Tag Archives: Westport Pride

Roundup: Oysters, Coming Out, Chris Coogan …

The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston took a tasty tour yesterday.

They headed to Copps Island Oysters, the 4th- generation shellfish farm in Norwalk.

Don Bell — the environmental health director who led the tour — said that Copps Island’s oyster farming, harvesting, processing, sorting and packaging business is Connecticut’s largest fishery.

Don Bell leads the oyster museum tour. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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If you missed last week’s Coming Out Day panel at the Westport Library — titled “When Did You Know,” and featuring several members of the LGBTQ community discussing their coming out stories — click below. The event was sponsored by Westport Pride.

(NOTE: The program begins at the 4:30 mark — skip ahead to that point.)

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A local favorite — the Chris Coogan Trio, featuring bassist John Mobilio and drummer Jim Royle — headline this Thursday’s “Jazz at the Post.”

Of course, Greg Wall — the “Jazz Rabbi” — will bring his saxophone too.

Pianist Coogan grew up here. He travels the world, but still calls this area home. He is a sensitive, in-demand accompanist for singers, a powerhouse gospel pianist, choir director and bandleader, a highly effective and inspiring educator, and an all-around good guy.

There are 2 sets October 20: 7:30 and 8:45 p.m (VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue). Dinner begins at 7 p.m. There’s a $10 cover; reservations are strongly suggested: JazzatThePost@gmail.com.

Chris Coogan

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Staples High School’s October Students of the Month are senior Jeffrey Pogue, juniors Nina Lauterbach and Morgan Tamm, sophomores Samantha Henske and Logan Noorily, and Eleni Bragi.

Students of the Month are those who help make Staples a welcoming place for peers and teachers. Principal Stafford Thomas says, “they are the ‘glue’ of the community — the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together. They are friendly to the staff and fellow students, and make positive contributions in class as well as to the Staples community.”

Staples’ October Students of the Month (from left): Eleni Braga, Nina Lauterbach, Logan Noorily, Samantha Henske, Jeffrey Pogue, Morgan Tamm.

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“Westport … Naturally” once again goes to the dogs.

Our own “Scooter” Swanson was recently designated as a Marine Corps Service dog, by the Commandant. Congratulations!

(Photo courtesy of Carl Addison Swanson)

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And finally … Chuck Berry would have been 96 years old today. The great rock ‘n’ roller died in 2017.

(Don’t forget Chuck Berry — or “06880.” Please click here to help support this blog.)

Roundup: New Ops Head, Recovery, Window Painting …

Meet Tom Kiely: Westport’s new operations director. He assumes the position immediately.

He graduated from Plymouth State University, with a BS in public management. He spent 21 years with the Connecticut State Police in a variety of roles and supervisory positions, including 11 years as a detective with major crimes. His work involved relationships with local, state and federal agencies.

His honors include Outstanding Service Awards from the State Police and United States’ Attorney’s Office; a District of Connecticut Department of Justice Award, and numerous Unit Citation Awards.

Kiely says, “My entire professional life has been in public service. I am very excited to begin a new career as operations director of this great community. I look forward to meeting new people, accepting new challenges, and collaborating with the team of town employees, business owners, and residents – confident that I bring a fresh perspective and life experience to this important role in town government.” 

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker welcomes Kiely, and thanks town audit manager and senior accountant Lynn Scully, whose work as interim operations director was “exceptional. Her input, advice and guidance as she deftly managed the multiple jobs that we asked her to perform on behalf of the town were invaluable, and we owe her a debt of gratitude.”

Thomas Kiely

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Some big names will attend the 9th annual Recovery Celebration — called “The Road Together” — this Sunday (October 9, Westport Library, 3 p.m.).

Liberation Programs and local partners — including Mitchells — host the event. There’s live music, refreshments, remarks from Senator Richard Blumenthal and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, a panel moderated by NBC’s Craig Melvin, and a recovery story from Steven Stone.

Click here for more details.

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Calling all painters!

The annual Halloween Window Painting Contest takes place Saturday, October 22. Who wants to paint?!

Last year, over 100 children painted scary scenes on windows offered by local businesses. Participants can paint their own window, or team up with friends.

Judging follows. Winners get a gift certificate from Gofer Ice Cream.

Click here to sign up (or sign up your young Rembrandt) as a window painter.

Last year’s Best Halloween Theme winner: Hailey Kipperman (7th grade), at Bella Bridesmaids.

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Another call: This one is for all organizations, businesses, artists, crafters and sustainable groups:  Westport’s Holiday Green Festival is looking for exhibitors.

The event is Saturday, November 12 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Staples High School fieldhouse). Interested exhibitors should click here by October 31.

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“Black Excellence Night” — a free communal celebration of Black life and history — takes place next Wednesday (October 19, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Westport Country Playhouse). The event leads into an 8 p.m. preview performance of “From the Mississippi Delta,” a gripping tale of a Black woman’s rise from poverty to prominence.

“Black Excellence Night” is a spinoff of “Black Out,” inspired in 2019 by playwright Jeremy O. Harris, author of Broadway’s “Slave Play.” The goal is to create an environment for a Black-identifying audience to experience theater.

Guests will enjoy drinks from 822 Mixology, a Black-owned, New Haven-based business, and food tables. Live jazz is courtesy of the William Fluker Quartet.

“The Great Migration” — an exhibit curated by the Westport Museum for History & Culture — will be displayed, in conjunction with the “From the Mississippi Delta” storyline. The exhibit chronicles the relocation of more than 6 million Black Americans from the rural South to cities in the North, Midwest, and West from 1916 to 1970, sparked by economic conditions and segregationist laws.

Event space is limited. Click here for more information, and to RSVP. Click here for information on “From the Mississippi Delta, and to purchase tickets.

Goldie E. Patrick, “From the Missiissippi Delta” director.

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“When did you know you were LGBT or Q?”

That’s the question a panel of “experts” — lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people and those calling themselves queer — will answer on October 11 (6 p.m., Westport Library Trefz Forum and Zoom).

The date is significant: It’s National Coming Out Day.

Panelists will talk about, and offer advice from, their own experiences. Audience members can ask questions too.

On the panel:

  • Brian McGunagle – President, Westport Pride
  • Kayla Iannetta – Chair, Westport Public Schools Pride Coalition
  • Anthony Crisi – Executive director, Circle Care Center
  • Sarah Ferro – Westport Pride member, activist, musician, mom
  • Staples Pride Coalition Members

The moderator is yours truly.

