Tag Archives: Westport Parks & Recreation Department

Old Mill, New Problem: The Back Story

Last week’s announcement that public parking at Old Mill Beach is reopened was straightforward. Parking is once again available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.

But the Parks & Recreation Department news underscored long-running tensions between residents of Old Mill and Compo Cove, and residents in other parts of town.

Parking at the small beach opposite Joey’s by the Shore has always been limited. There are 35 residences by the beach or over the twin wooden bridges (accessible only by foot). There are 13 garages in back (they’re private property, each deeded to a home). A few properties do have room for parked cars. After re-paving a year ago, the lot was striped for 64 spaces.

The parking lot in April 2019, after paving and re-striping. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Parks & Rec placards identify vehicles that belong to residents. Those allow residents to park overnight there.

Old Mill and Compo Cove owners and renters have also been allowed to purchase 4 passes: 2 for themselves (1 per car, license plate-specific), and 2 for guests. The cost is $330, and they do no guarantee parking spaces.

During the COVID shutdown — designed to minimize crowds on the sand — Old Mill residents bristled at charges that they had a “private beach” paid for by Westporters’ taxes.

Old Mill Beach, early July (Photo/Diana Griffin Coyne)

“We pay for the schools and other services we may not use,” Matt Murray says. “I’ve been here 32 years, and never had a child in the school system. It’s part of funding the town.”

(Old Mill residents have their own complaint. This spring and summer has seen a steep rise in the number of tweens and teens jumping from the wooden bridge into Mill Pond. Some ride bikes there; others dropped off by parents. Residents say the youngsters have been loud and disrespectful, and have vandalized cars in the lot. Parks & Rec has now assigned an employee to the area. But that’s another story.)

A time-honored ritual, in 2019. The parking garage — part of some owners’ property deeds — is in the background.

For years, Old Mill was Westport’s forgotten beach. Once upon a time, there was a lifeguard. Then it eroded so badly that swimming became almost impossible. The Mill Pond behind it was in bad shape too.

But Old Mill is back. People swim, go crabbing and fishing, use skim boards and boogie boards, and walk out (and party) on the mud flats. The Mill Pond is healthy again too.

Old Mill in June (Photo/Les Dinkin)

The popularity of Joey’s by the Shore/Elvira’s Coffee Bar — particularly now that the Compo concession stand is not open — has added to the allure of Old Mill Beach.

With Compo operating at half capacity (meaning occasional closures on great-weather weekends), plus some Westporters’ hesitancy to hang out at still-crowded Compo — along with the fact that more people (including kids) than ever have stayed home this summer — Old Mill has never been more attractive.

Old Mill Beach (Photo/Dan Woog)

For a couple of weeks, a social media firestorm pitted Westporters demanding more access to the Old Mill parking lot against residents defending their right to park there.

Parks & Rec’s recent decision to reopen Old Mill Beach — under the regular, first-come-first-served parking rules — has quieted the tempest.

For now — let’s hope — everyone can play nice in the sandbox.

Roundup: Old Mill Parking; GFA; Senior Center; More


Starting today, the Old Mill Beach parking lot is fully re-opened.

That means a reversion to previous rules: Parking is available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.

As in the past, Parks and Recreation Department staff will strictly enforce all parking regulations.


Greens Farms Academy has announced plans for in-person, on-campus instruction, 5 days a week, beginning September 1.

The private school on Beachside Avenue has spent the summer making numerous preparations — everything from changing physical spaces and furniture, to mandating one-way building pathways, to delivering lunch to assigned spaces.

One more change; There will be no formal uniform at GFA this year.

Meanwhile,  the fall sports season will look different this year. The Fairchester Athletic Association has canceled all regular season games and tournaments. The league cited “differing return-to- school plans and academic models” for its member schools, in light of COVID-19, as the reason.

However, GFA says, the league’s announcement does not preclude the school from scheduling interscholastic opportunities between and among like schools, if able.


The Senior Center is sponsoring 3 interesting events this month.

