Tag Archives: Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce

Roundup: Yarn Bombing; Coffee Roasting; Black Duck; More


Everyone loves the Yarn Bomber. Now you can learn her secrets.

No, not who she is. Even better: how she does it.

The Yarn Bomber is bringing her talents — decorating trees and street signs in beautiful, uplifting colors — to the masses. She’s created a virtual knitting course, and anyone can join.

For just $50 you get needles, starter yarn, 5 days of instruction (1 hour a day), knitting videos, online tutorials, and a live public socially distanced yarn bomb at a scheduled date. All supplies can be picked up will at Westport Yarns.

The Yarn Bomber can also accommodate custom group sessions for groups (minimum of 6 participants).

Email yarnbalmer@gmail.com for more information.

Yarn bombing at Compo Beach (Photo/Judy Auber Jahnel)


There are plenty of places to buy coffee in Saugtuck, from Dunkin’ to Donut Crazy.

There may soon be one more.

A sign next to Tutti’s — in the storefront occupied briefly by a kombucha bar — advertises ILSE Coffee. It’s the work of 2013 Staples High School graduate Lucas Smith, and Rebecca Grossman.

They started a Kickstarter campaign. Their goal is to open a “dream cafe and marketplace.” The roastery/market will include specialty coffee, pastries, sandwiches, small plates and to-go food, along with wine, beer, cocktails and retail items. They hope to host coffee cuppings, seminars and workshops too.

The goal is $10,000. The deadline is August 1.

As of yesterday though, the Kickstarter drive was $9,999 short.

Lucas Smith, in the Saugatuck space.


Speaking of Saugatuck — here’s the news you’ve all been waiting for:

The Black Duck is back open!

Just in time for summer, all’s right with the world.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


Uncertain weather today forced a postponement of the Supper & Soul Drive-in/Tailgate Concert. The event — featuring the Tom Petty Project — is now set for Sunday (July 5, 6 p.m.).

Tickets for tonight’s show can be used on the new date. If you can’t make the new date, contact the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (matthew@westportwestonchamber.com). There’s a wait list for the sold-out show.

During the show, anyone with comments or concerns should call 203-851-2771.

The Chamber and Westport Library will also hold a streaming concert next Sunday (July 11). Part of Supper & Soul, it features the ’80s hair band Mullett. Tickets are $10.80. Click here for details.


In these challenging times, support groups are more important than ever.

But physical distancing and other rules make it challenging for organizations to offer that support.

Positive Directions — the Westport-based prevention and counseling agency — can help. They offer free, weekly virtual support groups for people trying to achieve healthy lifestyles, after battling substance abuse addiction.

There are special sessions too for family members, and young adults. Click here for details.


Kami Evans — who as “Kami’s Kloud” provided tons of Westport information on social media platforms — will move back here with her family in August. She’s been in England since 2018.

Her newest project is working on a global social media campaign, incorporating local artists. Her first video stars Westport’s own Rosie Jon. Born without arms, she paints (beautifully) with her toes.

Rosie’s current project — #WeAreOne — is “so poignant right now,” Kami says.

Click below for Rosie’s video. Click here for links to all of Kami’s platforms.


Westporters Chris and Amy Overman were ready to start a family. Yet at 38, Amy struggled with infertility. For 6 years, the couple tried many treatments.

After 13 failed cycles — including IUI, IVF and stem treatments — Amy read a chapter in her infertility book that many people skip: egg donation.

It’s expensive. But the Overmans received an egg donation. They’re now the proud parents of a son, Ryder.

Two years later, Amy paid it forward. She gave $10,000 to the Norwalk-based Nest Egg Foundation — and called it the  Ryder Grant. Now, someone else can benefit from an egg donation.

The Foundation’s application window for the 2020 fertility grant program runs through July 31. Connecticut and New York residents are eligible.

For more information, including grant application eligibility criteria and how to become a donor, click here


And finally … a fitting tribute to the late John Prine.

Westport Marketplace: The Town At Your Fingertips

What’s open? What’s closed? What’s different? What’s going on?

