The Westport Weston Family Y’s last Youth Fun Night of the school year is this Saturday, and we are planning a great night for local 4th-7th graders!
Come and hang out at the Family Y from 7:30-9:30 pm and have a blast. Where else can you find swimming, basketball, ping pong, bingo and board games, plus ice cream, all in one place?
Fee: $12 pre-purchased at the Y or online; $15 at the door (Y membership not required). Participants must bring a completed waiver to the event; click on the following link for the form: Youth Fun Night Waiver and Code of Conduct. And here’s the sign-up link: Register Now.
Brian Marazzi, our Membership and Marketing Director, with artist Beatrice del Perugia.
Now through June 16, Art About Town will bring hundreds of original works of art to shop and restaurant windows, turning the downtown Westport shopping district into one continuous gallery for strolling, appreciating, and purchasing unique, original and undiscovered art.
A festive Opening Night Street Party launches Art About Town on Thursday, May 23 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Main Street will be traffic free and the length of Main – and beyond – will be filled with art, entertainment, al fresco dining, and fun for the whole family, including a special performance by Family Y gymnasts.
Street performers will delight, live music will fill the air, and visitors will have the opportunity to see artists in action as they demonstrate their talent. Participating businesses will stay open late and have some surprises in store as well. Art About Town is free, and the rain date is May 30.
The Family Y is also happy to showcase the artwork of Beatrice del Perugia and the photographs of Sara Roche. Their artwork is now on display in our Stauffer Pool Lobby off our Church Lane entrance and the lobby of the Bedford Building.
This annual event is sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, a non-profit organization of local businesses working to promote an exceptional experience for visitors to Westport’s shopping district. The WDMA has created some of the most well attended events in the area, including the Westport Fine Arts Festival, now entering its 40the year; the Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, which attracts approximately 10,000 visitors; and Art By Local. From these activities, the WDMA is able to create and maintain a beautiful shopping environment while also supporting the efforts of local non-profit organizations like the Family Y.
Photographer Sara Roche with two of her works.
“Art About Town is a unique, upbeat art ‘happening’ in our town,” says Cathy Colgan of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. “We invite the whole community downtown for Opening Night for live music, outdoor cafe dining, quirky entertainment, and artists at work all along the way. This is a great opportunity for people to start collecting original art at affordable prices!”
All art is juried, for sale, and will remain in stores, restaurants and at the Y through Sunday, June16. Please visit artabouttownwestport.com for details.
Congrats to co-chair Patty Kondub and all our friends at SpinOdyssey 2013, which so far has raised more than $107,000 following their annual event last weekend in Westport to support breast cancer research. Special congrats to our Family Y team, which has contributed nearly $20,000 to that total!
Above is a photo of the Y team taken early on Sunday. And below is Audrey Hertzel, who rode from 12 to 3 pm on her way to becoming our Y’s top SpinOdyssey fundraiser. Audrey raised $6,505 through co-workers, friends, family and Facebook friends.
“I don’t ride, and my training consisted of two half-hour classes,” she says. “But the pain was certainly worth the gain!”
Here’s some interesting “who knew?” history about the Westport Weston Family Y and our local community that was recently brought to light first by local historian Brian O’Leary and then expanded upon by Dan Woog and some insightful “alert readers” of his always informative 06880 blog.
The larger subject is the 150th anniversary of key Civil War battles, and Westporters’ involvement in the conflict. That story is intertwined, so to speak, with the history of a prominent local family, the Lees, who founded what is believed to be the oldest twine-making concern in the United States.
Lees Dam on the Saugatuck, just upstream from downtown Westport.
The Y connection to all this? The Family Y is the owner of Lees Pond and the dam that forms it, a 200-ft. long, 17-ft. high stone masonry structure spanning the Saugatuck River. The dam is just downstream from the Y’s Mahackeno campus, site of the new Y now under construction and home of the Y’s summer day camp, Camp Mahackeno.
Summer campers have been enjoying the 8-acre Lees Pond since the early 1940s, when the Bedford family helped buy the 32-acre Mahackeno property for the Y and its members.
According to research compiled by town historian Allen Raymond, the Y was deeded the dam and the eight acres of Lees Pond in 1975. The current dam dates to 1903, to impound Lees Pond for water supply for a downstream mill. In 1959 sluice gates were installed and the pond was made deeper. In 1961, a fish ladder was constructed by the State of Connecticut.
