No. 30: Norwalk has the lowest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in all of Southwestern Connecticut, at 19.7 percent.
Students climb on the jungle gym in the new playground at All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk, Conn. on Monday November 28, 2011 before the arrival of Bishop Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport who came to bless the playground.
No. 29: Derby has the second lowest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 20.8 percent.
Sam Pollastro, dressed as The Cat in the Hat, gets a greeting from four-year-old Chloe Richards Friday, Mar. 1, 2013 during his visit to Bradley Elementary School in Derby, Conn. in honor of the children's author's birthday. Dr. Seuss was born March 2, 1904.
Brian A. Pounds
No. 28: Shelton has the third lowest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 20.9 percent.
The Giggling Pig art studio for kids at 478 River Road in Shelton on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
No. 27: Danbury has the fourth lowest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 21.3 percent.
Isabella Bloss, 3, of Danbury, swings at the Lake Kenosia playground Saturday, June 16, 2012.
No. 26: Stratford has the fifth lowest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 21.5 percent.
Two-year-old Larissa Niejelow, of Stratford, sits among the pumpkins during the Jones Family Farms UNICEF Family Festival Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011 at Pumpkinseed Hill farm at 120 Beardsley Road in Shelton, Conn. The event continues Sunday, from 10am - 4pm with Magician Bryan Lizotte performing at 11:30am. Story Time will take place on the stage with nautical tales being read to the kids and farmers from the Harvest Kitchen cooking studio will be doing cooking demos.
No. 25: Milford has the 25th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 21.6 percent.
Emma Grace Cooley, 4, of Milford, plays chases her brother Jackson Boomer Cooley, 5, around the playground beside Fowler Field in Milford Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.
No. 24: Seymour has the 24th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 21.7 percent.
Ciara Gregory, 7, in center, waits for customers at an ice tea stand she and her neighborhood friends were helping her man along Meadow Street in Seymour, Conn. on Friday September 10, 2010. At left is Mya Oliwa, 9, and at right is Erin Smith, 7. About eight kids were taking turns serving tea and collecting money from thirsty drivers. They said that they will give most of the money to an as yet unamed charity.
No. 23: Stamford has the 23rd highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 22 percent.
Laila (5) Molina enjoys the playground at Cummings Park in Stamford, Conn. on Monday March 11, 2013.
File Photo\\Wendy Carlson
No. 22: Brookfield has the 22nd highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 22.7 percent.
Alex Zibershteyn,2, of Brookfield enjoys sliding at the Kid's Kingdom playground, which was paid for and built ten years ago by community volunteers is celebrating its 19th year. There will be a teddy bear picnic on Sunday at 1 p.m.
No. 21: Naugatuck has the 21st highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 23 percent, which is exactly the same as the state of Connecticut as a whole.
Austin Anderson plays the xylophone as the rest of the Naugatuck High School marching band members perform at the annual Quest for the Best marching band and color guard competition at Bethel High School on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.
No. 20: Orange has the 20th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 23.3 percent.
Kids of all ages play the PEZ Trivia Game at the company's new visitor center, in Orange.
No. 19: Bethel has the 19th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 23.7 percent.
Bethel Middle School 7th and 8th graders square off in TigerBall, a double elimination dodgeball tournament at the Middle School. 145 kids on 29 teams compete. All the proceeds go to the SCOTTY Fund, a Bethel charity that provides financial and family support to children with life-threatening or critical illness. Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013
No. 18: Ansonia has the 18th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 24 percent, just a bit lower than the national average of 24.2 percent.
Destiny Gatison, 4, of Ansonia, gets a little help crossing the monkey bars from family freind Shannon Belbusti, at the Ansonia Nature Center playground in Ansonia, Conn. on Friday February 17, 2012.
No. 17: Oxford has the 17th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 24.5 percent, just a bit higher than the national average of 24.2 percent.
Oxford cheerleaders pose for photos before taking part in the first annual Connecticut Kids Walk for Kids With Cancer fundraising event at Veterans Memorial Park in Shelton, Conn. on Saturday May 12, 2012. Oxford cheerleaders Jenna and her sister Cassandra Miller organized the event. Jenna is a cancer survivor herself. All proceeds are to be donated to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centerl where Jenna was treated.
No. 16: Sherma has the 16th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 25.3 percent.
Precision marching is not a high priority for the kids of the Sherman Soccer Club as they relish their chance to march in the Sherman Memorial Day parade. May 27, 2012
No. 15: Fairfield has the 21th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 25.6 percent.
Miles Mitchell, 3, of Fairfield, knocks into his and his brother Graham's boots as he comes down the sliding board while playing at the Owen Fish Playground in Fairfield, Conn. on Thursday November 29, 2012.