Next Thursday, August 6 (10 a.m., Zoom meeting), a Westport Weston Health District panel will discuss COVID-19 in Connecticut. Viewers can ask questions too. Click here for the link.

A Caregiver Support Group meets on Wednesdays (August 5 and 19, September 2 and 16, 10 a.m.). Positive Directons’ Terry Giegengack will facilitate the sessions. For more information, call Holly Betts (203-341-5096) or email hbetts@westportct.gov.

Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities hosts a free summer concert series in August and September. The stars are local musicians. First up (August 14, 1:30 p.m.): pianist Mathew Graybil, who has played around the world. He’ll feature works by Chopin, Schubert and Brahms. Click here for the Zoom link.

The Senior Center is closed. But programs continue.


At Staples High School, 2004 alum Charlie Stoebe was a soccer and track star (and captain). He graduated from Dartmouth College, and is now working with NBC Sports.

Charlie is multi-talented. In his spare COVID-related time, he created a new party game.

“What Was the Question?” tests how well you know your friends and family. But unlike most getting-to-know-you games, it starts not with a question, but an answer. Players must figure out the question. After each reveal there are fun discussions on the answer the player gave, and the predictions everyone else made.

“What Was the Question?” is now in Kickstarter mode. To help get it to market — and help out a really great Staples grad — click here.


And finally … Danish pianist Bent Fabricius-Bjerre died yesterday at 95. You may know him as Bent Fabric. Or maybe you just know his most famous song:

Beach Alert: Closures Expected; No Drop-Offs Allowed

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

Due to the extreme heat forecast for this weekend, increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic is anticipated at Westport beaches.

In an abundance of caution and to insure public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the beach reaches a capacity where it is deemed impossible to maintain social distancing, it will be closed to additional beachgoers. S

Signage at key intersections on local roadways will inform drivers if the beach is closed, and traffic will be diverted from the area. Drop-offs will not be allowed.

These types of crowded conditions start from mid to late mornings. We advise residents who wish to spend the day at the beach to arrive before 10 a.m.

The beach may re-open mid to late afternoon, provided safer conditions relative to crowds and social distancing are observed at that time.

The goal is for everyone to enjoy Compo — and obey the rules. (Photo/Tom Cook)

The town will make every effort to inform residents of conditions throughout the day via the Town of Westport and Parks and Recreation Department website home pages, and the Town and Parks and Rec Facebook pages.

At Compo Beach you are reminded to wear masks on the boardwalk, using the restrooms or sidewalks, or any other time when you are unable to maintain a 6- foot distance from others.

Your cooperation, patience and understanding with the town staff and police who will enforce and maintain traffic and crowd control during these unprecedented times is appreciated.

I have utmost confidence that town health and safety officials have only the best interests of residents and guests in mind when making difficult decisions. I also know that Westporters understand and accept the gravity of the current health crisis. I am grateful that we are at a point where our town amenities may be open and thriving. But now more than ever, we must enjoy them in a safe and responsible manner while respecting our family, neighbors and friends.

And The Most Patriotic Homes In Westport Are …

You won’t see flags — or anything else red, white and blue — at this year’s fireworks. Westport’s show — along with 80% of similar celebrations around the nation — was canceled, due to COVID.

But Westport PAL — organizer of the annual event — teamed up with Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department, their longtime partner, to sponsor our 1st-ever “4th of July House Decorating Contest.”

Residents were encouraged to decorate the side of their house most visible from the street, showing off the themes of “patriotism” and “America.”

29 families took up the challenge. After intense judging, the winners were announced this afternoon.

1st place goes to Allen Levy and Autumn Waggoner of 19 Fillow Street. Of special note: All decorations were made in America, using recycled items. Their prize: 2 tickets to next year’s fireworks.

1st place: 19 Fillow Street.

The silver medal goes to Michael, Victoria and Giuliana Mirabelli of 1 Quintard Place, off South Maple. They receive 2 free rounds of golf at Longshore.