Everyone wants to know. Now we can.

A herculean collaboration between Our Town Crier, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Town of Westport has resulted in a comprehensive, almost-beyond-comprehension website covering every conceivable business, service and organization here.

Welcome to the Westport Marketplace.

Screenshot from Westport Marketplace

The “Virtual Yellow Pages” directory is filled with links and up-to-date information for just about every business and service in Westport. There’s contact information, operating hours,, safety precautions and more.

Users can search by name, relevance, distance, even popularity.

Major categories unfold with dozens of sub-categories.

Besides retail, restaurants, automotives, realty, markets and pharmacies, there are sections on home services (landscaping, builders, interior design, organizers …), medical (acupuncture, specialists, therapists …), banks (accounting, financial advisors, tax help …), personal services (hair, dry cleaners, physical therapy, tanning …), children’s services (sports and music lessons …) and more.

The project could not have happened without 72 interns, says Our Town Crier founder Betsy Pollak.

“The first group drove around town, literally going to each doorstep. They hand-surveyed the entire town. The next group got it onto the website, and took care of social media.”

The Chamber helped keep the restaurant list accurate. The WDMA did the same with retail. Selectwomen Jennifer Tooker and Melissa Kane funneled new information to Pollak and her crew. Local artist/super-volunteer Miggs Burroughs created the Westport Marketplace logo.

“We have incredible young people in Westport. I feel like I should be working for them,” she says.

This is the site we’ve all been waiting for. And need.

Click here to access (and bookmark) the Westport Marketplace. Then go to town!

(Questions? Email info@thewestportmarketplace.com. To update or add a business, or offer feedback, click here.)

Roundup: Le Penguin; Bears; Racial Inequality; Mullett; More


This sad announcement was posted to social media yesterday:

“It is with enormous sadness that we must announce the closing of Le Penguin in Westport.

“We hope you have enjoyed our food, our staff, our style and our sense of humor. We, Anshu & Antoine, are very proud of what we created. We are very proud of the relationships we have made, of the numerous smiles of gratitude we received from satisfied customers. We thank you for sharing your lives with us. In the meantime, come see us at Le Penguin in Greenwich and Le Fat Poodle in Old Greenwich.” (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)


There were several bear sightings yesterday, in the northern part of Westport. A bear cub and large young male bear were observed, acting normally.

According to the Westport Police Deparment, black bears are increasingly common in Connecticut. They note: “Bears have an incredible sense of smell.  To prevent luring them towards your property, secure your garbage in sturdy covered containers in a garage or outbuilding.

“Residents who compost should do so responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps or greasy, oily or sweet materials in your compost pile. Clean greasy grills after each use, refrain from leaving pet food outdoors, and remove bird feeders from your property for the summer. Keep your eye on pets and small children playing outside.

“Use caution and do not approach the bear. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. If left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. For more information on bears, click here.

In 2013, Cablevision News 12 aired this shot of a black bear in Westport.


If you’re like me, you would love a Long Island Sound sunset cruise. But you don’t own a boat.

No problem!

A generous Wakeman Town Farm supporter is offering a private excursion, as a fundraiser in these tough non-profit times.

The winner will enjoy “libations and lobster rolls” on a “luxe 43-foot Intrepid.”

Silent bidding is today only; it ends at midnight. The minimum bid is $350. Click here (or email wakemantownfarm@gmail.com). Include your name — and good luck!


JoyRide is a full-service spin studio.

Today (Tuesday, June 30, 5 p.m.), they host the first installment of their speaker series on racial inequality. It’s called “Teachers Raise Your Hands.”

Guests are Alli Frank and Asha Youmans, authors of Tiny Imperfections. The Black woman from Seattle and white woman from rural Washington use their stories from in and out of the classroom to encourage us all to actively seek out difference, and find our inner teacher.

Click here to register — and to ask questions of the authors.

Asha Youmans and Alli Frank.


Hey, Mullett fans!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library are teaming up for the next Supper & Soul event (Saturday, July 11, 8 p.m.).

It’s a livestream concert with ’80s tribute band Mullet. They specialize in classic Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey and Poison songs — and look the part.