Interested, but not in person? Click here for the Zoom link.

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Peace came to the Westport Rotary Club yesterday.

John Miksad of Wilton — founder of Fairfield-based World Beyond War, a global peace advocacy group — spoke during the lunchtime meeting at Greens Farms Church.

He identified 3 existential threats to human existence: pandemics, climate change, and nuclear war. 

“We’re missing the big picture and no one nation can solve these on its own,” he said. “We need relentless diplomacy.” (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

John Miksad (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Arline Gertzoff’s family has released her official obituary:

Arline Patricia Gertzoff, 76, passed away peacefully at St. Vincent’s Hospital on September 28 from esophageal cancer. She is remembered as a true daughter of Westport, a dedicated, tireless volunteer for many organizations that contribute to the vibrancy of the town.

Arline was born in Norwalk. Her family moved to Westport, establishing a local dry cleaning business, where she often worked after school. Arline was active in Staples Players and SSTS, the backstage crews. She was head of costumes for several productions, and SSTS President as a senior.

Arline was a proud graduate of Staples and Westport schools, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University in history and education. She taught in New Canaan, and at the International School in Antwerp, Belgium for 25 years, where she was involved with the Model UN.

Arline enjoyed people, the arts, travel, good food and wine, and Belgian chocolate. Students and friends from around the world stayed in touch with her. She returned to Westport in 1979 to help care for her mother, and dove into her community activism.

She loved Westport, and took great pride in its history and contributions. She was filled with local lore and stories, emphatically setting the record straight on Westport history with people newer to town.

For 20 years Arline was a tireless poll worker with the Westport League of Women Voters. Active with Westport’s Democratic Town Committee, she co-chaired the Community Outreach Committee. Arline served on the Board of the Democratic Women of Westport, and in 2016 received the DTC Dora Stuttman Campaign Leadership Award.

She was a familiar face and trusted cashier at the Library Book Sales, and a longtime member of the United Nations Association of Southwestern Connecticut, often bringing interesting speakers and dialogue to the community.

One of Arline’s favorite activities was jUNe Day, which for more than 55 years has welcomed UN delegates and staff to Westport for a day of food, fun and friendship. Serving on the board of directors as membership chair, she was also treasurer of UNASWCT, and on the advisory body for the national UN Association.

Long-time friend Melody James says, “Arline earned a seat at the leadership table of our town the old-fashioned way: through volunteerism, pitching in, and showing up. She was a doer. You could count on her. True in high school; true in 2022.”

When Arline died, she was serving a 3rd term as a District 3 member on Westport’s non-partisan Representative Town Meeting.

Another classmate remarks, “Arline was a connector. She had the ability to connect with different types of people, across age, sex, class, race, religious and nationality lines. She was the thread that joined together a very wide community.”

Back in Westport, Arline became lead coordinator for her Staples Class of ’64, orchestrating several class reunions. At the 50th she appeared with arms full of roses to cast on Long Island Sound for fallen classmates.

She was the confidante, treasurer and detail master who tracked marriages, divorces, deaths, births and career changes. Arline supported her friends and local artists, showing up often to performances and exhibits.

Arline was a leading voice to establish the Laddie Lawrence Track at Staples High School, challenging the argument that a great teacher and coach could only be honored after they died.

Her friend Jennifer Johnson calls her “a lifetime Westporter, and a citizen of the world.  She was a champion of democracy and international understanding.”

DTC chair Mark Friedman adds, “Through her work, she strengthened the fabric of our civil society and touched the lives of people in Westport and around the world, creating a family of friends and admirers, imbuing her friendships with insight, wit and love.”

Arline was predeceased by her brother Stewart. She is survived by cousins Steven Gertzoff of Florida, Ken Bean of Colorado and their families. A memorial service is planned for November 12th (Westport Town Hall, 2:30 p.m.).

Arline Gertzoff, at the Grand Canyon.

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There’s still plenty of greenery here — as seen in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, taken at Hillspoint Road.

But it’s October 5. We’ll see lots more color soon.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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And finally … Loretta Lynn — who overcame harsh poverty to become a beloved country star — died peacefully in her sleep yesterday, in Tennessee. She was 90.

Click here for a full obituary.

 

A Proud Day For Westport

The rain that chased Westport’s 2nd annual Pride festival from Jesup Green to Staples High School never materialized. So there were no rainbows in the sky above the courtyard.

But nearby, in the auditorium foyer, hundreds of rainbows were on display. Buttons, artwork, t-shirts, bagels  — rainbows were everywhere.

The rainbow arch was a popular spot for photos.

And a rainbow constellation of Westporters — parents, grandparents, couples without children, 20somethings, clergy members, musicians, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, and scores of kids of all ages — smiled, applauded and hugged all afternoon long.

A small part of the large Pride crowd. (Photo/Dan Woog)

From the opening remarks by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker — who said that the sponsors, Westport Pride, have made Westport “a better community” — to heartfelt stories from people like former Staples principal John Dodig, former tennis captain Luke Foreman, current students and Amis/Terrain executive chef Jes Bengtson, to entertainment by very talented teens,  and on through closing blessings by Temple Israel cantor Julia Cadrain, it was a day to celebrate inclusivity in our schools and community.

Luke Foreman describes his journey. (Photo/Marjorie Almansi)

The event drew nearly 1,000 members of the LGBTQ+ community, and many allies. They had — in both senses of the word — a very gay time.

Who doesn’t like rainbow bagels? (Photo/Dan Woog)

Staples Class of 2021 graduate Benny Zack returned for the event. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Former Bedford Middle School teacher Kerstin Rao, and Dr. Nikki Gorman. The pediatrician, and owner of Westport Medical & Wellness Center, was a featured speaker. (Photo/Bethany Eppner)

Rainbows were everywhere at Westport Pride. Kids’ activities included arts and crafts and face painting. (Photo/Bethany Eppner)

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with an official town proclamation. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Former Staples High principal John Dodig inspired listeners with his story. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport RTM member Harris Falk dressed for the occasion … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… as did Rev. John Betit of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… while former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe sported an appropriate tie. (Photo/Dan Woog)

State Representative Stephanie Thomas lent her support. She’s running for Secretary of the State. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport Pride founder and festival co-organizer Brian McGunagle introduced his 3-year-old son Henry to the crowd. They loved him.  (Photo/Dan Woog)

Love is love. (Photo/Marjorie Almansi)

Westport Pride: New Venue (Staples) For Sunday Celebration

It may rain on Sunday. But that won’t dampen Westport’s 2nd annual Pride celebration.