2nd place: 1 Quintard Place.

Placing 3rd were Nikki, Zoe, Nickolas and Christina Glekas of 20 Bridge Street.  They were rewarded with a $50 gift card to Saugatuck Sweets.

3rd place: 20 Bridge Street.

First honorable mention went to the Benson family of 17 Buena Vista Drive. One of their flags was from a World War II general.

1st honorable mention: 17 Buena Vista Drive.

Second honorable mention went to the Sylvester family of 7 Jonathan Lane, off Treadwell.

2nd honorable mention: 7 Jonathan Lane.

Congratulations to all. And special thanks to Max Robbins of Parks & Rec, who made it all happen.

(Hat tip: Andrew Colabella)

Roundup: Beach, Pool, Golf And Tennis News; #ILoveWestport; Lucky Grad; Fireworks; More


Here’s the latest update from Westport Parks & Rec:

Starting Wednesday, July 1, lifeguards will staff Compo and Burying Hill beaches from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All regular beach rules will be enforced, in addition to all COVID-19 rules. Boogie boards and skim boards are permitted.

The Longshore pools will remain closed, due to state restrictions and limited staffing resources.

Parks and Rec director Jennifer Fava says her department “will continue to monitor the guidance from the state, Should restrictions ease, and we can staff appropriately, we will reevaluate the possibility of opening the pool complex.”

Starting tomorrow (Saturday, June 27), 2 players may share a golf cart. Both must wear face coverings in the cart, and the same person must drive the cart the entire time. Exception: members of the same household are not required to wear face covering in a cart, and valid drivers may alternate.

Also starting tomorrow, all tennis courts at Longshore, Staples High School, Town Farm and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck School) are open for both singles and doubles play. All platform tennis and pickleball courts are open for singles and doubles too.


During the lockdown, town officials emphasized: “We’re all in this together.”

That’s the message during reopening too. To drive it home, they asked a variety of people to make personal promises for keeping everyone healthy.

Anthony John Rinaldi taped those promises. He’s making them into a series of videos, all tagged #ILoveWestport.

In the first one, restaurant owner Bill Taibe promises to keep cooking. Farmers’ Market director Lori McDougall promises to support local vendors. Police Chief Foti Koskinas promises to keep Westporters safe.

There are more too, in this quick video — including a special “06880” appearance. Click below to see.


Like many Westporters, Serkan Elden kept his “Proud Family of 2020 Staples High School Graduate” sign up, even after the ceremony 2 weeks ago. He is justifiably proud of his daughter Deniz, a great member of the senior class that went through so much this year.

Someone else is proud too.

The other day Deniz found an envelope in the Eldens’ mailbox. It was addressed simply: “The Graduate.”

Inside she found a note: “Congratulations 2020! Hope this is a Winner! Good Luck. From, Anonymous Lyons Plain Rd. Neighbor.”

Attached was a Double Match lottery scratch card.

She did not win. 😦 But odds are good that this is a gift Deniz will remember long after the coronavirus is history.


If you missed last weekend’s “Stand Up (At Home) for Homes with Hope” comedy show — no problem.

An encore presentation is set for Wednesday (July 1, 8 p.m.). Four very funny comedians joined Staples grad/noted songwriter Justin Paul for a wonderful hour of entertainment.

Click here to register. And if you saw the show the first time around, you’ll receive an automatic link to watch again.


 

There are no 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach this year.

And, the Westport Fire Department warns, there should be none anywhere in town.

The note that all fireworks are illegal in Connecticut, expect sparklers and fountains.

Also illegal: items like party poppers, snakes, smoke devices, sky lanterns and anything that emits a flame. Possessing or exploding illegal devices could result in a fine or jail.

Note too: Extremely dry conditions make it easy for fireworks, sparklers and fountains to cause brush fires.


And finally … as other states find themselves in the same situation Connecticut was in 2 months ago, we here are thinking of our friends around the nation.