“What a perfect opportunity to have some friends over for an 80’s hair metal party,” says Chamber director Matthew Mandell.

“This socially distant version of the popular Supper & Soul event supports local restaurants while giving everyone an entertaining evening.”

“Attendees” are encouraged to order takeout from local restaurants, and eat home for the show.

To find out more and to order tickets (just $10.80!) for Stay Home & Soul, click here.

Mullett


The deadline to renew railroad station parking permits is exxtended to July 15. Renewals can be done 4 ways: click here, by mail (50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880) or at the box outside Police Department headquarters.

People on the wait list are required to update their information annually. Use the link above.

For more information, click here. Questions? Call 203-341-6052.

Railroad station parking has not looked like this for a while.


And finally … The groundbreaking 1937 song “Strange Fruit” compares the victims of lynchings to the fruit of trees. It’s been recorded by artists ranging from Nina Simone and UB40 to Sioxsie and the Banshees, but Billie Holiday’s is perhaps the most famous.

Though her label, Columbia, refused to record it — fearful of the reaction of Southern record store owners and its own radio network, CBS — they allowed her to release it on the Commodore jazz label. It sold a million copies — more than any other Billie Holiday song.

However, the song helped cause her demise. It enraged the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who used his men to frame her. Click here for details about the song, and what it meant to her and her career.

Roundup: Supper & Soul Tailgate; French Toast; More


Live music is back!

The first in-person “Supper & Soul” concert since the pandemic shutdown is set for Friday, July 3 (6 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot). The Tom Petty Project headlines the “drive-in tailgate” show, sponsored by the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce and the Westport Library.

Cars will be set up every other spot, in every other row (a state requirement). But with up to 5 people per car — and tailgating starting at 5 p.m., using the empty space in front of each vehicle — it should be a great (and much-needed) evening out. The Chamber says it’s the first event like this in the state.

The Tom Petty Project includes Westporters Phil LoPresti (lead guitar) and Pete Najarian (lead singer, guitar). The band wowed a Levitt Pavilion crowd last year, and have sold out shows throughout New England. They’re volunteering their time for this show, to help the Chamber while bringing live music back to town.

Tickets are $85 per car. Ten dollars from each sale will be donated to a local non-profit — to be selected by the band.

The Chamber encourages everyone to order takeout from member restaurants, and bring it to the show (click here for the list; it will also be emailed to ticket purchasers). No food or drink will be sold on site. The cost of the meals is not included in the ticket price.

A limited number of tickets goes on sale this Monday (June 22, 10 a.m.). For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.


COVID-19 canceled many Westport Woman’s Club events. There was no March fashion show, April art show, May antique appraisal day, and — this one really hurts — no June Yankee Doodle Fair.

They can’t get those fundraisers back. But the 113-year-old civic organization still awarded $40,000 in college scholarships. And though the 10 deserving Staples High School seniors did not get the public ceremony they deserved, the get this shout-out on “06880.”

Congratulations to the honorees — and thanks to the WWC, for their continued yeowomen’s work!

  • Tamikah Boyer (University of New Haven, Emily Duvoisin Scholarship)
  • Nicole Caiati (Georgia State University)
  • Victoria Caiati (Marist College)
  • Alyssa Chariot (Penn State University)
  • Anna Fuori (Penn State University, Emily Fuller Scholarship)
  • Audrey Kramer (California Polytechnic State University)
  • Ian Kramer (Penn State University)
  • Katherine Meszaros (College of the Holy Cross, Lea Ruegg Scholarship)
  • Niyhive Michel (Morgan State University)
  • Tomaso Scotti (University of Connecticut, “Most Active Member” Scholarship, which this year honors Mira Auxier).


Hilary Arnow Burns did it all in Staples. The 1977 graduate played in the orchestra and band. She sang in the choir. She played tennis, and was on the cheerleading team.

After Wharton came consulting work with Arthur Young and Drexel Burnham. She married, moved back to Westport, started 2 businesses, had 2 children, and got divorced.

