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Four Halloween films — and a bonus Christmas movie — top the bill at the Remarkable Theater this weekend.

The Imperial Avenue drive-in will screen:

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (tonight: Saturday, October 29; doors open at 6, movie at 7; free (donate whatever you wish)

Double feature: “Charlie Brown” and “Curious George” (Sunday, October 30; doors open at 5, movie at 6)

“Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (Sunday, October 30; doors open at 8, movie at 8:30)

“Halloween” (Halloween, Monday October 31; doors open at 6, movie at 7)

Click here for tickets, and more information.

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On Thursday (November 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the same site — the Imperial Avenue parking lot — turns into the Great Pumpkin Toss.

The free community composting event returns for its 4th year, at the Westport Farmers’ Market. Action Waste Solutions will collect pumpkins — aka “Halloween food waste” — while also having some fun.

Just “toss” your pumpkin (or gourds) in the bin, and go.

All pumpkins and gourds in their natural state are welcome. Squishy and rotted ones are fine, but decorated or painted pumpkins cannot be composted.

In addition to creating compost, pumpkins provide food for livestock. Stephanie Maynard from Ox Hollow Farm will fill her truck with good pumpkins that will serve as food for her cows .

Last year’s Great Pumpkin Toss diverted one ton of pumpkin waste from landfill. Can we break that record this year?

Come help!

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We’ve got winners!

Last Saturday, over 75 children painted 63 store windows throughout town this past Saturday, in the annual Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce Halloween Contest.

Winners received gift certificates for an ice cream cake at Gofer Ice Cream.

They are:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 

  • Scariest: Chloe Robbin (Cycle Dynamics; Long Lots grade 4)
  • Best Halloween: Scarlett Nathan (Stephen Kempson, Saugatuck grade 4)
  • Most creative: Calvin and Julian Carreras (ASF, Long Lots grades 1 and 3)

MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • Scariest: Hailey Kipperman (Sephen Kempson, The Southport School grade 8)
  • Best Halloween: Linda Morgan and Julie Ferraro (Cold Fusion, Bedford grade 6)
  • Most Creative: Milo Milgrom (Greens Farms Spirit Shop, Bedford grade 7)


Chloe Robbin with her “Scariest” Elementary School award, at Cycle Dynamics.

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Kaitlyn Steffa loves living on High Point Road. “There’s always something fun going on,” she says.

Like her neighbor at #26, For the past few weeks Sarah Maraun has entertained anyone driving, biking or walking by with creative skeleton displays in her front yard.

One day they’re out playing Twister; the next, they’re doctors performing surgery, or having a potato sack race.

As you can see, Sarah does not mess around. These are some hard-core decorations — and some very hard skeletons.

(Photo/Kaitlyn Steffa)

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More than 200 movie lovers thronged the Westport Library this week, for the opening night of “Short Cuts.”

Five international short films were screened, followed by a conversation.

The next installment of the “short film” festival (Thursday. November 17) features documentary films, with guest Oscar-nominated Kevin Wilson Jr. Click here fpr tickets. and more information.

“Short Cuts,” at the Westport Library.

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“06880” does not often post wedding announcements.

But this one has a twist.

Staples High School graduates Juliet Senia and Josh Jeavons are getting married November 18, at Town Hall. State Representative Jonathan Steinberg will perform the ceremony.

Bride and groom live in England. A celebration is planned there in June.

What makes this special is that Juliet was the first baby born to a Westport couple in the new millennium.

Billy and Linda welcomed their 7-pound, 5-ounce daughter into the world at 9:09 a.m. on January 3, 2000.

Julia’s parents are not the only ones thinking right now, “Time sure does fly!”

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Westport PAL’s first-ever gala on Thursday was a hit.

The Inn at Longshore was packed, as residents dined, drank, danced, and raised funds for the kids-first organization’s projects like renovating the clubhouse at PJ Romano Field. Click here to see all that PAL does.

Westport PAL gala-goers (from left):Anna Rycenga, Pam Romano, PAL president Craig Bergamo, Kristen Zygmant, Catrina Hegarty, Emma Rojas, Georgia Rojas. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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Longtime Westporter Nancy Gershon died last month, 10 days before her 87th birthday, of multiple medical causes.

The Brooklyn native was a stellar student, and an excellent pianist and flutist.

After graduated from James Madison High School and Barnard College, majoring in math, then earned a master’s degree in education from Teacher’s College.