Roundup: Governor Lamont; Dr. Jackson; Shel Silverstein; More


On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont spoke to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, by Zoom. He discussed a variety of topics, including (of course) business concerns, and took questions from listeneres. Click below to see his talk.


Parks and Recreation director Jen Fava says: “Based upon changes in the governor’s restrictions on gathering size and the Phase 2 reopening guidelines, athletic fields are now open to the general public unless a permit has been issued by the Parks and Recreation department.

“The department is working closely with local organizations like Westport Little League, Staples High School athletics, Continuing Education and others to ensure they have the proper protocols and self-certification in place to meet state requirements before permits are issued. This process is taking place for leagues as well as for other groups that utilize our facilities to run various clinics and summer programs.” 

All valid permits supersede general public use. Gathering size is limited to 100. PJ Romano (Saugatuck Elementary School) and Jinny Parker (Staples field hockey) fields remain closed for the summer due to construction.

Starting yesterday, the Longshore golf ldriving range and practice putting area are open as well. Driving range balls will be available at the ball machine only ($6 per basket). The machine accepts only $1 and $5 bills; exact change is required.

Starting Tuesday (June 23), an additional half hour of tee times will be available Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 7:30 a.m.

NOTE: Social distancing and face covering rules must be followed at all Westport Parks and Recreation facilities.

The Wakeman athletic fields are among those that have reopened.


Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson has an amazing story. She grew up in a tough New Haven neighborhood, developed her singing gift in church, walked to lessons at Yale, and is now an international opera star.

She has many ties to Westport. She has sung at the Unitarian Church, taught at Greens Farms Academy, spoken at the Arts Advisory Council’s “Tea Talk,” and been part of Beechwood’s Immersive Arts Salon.

Dr. Jackson has developed an inspiring one-woman show: “From The Hood To The Ivy League (and Back).” Tonight (Friday, June 19, 7 to 9 p.m.) — in honor of Juneteenth — she sings and performs that show, as part of Beechwood’s Amplify Festival. Click here for tonight’s Facebook Live stream.

Dr. Tiffany Renee Jackson


With the Westport Library and Levitt Pavilion closed, it may be a while since you’ve been to the Riverwalk.

But the next time you’re at that beautiful, calm-in-the-midst-of-downtown spot, check out the Storybook Project.

Created by Anne Ferguson, with thanks to the library and Westport Parks & Recreation, it’s a series of 30 or so charmingly illustrated pages from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving.”

Spaced appropriately more than 6 feet apart, the installation runs the length of the Riverwalk and garden. The pages recount the friendship and conversation between a small boy and a tree. Both lonely, they share their innermost thoughts.

The pages are attached to sticks in the ground, and the intervals encourage visitors onward to read each page as they walk. The black and white sketches are beautiful, and begin below the steps at the back of the library. (Hat tip: Jill Amadio)


This week’s #FridayFlowers can be found on the steps of Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

The beautiful arrangement was created by Dottie Fincher and Janet Wolgast, longtime Westport Garden Club members.


For months, the few people parking at or passing through the railroad station eastbound parking lot have seen a red Ford Escort, plunked in the middle of the lot. It never moved.

Folks were worried. What happened to the owner? Was he okay? A month ago, “06880” ran a photo.

Now, Wendy Cusick reports, the car is gone. Which brings up more questions: Did the owner finally return? Was it towed? Again: What about the driver?

If anyone knows, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Just published: About that Wine I Gave You: Dreams of Love, Life and Death in the Vineyard. The novel — about winemaking in San Diego, with themes of friendship, survival, love, aging, immigration, theology and racism — is the debut work of Craig Justice.

A 1977 graduate of Staples High School, he’s had a varied career. After Duke he interned with NATO; learned to speak French, German, Russian and Japanese; wrote for the International Herald Tribune; earned an MBA, and embarked on a career in the projector industry.

He and his wife began making wine in their California garage in 2004. They now have 1,000 vines.

Growing up here, Justice worked at Chez Pierre restaurant. The staff came from around the world, giving him an open-minded world view that he retains today.