The event — with music, vendors and more — has been moved to the Staples High School auditorium (1 to 3 p.m.). All members of the LGBTQ+ community — and all allies and friends — are invited.

Musicians, speakers, clergy and political leaders will all be there. 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker will issue a “June Pride Month” proclamation.

Also on tap: children’s art activities, face painting, hair and makeup, pride merchandise, swag and educational materials. The event is sponsored by Westport Pride.

Performers include Colin Konstanty and Mark Aguirre, Sarah Ferro, Jamie Mann, Ellery Bodell, Madelyn Spera, Vivian and Willa Shamie, Ellie Desautels with Denver Razzi and Camille Blundell, and Julie Lloyd.

Speakers include Will Haskell, John Dodig, Dan Woog, Kayla Iannetta, Pride Coalition students, Dr. Nikki Gorman, Jess Bengtson, Luke Foreman, Cantor Julia Cadrain, and MC Brian McGunagle.

Showing the flag at last year’s Westport Pride celebration. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Roundup: Gun Violence March, Scholar-Athletes, Girls On The Run …

Westport Moms send word of a “Stand up Against Gun Violence” march this Wednesday (June 8). It begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Anthropologie steps, and continues through town.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas will join the crowd. Marchers are urged to wear orange, and bring signs.

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You can’t say the town is not responsive.

At 10 a.m. yesterday morning, the “06880” Roundup included 2 photos of Grace Salmon Park. They showed benches at the popular Imperial Avenue park, covered in weeds and brush.

This was the scene at 9 a.m. today — less than 24 hours later:

(Photo/Werner Liepolt)

What an improvement! Thanks for the quick action!

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Staples High School held its 21st annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner last night — but the first since COVID struck.

It was a fascinating evening. Each varsity sport selects one senior. Each coach asks each scholar-athlete a question about his or her passions, achievements, hobbies, extracurricular activities or sports.

The answers — a minute or so each — are insightful, poised, poignant, and often funny. Taken together, they paint a remarkable picture of the student-athletes at Staples.

Last night’s questions ranged from volunteer efforts (Food Rescue US, helping a Holocaust survivor, transcribing Library of Congress records) to lessons learned from coaching little kids, building models to predict the spread of COVID, working on political campaigns and against gun violence, and selling South African snacks.

Even more remarkably, the scholar-athletes were on top of their game despite having attended the senior prom the night before (and post-prom parties after that).

As several speakers noted after hearing the 36 students speak: The future is in great hands.

Scholar-athletes honored, and their sports:

Fall: Emily Epstein (cheer), Zach Taubman (boys cross country), Josie Dolan (girls cross country), Ava Ekholdt (field hockey), Andrew O’Loughlin (football), Ben Epes (boys golf), Aidan Mermagen (boys soccer), Madison Sansone (girls soccer), Raina Mandayam (girls swimming), Ally Schwartz (girls volleyball), Jasper Cahn (boys water polo).

Winter: Michael Brody (boys basketball), Sydelle Bernstein (girls basketball), Mimi Schindler (gymnastics), Johnny Raho (ice hockey), Rory Tarsy (boys indoor track), Emma Nordberg (girls indoor track), Will Heisler (boys skiing), Kate Smith (girls skiing), Brian Fullenbaum (boys squash), Romy Nusbaum (girls  squash), Jacob Lee (boys swimming), Reese Watkins (wrestling).

Spring: Finn Popken (baseball), Lizzie Kuehndorf (girls golf), Derek Sale (boys lacrosse), Sara DiGiovanni (girls lacrosse), Alex Harrington (boys indoor track), Tessa Moore (girls outdoor track), Nick Prior (rugby), Erin Durkin (sailing), Caroline Coffey (softball), Matthew Chiang (boys tennis), Jordana Latzman, Ethan Moskowitz (boys volleyball), Rachel Offir (girls water polo).

The evening also included the awarding of several scholar-athlete scholarships. The Coleman Brothers Foundation presented Brewster Galley with a $40,000 award. Jalen St. Fort and George Kocadag each received a $6,500 Laddie Lawrence grant. Jaden Mueller got the $2,000 Albie Loeffler Scholarship.

Two other honors were handed out. Rory Tarsy was named the Thomas DeHuff Award winner, while Molly Liles earned the Jinny Parker Award.

After dinner, the scholar-athletes posed with their plaques. Here’s boys skiing honoree Will Heisler, and his parents.

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Speaking of sports: The Staples boys tennis team has repeated as state champions.

For the 5th time.

The Wreckers won their 6th straight title Saturday. They beat Greenwich 4-1 at Wesleyan University.

Winners included singles players Robbie Daus and Noah Wolff, and the doubles teams of Luke Brodsky and Alex Guadarrama, and Brett Lampert and Lucas Ceballas-Cala.

The individual invitation tourney begins today, also at Wesleyan. Tighe Brunetti and Daus will play singles, Brodsky and Guadarrama doubles.

Congratulations and good luck to all — including coach Kris Hrisovulos!

The state champion Staples boys tennis team (from left): coach Kris Hrisovulos, Holden Dalzell, Clint Graham, Hayden Frey, Noah Wolff, Tighe Brunetti, Luke Brodsky, Robbie Daus, Matthew Chiang, Jared Evans, Brett Lampert, Alex Guadarrama, Lucas Ceballos-Cala. (Photo/Bob Daus)

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Speaking once again of sports: Good luck to Staples’ boys lacrosse team. Ranked #2 in the state tournament, they face #3 Ridgefield on Wednesday (5 p.m., Fairfield University), in the semifinal round.

Go Wreckers!

Staples’ boys lacrosse team takes the field.

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This past weekend, 5 girls from Saugatuck Elementary School participated in the Fairfeld 5K along Jennings Beach.

But they didn’t run alone. The youngsters took part in Girls on the Run. The after-school program is part of a national positive youth development project for grades 3 to 7.

The season runs for 10 weeks. Twice a week, girls learn about and practice skills and positive mindsets, including positive self-talk, friendship, and the importance of individuality.

Each session includes running. Girls build endurance, culminating in that celebratory 5K.