Nancy married Richard Gershon in 1957. She worked as a calculator (a pre-computer-era job)  at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory. After he graduate from Harvard Business School they moved to Queens NY, where she worked as a substitute high school math teacher.

The couple moved to Westport in 1963. Her 4 children, born in 6 years, kept her busy, but she took up cello. She played in the Norwalk Symphony and in informal Westport chamber groups. Nancy ‘s oldest child went on to a career as a professional musician.

Nancy and Richard divorced in 1980e. Once her nest was empty she continued with musical activities, including learning jazz piano and taking up saxophone. She also studied computer science at Norwalk Technical College. She collected large quantities of music books, which her musician son has been distributing to music students.

She is survived by her children Russ of Chelsea, Massachusetts, and Andrew, Jill and Laurie of Manhattan; 3 grandchildren; sister Maryanne Lehrer of Oceanside, New York and brother Dr. Robert Leon of Scottsdale, Arizoba. She was ably cared for in her home by Lorna Jones for the last 6 years of her life.

Nancy Gershon

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Today’s spectacular “Westport … Naturally” fall foliage photo is from Compo Road South, near Bradley Street. Thanks, Matt Murray, for the image — and kudos too to whoever takes care of this beauty!

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis died yesterday in Mississippi. He was 87.

He was a legend. Just imagine what his career would have been like if he hadn’t married his 13-year-old cousin. He was 22 years old at the time — and still married to his second wife. (Click here for a full obituary.)

(Great balls of fire! Just click here for a chance to support “06880”!)

Roundup: Barak, Broadband, Bees …

Today is Primary Day in Connecticut.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are fielding candidates, for a variety of statewide offices.

Polls close at 8 p.m. Click here to find your polling place.

Turnout was very light early this morning, at the Greens Farms Elementary School polling place. (Photo/John Karrel)

 

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It’s a beautiful day — if a tad bit hot and humid.

There’s no wind. No storm.

Yet this morning, for no reason other than (probably) old age, a large tree toppled onto Punch Bowl Drive.

Be careful out there!

Tree down on Punch Bowl. (Photo/Tommy Greenwald)

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In 1964, Martin Luther King spoke at Temple Israel.

Nearly 60 years later, the synagogue prepares to host another internationally known guest.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak will speak on September 20 (7:30 p.m.). He will discuss current events, including Israel’s coming election and the war in Ukraine.

Click here for details, including in-person and livestream registration.

Ehud Barak

Barak, who became the most decorated soldier in the history of the Israel Defense Forces over a 36-year career, served as the nation’s prime minister from 1999 to 2001.

He also has held other prominent posts in Israel’s government, including as defense minister and as minister of internal and foreign affairs.

For more information, contact Temple Israel at 203-227-1293.

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“06880” has been buzzing recently with stories (and comments) about broadband (and prices).

Western Connecticut Council of Governments — a planning organization for 18 area town, including Westport — is conducting a quick survey on internet service and pricing.

Residential and business customers can complete the survey. Click here for the link.

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Speaking of buzzing … Hans Wilhelm writes:

“In our Weston garden stands a majestic old Japanese pagoda tree (also called scholar tree).

In summertime when it is in full bloom, you can ‘hear’ the tree from far away. It is the happy humming sound of thousands of busy bees. They are not only in the tree but also on the ground, which is covered with blossoms. It’s not a good idea to walk under the tree at that time.

“But during the last years we noticed a sharp drop in the bee population.

“This summer the tree is again in full bloom –- but completely silent. Hardly any bees at all. Sadly, the prophecy made by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book ‘Silent Spring’ has come true — right here in our garden, where we never use insecticides or herbicides.

The usual swarms of bees are gone from Hans Wilhelm’s garden.

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For nearly 75 years, Westport PAL has served youngsters with sports programs and scholarships. That’s impressive.

And for 60 years, they’ve raised funds through the Chief Samuel Luciano Golf Tournament. That’s impressive too.

This year’s event is September 12. The day includes continental breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon shotgun starts, cocktails, dinner, a raffle and prizes.

Single, twosome and foursome spots are available. Click here for more information, including registration and sponsorships.

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Sunday’s New York Times included a great review of Mary Rodgers’ new memoir, “SHY: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers.” Jesse Green continued working on it for years, after her death in 2014.

Mary Rodgers Guettel is Richard Rodgers’ daughter. They lived in Fairfield, just over the Westport line. She became an apprentice at the Westport Country Playhouse in 1950.  She later earned fame writing the music for “Once Upon a Mattress.”