Whenever he’s back east he heads to Westport. He walks on the beach, then heads to a coffee shop or library to write (when that’s allowed).

For more information — including how to order Justice’s book — click here.

Craig Justice


And finally … as Westport opens up, this seems like the perfect up-tempo tune. The next time you go inside for some java, think of Al Hirt.

Roundup: Parks & Rec Rules; Drive-In Movies; Assumption Food Drive; More


New Parks and Recreation rules!

As of today (June 13), doubles play will be allowed at the tennis courts at Longshore, Staples High School, Town Farm and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck Elementary School).

Also as of today, dogs will no longer be required to be on leash in the off-leash area of Winslow Park or other town property where dogs are allowed.

As of Wednesday (June 17), one pickleball court at Compo Beach will be open for singles play with restrictions.  It’s first come, first serve.

Also as of Wednesday, both platform tennis courts at Longshore will be open for singles play with restrictions.  Advanced reservations are required, and can be booked online 5 days in advance, or by calling the Longshore tennis office at 203-341-1180 2 days in advance. No walk-ups allowed!

Registration for Parks and Rec and Wakeman Town Farm summer programs begins Wednesday. To see programs and register, click here,


And in more Parks & Rec news: The Compo Beach bathrooms are open. They bear these signs:

(Photo/Andrea Cross)


Coming attraction: Movies in the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

A “drive-in theater” will be set up there this summer. The Remarkable Theater — the initiative employing men and women with disabilities — is behind the project, which got a unanimous go-ahead from the Board of Selectmen.

Four films will be shown on a 40-foot-wide screen over 2 weeks at the end of June, said Remarkable creative director Doug Tirola. Up to 80 cars can be accommodated in the lot, which during the day is both a commuter parking lot and the site of Thursday Farmers’ Markets.

Film titles and more details will be announced soon.

 


A pair of Norwalk food pantries — St. Philip’s and St. Vincent de Paul — feed 350 families a week. Both the families and the pantries are in desperate need of help.

Tomorrow (Sunday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), the Knights of Columbus will conduct a “drive-through food drive.” The site is the Assumption Church parking lot (98 Riverside Avenue).

You don’t have to leave your vehicle. K of C members will pick up your donation from your trunk or back seat.

Food that is needed:

  • Small bags of rice
  • Small packets of pasta/macaroni
  • Pasta sauce
  • Bags of dried black beans
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Vienna sausage – regular or chicken
  • Cereal – oatmeal or cornflakes
  • Powered milk
  • Coffee

Checks are great too. Make them payable to Church of the Assumption; in the memo line, write “Food Drive.”

Assumption Church (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)


Staples High School and University of Southern California journalism student Becca Rawiszer recently interviewed Board of Education chair Candice Savin about where Westport schools go from here. Click here to download the Persona Interviews app to watch the full interview — and ask Savin a follow up question.

Screenshot from the Candice Savin interview.


And finally … like Tacocat, we can dream, right?

Roundup: July 4th House Decorating Contest; #FridayFlowers; More


There will be no 4th of July fireworks this year. But you can still show your patriotism — and win tickets to the 2021 show.

Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department and Westport PAL — the sponsors of what is usually our town’s biggest party — are collaborating on the first-ever “4th of July House Decorating Contest.”

They encourage residents to decorate the side of your house most visible from the street, showing off the themes of “patriotism” and “America.”

Click here to register, so your house can be judged (on July 2). There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.

BONUS: The winning houses will be featured on “06880” too!

Showing the flag, on Hillspoint Road.


Surprise!

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is honoring Staples High School’s graduating seniors with a special tribute: banners, flying high.

Every 12th grader’s name — all 443 — is on one of the 39 handsome, Staples-blue pennants. They were a surprise until yesterday. Now everyone can see them, on Main Street, Elm Street and Church Lane.

One more great reason to head downtown!

Nicole and Victoria Caiati, with “their” banner.