When he was 50, she caught a glimpse of someone who did not look good. It was her — in the mirror. “What happened to me?” she wondered.

At a Staples reunion a classmate said, “You were so much fun!” Hilary thought, “I’ve become another person. I was not happy.”

She lost weight. She rediscovered “athletics, my brain, and fun.” She got her life back.

Now — after writing classes with Jessica Bram (and 7 years of revisions), and  she’s written a memoir about her journey. The Second Piece of French Toast: If Marriage Was My Dream, Why Was I Numbing Myself? 

It’s been called “the wake-up call I didn’t know I needed.” To order the book, click here. For her website, blog and YouTube channel, click here.

Hilary Arnow Burns


And finally … I heard this yesterday, on Juneteenth. It brought me back several decades. Sweet Honey in the Rock is as uplifting, and important, as ever.

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: Governor Lamont, Marc Lasry Speak; Musicians Play; Helicopter Flies; More


Phase 2 of Connecticut’s reopening begins next Wednesday (June 17). It’s a big day for Governor Ned Lamont. And at 9 a.m., he shares it with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

He’s the special guest and speaker for their virtual “Morning Network” meeting. The event is free — and open to all.

Lamont will give an update on the pandemic, discuss the next phase in reopening, offer his views on the future, and answer questions. They may be submitted ahead of time by email, or through the chat function during the event.

Pre-registration is required; click here.

Governor Ned Lamont


Also virtual — and also featuring big names — is the Westport Library’s next Trefz Newsmakers series.

CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent (and 1988 Staples High School graduate) Jeff Pegues interviews billionaire businessman, hedge fund manager, major Democratic Party donor, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner (and Westport resident) Marc Lasry.

They’ll talk about Lasry’s career, how he gives back, his advice for entrepreneurs, and COVID-19’s effect on business and the sports world.

To register, click here.


Driving around Westport and Weston, Aarti Khosla has been touched by the many yard signs and balloons congratulating high school and middle school graduates. She’s been impressed by the banners on Main Street, not far from Le Rouge — her “aartisan” chocolate shop.

But as she thought about all that’s going on America today, she was inspired to act on the words that she fervently believes in: “Spread love.” And what better place to spread love than nearby Bridgeport?

She called the superintendent of schools, and offered to celebrate their graduates with “Give a Little Love” hearts. Here’s her message to “06880” readers:

“Next week, 1115 Bridgeport students will graduate from high school. This is an enormous accomplishment. We recognize the obstacles they overcame to achieve success.

“Le Rouge asks for your support in celebrating these graduates. We will make chocolate hearts to celebrate every Bridgeport high school senior. If each Westport graduating senior — or a relative or friend, or perfect stranger — agrees to celebrate 3 Bridgeport students with a $25 sponsorship, we can give our love to the entire community via chocolate hearts.

“We have until next Monday to make this a reality. Click here to help.”

Aarti Khosla’s wonderful chocolates

 


Some youngsters returned to their elementary schools for the first time since March today. It was also their last time at “their” school.

“Moving up” car parades were held for 5th graders around town. This was the scene captured by Kings Highway Elementary School parent Tricia Lau-Lewis.

All 5 kids went to KHS. The youngest will be in 5th grade there next year.

Meanwhile, after the Saugatuck El parade, Carolyn Doan’s family headed to Sunny Daes. They met some Greens Farms Elementary folks there (below).

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)


MoCA Westport shut down in mid-March. But their beautiful Steinway grand piano did not sit idle.

As part of their pandemic programming, they invited accomplished local pianists to perform. They filmed them, and shared the virtual concerts free on their YouTube page.

Pianists are invited to play music of their choice. Some — like Chris Coogan — are inspired by MoCA’s current Helmut Lang exhibition. He wrote and performed an original piece.

This week’s performance features two Staples students. Patrick Looby and Lucas Lieberman are rising seniors. They played together in November, at Carnegie Hall.

For MoCA they play Aram Khachaturian’s  lively waltz “Masquerade.” Enjoy!