In 2009, the Playhouse honored Rodgers Guettel, at their annual gala. Among the celebrants: Stephen Sondheim, a fellow 1950 apprentice.

Also on hand that night: Weston’s Jim Naughton, and Westporter Kelli O’Hara.

Rodgers’ son, Adam Guettel, wrote “Light in the Piazza.” The musical starred O’Hara — whose father-in-law is Naughton.

The memoir includes references to Rodgers’ internship. She describes their intense work schedule (which she enjoyed), and that afterwards they wanted to go drinking.

However, she wrote, “In Westport, everything closed up tight as a drum at one in the morning.” So the interns frequently  “ran our own bar at Frank Perry’s house at night, often accompanied by a low-stakes poker game.”

Yes, that Frank Perry. The future film director (“David and Lisa,” “The Swimmer,” “Diary of a Mad Housewife”) was another member of that amazing Class of 1950 Westport Country Playhouse apprentices. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

Richard Rodgers’ daughter (2nd row, 4th from left) posed with other Westport Country Playhouse apprentices in 1950, at the Jolly Fisherman restaurant. Other notables in the photo: Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo) and Frank Perry (front row, left).

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Today’s stunning “Westport … Naturally” egret Sherwood Island Mill pond photo comes courtesy of Dan Johnson:

(Photo/Dan Johnson)

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And finally … Olivia Newton-John died yesterday, after battling breast cancer. The versatile singer was 73. Click here for a full obituary.

(“06880” is fully reader-supported. Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Hook’d (Again), Compo Church, PAL …

Yesterday’s post about Hook’d struck a nerve.

Most readers agreed with the one quoted. They filled the Comments section with stories of their own, slamming the Compo Beach concessionaire for mediocre food, long wait times, and a lack of planning and care. (A couple of readers disagreed; they love Hook’d).

Much of that falls on the owners’ shoulders. Word on the street is that employees are frustrated and embarrassed — and sometimes bear the brunt of customers’ complaints.

The cooks and counter help are local teenagers. They have no control over whether enough burgers and hot dogs are ordered, the price, or the systems in place to make ordering simple and pick-up fast. They’re at the mercy of their bosses.

Give the kids a break. It’s not an easy situation to be in.

But — as many readers have noted — the owners deserve whatever they get.

Hook’d, last year. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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Speaking of Compo Beach:

Sunday church services began there this morning, near the cannons. They run every week, through the September 4.

It’s a BYOC event (bring your own chair). Parking is free; tell the gate attendant you’re going to the service.

Participating churches include Saugatuck, Greens Farms, Norfield and Wilton Congregational, and United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston. A different minister leads worship each week.

Rev. Heather Sinclair of the United Methodist Church leads this morning’s service. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport is still buzzing about the fantastic Independence Day fireworks on Thursday.

It couldn’t have happened without the generosity of Melissa & Doug, the locally based, internationally beloved toy company; the hard work of the Westport Police, Fire, EMS, Parks & Recreation and Public Works Departments — and the volunteer efforts of Westport PAL.

The biggest party of the year is a fundraiser for PAL. They could not run their many sports programs for boys and girls, or scholarships for Staples High School students, without that help.

So, whether you bought a ticket or freeloaded, consider a contribution to one of Westport’s most important organizations. Click here to see all they do; then click here to donate.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kathie Bennewitz — our talented town art curator, who tirelessly finds, documents, preserves and exhibits the Westport Public Arts Collections — has taken on a new challenge: to preserve the legacy of iconic American artist Edward Hopper.

He’s the creator of classic works like the famed diner scene “Nighthawks (1942). She travels nearly every day to Nyack, New York, to steward and shepherd the  Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center.

The other day, Westport artists Eric Chiang and Mark Yurkiw took up Bennewitz’s offer to visit. Yurkiw reports: “The walkable and vibrant destination, with the Hudson River as a backdrop, makes a fabulous day trip. See the museum, stroll down Hopper Way and around the village of Nyack, with plenty to eat and experience.”

And say hi to Kathie at the museum, before she heads home to us.

(From left): Eric Chiang, Kathie Motes Bennewitz and Mark Yurkiw, outside the Edward Hopper Museum.

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Speaking of Eric Chiang:

If you missed his fascinating talk — “The Musical Planet” — the other day at the Westport Library: You’re in luck.

Click below to hear his thoughts on his art, its place in the world — and Westport’s role as an artists’ town.