The Westport Garden Club’s #FridayFlowers campaign brought them this week to St. Luke Church. There was special meaning for their volunteer efforts: The club’s monthly meetings — open to the public — are held in the church’s Community Room.


Westport Garden Club member Louise Demakis (left) with Sister Maureen in the garden at St. Luke Church. (Photo/ Kelle Ruden)


On Thursday, Aly Sivinski graduates from Staples High School. Since her first half-marathon 2 years ago, it was her dream to run in the New York City Marathon.

COVID-19 made that impossible this fall. But with time on her hands now, she decided to run her own half-marathon around here. She spent the past 8 weeks training, and will run her half on June 21.

Aly says, “Due to recent events in our society and the continued perpetuation of systemic racism, I have to decide to use my run to raise money for Black Lives Matter and the Connecticut Bail Fund.”

She hopes for either a flat donation of $13.10 (for the 13.1 miles), or a pledge of a any amount per mile. Click here to help.

Aly Sivinski


And finally … powerful, thought-provogking words from Depeche Mode:

COVID Roundup: Library Book Sale; Rotary Speaker; Oystercatcher Chick; Parks & Rec; More


The latest Westport tradition to fall victim to COVID-19: the Westport Library’s summer book sale.

In its place: a “virtual” fund-raiser.

Auction item previews begin June 10. Online silent bidding takes place from June 17 through June 19. To receive a link to the auction website when it is activated, click here.

Donations are being sought for the auction. “No item is too big or too small,” they say: experiences (concert, theater or other event tickets, backstage passes, tickets for TV shows tapings, private chef services, private wine tastings, spa days, cooking lessons, art classes); travel (use of vacation homes, tours, boat trips); food and wine packages; picnics; restaurant gift certificates; unique jewelry; works of art; children’s birthday parties — you get the idea.

For more information or to donate items, call 203-952-0070 or admin.book@westportbooksaleventures.org.


The Westport Rotary Club always books interesting guest speakers. This Tuesday (June 2) at 12:30 p.m., they host a particularly timely one.

Anne Diamond — president of Bridgeport Hospital, and executive vice president at Yale New Haven Health System — will talk about how her organizations responded to and allocated critical resources during COVID-19. She’ll also discuss a unique collaboration among hospitals in Fairfield County.

Because it’s a Zoom meeting, everyone is invited. Click here for the link. The meeting ID is 859 6608 8043; the password is 624628.


In the midst of so much sad, bad news, there is also this:

Tina Green reports that yesterday morning, the Compo Beach American oystercatchers successfully hatched one chick. Another egg has yet to hatch.

A pair of piping plovers also has a nest in the same roped-off area of South Beach. Stay away — and rejoice!

American oystercatcher and chick. (Photo/Tina Green)


Parks & Recreation director Jennifer Fava follows up on Governor Lamont’s announcement raising the limit of people in outdoor recreational gatherings from 5 to 25:

  • No contact sports or sports that include shared handling of objects such as balls or Frisbees are allowed.
  • Attendees shall remain 6 feet apart, excluding immediate family members, caretakers and household members, and except when dining, masks shall be worn when within 6 feet of those not in the same household.
  • If the event is an organized gathering, the organizer shall demarcate 6 feet of spacing.

This increase applies to outdoor recreational gatherings including the opening of the Wakeman, Staples (including the track), and Kings Highway fields for individual use and exercise.


Moving trucks came today for Restoration Hardware.

However, the closing of the home furnishings store –they did not sell hammers or weed killer — is not COVID-related.

The company says the 11,000-square foot spot opposite Anthropologie, a few yards from Main Street, is not in keeping with the current large-format stores (“galleries,” in Restoration-speak) they’ve opened the last few years.

No word yet on what will replace it. Although for nearly the entire 20th century, it sure worked well as a movie theater.

(Photo/Chip Stephens)


The Westport Police Department, TEAM Westport, and the NAACP are partnering on a food drive this Saturday (June 6, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at Stop & Shop in Westport.