Westport’s Girls on the Run has partnered with Westport Continuing Education. Three parent volunteers lead the local program. They hope to bring the program to other schools in town. Parents interested in helping can email mary.bentley@girlsontherun.org. All abilities are welcome.

Girls on the Run participants.

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Tower of Power rocked the Levitt Pavilion this weekend.

Which means another great season has begun.

Click here for upcoming concerts and special events. There’s something for everyone!

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David Ader writes:

“I admit this photo has the quality of some yahoo’s version of a sasquatch. I have sympathy for that yahoo.

“On Saturday night as I sat at my dinner table a very large and muscular bobcat sauntered across my backyard. I was both shocked and anxious as I dropped some pizza to distract my dog, and scrambled to get this photo.

“In its confident walk, the bobcat stopped for a moment to look at me while I feebly attempted to get my phone open for the photo. Imagine if it was a sasquatch!”

(Photo/David Ader)

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The sold-out audience at Saturday’s Westport Pride drag show at MoCA included a numberof families with children. In addition to dancing the performers offered a bit of LGBTQ history.

Yesterday, the mother of one youngster wrote to “06880”: “I feel very strongly that exposing children to all sorts of personal expressions and pathways is essential in order for them to know that there is not one cookie-cutter way to be in this world.

“To have our children witness a person living life, full of joy, as their 100% authentic and beautiful selves is a powerful gift I intend on exposing them to always.”

15-year-old Desmond is Amazing — a New York City drag artist — posed with young fans.

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Diane Bosch spotted this new object, bobbing in the channel at the mouth of the Saugatuck River.

She suspects it has something to do with the dredging plan. Is she right?

If any “06880” readers know for sure what this is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Diane Bosch)

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It’s strawberry season at the Westport Community Garden.

Lou Weinberg shared this luscious one — unfortunately, only photographically — for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … you knew this was coming, right?

Roundup: Grace Salmon Park, Garbage, Gerber Baby …

The other day, David Meth was at the transfer station. He saw a resident take 2 perfectly good children’s bikes from her SUV. He writes:

“I offered to take them to Cycle Dynamics because Charlie, the owner, donates them to churches in Bridgeport. However the attendant, who was very nice and very afraid to get in trouble because there are cameras everywhere, refused to allow me to take them because they were placed on the ground near the attendant’s booth.

“These bikes were in excellent condition. Why allow them to be trashed? Why not have an area to ‘exchange’ items that could sustain a small economy elsewhere, yet are thrown away here without another thought. It is very wrong.

“Cardboard, glass, cans and paper are recycled for future use. Food scraps are recycled. Leaves and brush are recycled. Why not recycle perfectly good, even repairable goods and equipment, to benefit others?

“This is an awful policy in a town that prides itself in helping others. It can be changed, and it should change soon.”

Sign at the transfer station.

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Speaking of trash:

A reader who loves Grace Salmon Park — but thinks it needs a bit of care — sent several photos of benches overgrown with weeds. Here are 2:

He adds: “Want a seat by the river? Bring your Claritin.”

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Ann Turner Cook — the original Gerber baby — died Friday. She was 95 years old.

The reason that’s “06880”-worthy is that — nearly 100 years ago — the iconic sketch was “born” here.

In 1927, artist Dorothy Hope Smith made a charcoal drawing of her 4-month-old neighbor, Ann Turner. Ann’s father, Leslie, was an artist too; his comic strip “Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy” ran in 500 newspapers every day.

The original charcoal sketch of Ann Turner, and Ann Turner Cook today.

The original charcoal sketch of Ann Turner, and Ann Turner Cook in 2010.

The next year, Gerber needed a face for its new line of baby foods. Smith entered her simple drawing in the contest. She competed with elaborate oil paintings — but the company loved it. By 1931, Ann Cook was the “official trademark.”

She was on every Gerber ad, and on every package, since.

But no one knew her. In fact — in an effort to appeal to both sexes — for many years Gerber did not even say if the baby was a girl or boy.

As years passed, several women claimed to be the Gerber baby. To end the discussion, Gerber paid Turner — by then married, named Ann Cook –$5,000 in 1951. That’s all she got — no royalties, nothing. (It’s better than Smith, though. She earned just $300 for her efforts.)

The Gerber baby at work -- and all grown up today.

The Gerber baby at work — and all grown up, some years ago.

Cook left Westport long ago. She had 4 children, and spent 26 years teaching literature and writing in  Tampa. After retiring in 1989, she wrote 2 mystery novels.

But nearly a decade ago, when she was 88, she was rediscovered. Oprah profiled Cook on her “Where Are They Now?” series. Huffington Post picked up the story.

Neither Oprah nor HuffPo mentions Westport. Nor does the official Gerber website. ( For a full obituary, click here. Hat tips: Deej Webb and Jonathan McClure)

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“Challenger Recognition Day” is always fun.

The Westport Baseball program for players with disabilities includes an announcer introducing each batter, and calling play-by-play. Dustin Lowman did the honors, and hit it out of the park.

A pizza party ends the day.

Congrats to all who made yesterday possible — and a tip of the baseball hat to all the players!

Jonah Atienza and his dad. (Photo.Beth Cody)

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Yesterday’s 1st-ever Drag Show was anything but a drag.

A sold-out crowd at MoCA Westport — including many families with young kids — enjoyed 4 drag queens who strutted, danced, engaged the audience and even provided a bit of LGBTQ history.

The event was sponsored by Westport Pride. Next up: a townwide Pride Month celebration on Jesup Green, next Sunday (1 to 3 p.m.).

Getting in the swing of things. (Photo/Jerri Graham)

Weston High School senior Zac Mathias served as MC. (Photo/Jerri Graham)

Ambrosia Black (Photo/Jerri Graham)

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The Westport Book Shop’s guest exhibitor for June is Kerstin Rao.

Known to many for her years as a gifted teacher of gifted students at Bedford Middle School, Rao is displaying 4 prints, plus a QR code through which you can see each piece being created via time-lapse video.

Rao’s work is hyper-local. Her pieces begin at the Westport Farmers’ Market. They’re scanned in Westport, and printed in Norwalk. Her art business, Vivid Cottage, offers luxury stationery and home good based on her original artwork. It’s available online, and at the Westport Book Shop.

Rao majored in fine art at Vassar, and earned a master’s in special education at Bank Street College. She moved from teaching to art during the pandemic. She also volunteers at the Westport Library, facilitating author panels and book talks, helping and helping plan events. She was a founding member of Westport’s Maker Faire.