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A reader writes:

“I was at Old Mill Beach with my husband and 3 young boys. We have come at low tide for years, to swim and find hermit crabs. Today, we saw this:

“At first we thought the owners would return to pick up the bags, but there were no dogs or owners around. The tide was coming in, and these bags would have been washed away into the sea. I took them to the trash. It was very disappointing, and obviously disgusting.”

No s—.

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Paul Cohen, formerly of Westport and Fairfield, beloved husband of Barbara R. (Bobbie) Herman, passed away peacefully yesterday in Redding, He was 98 years old.

The New York City native enlisted in the Army Air Corps on his 19th birthday in 1942, the earliest that was permitted at the time. He served in the Galapagos and Central America, commanding a radio operations group to protect the Panama Canal.

After the war he attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. then the Sorbonne and La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, where he studied cinematography.  He was employed by the March of Time in Paris.

After returning to the US Paul worked at Owen Murphy Productions, a producer of documentaries and commercial films. After several years, he acquired the company. He produced films for clients like IBM, the USIA, Western Electric, the 1960-61 World’s Fair and the States of New York and New Jersey. and won many awards. He traveled with 3 presidents: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

He and his wife Helene moved to Westport in 1974, and became involved in town activities. Paul produced bulletins, posters and newsletters for the Westport Arts Center, Y’s Men, Y’s Women, Westport Woman’s Club and Unitarian Church.  He won several awards in the Y’s Men annual photo contest.

Helene died in 1993. Paul married Bobbie in 1997. In addition to Helene, he was predeceased by a daughter Susan, a brother and 2 sisters.

Survivors include his son Peter, stepsons Randall Schein (Ann Reingold), Jonathan Schein (Cynthia Hewett), and step-grandaughters Samantha and Lily Jo Schein.

A memorial service will be held in the fall. Donations in his memory may be made to the Unitarian Church in Westport, or a charity of your choice.

Paul Cohen

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Longtime Westporter Stanley Bryk died Wednesday, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 87.

The Bridgeport native lived in Westport for 55 years, before moving to Southport 2 years ago.

Bryk — a Marine Corps veteran — spent 41 years with Sikorsky Aircraft. He was a member of the Frank C. Godfrey American Legion Post,  and the VFW. He was also a lifelong New York Giants fan, and an avid traveler.

Survivors include his wife, Laura Renzulli Bryk; daughters Linda (Brent) Norton of Goshen, New York, and Susan (Robert) Tierney of Glastonbury, and grandchildren Taylor, Kelly, Erika, Casey, Rebecca and Kevin. He was predeceased by his brother Frank and one sister Mary Murphy.

AMass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, July 9 (11 a.m., St. Luke Church). Internment with military honors will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital for Cancer.

Stanley Bryk

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Former Staples High School media teacher Mike Zito’s wife of 32 years, Joni Gaines, died last month after a long battle with cancer.

Despite insurance, Zito faces medical bills approaching $10,000. He has started a GoFundMe page. Click here to help.

Jodi Gaines

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Dick Truitt lives near Winslow Park. Dogs occasionally wander through his yard.

They’re not the only visitors. This midnight guest stars in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Dick Truitt)

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And finally … since everyone seems to have feelings about the Compo Beach concessionaire (story above):

 

Roundup: Community Gardens, Jeff Clachko, Cote Manche …

It was a groundbreaking weekend at Westport Community Gardens.

Literally.

Work began on the Long Lots Preserve — the area surrounding the 100 plots lovingly tended to on Hyde Lane, where a true “community” of gardeners has grown.

However, the property is overrun with invasive plants. They’re being removed now. Soon, the area will be densely planted with native, pollinator-friendly trees, shrubs, wildflowers and wild grass, making it more ecologically sound.

Stakeholders include the Audubon Society, Aspetuck Land Trust, Earthplace and Westport Community Gardens.

Robbie Guimond and Bartlett Tree Service provided in-kind donation, to get the project off the ground.

Taking a break from working at the Westport Community Gardens (from left): Jeff Wieser, Daryl Kowalsky, Louis Weinberg, Joe Wiles..

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Many Westporters know Jeff Clachko. He’s very involved in many local activities. And he has a great sense of humor.

So when he had a close encounter of a deer kind — and realized it was captured by his Ring video — he quickly put it online.

Just as quickly, it went viral. As of last night, it had 8 million views.

And when “06880” readers click this TMZ link, there will be many more. Be sure the audio is cranked up high! (Hat tip: Amy Hochhauser)

Closeup of a screenshot: deer (left) and Jeff Clachko (right).