More music news! Drew Angus — the 2007 Staples High School grad profiled recently on “06880” as an example of a gig worker navigating his way through the coronavirus crisis — performs via Zoom this Friday (June 12, 12 noon).

It’s a Westport Senior Center production — but it’s open to everyone who wants to hear the work of this talented young singer/songwriter.

Click here for the Zoom link (meeting ID: 883 1489 6846; password: 2DHJSV). It’s also available on Facebook (click here, or search for Toquet Hall).


Here’s a sight you don’t see every day: Yesterday, a helicopter apparently headed for a landing at Old Mill Beach or Sherwood Island State Park.

If you know the back story, click “Comment” below.


And finally … this is a poignant song at any time. Particularly at graduation. And really particularly this year.

Here’s to the Class of 2020. You haven’t seen each other for a while. But you’ve come a long way from where you began. I hope you see each other for a long time, soon.

Restaurant Reopenings: What’s On The Menu For Westport?

This Wednesday — May 20 — marks the day Connecticut restaurants can reopen for more than curbside takeout and delivery .

There are restrictions: For example, outdoor dining only is permitted; there is no bar service. Tables must be 6 feet apart.

That should be good news for owners, employees and diners. The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Le Penguin’s mascots are making it through the pandemic. Like restaurant owners all over town, their owners are figuring out how to adapt to new state reopening regulations. (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)

But don’t expect a rush of al fresco options 2 days from now. Several steps — beyond simply configuring space (and ordering single-use menus) — must be taken first.

Westport Planning & Zoning chair Danielle Dobin notes that Governor Lamont has temporarily suspended municipal laws regulating outdoor dining. So instead of the traditional permitting process, restaurateurs here must submit a simple application to P&Z director Mary Young.

Westport Police and Fire Department officials, along with the Westport Weston Health District, must sign off on each application. Restaurants that already have outdoor dining must apply too, ensuring they comply with revised health regulations.

Romanacci already has an outdoor dining permit. Under new regulations, tables — shown here last year — now must be 6 feet apart. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Lamont’s executive order “provides tremendous flexibility to restaurants looking to create an outdoor dining space,” Dobin says.

“Normal requirements for parking and setbacks have been waived. Restaurants can even explore using neighboring properties or parking lots, so long as the owners of those properties approve of the plan.

“Residents should expect restaurants all over the state to create larger outdoor dining areas than in the past. Our outdoor restaurant spaces will often look and feel a bit different.”

Sherwood Diner prepares for outdoor dining. (Photo/Dan Woog)

You won’t hear a lot of live music, however. Previous noise regulations remain in effect.

Dobin says that the board of selectmen are also looking at “the creative use of certain town roads to facilitate outdoor dining and outdoor shopping.”

Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, is the restaurant liaison for the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team. On Friday he led a Zoom call, with over 3 dozen restaurant owners.

Restaurant owners and town officials joined a conference call on Friday.

“Our restaurant owners are committed to providing a safe environment for their guests,” Dobin says.

“There is no rush to reopen. Many owners will take their time. I hope that all of our residents are supportive and patient with our fabulous Westport restaurants, as they find their way in this new world.”

“This is not a race,” Mandell agrees. “Slow and steady will win this one. The goal of ensuring health and safety for customers, staff and owners will ultimately lead to everyone’s success.”

As restaurants announce openings, lists compiled by the Chamber of Commerce and OneWestport will be updated regularly.

The owners of Harvest, Tarantino and Romanacci met on Friday, to discuss the best use of Railroad Place.

COVID Roundup: State Reopens; Wrestlers Run; Food Collected; More

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce passes along this information for businesses, about the reopening of the state.

The first phase — including restaurants, offices, hair salons, barber shops, retail stores, outdoor museums and zoos — should take effect May 20.

Governor Lamont stresses that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner. They are not required to open. However,  those that do must follow all rules.

Those rules are available at ct.gov/coronavirus, and can be downloaded directly through the links below:

All businesses subject to these rules will be required to self-certify before opening on May 20. The certification system will be online beginning next week.

For more information, click here.


When Sal and Melissa Augeri found a few boxes of school supplies in their attic, they knew just who to call: Alex Kappel.