Kerstin Rao, with her prints at the Westport Book Shop.

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Speaking of art: MoCA’s next show — “Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” — is a collaboration with The Contemporary Art Modern Project (The CAMP Gallery) and the Fiber Artists Miami Association. It explores how female artists, utilizing textiles as their medium, subvert the social expectation of crafting by lambasting this soft medium with political and social awareness.

It opens June 30 with a 6-8 p.m. reception, and runs through September 4.

Several local artists are in the exhibition, including Camille Eskell, Susan Feliciano,  Sooo-z Mastropietro and Norma Minkowitz

For more information, email liz@mocawestport.org or call 203-222-7070.

“Red, White, and Pink: The Colors of Politics” (Laetitia Adam-Rabel). Thread, yarn, ink, acrylic on canvas.

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On a windy, rainy Friday, Westporter Nathalie Jacob was on a boat with a friend. Suddenly — off the Darien shore — she realized her Gill sailing jacket (with iPhone 11max in its pocket) was gone.

She figured a gust of wind blew it into the water. The weight of the phone must have pulled it to the bottom of the Sound.

Her friend tried “Find My Phone.” Nada. Nathalie figured it was gone forever.

But 12 days later, her husband got a call. The caller said he’d spotted the jacket that day, in Westport waters — a mile from shore. He found the phone, took it home, plugged it in — and called the emergency contact number on it.

That’s right: After nearly 2 weeks in salty, wavy water, the iPhone still worked.

The jacket was full of live crabs and seaweed, Nathalie adds. But after 3 washing cycles, it’s usable too. She loves her Gill jacket.

PS: She brought a bottle of whiskey to the man who found it.

Nathalie Jacob …

… and her Gill jacket and iPhone.

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Staples High School’s senior prom — the first “normal” one after 2 COVID years — was held last night at the Greenwich Hyatt.

Most attendees were too busy having fun to take photos. But “06880”s great senior intern, Lyah Muktavaram, sent this photo along.

I’ve heard from 3 students who were there that it was a great one. I’m sure when they wake up — late this afternoon? — they’ll enjoy this image.

(Photo/Lyah Muktavaram)

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Nile Rodgers’ home here is still on the market.

To avoid realtors being there when realtors showed potential home-buyers through the house — or, more probably, because who can turn down an invitation from Buckingham Palace? — the international recording star/producer was in London, not Westport, last night.

He had an important gig: performing at Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee coocert.

Just one more day in the life of our soon-to-be-former neighbor.

Nile Rodgers, at the Queen’s Jubilee. (Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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Former Westport Woman’s Club president Natacha “Nat” Sylander died last month. She was 86.

The Auburn, New York native earned her bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Michigan State University. She then moved to Chicago to work at the Palmer House.

In 1960 she married Dick Sylander, and became a mom. In 1967 the family moved to Westport, where they lived for 44 years. She was a teaching assistant at Bedford Elementary School before starting a company with her husband in 1976. R.L. Sylander Associates did custom computer circulation fulfillment. They ran it for 25 years, until they retired.

Nat was active in the community, including president of the Westport Woman’s Club and chair of the Yankee Doodle Fair. She was a member of the St. Luke Church choir for many years. She was a wonderful cook and loved to entertain, with a flair for storytelling.

She is survived by her children, Rick of Milford, Karen of Chicago and Beth of Long Island; as well as a grandson, Owen Hammond, serving overseas in the Army.

A funeral service is set for Saturday, June 11 (11 a.m., St. Luke Church) with a Mass of Christian Burial. A reception follows immediately. Interment will be private. Condolences may be left online. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Westport Woman’s Club Scholarship Program, 44 Imperial Ave, Westport, CT 06880.

Nat Sylander

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This guy crawled onto Molly Alger’s deck, then posed for his “Westport … Naturally” closeup:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … one famous “baby” deserves another:

 

Your “06880” Pride Guide

June is Pride Month.

But it’s not just for people who identify as LGBTQ (or IA+)*. All allies — and there are many in the Westport community — are invited to join the fun (and serious stuff).

The main event is the June 12 celebration at Jesup Green. But there’s much more too, including:

June 2: To Wong Foo, Thanks Julie Newmar! (Remarkable Theater, 8:30 p.m.)

In the 1995 comedy with Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo, 3 New York drag queens on their way to Hollywood for a beauty pageant are stranded in a small Midwestern town — and show residents that looking different doesn’t mean they don’t have humanity in common.

For more information and tickets, click here.

June 3: Bedford Middle School, Coleytown Middle School, and Staples High School Pride Day Celebrations

Bedford and Coleytown make history, by hosting Connecticut’s first middle school Pride Day celebrations. Hosted by the Westport Public Schools Pride Coalition, it features the debut of a new Staples and middle school mentorship program led by Staples faculty and coalition chair, Kayla Iannetta. Staples’ celebration will build on last year’s inaugural event.

June 4: All 4 Drag and Drag for A ll (MoCA Westport, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.)

A fun, family-friendly drag experience; all ages invited and welcome. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for cocktail hour (with a cash bar); the show begins at 6:30, with 4 great entertainers.

Headliner Desmond Napoles (stage name: Desmond is Amazing) is a 15-year old award-winning New York City LGBTQ advocate, performer, model, public speaker and fashion designer.

For more information and tickets, click here. https://bit.ly/3sfvTsu.

Desmond is Amazing

 June 8: How to Survive a Plague (Remarkable Theater, 8:30 p.m.)

This 2012 documentary about the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and the efforts of activist groups, was culled from over 700 hours of archived footage: news coverage, interviews, and videos of demonstrations and meetings.

For more information and tickets, click here.

June 12: Westport Pride Celebration (Jesup Green, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

The 2nd annual community-wide event includes music and other great performances, speakers, local clergy, a proclamation from 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and a pride flag flying over it all.

Plus: children’s art activities, face painting, hair and makeup, pride merchandise and swag, and educational materials on hand.

Showing the flag at last year’s Westport Pride celebration. (Photo/Kerry Long)

June 12: Pride Eucharist (Christ and Holy Trinity Churh, 5 p.m.)

A come-as-you-are in-person service of scripture, song, prayer and Holy Eucharist in the Christ & Holy Trinity Courtyard (Branson Hall if it’s cold or raining.)  For more information, click here.