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Saturday’s Roundup item on the 2022 Westport PAL scholarship recipients was noticeable for 2 things: They’re a great group of Staples High School students.

And they’re all male.

Several readers wondered about that in the Comments section. I did too.

I asked PAL president Craig Bergamo. He quickly replied: “No girls applied this year. If they had, they would have gotten scholarships too.”

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Earlier this month, a ceremony in France honored a long-forgotten (at least here) Westport woman. Charlotte MacLear — a driving force behind our town’s friendship with Marigny, in the 20 years following World War II — were commemorated by officials in the Normandy village. They named a room in their Town Hall in her honor.

Now the event has been noted in a local website, Coté Manche. Click here for the site; then use Google Translate to read.

The new Charlotte MacLear room at Marigny Town Hall.

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The Staples rugby team battled the top teams in the nation — along with injuries and the flu — at this weekend’s national tournament in Elkhart, Indiana.

But they finished 7th in the country. And when their bus pulled off I-95 at Exit 18 yesterday afternoon, they enjoyed a police escort back to the high school.

Congratulations, Wreckers. You’ve done us proud!

On the Sherwood Island Connector. (Photo/Doug Tirola)

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It was a beautiful weekend for walking. On Beachside Avenue, Barbara Phillips spotted this gorgeous bird. It’s a handsome start to our “Westport … Naturally” week.

(Photo/Barbara Phillips)

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And finally …  today is the birthday of Robert Moog. The inventor of the famed synthesizer was born in 1934. He died in 2005. But his impact will last for a long, long time.

Roundup: Pete Wolgast, Scholarships, Kowalsky Property …

Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs honored Pete Wolgast yesterday morning. with a prestigious District Governor’s Citation. The ceremony was held at the Sunrise Rotary meeting at Greens Farms Church. In addition to top Rotary officials, attendees included 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, her predecessor Jim Marpe, RTM moderator Jeff Wieser and Westport Weston Family YMCA CEO Anjali McCormick.

Wolgast’s service to Sunrise Rotary (he’s a former president) — and the entire town — is legendary. The University of Michigan and Harvard MBA graduate:

  • Was elected to the Representative Town Meeting, and chaired its Finance and Parks & Recreation Committees
  • Was executive assistant to 1st selectman Doug Wood; been a member of the Westport Republican Town Committee (2 terms as chair)
  • Twice chaired the Y’s board of trustees (2007-11 and 2013-20); chaired its Endowment Committee (2000-06); Volunteer of the Year honoree 2020
  • As president of the Westport Historical Society, chaired the committee that supervised the writing of the town’s definitive history
  • Been part of Westport’s Charter Revision Committee
  • Chaired Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s board, and volunteered on its Finance Committee
  • Joined the Y’s Men of Westport/Weston in 1987, and been its president
  • Served as a Boy Scout troop leader and board chair
  • Coached youth baseball and basketball for nearly 20 years, in Westport and London.

Wolgast and his wife Janet have been married for over 65 years. They have 4 children, 7 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Congratulations, Pete, for this well-deserved honor. And thank you for all you have done, for all of us.

Pete Wolgast, at yesterday’s ceremony. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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Staples Tuition Grants’ annual awards evening is one of the feel-good highlights of the year.

The 2022 event — set for Tuesday, May 31 (6 p.m., Staples auditorium) — will be particularly special. The $400,000 in scholarships will be the most ever — a whopping 14% higher than last year.

The average award will be $3,700. That too is a record — about $1,000 more than STG’s 10-year average.

The average help is 19% of net need. They can’t fill the aggregate net need of $2.4 million, but STG provides more assistance the even the federal government ($370,000 in Pell grants).

Help is provided to 8.4% of the graduating class of 2022. About 10% of the class needs help paying for college. The cost of tuition, room and board has reached $85,000 at some schools. Meanwhile, the funding gap widens — up 50% from 2 years ago.

Grants will help 108 students attend 76 colleges.

Nearly 700 Westporters and friends donated to STG’s general fund, named or endowed awards. Click here for more information, and to help Staples Tuition Grants.

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Speaking of scholarships: Westport PAL awarded its scholarships on Monday night.

Awardees included Charlie Howard, Jaden Mueller (Chief Luciano Athletic); Alex Harrington, Kyle Harrington (Chief Luciano Good Citizenship); Brian Fullenbaum (PJ Romano Scholarship); Colin Konstanty (Greg LaValla Scholarship); Nick Augeri (Buck Iannacone Scholarship); Jack Oakley (Bernstein Family); Matthew Spada (Deputy Chief John Anastasia Scholarship).