An assistant coach for the Staples High School wrestling team on which the Augeris’ son Nick is a star sophomore, Kappel is also an elementary school teacher in Bridgeport. Many families there have limited access to food and other resources.

The Augeris called several team members. Soon they had more supplies and food for “Coach Kap.”

But the wrestlers wanted to do more. On May 23, they’ll be “Running Across Westport.” One athlete starts; he’ll run to the next wrestler’s house and “tag” him (from 6 feet away, of course). The second wrestler will continue on. The high-powered Staples team has dozens of athletes, so it should be quite a run.

In return, the team asks for cash donations. They’ll use the funds to buy even more supplies and food. Any amount is welcome; just Venmo @Staples-Matmen.

Questions? Email salaugeri@me.com.

Team spirit is a hallmark of the Staples wrestling program. They support each other very enthusiastically. (Photo/Jose Villaluz)


Ariana Napier’s food drive bears fruit. On Friday she delivered 396 pounds of items — much of it donated by Westporters to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

She’ll continue to collect food, and deliver it every Friday. Her address is 14 Jennings Court (off Bayberry Lane). Items most needed this week: cereal; mac and cheese (box), jelly (no glass).


Another food drive — Homes With Hope‘s — was a great success yesterday. Volunteers — including Staples students — helped out. But the need continues, and another collection is set for tomorrow (Monday, May 11, 2 to 4 p.m.). Non-perishable goods can be brought to the Gillespie Center, behind Restoration Hardware. Stay in your car; pop your trunk; someone will take your donation.


Meanwhile, Kathie Motes Bennewitz spotted these great messages on a bench at Grace Salmon Park:


And finally … many Westporters love The Sweet Remains. The longtime folk/rock band was co-founded by Greg Naughton. He grew up in Weston, and now lives here with his wife, Kelli O’Hara.

A few days ago they released this “love song in the age of ‘shelter in place.'” It truly is lovely — and sweet.

COVID-19 Roundup: Supper & Soul; Plants & Earthplace; Technology & Masks; More


“Supper & Soul” was a great, popular concept. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce organized dinner, a concert, and dessert/drinks. It was a moveable feast, great downtown entertainment, and tons of fun.

It was also something you could do in a pre-COVID world. But — undaunted — the Chamber and Westport Library have partnered to offer a new, socially distant (but still very cool) “Stay Home & Soul” program.

The first one is next Friday (May 15). There’s curbside pickup dinner from any of 15 local restaurants, and a livestream concert by folk/roots rock band David Wax Museum. The husband and wife duo earned raves for their Supper & Soul concert last year. The opening act is Staples graduate and multi-talented musician Drew Angus.

$35 a person gets you a 2-course dinner, and access to the show. Want the concert only? That’s just $11.

$1 of every ticket will be donated to the Homes With Hope food pantry.

Participating restaurants include Dunville’s, Jesup Hall, Kawa Ni, Match Burger Lobster, Pane e Bene, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Romanacci Xpress, Tarantino, The Boathouse, The Whelk, Viva Zapata, Walrus Alley (formerly Rothbard Ale + Larder) and Wafu.

For more information and tickets, click here.


Today would have been the Westport Garden Club‘s annual Plant Sale.

It didn’t happen. But the 96-year-old organization is not letting any grass grow under their feet.

Today they launch Friday Flowers. Each Friday, members will share pots and bouquets of colorful flowers at locations around town.

The first “flower bombing” is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. That’s appropriate — for years, the downtown landmark has hosted the Plant Sale.

The goal of Friday Flowers is to encourage a love of gardening, while respecting the current limits on public interaction. Providing fresh flowers reflects the club’s mission to participate in civic beautification, and its dedication to the community.

Photos of each week’s display will be posted on Facebook and Instagram. Anyone can post their own photos too; just use the hashtag #FridayFlowers.


Speaking of nature: Here’s an update from Earthplace.

“We cannot say enough how much we miss our visitors, families and students during these difficult times.

“Our building may be closed to the public, but we are very active behind the scenes. Our 50+ animals need daily care, our building and grounds maintenance is ongoing, and our critical river monitoring work continues. The Earthplace trails remain open. We hope you come visit and (safely) spend some time outdoors in nature!

“Meanwhile, our wonderful staff has been working hard to support the Earthplace community with online resources including stay-at-home activities and educational nature videos. Click below for a virtual visit of Animal Hall, and check out our new YouTube channel.”


Early in the pandemic, Dream Spa & Salon owner Lori Dodd got a surprising — but welcome — call.

A group of concerned, caring citizens were making anonymous donations to businesses in town. Dream was on the list.A

An attorney played Santa for a day. He delivered much-needed (and greatly appreciated) checks to places that met certain criteria:

  • Long-time Westport business
  • Owned and/or operated by Westport residents
  • Impacted by Covid-19
  • “Westport would not be the same without them.”

That last meant a lot to Lori. She cried — and was told other men and women did too when they got their donations. It helped a lot to keep her salon going.

And it’s still going. She’s got a Mother’s Day special: For gift certificates of $150, you can pick up a major spa swag bag (prepared of course by healthy, gloved and masked staff!). Just click here, then text 203-349-0680 to say you’ll be picking up the certificate and gift bag on Saturday, May 9 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), as opposed to the e-gift option.


Many Staples High School students have access to technology. Many students elsewhere do not.

Some of those Westporters — members of Staples’ Girls Who Code chapter –have joined a national fundraiser to provide underprivileged girls the technology they need, now more than ever. Without it — and with libraries and community centers closed — virtual learning is virtually impossible.

The effort runs through May 12. Girls Who Code’s partner Citrix will match every donation, up to $50,000. To help, click here.


Staples High School Class of 2000 graduate Shane Smith had plenty of success as an entrepreneur with Med Spa. But through a connection with one of the country’s largest laser cutters, he’s now helping provide masks to those who desperately need them.

CT (Connecticut) Masks began as a charity effort. He and partner Nuwan Foley first donated 170 masks to the Westport police department. They shared the news on social media; residents soon asked if they could buy the same type masks.

The masks are laser cut in the US, and machine packaged. That eliminates human contact, while the “no-sew” style makes them more comfortable than most. There is a lightweight “jersey” style, and a thicker “fleece” option.

Shane and Nuwan sold some, bought more, and donated even more. Up next: Norwalk Police Department, and a New York City precinct.

To order your own — and help them pay it forward — click here.

 


And finally … back in the day, Friday marked the end of a tough week. Work, school, whatever — it was all over. Time to cut loose, kick back and par-tay!

Now, Friday is just another in an endless line of similar days. You may not even know today is Friday. But it is. So cut loose, kick back, and get down with the Easybeats.

Zoom In On Retailers

Like many Westporters, Jane Green can’t shop in stores right now.

So she’s doing the next best thing. The mega-bestselling author is a special guest on a new Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce initiative.

“Zoom Westport Retail” airs live via Zoom, Facebook Live and Cablevision Channel 79 this Wednesday (May 6, 6 p.m.)

Produced in collaboration with the Westport Library, it’s a look into how 12 businesses are adapting — and still open in some form. (Coming just before Mother’s Day, it might also inspire a bit of gift-giving.)

Retailers include Aitoro, Bella Bridesmaids, Choice Pet, Eleish Van Breems, Fleet Feet, Greens Farms Spirits, Interstate Lumber, Intuitive Interiors, Kohler, Organachs, Salon Paul Michael and Westport Yarns.

Fleet Feet’s floor is temporarily closed. But you can still buy the running shoes you need to stay in shape, while the gym is closed.

Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell calls the show “a lot of fun, and a first step toward reinvigorating the local economy.”

Merchants will show off items, and explain how to purchase and receive items safely.

Besides Green, “Zoom Westport Retail” features musician Phil Lo Presti. Match Provisions chef Matt Storch offers a cooking demonstration too.

Anyone watching on Zoom will be able to chat in real time with the retailers. Click here, then scroll down to sign up and receive the Zoom invite.