No. 13 (Tie): Trumbull has the 13th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 25.8 percent.
Jessica Nuzzaci, 9, of Fairfield, watches as her father Jon, takes a a drink after a practice run at Trumbull Racing and Cycling Kids, or TRACK, which is located inside Indian Ledge State Park in Trumbull, Conn. on Tuesday September 7, 2010. Jon, Jessica, and Jon's son Jackson, 11, was on hand to take part in the open pratice held at the race track, in preparation for Sunday's Connecticut State Championship starting at 11AM.
File Photo\\Carol Kaliff
No. 13 (Tie): Redding has the 13th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 25.8 percent.
Andrew Tschiltsch, 7 and Clorasteen Wilson, 6, kids in Chris Sutherland's 2nd grade, in a Holloween parade Friday afternoon at Redding Elementary
No. 12: Bridgeport has the 12th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 26.3 percent.
Abdias Martinez, of Bridgeport, gives his daughter Shirley, 5, a helping hand to get across the monkeybars as they enjoy time at a playground at Beardsley Park in Bridgeport, Conn. on Wednesday July 18, 2012.
No. 11: Greenwich has the 12th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 27.3 percent.
And there off to a start during the Greenwich Lions and Shoprite's Annual Egg Hunt at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn., March 23, 2013. Hundreds of kids participate in the event, which also includes face painting and games.
No. 10: Monroe has the 10th highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 27.4 percent.
Four-year-old Kendall Gueli, of Monroe, holds up an egg she found on the spring egg hunt at Webb Mountain Discovery Zone in Monroe Saturday Apr. 3, 2010. This egg was decorated to look like the egg from a Peregrine Falcon which children got to meet following the scavenger hunt.
No. 9: New Fairfield has the ninth highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 27.8 percent.
Katja Juergens (6) takes a turn holding onto a fire hose as Dana Scott (6) sticks her hand in the water. This and other activities were available to children and families as part of New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department's fire prevention day.
No. 8: Newtown has the eighth highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 27.9 percent.
Sandy Hook Elementary Schoolstudent Julia Marotto, 6, takes part in a program , Life Is Good, at Newtown Youth Academy in partnership with Family & Children's Aid in Newtown Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. The program's goal is to use play as an antidote to trauma.
No. 7: Easton has the seventh highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 29.4 percent. Not only is it No. 7 in the area; Easton is also No. 7 in the entire state.
Erin Lynch of Easton, with her children Brady, 2, (left) and Marykate, 10 months, at Saturday's Trunk-o-ween event at the Fairfield Railroad Station. Fairfield CT 11/10/12
No. 6: Westport has the sixthhighest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 29.7 percent. Not only is it No. 6 in the area; Westport is also No. 6 in the entire state.
Kids scramble across the fields at Long Lots School on Saturday in search of tasty treats at the Greens Farms Volunteer Fire Department's 62nd annual egg hunt. WESTPORT NEWS, CT 3/30/13
No. 5: Ridgefield has the fifth highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 30.1 percent. Not only is it No. 5 in the area; Ridgefield is also No. 5 in the entire state.
Five-year-old Ridgefielder Maxim Salamon makes some art of his own as kids had the opportunity to draw on paper attached to walls at the Extreme Drawing Exhibition at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield. Sunday, Mar. 24, 2013
No. 4: Wilton has the fourth highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 31.9 percent. Not only is it No. 4 in the area; Wilton is also No. 4 in the entire state.
Michelle Sperry of Weston recently opened Fleur de Lis Academy, a private school in Wilton that gives lessons on proper etiquette and manners to children and young adults.
No. 3: New Canaan has the third highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 32.2 percent. Not only is it No. 3 in the area; New Canaan is also No. 3 in the entire state.
Starting with the upcoming show "Beauty & the Beast," tickets for New Canaan High School Theatre are now being sold online. Belle (played by Christy Coco) reads to local kids.
No. 2: Weston has the second highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 34.3 percent. Not only is it No. 2 in the area; Weston is also No. 2 in the entire state.
Children of all ages came to the Westport Weston Family Y Mahackeno Outdoor Center for an afternoon of active play and family fun at the Family Y's annual Fall Fiesta.
Jeanna Petersen Shepard
No. 1: Darien has the single highest percentage of residents under the age of 18 in Southwestern Connecticut, at 37 percent. Not only is it No. 1 in the area; Darien is also No. 1 in the entire state.
Pretty in pink, Blakely LaGreca fashionably plays on the playground during the Weed Beach Grand Opening last Sunday, June 3, 2012, in Darien, Conn.