Westport PAL scholarship awardees and officials.

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If you missed the Staples Spring Choral Concert earlier this month — what a shame. It was a wonderful show. All the music was selected by students. They performed difficult pieces, in a wide range of genres and styles, at their usual spectacularly high level.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (and of videographer Jim Honeycutt), you can watch the whole concert now. Just click here — and enjoy.

Screenshot from the Staples High School Spring Choral Concert.

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An application to subdivide the 12-acre Kowalsky property on Morningside Drive South, bordered by Clapboard Hill Road and Turkey Hill Road South, has been withdrawn. It will be resubmitted at a future date.

The Planning & Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss it — and the Westport PAL clubhouse at PJ Romano Field — has been canceled. (Hat tips; Dick Lowenstein, Art Schoeller)

109 Morningside Drive South

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When Suzanne Tanner lived in Los Angeles, she met a Holocaust survivor named Rachel Goldman Miller.

After writing a multimedia musical documenting Miller’s life, Tanner is dedicating this Memorial Day weekend to her.

“Resonant music, lyrics and modern art can help us understand that history is only as strong as memory, a poignant reminder for today’s mounting war atrocities,” Tanner says.

Miller narrates her life story from a background movie that peppers the show with impactful visuals and testimony, while Tanner plays her role live — from her childhood in pre-war Paris to her elder years as a valuable Shoah participant and loving mother of a son who died of AIDS.

“Beyond Me: A Song Cycle in the Key of Survival” will be performed next  Saturday (May 28, JCC, Sherman, CT). Tickets are $25 and $20, available at the door, but reservations recommended. Click here for details.

Suzanne Tanner

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA Livestrong program –a  free, 12-week program of physical, educational and social activities for adults living with, through and beyond cancer — filled up fast. There were 25 applications, for 8 spots.

The good news: The Wilton Y is starting the same program the first week in June. Five spots are open; Wilton residency is not required. Email magenuario@riverbrookymca.org for more information. (Hat tip: Amy Weiss)

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The Westport Book Shop‘s almost-summer celebration is set for Saturday, June 4 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jesup Green). There’s a DJ, safety tips from Stewie the Duck, crafts and snacks.

The almost-summer celebration takes place across from the Westport Book Shop.

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No one is a fan of Canada geese — especially at Compo Beach.

But you gotta admit, these goslings in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo look kinda cute.

(Photo/Pam Washburn)

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And finally … this weekend’s Westport Woman’s Club art show includes a treat not often associated with art shows or woman’s clubs: live music by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Mark Naftalin.

He’s best known as a Paul Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist. But the Westport resident played on many other famous recordings — including this one, sent to “06880” by Dave Lowrie.

Roundup: Senior Records, Family Day, “The Scream” …

We all know how great Westport is.

This morning (Thursday) at 11:30 a.m., everyone in the tri-state area will find out too.

Well, everyone watching “New York Live,” anyway.

The WNBC Channel 4 show features our town. The long (for TV) segment includes scenes of Compo Beach, Longshore, downtown and much more, plus interviews with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, La Plage executive chef Frederic Kieffer, and Savvy + Grace owner Annette Norton.

Of course, “New York Live” is not live. It’s clear from the not-quite-spring foliage that the segment was taped a couple of weeks ago. That’s show biz!

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The other day, “06880” reported that Westport artist Norma Minkowitz shattered 3 US records at the National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale.

Now she’s demolished a fourth.

On Tuesday, Norma ran the 1500 meters in 8:35 — a full 2 1/2 minutes faster than the prior record in her 85-89-year-old age group. It won the 80-84 division too! (Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)

In 2016– age 79 — Norma Minkowitz led a pack of much younger runners.

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Lynsey Addario continues to provide graphic — and important — images of the war in Ukraine to the world.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photojournalist — a 1991 Staples High School graduate — contribute a series of images to yesterday’s story, headlined “In Ukraine, Gruesome Injuries and Not Enough Doctors to Treat Them.”

Click here to understand the toll the fighting has taken. It is not easy to see. But it would be worse to look away.

The boots of a slain soldier named Ihor (right), next to tennis shoes belonging to another soldier, killed a day earlier. They were placed outside a hospital, for soldiers who might need them. (Photo/Lynsey Addario)

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It took 4 months. But author Heather McGhee finally delivered her Martin Luther King Day address last night.