June 15: Pride Spirit Day (Westport elementary schools)

The elementary schools focus on families, and the many different ways they can be. Students learn about important LGBTQ+ figures from read-alouds and bulletin boards. Outside the buildings, chalk drawings and messages spread love and the message that everyone deserves to be proud of who they are.

June 17: Pride Cabaret Night (Westport Library, 6:30 p.m.)

An evening of music, performing arts and comedy, hosted by comedienne and activist Mina Hartong.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

June – August: Summer of Love | Merchants of Pride – Various Locations

All summer long, merchants offer pride-themed items, events and more. NOTE: These offers begin June 1. Don’t click the links, or visit the stores or restaurants, until Tuesday!

A Splash of Pink: Shopping Night (Wednesday, June 1, 5 to 8 p.m.). Light bites, and a rainbow bar of cocktails. A portion of the evening’s sales will be donated to Westport Pride.

Allium Eatery: A portion of  proceeds from the sale of “Fields of Love” will benefit Westport Pride. This change will change periodically throughout the summer so the culinary team can create innovative dishes. It is called “Fields of Love” to honor “embracing diversity and the beauty of all ingredients, just as we all should with the LGBTQ+ community.” June 1 through August 31.

Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti: A portion of proceeds from the sale of the newly created AZALEA cocktail (vodka, lemonade, strawberry shrub, bubbles) will be donated to Westport Pride. 

Don Memo/Kawa Ni/The Whelk: Signature cocktail for the month of June.

Middlemarch: Partners with Jeweled Coquette to create a special limited edition Bon-Bon necklace. The designer followed the original pride flag design from 1978. Stones are jade, sunstone, opal, chalcedony, quartz and serpentine. Necklaces are hand-knotted on 20″ silk, with a 15K gold filled spring ring closure. Orders can be placed online or at the store. Retail price is $200; 20% donated to Westport Pride. Offer good June 1-30.

Sono1420: Limited edition PRIDE bottle of SONO1420 vodka.

WEST: 20% off all Aviator Nation apparel for month of June. A portion of proceeds donated to Westport Pride.

Whoop Handstitch: A limited edition with “PROUD” stitched in rainbow thread on a white sweatshirt; also, a gray cashmere sweater with “LOVE IS LOVE” with rainbow thread. The sweatshirt retails for $95; $20 will be donated to Westport Pride. The sweater retails for $185, with $50 donated to Westport Pride. June 1 through August 31.

Finally, there’s this: Throughout June, Jillian Elder will offer special Wesptort- and Pride-themed t-shirts. hoodies, mugs, tumblers and tote bags. 10% of all sales will be donated to Westport Pride. Click here to order.

*The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual or agender; the “plus” sign indicates other sexual orientations people may identify as or with. 

 

Roundup: Post Road Improvements, “Straight White Men” & A Drag Show …

“06880” is not a big fan of political photo ops. They’re — well, political photo ops.

But we’re happy to announce one set for Monday. The reason for it is a great one.

State Senators Will Haskell and Stephanie Thomas, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Department of Transportation senior advisor Carlo Leone will gather at 10 a.m. at the “Westport Plaza” (known to normal people as the Home Goods/Panera Bread shopping center near the Southport line) to celebrate $11.7 million in funding for Post Road safety and traffic improvements.

The work will add left-turn lanes at Bulkley Avenue and Roseville Road, and the Fresh Market light.

Work will begin this fall, and is expected to take a year.

Left-hand turning lanes are planned for the Post Road near here.

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The Westport Country Playhouse curtain rises May 24 on “Straight White Men.”

The cast of the comic satire — which ran on Broadway in 2018 — includes Richard Kline (Larry Dallas on “Three’s Company”). He’ll be directed by his Northwestern University classmate, WCP artistic director Mark Lamos.

Lamos calls it a “bold, exuberant, very funny comedy. Near the end it builds up to a surprising dramatic punch.”

The show takes place on Christmas Eve. Ed (played by Kline) has invited his 3 grown sons back home for pranks, Chinese takeout, and gossip. In between the male bonding rituals and conversations about money, work and love, they are forced to face their own identities.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

“Straight White Men” ensemble (from left): Devin Milord, Nick Westrate, Richard Kline, Bill Army. (Photo/Cynthia Astmann)

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Spots are going fast for Wakeman Town Farm’s summer camps. They include:

Little Farmers (4-6-year-olds): Children dabble in every farm experience from planting and harvesting fresh veggies to feeding the animals. Youngsters learn how to spot squash bugs, collect eggs from the coop, and where to look for monarch caterpillars.

Junior Farmer Camp (7-10 year-olds): Great for kids who want to get their hands dirty. They learn about sustainable farming by planning, planting and caring for a garden, feeding animals, and raising a successful garden using both modern and time-honored technologies.

Green Teen (6th-8th graders): The focus is on planting, watering and harvesting vegetables that will be donated to local food pantries. Representatives from receiving agencies visit the Farm, talking about food insecurity and how community volunteering changes lives. Students will also learn about rabbits, ducks, chicken, sheep, goats and alpacas. Environmental topics include composting, creating a pollinator garden, and the Zero Waste initiative.

Click here for more information, and to register.

Learning by doing, at Wakeman Town. (Photo/Inklings)

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Riverside Avenue between Charles Street (Tutti’s) and Railroad Place (Steam Coffee) will be closed to traffic Monday and Wednesday, for paving.

New York-bound passengers can be dropped off by driving through the eastbound (Ferry Lane) parking lot, and continuing under the railroad bridge. Passengers can also be dropped off in the Charles Street lot, and walk up the stairs to the platform.

This stretch of Riverside Avenue will be closed Monday and Wednesday.

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Deb Robicheau is the Westport Book Shop’s guest artist for May.

She’s showing sculptural mixed media boxes, created during the pandemic.  They incorporate comic book art from the 1930s through the ’80s. All works are available for purchase.

Robicheau — a visual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and screenwriter — has lived in Westport since 2010.

Deb Robicheau

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Westport Pride and MoCA Westport invite everyone to “All 4 Drag and Drag For All.”

The drag show (June 4; 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour, 6:30 p.m. performance, followed by a Q-and-A with the performers, at MoCA) is “an epic family-friendly experience.”

The headliner is 15-year-old Desmond Napoles, a New York City model, public speaker, fashion designer and voguer. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Desmond Napoles’ stage name is “Desmond is Amazing.”

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The weather was great when Charlie Stebbins led Thursday’s Aspetuck Land Trust nature walk at Smith Richardson Preserve.