The event was organized in the wake of last week’s death of George Floyd, at the hands of members of the Minneapolis Police Department.


And finally … one of the most powerful anthems ever written, from one of the greatest singers of all time.

 

COVID Roundup: Restaurant News; Graduation Gowns; Live Music; More


Looking for a list of open restaurants and delis — those with outdoor dining, along with takeout and delivery?

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has you covered.

They maintain an up-to-date list. Click here for their website. As of this morning, the list included Arezzo, Bartaco, The Boathouse, Calise’s Market, Granola Bar, GG & Joe (the new acai bowl spot in Parker Harding Plaza, near TD Bank), Joe’s Pizza, Little Barn, The Naan, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Rizzuto’s, Romanacci Xpress, Spotted Horse, Viva Zapata and The Whelk.

The Chamber site also includes FAQs, applications, and rules and regulations for restaurant owners.

There’s also this: a great new logo. It was created by (of course!) Westport’s go-to graphic designer, Miggs Burroughs.

 


On the long list of things people really, really want, then never look at again after wearing them once, the only thing less than a wedding dress is a graduation gown.

Except now. That goofy, floor-length outfit could save a life.

As healthcare workers lack personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19, they grab anything they can think of. Even trash bags.

Graduation gowns are a lot more effective than that. They cover legs and arms, and offer easy zipper access.

The Gowns4Good program provides graduation gowns to the men and women who desperately need them. Whether yours from years ago is gathering dust somewhere, or yours is spanking new for that less-than-raucous, socially distant 2020 ceremony: It can help.

Just click here. Fill out a short form. Select a medical facility from the dropdown list (pro tip: the closest to Westport is Stamford Hospital). Submit.
You’ll get an email back, with instructions on how to ship your gown.

Whether you graduated first in your class or last, you know: This is a very smart idea! (Hat tip: Becky Acselrod)

Despite the cigar smoke, these gowns will be useful.


Talk about “burying the lede”!

At the bottom of an email sent yesterday announcing new outdoor hours for The Whelk (Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.), and the opening of a new Kawa Ni patio in “the next few days,” there was this momentous news from Bill Taibe’s group:

“With the seismic change that is happening in the world, we look at this as an opportunity to pivot and grow. Over the next few weeks Jesup Hall will evolve into Don Memo.

“While it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Jesup Hall, it is so exciting to create this new concept and be able to bring what we love about this cuisine and culture to downtown Westport. See you soon!”

“06880” will keep you posted. One thing is for sure: Don Memo won’t have to worry about creating outdoor seating. The patio in front of the old stone building next to Restoration Hardware — Westport’s original Town Hall — is already perfect.

Jesup Hall, soon to be Don Memo, aka the old Town Hall.


Westport’s Parks & Rec Department is posting clever new signs at their facilities around town.

Good thing they didn’t try to spell out “Recreation.”


If you wander by Jeff Franzel’s Saugatuck Island house any Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., you may hear him playing piano.

But you don’t have to live here to hear Jeff. His listeners span the globe, via Facebook Live. They suggest themes; he improvises. Original songs, plus those by Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish — he plays them all.

And very well. The Westport native has quite a resume. He’s played piano for the Hues Corporation (“Rock the Boat”), Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme and Bob Hope. He wrote hits like “Don’t Rush Me” for Taylor Dayne, and others for the Temptations, NSYNC, Shawn Colvin, Josh Groban, Placido Domingo and Clay Aiken. He mentors songwriters around the world, and brings some to his Songwriting Academy, at his home.

Intrigued? You’re in luck: Today is Thursday. Click here at 5 p.m., for Jeff’s 10th concert.

Jeff Franzel


Looking for a good read — and podcast? Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer interviews Westporter Emily Liebert. Her 6th novel, “Perfectly Famous,” will be published June 2.


And finally … it will be a while before we get 400,000 people together in one place.

Or even 40.

But the Youngbloods’ message is as relevant today as it was more than half a century (!) ago.