The author of “The Sum of US: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together” spoke at the Westport Library. The town’s 16th annual event — sponsored by the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council and Clergy, Westport Country Playhouse and TEAM Westport — had been postponed by COVID.

The program included songs from the Bridgeport Boys Choir, and a dance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

Heather McGhee, at the Westport Library. (Photo/David Vita)

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Lucia Wang is editor of Staples High School’s STEM Journal.

But her writing is earning notice far beyond Westport. The junior just earned an honorable mention in the New York Times’ global STEM writing contest.

Out of 3,564 entries, judges chose 8 winners, 16 runners-up and 33 honorable mentions. Click here for the full story.

Her essay was titled “Crumbling Paintings, Swelling Crystals and Menacing Monsoons: Climate Change’s Erasure of Humanity’s Oldest Art.”

But Lucia does not spend all her time studying climate change, and writing. She’s also a member of the Wreckers’ varsity tennis team. They finished 15-1 this year, and compete in the FCIAC semifinals at 4 this afternoon at Staples.

Congratulations, Lucia!

Lucia Wang

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On Monday (May 23, 7 p.m.), the Planning & Zoning Commission will review a lease between the town and the Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) for the PJ clubhouse at PJ Romano Field behind Saugatuck Elementary School, plus the lawns, driveway and walkways around it. Click here to see all application materials.

PAL has leased the building from the Board of Education for over 50 years. The lease expired last November. On March 21, the BOE relinquished control back to the town, effective July 1. The proposed lease is 20 years.

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Everyone, of all ages, is invited to MoCA Westport’s Family  Day (June 18, noon to 2 p.m.).

The theme is “inclusion and kindness.” Among the attractions: Piglet, the deaf and blind pink puppy who has inspired a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness. Westport’s own Melissa Shapiro share his story and talk about her new children’s book, Piglet Comes Home.

Norwalk artist 5iveFingaz will create a mural of Piglet in real time. Visitors can view “Spark,” a showcase of K-12 Westport Public School student art curated by Staples High School students.

Other highlights include a sensory art activity led by MoCA Westport instructors, live music by local favorite Dustin Lowman, an ice cream truck, a meet and greet with dogs from Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, and homemade dog treat giveaways from Earth Animal.

Click here for tickets.

In other Piglet news, Melissa Shapiro’s new children’s picture book, “Piglet Comes Home: How a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy Found His Family,” will be published June 7.

It’s beautifully illustrated, and will be a favorite with parents, children’s librarians — and of course young readers — everywhere. Click here to order, and for more information.

Piglet, with his new book.

 

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The next Westport Country Playhouse Script in Hand play reading is “The Scream: A Musical Comedy Fantasy.” The June 13 (7 p.m) live performance will also be livestreamed, from June 16-19. Script in Hand readings offer intimate storytelling, as professional actors bring words to life without sets or costumes.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

“The Scream: A Musical Comedy Fantasy” is based on Edvard Much’s famous painting.

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Former Staples High baseball player George Goldstein is the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Pitcher of the Year. He’s only the second relief pitcher in history to win the honor, and just the second Middlebury College pitcher to do so.

With the season still continuing, Goldstein holds several Middlebury baseball records, including career saves and career appearances. He is second in best season and career ERA, and saves in a season.

George Goldstein pitches in the snow earlier this season. (Photo/David Goldstein)

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A hummingbird has flitted around Paul Delano’s house recently, collecting spider webs for its nest. He captured this great shot — perfect for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Paul Delano)

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And finally … in honor of the next Script in Hand play reading at the Westport Country Playhouse (story above):

                                                                  

Westport PAL: A Friend To Youth

A Staples High School graduate received a Westport PAL scholarship. Now he’s applying for another.

That’s not unusual. Since 1948, the non-profit has helped local kids in countless ways.

What is unusual is the letter the young man sent. It’s appreciative, insightful, and spot on.

It deserves to be read by many people — not just as an example of how to write a good scholarship application letter, but to shine a light on the work this important organization does every day, often under the radar.

Thank you for the opportunity to apply for the PAL Ellis Scholarship.

PAL represents the best of what local youth programs should be about. I have noted many changes in the universe of youth sports since the days when I played PAL sports.

There seems to be so much pressure on parents and children nowadays to get into the most prestigious clubs for their respective sport, no matter the cost. As a result, I see and hear about many children who feel burnout early on because these profit-first systems seem to forget that youth sports are about community and fun.

These highly paid coaches and sponsored teams may be able to provide world-class coaching an hour away at the price of a new car, but they cannot do what PAL has done for young Westporters like me: make kids fall in love with their
sport.