Wendy Levy was there. She snapped this shot of a blooming crabapple tree, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Wendy Levy)

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And finally … in honor of Wendy Levy’s photo above:

 

Roundup: Transit $$, Farmers’ Market, The Universe …

Last night, the Representative Town Meeting voted 30-1 to restore $133,000 the Board of Finance had cut, to Wheels2U Westport’s 2022-23 budget.

Wheels2U Westport, is the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, group ride shuttle service. It takes riders from their door to the Saugatuck and Greens Farms train station platforms, and from the stations to their jobs and other places in Westport.

The restoration will keep Wheels2U operating through June 30, 2023.

Peter Gold, Westport Transit District director (and an RTM member), said he and his colleagues received over 200 letters from “all segments of Westport’s population” in support of restoring the funds.

For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here,

A Wheels2U bus.

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If you’re starved for good news, listen up: The Westport Farmers’ Market returns to the Imperial Avenue parking lot on Thursday, May 12.

Favorite farmers return, including Fort Hill, Riverbank, Ox Hollow, Calf + Clover Creamery, Beaver Brook, Herbal Deva, Muddy Feet Flower Farm, Two Guys from Woodbridge, Bee Love Project, Horseshoe, Deeply Rooted, Popp’s, Rose’s Berry, Seacoast Mushroom, Lost Ruby and Woodland. There are a few surprises too, says director Lori Cochran-Dougall.

Prepared food vendors include fresh faces alongside those you have come to rely on for your weekly shopping and entertaining needs, including Boxcar Cantina, NitNoi Provisions, Farmers and Cooks, Simply Local, Herbaceous Catering, Badass Bagels and Parlor Pizza, among others.

After 2 years, dining returns 🙂 . Music again fills the air , kids’ activities take center stage, and chef and other demonstrations are back as well

A 10 a.m. mindful opening will be led by Pause + Purpose. A toast follows at noon, with Cross Culture Kombucha.

The market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday, through November 10. For more information, including a full list of vendors and programs, click here.  find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, too!

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What a sweet way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month!

1st Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker presented the town’s official proclamation on Sunday, before an excited group of Asian American and Pacific Islander Westport families — at Saugatuck Sweets.

2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein and RTM member Sal Liccione joined in.

To celebrate the month, Saugatuck Sweets is lighting their Westport and Fairfield stores yellow.

Happy AAPI Heritage Month at Saugatuck Sweets!

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Staples High School’s AWARE Club is not only aware of the world.

They’re doing something to help.

The acronym stands for Assisting Women through Actions, Resources & Education. It’s affiliated with local and national AWARE organizations.

The teenagers are supporting refugees their age from Ukraine and Afghanistan, who will arrive in Connecticut this summer. They’re collecting new beach towels and water bottles, so their peers can have a bit of enjoyment.

The towels and bottles can be dropped off from now through May 11. There’s a bin by the front door at 14 High Point Road (off Long Lots).

Teens who would like to join Staples’ AWARE Club — or volunteer at the “Tapas & Twilight” May 14 AWARE fundraiser, to benefit the Women’s Mentoring Network — should email info@awarect.org.

 

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The Martin Luther King Day presentation by noted author Heather McGhee — postponed from January — has been rescheduled. It’s now set for May 18 (7 p.m., Westport Library).

Her book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was longlisted for the National Book Award. Her 2020 TED talk “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached 1 million views in just 2 months.

The MLK Day program also includes a recital by the Bridgeport Boys Choir, and a dance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

Click here to register for the free program in the Library’s Trefz Forum, or via livestream, and to purchase a copy of “The Sum of Us.”

The event is sponsored by the Westport Library, Westport Country Playhouse, TEAM Westport, Westport/Weston Interfaith Council, and Westport/Weston Interfaith Clergy.

Dr. Heather McGhee

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Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race returns for its 13th running on July 9. The location is new: Jesup Green.

On Sunday, the Rotarians tried out their new design. The Westport Fire Department provided the water; AJ Penna donated the front loader, to dump the ducks. In case you missed it:

The test will help the event run smoothly. Meanwhile, tickets are already on sale from any Sunrise Rotarian or online. $10,000 in prizes will be awarded — and all proceeds go to charity.

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The Housatonic Museum of Art is out of this world.

Actually, it’s just a few minutes away in Bridgeport. But they’re hosting :How Beautiful, The Universe …” — a free exhibition of 20 astrophotography prints — in association with the Westport Astronomical Society.

The Museum is on the 3rd floor of Beacon Hall. It’s open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on Thursday).

Next Monday (May 9, 7 p.m.) there’s a special viewing and talk on the art and science of astrophotography. Right after, there’s guided use of telescopes and moon viewing in the Housatonic Community College courtyard.

Families are welcome. To reserve a seat, click here.

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Thursday is forecast to be beautiful. Which means it’s perfect for a drive-in movie.

The Remarkable Theater screens “The Hangover” with Bradley Cooper, at the Imperial Avenue lot. Tailgating begins a half-hour earlier than usual, at 6:30 p.m.; the film is at 8.

The next day (Friday, May 6) is Family Night: “Dumbo.” The length — 1 hour, 4 minutes — is perfect for young kids.

Saturday (May 7) is Mothers Day Eve. Celebrate with “Mermaids.” starring Cher and Winona Ryder — the cult mother-daughter classic.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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June is LGBTQ Pride Month. June 3 is the day it will be celebrated in Westport schools.

Westport Pride — the townwide organization — is offering “Don’t Hide Your Pride” shirts for the month, and the day. The ones with the WPS logo are fundraisers for the  fundraise for the Westport Public Schools Pride Coalition, which includes Staples High, and Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools.

Click here to order. The deadline is May 10. Shirts can be picked up at Nice Threads in Westport on June 1.

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Nashville trio South for Winter headlines the Unitarian Church’s Voices Café this Saturday (May 7, 8 p.m., in-person and livestream).

South for Winter blends acoustic duets with folk and bluesy ballads, combining cello, guitar, mandolin and harmonies in what’s been called “a genre-bending ‘impeccable sound.'”

Voices Café and South for Winter share a commitment to social justice. A portion of the concert proceeds benefit community organizations under the Unitarian Church in Westport’s social justice programs, including anti-racism, identity and equity, immigration and refugee efforts, and projects serving under-resourced communities.