On a Tuesday afternoon in early spring, the athletic field in front of Darien High School is littered with boys and girls working on their lacrosse skills, as small rubber lacrosse balls soar in choreographed chaos, from one teammate to another.
The youth lacrosse practice officially begins at 6 p.m., as afternoon meets evening and the air grows crisper. Softball players are wrapping up practice a couple hundred yards to the left and baseball players are still taking cuts a few hundred yards to the right.
“There’s always lots of little munchkins running around those fields after school,” Superintendent of Darien Schools Stephen Falcone said.
That’s no surprise. Tiny Darien has a higher concentration of children than any other town in the state, census data shows. In total, 37 percent on the town’s population is under age 18, which is significantly higher than the state’s total child population, which rests at 23 percent.
More than two-thirds of the towns in Southwestern Connecticut exceed the state average for concentration of children, and seven of Connecticut’s top 10 towns with the highest density of kids are small towns in Fairfield County. After Darien at No. 1, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Ridgefield, Westport and Easton round out the top seven; they’re followed by Sterling, Hebron and Burlington at eight through 10, respectively. Greenwich is No. 11, Bridgeport is 17, Stamford is 23rd and Danbury comes in at 27.
Falcone, who has headed Darien’s school district for three years, said he thinks the town’s well-respected school system has something to do with creating a desirable atmosphere to raise children in Darien. But it’s not the only factor that draws young families, he said.
“It’s relatively small geographically, and I think people make connections ¦ We have a lot of parents who want to be involved, whether that’s coaching sports, or other ways to be active in the community,” Falcone said. “People say, `Hey the kids are really active and you can get involved too,’ and I think that’s attractive to families. They can have an involvement in their children’s lives and in these extracurricular activities.”
As the first small town over the Connecticut border from Manhattan, Darien boasts a shorter commute time to the city than any of the other small towns in the area, which allows parents to work in Manhattan and be involved in their children’s lives, he said.
That’s what drew Erik Dahlquist and his family to the area when they first moved to Darien from New York City 13 years ago.
“I’d grown up in Wilton, so I’m familiar with Connecticut, and Darien was an attractive commute to New York City for a Connecticut town,” said Dahlquist, who still works in the city. On Tuesday afternoon, he took off from work early, grabbed a train into town and changed into his lacrosse gear to coach the seventh grade youth program on the high school field.
“We fell in love with the ability to be near the water and the access to the city. Darien was just a good fit,” he said as his 7-year-old son, Ryan, worked on his ball-handling skills a couple paces away, his small head bobbling inside a helmet with “Coach Ryan” marked on a slab of masking tape.
Real estate agents Eileen Hanford and her daughter, Tammy Hughes, who work for Halstead Property in Darien, said Dahlquist’s profile when he first moved to the town fits the bill for the most typical Darien homebuyers they see.
“The general profile we see is either a couple who’s pregnant with their first child and they want to get out of the city to raise their kids, or the families with the 4-year-old and the 2-year-old who are realizing how virtually impossible it is to get your child into any type of private school in New York City,” said Hughes, who grew up in Darien and moved back a few years ago to raise her family in her hometown, where her mother, Hanford, still lives.
“There’s that family feel,” Hughes said. “It’s a small town — 14.9 square miles, and I moved here from Manhattan because I liked the idea that my children could ride their bicycles all over town.”
While the towns and cities closer to New York City have numerous schools, Darien is the first in Connecticut with only one middle school and one high school, which Hughes says helps seal the small-town feel. “Other towns, you can feel like there are seven towns in one,” she said.
While Hughes and Hanford can tick off a laundry list of attributes that draw young families to town, there’s another factor that could well be the key to Darien’s high saturation of children: Darien families are larger than families in other towns.
For instance, “Coach Ryan,” who attends first grade at Hindley Elementary School, is the youngest of Dahlquist’s three children. And like other kids stationed around the lacrosse field, he is just one of several in a line of budding athletes. For Kim Corcoran, lacrosse is a family thing; she has four sons and on Tuesday she was dropping off one child at youth practice, while picking up another from his high school practice.
With an average family size of 3.54 people, Darien has the largest families in the state, according to census figures. While the state of Connecticut as a whole sits in the center of the pack for family sizes when compared to other states, at No. 24, Darien’s family size is almost exactly on par with the state of Utah, which with an average family size of 3.55, has bigger families than any other state in the nation.
In total, eight of the 10 towns and cities with the largest families in Connecticut are in Fairfield County, with Darien, Bridgeport, Weston, Monroe and New Fairfield taking up the entire Top 5.
“Kids? Yeah, we have a lot of kids in Darien,” Falcone said.
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