PAL has always been a huge part of my life. My father played PAL football, and still talks about the wonderful coaches and friends he made to this day.

As soon as I was old enough, I signed up for football in the 3rd grade. Despite being the smallest player on the team and never getting a single touchdown, I was encouraged, welcomed, and treated like I belonged.

When the football season ended, signing up for PAL wrestling was an easy decision, and perhaps one of the best in my life.

I first met Coach Chacho in the Coleytown gym as an elementary schooler. At that time, I had no idea there even was a Wrestling Hall of Fame, much less that Coach Chacho was in it.

John Chacho, longtime Westport PAL wrestling coach.

But he lit the spark in me that still burns bright today. I think about him and his PAL program all the time. Coach Chacho taught us about pride and what was possible with hard work — all the same things I felt with PAL football.

I’ve been fortunate to find success with wrestling, and have attended many amazing camps and clinics. While the technical coaching is great, it’s just not the  same as what the neighborhood volunteer coaches gave me when I first started with PAL.

PAL remained present throughout my high school days, as a huge sponsor of the
wrestling team, even donating our competition mat and supporting the young kids who came in twice a week to practice at Staples. I also got to see my younger brothers follow the same PAL path that I did. I’ve watched these programs have the same impact on them as they had on me.

I am so grateful for the PAL scholarship I was awarded my senior year. I made a promise in my first thank-you letter to honor the organization that gave me so much for so many years. I am constantly working hard every day to keep my promise.

Today I am a sophomore in college, and still thrilled to be wrestling. I am majoring in music and physics (and will likely stay a fifth year for my master’s in that), with a minor in integrated design, engineering and applied sciences. If I am fortunate enough to be selected for the Ellis scholarship, I promise to continue to do everything I can to reflect positively on PAL, and hopefully be able to continue to be associated with the program long after I graduate.

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.

Roundup: Ali Stroker, Kyle Martino, Saugatuck Rowers …

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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 boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Kelsey McGinley (far left) with her 4- team.

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Positive Directions has a new executive director.

The Westport-based prevention, counseling and recovery support non-profit welcomes Vanessa Wilson. She spent 10 years at YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services, most recently as manager of operations.

She earned an MA from Fairfield University. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Vanessa Wilson

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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.

Alan Hahn Eugley

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Luisa Francoeur. She spotted this guy on an early morning Old Hill walk.

When she returned, he was still there — waiting, it seemed, for her.

(Photo/Luisa Francoeur)

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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?

Roundup: Lifeguard Save, Point To Point Swim, Art Show …

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Despite the urgent alert on cellphones, last night’s severe thunderstorms skirted Westport.

Other parts of the state  were not so lucky. Nearly 20,000 Eversource customers in central and northwestern Connecticut lost power; 81 roads were blocked.

The utility is now preparing for the remnants of Hurricane Elsa. We may get rain tomorrow, into Friday.

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Westport Public Works employee Don Saunders has always been proud of his daughter Morgan.

These days, the entire department is proud of her.

Last week, the 17-year-old Calf Pasture Beach lifeguard saved a 9-year-old from drowning. She spotted the child face down in the water, sounded an alert and raced to help.

When she found no pulse, Morgan began CPR. It worked. The girl started breathing on her own.

Morgan is a rising senior at Norwalk High School, and a member of the swim team. This is her first full year as a lifeguard.

She’s already proven she’s a pro.

(Click here for a CBS New York story on Morgan’s rescue. Hat tip: Liz Lyons)

Morgan Saunders

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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.

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Get your goggles on!

The 42nd annual Compo Beach Point to Point Swim is set for July 21  18 It’s a ton of fun — and a key fundraiser for the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s aquatics program.

There are awards for the top 3 male and female finishers, and t-shirts for all. To register, click here. For more information email jrojas@wesetporty.org, or call 203-226-8981, ext. 139.

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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.

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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.

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And one more upcoming event: “Pitch Perfect,” at the  Remarkable Theater drive-in (Monday, July 12 9 p.m.; gates open for tailgating at 8 p.m.). Click here for tickets and more information.

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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.

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1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

“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.”

Wally Meyer

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Today’s “Naturally … Westport” photo shows a dog.

Not just any pooch, though. This one has great taste. He is first in line, waiting patiently for Joey’s by the Shore to open.

(Photo/Jeff Fiarman)

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And finally … on this day in 1992, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that women have the same right as men to go topless in public.