Groups of 4 or more can reserve table space. General admission is $25 per person; livestream tickets are also available. For more information and tickets, click here.

South for Winter

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Nature can be brutal. This crab learned that the hard way the other day at Compo Beach. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” food-chain photo comes courtesy of Nancy Lally, who saw similar scenes all along the shore.

(Photo/Nancy Lally)

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And finally … Naomi Judd — with Wynonna, the older half of the famed mother-daughter country music duo the Judds — died Saturday hear Nashville. She was 76.

Naomi’s other daughter, actress Ashley Judd, said, “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness.”

The Judds had 14 Number 1 hits. They racked up 9 Country Music Association Awards. and 5 Grammys. Click here for a full obituary.

Roundup: Hazardous Waste, Earth Day, Queer Cook-Off …

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Get ready to “waste” a whole day on April 23.

That’s Westport’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day (Greens Farms railroad station, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Sponsored by the Department of Public Works, it’s a free program for residents of Westport, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

Among the items accepted: gasoline, kerosene, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, paints, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, photo chemicals, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints.

Before bringing household hazardous material to the collection site:

  • Make sure items are clearly labeled
  • Do not mix chemicalsIncompatible products may react, ignite, or explode, and mixed waste may become non-recyclable.
  • Keep products in original labeled container.
  • Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
  • Tighten lids of all containers and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with paper.
  • Put boxes in the trunk or in the back of the vehicle away from passengers.
  • Leave pets and children home.
  • Keep your windows open and drive directly to the collection site.

REMINDER: Westport residents can recycle antifreeze, motor oil, batteries of any type, light bulbs and electronics at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Questions? Call 203-341-1793.

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Don’t believe everything you read here.

Of course Earth Day is not today (as I mistakenly said yesterday). Which means all the events sponsored by Friends of Sherwood Island will not take place tomorrow.

The correct date for the Sherwood Island activities is Saturday, April 23. They include:

Friends’ Garden Team Activities (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Friends’ table on East Beach across from the Nature Center).

🌱Bring a reusable water bottle; get a “Protect Our Wildlife” sticker (while supplies last).

🌱Tour the Dunes Restoration project site; plant a stem of American Beach Grass.

🌱Learn about native plant species planted for wildlife at the park; get a list for planting at home.

  • “Why Reducing Food Waste is Critical to a Sustainable Future” (9:30 to 11 a.m.).
  • “Walk Through Sherwood Island’s History (From 12,000 Years Ago)” (noon to 1:30 p.m.).
  • “Salt Marshes and Marsh Migration at Sherwood Island” (12:30 to 2 p.m.)
  • “Environmental Role of Trees at the Park”(2 to 3:30 p.m.)

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Aspetuck Land Trust celebrates Earth Day too (naturally).

Next Friday (April 22, noon) there’s a virtual “Lunch & Learn” webinar called “2/3 For the Birds.” That’s because birds need 70% (approximately 2/3) native plants to maintain healthy population levels. Click here to register.

The next day (Saturday, April 23, 10 a.m. to noon, Trout Brook Valley Jump Hill Preserve), there’s a vernal pool hike with wetland scientist Edward Pawlak. Space is limited; click here.

On Sunday, April 24 (10:30 a.m. to noon, Trout Brook Valley orchard and blueberry patch), the Spring Hawk Walk returns. Raptor specialist Larry Fischer hopes to catch one or more hawks to present to the group, while discussing fascinating details about those extraordinary creatures. Space is limited; click here.

Birds need native plants to thrive.

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LGBTQ Pride Month is June.

Westport Pride gets a jump on the festivities May 19 (6 p.m.). Three teams of “chef-testants” (a local chef, plus members of the local LGBTQ community and allies) has 30 minutes to whip up an appetizer and entrée — using items in a mystery box — for 5 judges in a “Queer Cook-Off.” It all takes place in Aitoro Appliance’s Norwalk kitchens.

Celebrity chefs include Bill Taibe (owner/chef of Don Memo, Kawa Ni, The Whelk), Jes Bengtson (executive chef of Terrain Café and Amis Trattoria), and Arik Bensimon (executive chef of the Monogram Design Center).

Judges include Brian McGunagle (founder, Westport Pride), Tony Aitoro (CEO, Aitoro Appliance), Matt Storch (chef/owner of Match and Match Burger Lobster), Stephanie Webster (founder/editor-in chief, CTBites) and yours truly (Dan Woog, executive editor of “06880”).

Guests can observe the competition while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and beverages. It’s a fundraiser for Westport Pride — and a great way for the LGBTQ community and allies to get together, get ready for Pride (and eat well). Click here for tickets.

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Meanwhile, there’s always something cooking at Wakeman Town Farm.

Upcoming classes, workshops and more include:

  • “Modern Japanese Cooking with Chef Caroline Fey” (April 27, 7 to 8:30 p.m.). A 4-course menu celebrating modern flavors.
  • “Make Your Own Spa Essentials” (May 2, 7 p.m.). Do it without harmful additives. Take home your own creations!
  • “Blooming with Paints” (May 9, 6 to 8 p.m.). An art workshop brings to life a floral still life arrangement.
  • “Pizza-Making Class for Grades K-1” (May 12, 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.). Topped off with eating!
  • “Learn to Make Goatmilk Soaps” (May 21, 11 a.m. to noon or 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.). Enjoy!

Click here for more information, and to register.

Kids learn pizza-making, using Wakeman Town Farm’s own brick oven.

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Staples High School soccer fans knew Alan Fiore as a passionate, high-scoring attacker.

Music fans will soon know him as an indie pop/rock artist.

The 2021 SHS graduate — now studying at Berklee College of Music — has just released his first song. “Take the Bait!” was inspired by artists like Dayglow, the 195, the Bleachers and COIN.

Alan produced, mixed and mastered it all himself. Click here for links to all streaming platforms. Click here for Alan’s website, and more music.

Alan Fiore

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Whether you’re hunting eggs or afikoman this weekend, Jolantha has you covered.

This was Weston’s favorite pig* yesterday:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

*Good for Easter ham; not kosher for Passover.

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Nearly every “Westport … Naturally” photo shows an outdoor Westport wonder. That’s (naturally) where most are.

Today, Molly Alger takes us inside the Senior Center for this beautiful, patriotic and Ukrainian-colorful arrangement:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … today is April 15. It’s also Good Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday. So taxes are not due until Monday (April 18).

Still, because this is the traditional IRS deadline, we present: