Tag Archives: Westport Woman’s Club

Roundup: MoCA, Deliverers, Decorations, Brass Symphony, More


Yesterday’s weather was not exactly frightful. Just foggy, wet and miserable.

But MoCA Westport’s outdoor holiday open house was on.

Families enjoyed caroling by Staples’ Orphenians, performances by teen musicians and members of the Westport School of Music, kids’ crafts,admission to the World Peace exhibition, and complimentary hot chocolate.

It was — almost — beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

A small group of (socially distanced) Staples Orphenians.


This has been a tough year for everyone.

Particularly our FedEx, UPS, Amazon and other deliverypersons.

They’ve worked long hours since March. They’re monitored closely. They’re not paid particularly well.

A few Westporters are putting treats — baked goods, other munchies, soda, water and the like — on their front steps, with a note of thanks.

And don’t forget your mail carrier. They’ve been battered this year. An envelope with cash is always appreciated!


Andrew Colabella spotted this holiday house on Vani Court:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Have you entered Westport Holiday House Decorating Contest?

Register first (click here). Then submit no more than 5 photos or videos of your decorations to mrobbins@westportct.gov by December 20. Prizes are awarded for the top 3 entrants.


Next Saturday (December 19), the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra’s Brass Quintet tootles downtown. They’ll be at the Bedford Square pick-up circle outside TecKnow and Barbour.

A bit of holiday normalcy, in an abnormal year!


I wrote about the Westport Woman’s Club’s gingerbread house fundraiser the other day (click here for details — it’s a great cause!).

Here’s a bit more: It would not have been possible without the help of 2 big chain stores. Michael’s provided a number of gingerbread kits at a great discount — and Trader Joe’s donated 10 more. That’s the holiday spirit!

A few of the Westport Woman’s Club’s gingerbread houses.


Tom Cook sends this photo. It shows a squirrel at Longshore enjoying Tom’s PB&J sandwich during his last round of golf for the year.

(Photo/Tom Cook)


And finally … Ted Nugent turns 72 today.

 

Roundup: Candlelight Concert, Dead Fish, Gingerbread Houses, More


Staples High School’s 80th annual Candlelight Concert will look nothing like the previous 79.

But it will still look very cool.

Yesterday, “06880” described this year’s COVID format: a livestream on December 19, with recorded performances and intriguing interviews. (Click here for details, and a registration link.)

Staples senior Brandon Malin was the lighting director for last weekend’s taping. It was a professionally produced event, as befits the music department’s traditional, beloved gift to the town.

Here’s what it looked like, when the masked, socially distanced musicians arrived:


Dead fish continue to pile up on the shores of Compo and Old Mill Beaches.

They’re bunker. They form large colonies, deprive themselves of oxygen, and die. It’s unusual though for it to happen so late in the season.

Patricia McMahon composed this grim but natural collage:

(Photo collage/Patricia McMahon)

Who doesn’t love gingerbread houses? But who has time to make them?

Members of the Westport Woman’s Club, that’s who.

They’ve created 20 gorgeous (and non-edible) houses for a special fundraiser.

Click here to see all of them. For a $20 ticket, you’ll be entered in a random drawing. It’s a great way to help the Woman’s Club fund many worthy projects. Tickets can be purchased at the link above; in person at the club (44 Imperial)Avenue, or mailed to the above address.

A few of the gingerbread houses.


Bruno Guiduli is a key defender on Staples High School’s soccer team.

But this winter, he’s scoring — not preventing shots. He’s shooting on a small cutout banner in his yard. By scoring 2,020 times, his “goal” is to raise money and increase awareness of TOPSoccer, a nonprofit that embraces children and teenagers with intellectual, emotional and/or physical disabilities. Players develop at their own pace, in a safe, fun and nurturing environment.

Bruno has set up a page for donations, while he shoots. Funds help special needs players participate. “No one should be turned away due to financial challenges,” he says.

“Soccer has been a source of competition, challenge and discipline,” Bruno says. “It has taught me the value of teamwork and reaching a goal (no pun intended). So I want to help kids of differing abilities reach their goals. and experience a similar love for the game as I do every day.” Click here to donate.

Bruno Guiduli, with the TOPSoccer goal he’s shooting at.


Dave Briggs is a pro.

The former CNN, Fox News and NBC Sports anchor’s Instagram Live interviews (@WestportMagazine) are consistently compelling and clever.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m his guest today (5 p.m.). Check us out!


The other day, Nile Rodgers testified before Parliament. The world-famous singer/guitarist/musician/arranger/producer told British lawmakers that streaming platforms should pay musicians more. He said he realized the situation when COVID curtailed his touring.

I’ve never been inside his Saugatuck Shores home. But if the Daily Mail photo below of his testimony — livestreamed, of course — was taken there, it’s got some pretty impressive decorations. (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

(Photo courtesy of Daily Mail)


And finally … today marks the first night of Hanukkah. Don’t let the light go out!

Roundup: Accelerating Universe, Mozy Blanket, Knicks Memoir, More


You may not have heard of Alex Filippenko.

But astrophysicists have.

The University of California professor of astronomy is the only member of both teams that revealed the accelerating expansion of the universe, which led to a Nobel Prize. He’s been voted the Best Professor at Berkeley a record 9 times.

On December 15 (8 p.m.), he’ll visit the Westport Astronomical Society — virtually — for a free lecture on “A New Surprise in the Accelerating Universe.” It’s available on Zoom, and YouTube.


Mozy is a new member of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. The local company produces a “lower-body thermal wrap engineered to keep you 100% warmer than most blankets.”

It’s perfect for “game day, drinks on the deck or a sunset hike” — and the “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Blanket) outdoor dining initiative championed by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. Click here to buy online, or email for in-person pickup: hello@getthemozy.com.

A few Mozys.


The Strickland is a new website about the New York Knicks.

They just released their first book: “Fred From Fresh Meadows: A Knicks Memoir.” Author Fred is also from Westport. The 1971 Staples High School graduate is well known to “06880” readers as a frequent commenter on a variety of topics, a documentary filmmaker, an off-Broadway producer, and a keeper of the flame of local musicians like the Remains and Charlie Karp.

Fred’s Knick bona fides go back decades. He was at Madison Square Garden for the “Here comes Wilis!” game. He stayed up late the night before the SATs to watch a big game on the West Coast. In law school he chose where to live based on which neighborhood had a team cable TV package, then chose an apartment in Manhattan based in part on proximity to Madison Square Garden.

Along the way, Fred might have inadvertently caused Jerry Lucas to have one of the worst shooting nights of his playoff career, drove with Earl Monroe to a business meeting, and sort of sued Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to get revenge for Knicks fans.

Fred is a truly good guy. He’s donating 100% of the royalties from his pandemic project to the John Starks Foundation, which provides grants to college-bound high school seniors with academic excellence, financial need and a commitment to community service.

Click here to order. Click here for more information about Fred’s memoir.


During COVID, many folks are drinking alone. Now you can do it without shame — and with the knowledge you’re helping raise money for great causes.

The Westport Woman’s Club is sponsoring a “Swirl & Sip” wine-tasting fundraiser (Wednesday, December 9, 6 to 7 p.m.). For just $25, Castle Wine & Spirits is providing sparkling wines from Italy and Spain. Silver Ribbon donates the door prize: a $200 gift certificate.

Proceeds from the virtual event help fund grants to local non-profits, and need-based college scholarships. Cheers!

Click here for tickets and more information.


MoCA Westport’s Holiday Open House has been postponed from this Saturday to next (December 12, noon to 5 p.m.).

The outdoor event includes caroling by the Staples High School Orphenians, free admission to the World Peace exhibition, performances by teachers and students of the Westport School of Music, and a holiday-themed project for kids.

There’s free hot chocolate and doughnuts, and food trucks for purchases. There is no admission fee, but MoCA suggests bringing an unwrapped toy for the Westport Police Department’s annual drive.

 


And finally … in honor of the Westport Astronomical Society’s lecture on the expanding universe:

 

Westport Woman’s Club Wants To Give You $$$

Like all local non-profits, Westport Woman’s Club’s fundraising efforts have been battered by COVID.

But that just inspires the 113-year-old organization to help all those other groups even more.

Last spring — as it does every year — the WWC Community Services Committee was finalizing its 2020 grants. When the coronavirus struck they pivoted, awarding funds to 5 community health challenges.

“Everyone has a favorite Fairfield County non-profit,” the WWC says. “And every non-profit needs a helping hand.” So — as the Woman’s Club accepts grant proposals for 2020-21 — they encourage “06880” readers to share awareness of the opportunity. The application deadline is October 30.

The WWC offers both monetary grants, and a one-time use of the Bedford Hall meeting space for an event. Grants are considered each year for organizations working in education, health and safety programs, and the arts.

Click here for an application. Questions? Email gsmithson@optonline.net.

The Westport Woman’s Club opens its doors to grant applications — including the use of its clubhouse.

Roundup: Politics, Religion, Entertainment, More


The title is intriguing: “Living Progressive Values in a Polarized Election Season.”

So is the sponsor: The Unitarian Church in Westport.

The liberal faith tradition opens its Zoom room on 4 Tuesdays in October (6 to 7 p.m.). Everyone — of all political persuasions — is welcome.

Senior minister Rev. Dr. John Morehouse will begin each hour with observations about Unitarian-Universalism. Then the “floor” is open for discussion, debate and conversation.

Topics include:

  • October 6: Civility, Tolerance and Grace
  • October 13: The Blurring of Church and State
  • October 20: Public Convictions and Private Behaviors
  • October 27: Our Children: Our Pupils and Our Teachers.

Email events@uuwestport.org for Zoom information.


Another Westport congregation had a big day yesterday.

Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church officially inducted Father John Betit as rector. The ceremony — which was also livestreamed — marked the first Sunday morning gathering since COVID-19 struck in March.

But that was not all. CHT also welcomed new confirmands — and celebrated a baptism.

The busy — and welcome — morning at the handsome downtown church was followed by a courtyard liturgy, and blessing of the animals.

Rev. John Betit’s official induction.


The Westport Woman’s Club Yankee Doodle Fair takes months of planning. It raises important funds, which go toward much-needed community grants and scholarships.

COVID put the kibosh on last June’s century-old tradition. Now — in a matter of days — the WWC has organized a new, socially distanced, outdoor fundraiser.

A jazz concert with the great Chris Coogan Trio is set for this Friday (October 9, 5 to 7 p.m.). The clubhouse upper parking lot — where the Yankee Doodle kiddie rides and carousel usually are — is the site.

A limited number of tickets are on sale ($40 for 1 adult, $65 for 2; children are free); click here. Venezuelan food is available from El Chamo. Bring your own chairs and blankets.

An added attraction: Concert-goers can buy a ticket for the Remarkable Theater‘s special “Greatest Showman” feature that night, at 7:30. It’s a fundraiser for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities — so you can support 2 local profits that day.


Old Hill residents don’t know who stole the Biden/Harris signs from their lawns.

But there was a witness to a similar act Thursday afternoon, on Compo Road South across from Longshore.

A man with gray hair — perhaps in his 60s — in a gray Volkswagen sedan was spotted stealing a Biden/Harris sign from private property. A police report was filed.

The signs were quickly replaced. Here they are, yesterday afternoon:


When she was singing and acting at Staples High School, everyone predicted that Cara McNiff would be a star.

The 2014 graduate has just released a new single. “See the World”is an ethereal, uplifting pop song evoking wanderlust and dreams of escape in a time of restriction and risks. She and 2 other artists recorded it remotely, while scattered across the country by the coronavirus.

Cara — who now calls herself Caraa — pushes the boundaries of pop and R&B.

Click here to stream “See the World” on major music platforms.

Cara McNiff


And finally … today — October 5 — is the most common birthday in the United States.

On a normal day, 750,000 Americans celebrate a birthday. Today, more than 960,000 will.

Why is today unlike any other day?

One theory is that the average length of a pregnancy is 274 days. Counting backward, the date of conception for babies born today is December 31 — New Year’s Eve.

i guess not everyone spends the night watching the ball drop.

Roundup: Jazz, Food, Black History, More


Outdoor entertainment returned to MoCA Westport last night. A socially distanced crowd enjoyed Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Alexa Tarantino Quartet.

More concerts will be announced soon.

Outdoors at MoCA.

With food insecurity still a serious issue, the Westport Woman’s Club Food Closet is grateful for a nice donation from Westport National Bank.

Any organizations or family can donate food to neighbors in need. Bring non-perishable donations to the WWC 44 Imperial Avenue) from 9 a.m. to onoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If the clubhouse is locked, call 203-227-4240.

Monetary donations are also welcome. Click here, or send a check made out to Westport Woman’s Club to WWC, 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT  06880.

At the Westport Woman’s Club food pantry (from left); Wendy McKeon, WWC food closet co-chair; Robin Clark, WWC member and Westport National Bank vice president; Selma Blue, WNB head teller.


The “hidden history of Black Westport” will be visible to Westporters next Saturday (September 12, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.)

As a follow-up to the Westport Museum of History & Culture’s “Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport” exhibit, guides will lead tour groups (maximum of 10 people) throughout downtown.

They’ll describe local history, from enslaved people to soldiers, sailors, activists, artists, and respected residents, through existing buildings and long destroyed sites.

Tickets are $10. Reservations are required; click here to register. Foe moew information, email programs@westporthistory.org.


Aarti Khosla needs help in providing chocolate hearts to every Westport and Weston educator, as a show of thanks for all they do. 10% of all proceeds benefit another educational institution: Mercy Learning Center.

Click here to purchase hearts ($8 each). You can also stop by Aarti’s store, Le Rouge Chocolates (190 Main Street).

 


The final (and 15th) #FridayFlowers are on display at the Compo Beach lifeguard station. The Westport Garden Club — sponsor of the summer-long floral project — is grateful to the guards, and everyone at Westport Parks & Rec — for keeping our beaches safe and fun.

Pictured below (from left): David Levy, Noah Ross, Mia Parkes, Ella Thompson and Avery Tucker.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

RTM representative and Westport Writers Workshop founder Jessica Bram undergoes brain surgery at Yale University Hospital this morning.

Doctors will drain excess hydration to reverse motor, cognitive and memory impairment resulting from a recent fall.

Jessica sends affection and high regard to the Westport community, past and current writing students, RTM colleagues, and Webb Road neighbors.


And finally … today is National Be Late for Something Day. I’ll have a song for you later. Maybe.

Roundup: Remarkable Theater, Balducci’s, Post Office, More


The Remarkable Theater was this summer’s surprise entertainment hit. The group — whose focus is bringing a movie house back to Westport — pivoted during the pandemic, procuring an outdoor screen and showing several drive-in films a week at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

The site is just south of the Westport Woman’s Club — which every year for nearly a century has run the beloved Yankee Doodle Fair. The event spills into the parking lot, and is a major fundraiser that allows the WWC to provide aid to many local nonprofits.

The Remarkable Theater’s premiere event — “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” — was a fundraiser for the Woman’s Club. The other day, Remarkable president Marina Derman (bottom row, right) presented a check to WWC past president Christina McVaney. Watching from the steps above are Remarkable vice president/creative director Doug Tirola and club president Karen Kleine.


Balducci’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last night. No word yet on the fate of the Westport location.


A rally Saturday in support of the US Postal Service drew a small crowd to the Norwalk Post Office. Several Westporters attended, including Hallie Picorello (lower right).

(Photo/Carmine Picorello)


And finally … I’ve been waiting for a while to include this. As summer starts to fade, now is as good a time as any.

Roundup: Farmers’ Market For Kids, Westport Woman’s Club, Staples Baseball, More


The pandemic has prevented live gatherings for the “Get Growing” kids’ program at Westport Farmers’ Market.

No problem! WFM has launched “Get Growing to Go!,” a craft kit of activities youngsters can do at home. The brainchild of Mae Farrell, it includes a free package parents and caregivers pick up at the Cross Highway farm.

Each week Mae announces the craft for the following week on Instagram and Facebook, and children and parents through the week’s activity — on their own schedule.

“’Get Growing’ is dear to my heart,” says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougal.

“Mae has taken it to a whole new level, both in person and now virtually with the craft kits. Families are a big part of our market. We won’t let the pandemic prevent us from helping the next generation appreciate nature, farmers, and importance of a local food community.”

Parents can pre-order craft kits for pick up at WFM between Sunday and Tuesday by email: getgrowing@westportfarmersmarket.com. The first pickup is Thursday, August 13, and each Thursday thereafter from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. WARNING: Only 30 craft kits are available each week.

For an introduction and sample, click here (Facebook) or here (Instagram).


Among the recipients of the Westport Woman’s Club’s 2020 community grants: Filling in the Blanks.

The Fairfield and Westchester Counties non-profit says: “Because of you, we delivered 11,014 meal bags in the month of May. That is 44,056 individual meals for children who otherwise would not have had enough to eat. We added students in New Canaan and Norwalk last month, and will add more in Greenwich this month. Thank you from all of us at Filling in the Blanks for making it possible for us to provide this basic nutrition when it is needed most.”


The 2020 Staples High School baseball team did not get a chance to defend their state championship this spring. COVID took care of that.

But the Wrecker baseball family gathered yesterday for a ceremony today honoring the 2019 state and FCIAC champions — and the team’s unanimous #1 ranking in Connecticut.

The turnout was great. The memories were wonderful. Now the plaques will serve as an inspiration for the 2021 squad — and all that follow.


And finally … hard to believe I haven’t used this “Monday” song before. But I haven’t.

Roundup: Library Reopens; Craig Melvin; Dirty Dancing; Yankee Doodle Fair; More


The reimagined Westport Library was a spectacular success. For a few months, it was packed with users, jammed with events, pulsing with energy.

Then COVID-19 struck.

But 4 months after it closed, the library is poised to reopen. The big date is Monday, July 13.

Limited services begin, weekdays (2 to 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (12 to 4 p.m.). Only 100 people — including staff — will be allowed in the building at any time.

Masks are required. The only entrance is the main one (upper parking lot). The only exit is through the café.

The café and store are not open. Conference and meeting rooms will also be closed. Computer access will be limited to the Express stations.

Curbside pickup services continues weekdays (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

The library will extend loan periods, but fines will accrue for materials not returned within the loan periods.

The library will continue to offer virtual programs and services, while phasing in the full reopening of the building.


During these disconnected times, Dave Briggs — former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox anchor (and proud Westporter) — has conducted a series of Instagram Live interviews with interesting residents.

Folks like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, restaurant owner Bill Taibe and former NFL quarterback/ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky talk about the town, the pandemic, and answer questions from followers.

Today’s guest (Thursday, July 2) is Craig Melvin. The NBC “Today” host has been square in the middle of both the COVID and racial unrest stories.

Just follow @westportmagazine on Instagram, and click on the “Live” tab at the top of their feed at 4:30 for a fascinating chat. It will be reposted later by Dave (@davebriggstv).

Craig Melvin


There are no fireworks at Compo Beach to celebrate the 4th. BUT … there is a great movie at Westport’s own drive-in!

The Remarkable Theater shows “Dirty Dancing” at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The classic summer romance/dance film begins at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday (the 4th). The lot opens at 7:45, and pre-film content starts at 8:15.

Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to purchase.

It’s a great movie. Even if it’s not “Independence Day,” or “Born on the 4th of July.”


COVID knocked out this year’s Yankee Doodle Fair. But the annual Westport Woman’s Club fundraiser has been around for a century. It will be back next year.

And if you want your Fair fix, check out this video shot last year by interns from Fourth Row Films. It premiered last week, at the Remarkable Theater’s opening night drive-in movie benefit for the WWC.

if you’re inspired by the video — or just want to help provide much-needed funds for the Woman’s Club community grants, scholarships, food pantry and other great causes — click here.


Want to win the war on invasive weeds?

That’s the topic of the next “Pollinator Series” online presentation from Wakeman Town Farm.

This Monday (July 6, 7-8 p.m.), University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely will spotlight a guide to invasives, developed by WTF’s 2020 senior class interns.

Click here to register. Registrants will be emailed a Zoom link the day of the talk. Everyone gets a free guide to the area’s worst weeds too.


Missed the benefit cabaret that Staples High School senior Jamie Mann organized for Obi Ndefo — the actor/inspiration/friend who lost both legs when hit by a drunk driver?

Here’s your chance. Just click below. The sound is not great at the start, but it gets better. The performances, back story and messages are well worth it!


And finally … another fun summertime classic.

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.