By the 1980s, the Corps of Engineers inspected the dam and noted a number of concerns, which led the Family Y to obtain a Dam Restoration permit from the state in the early 1990s and to set about raising sufficient funds for its repairs. That process took nearly another decade, but by 2001, the repairs were complete and a ceremony of dedication on October 10 of that year.
While the Y is regarded as the owner of Lees Pond Dam, the local citizens that originally deeded the dam to the Y — Nat Greenberg and Leo Nevas and their trustees, own the rip-rapping and concrete apron, downstream of the south face of the dam. (JoAnn Nevas Price owns the property over which the State Right of Way is secured.)
Long story short(er): The Y ended up paying the cost of the repairs, which were estimated to be nearly $130,000.
Of course, the steady flows of the Saugatuck River have been used to supply power to early industrial factories since 1815, when Lewis Raymond and David Richmond erected an eight-foot tall dam to help turn out cotton yarn. The complex of factory buildings, workers cottages and the owner’s house came to be called Richmondville.
The first dam faltered in 1842, wrote Allen Raymond in a history of Lees Pond Dam, and the factories sat unused until 1844, when John Lees and John Dryden restored the dam and property to establish Lees Manufacturing, which made cording, threads, wicks and twine from southern cotton.
Mahackeno campers at play in the waters of Lees Pond.
The company continued long after electricity replaced water power, and management passed from son (Thomas) to son (Robert) to John A. Lees. The mill operation closed in the 1950s, leaving this bucolic part of Westport to neighboring homeowners, summer campers, fishermen and, in cold winters past, ice skaters.
In his spare time, he does detective work — on Westport’s history.
Following up on yesterday’s post, referencing the Lees’ twine manufacturing company — and Mary Palmieri Gai’s additional comments, remembering Lees’ Richmondville mill and surrounding real estate — Dale writes that the Leeses were “a fairly large family, and pretty prominent Westporters back in the day.”
They began selling their significant landholdings in the 1920s — but the name survives, thanks to Lees Pond, Lees Dam and Lees Lane, all in the Richmondville area.
And this from Commenter Mary Palmieri Gai:
My parents both works for Mr. Lees making twine in the early 1930s when they came to Westport from Italy. I was surprised to learn not long ago that the last name is Lees not Lee. That whole area of Richmondville Ave was built around the mill which must have been owned by someone else before Lees because my parents remembered him and his daughter who lived a very long life. My cousins own the original Lees mansion (small by today’s standards) where my parents and later my grandparents rented apartments from my uncle. One of my brothers was actually born in that house and my Grandma, who refused to learn one word of English, lived there until she died in 1969. Saugatuck wasn’t the only Italian enclave in Westport. The entire road and surrounding roads on and off main street were all my paisans and I venture to guess most worked for Mr. Lees at one time.
On the right, the eastern wall of the new Y. Just inside it will be the new family/teaching/therapeutic pool. To the left and beyond, the Saugatuck River as it flows into Lees Pond.
Amazing to think of all the changes that have happened — and are now happening — to this delightful stretch of scenic waterway. Soon a new facility will rise on the far shore of Lees Dam, and come next year, Mahackeno campers will be back in their canoes on Lees Pond, enjoying another fun-filled summer.
To quote another onetime Westporter, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
With construction of the new Y under way, this summer Mahackeno campers will be part of a joint summer camp, conducted by the Y and Earthplace and hosted at Earthplace’s 62-acre nature sanctuary just aways from Mahackeno on 10 Woodside Lane.
For more information about Earthplace-Mahackeno Summer Camp 2013, please click here.
To learn more about the Family Y’s Building What Matters campaign to fund and construct a new facility at Mahackeno, click here.
Adventure Gym in the Y’s Gymnastic Center is a popular activity on Healthy Kids Day.
Midge’s Membership Blog:
Although my children are now older “kids” (ages 17 and 21 ), they still think like younger kids when it comes to eating healthy – basically “healthy foods” are synonymous with yucky foods; good nutrition is boring. cheeseburgers and french fries are yummy, broccoli and veggie snacks are not. The same is true with so-called “healthy activities” that pale in comparison with more daring and perhaps unsafe activities. Ask any eight-year-old boy if he’d rather learn to swim a butterfly stroke or skateboard down a huge hill and you’ll probably get the answer that would require a safety net.
We are hoping to change this perception on Healthy Kids Day at the Y – Saturday, April 27, from 9 am – 12 noon. Our annual free community event encourages kids in Westport, Weston and surrounding areas to get moving and learning, and families living healthier. Healthy Kids Day, the Y’s national initiative to improve families’ health and well-being, takes place at 1,900 Ys and kick-starts healthier behaviors now and throughout the summer, a critical out-of-school time for children’s health.
Many U.S. children do not get the daily recommended hours of physical activity and reading, and daily amounts of healthy foods. According to the latest findings of the YMCA’s Family Health Snapshot – a survey of parents that gauges their children’s activity levels during the school year – only 19 percent of children get 60 minutes of physical activity, only 17 percent read books for fun, and only 12 percent eat at least eight fruits and vegetables daily.
We will have a number of activities for children to participate in, from Adventure Gym for toddlers in our Gymnastics Center to a terrific Family Boot Camp class for older children. While your six-year-old is having her face painted, your three-year-old can get a tour of a Westport fire truck or EMS ambulance van. We will have everything from water safety class to learning how to plant seeds and garden in conjunction with Earthplace, our summer-camp partner. Play ring toss and basketball; learn all about what to expect with your child’s first dental exam; explore different ways to be energy efficient with New England Smart Energy and enjoy healthy, non-boring snacks from Whole Foods. (Click on the flyer at right for the complete list of activities and the times they take place.)
Parents, while your children are having a good time, you can talk to NY Life Child about making sure your precious cargo is ID’d in their database.
We will also have streaming photos and pamphlets about our new Y facility that is being built now at our Mahackeno campus, and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about Building What Matters, our campaign to fully finance our modern new home. This would be a great time to talk to us about including a photo of your family in our photo mosaic that will be on permanent display in the new Y.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Y on Saturday morning! For a glimpse at what’s in store, take a look at the photo gallery below from last year’s Healthy Kids Day…
Registration is under way for all of the Westport Weston Family Y’s camps and special programs taking place this summer. Don’t delay; sign up today! Click on the subhed links below to get started or visit www.westporty.org for more information.
Since 1938, the Mahackeno Outdoor Center has been the setting for our Family Y’s summer day camp. For the 2013 season, Camp Mahackeno will be collaborating with another Westport institution, Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center, so we can continue to serve our campers and families during the construction of our new Y facility at Mahackeno.
This wonderful opportunity will allow us to have yet another great summer in a beautiful outdoor setting here in Westport. Earthplace and the Family Y are working together to plan a summer with fun activities and themes, great staff and many opportunities for campers to make new friends and memories.
The program is for campers who are entering 1st grade through 8th grade. Earthplace will continue to welcome preschoolers age 3 to Kindergarten to camp. You can also find more information about this summer’s camp by visiting www.earthplace.org.
The Y offers a wide variety of swimming programs and water-safety clinics.
Sessions fill quickly for this amazing summer program, which gives children the vital chance to build swim skills, regardless of previous experience, and have a lot of summer fun. Designed for children ages 4 to 8 and held each weekday from 8:45 am to 12:30 pm, Hafaday is primarily a swim program, with both a lesson and a free swim period each day. It’s the best way to learn to swim. Arts and crafts, music and gym time, including yoga, karate, and games round out each morning of fun.
We have 9 weekly sessions, beginning Monday, June 17 and continuing on through the week of August 12. Students in swim lessons are grouped by age and ability. The cost for Y Members is $270 per week; $295 for non-members.
Stewie’s Splash! Hour
The Family Y has partnered with Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities to promote water safety throughout the community. During each week of Hafaday, Wednesday’s from 12:30 to 1:15 pm, there will be a special opportunity to meet Stewie the Duck and participate in water safety activities outside of the water. Plus, each child will receive a book, a sing-a-long CD and a Personal Floatation Device.
Because Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities is underwriting this event, the cost is only $20/child. Be sure to sign up early to get your first choice of weeks.
Click HERE to add Stewie’s Splash! Hour to your child’s Hafaday experience.
The Family Y’s Gymnastics Center is the setting for a range of summer camps. In the afternoons, there’s Gymnastics & Swim Camp: Gymnastics, Free Swim and Games, all in our air-conditioned Gymnastic Center! This camp runs from 12 to 4 pm each day throughout the summer (8 sessions in all). Your child must be able to swim without flotation device and must be 6 years old by June 1, 2013.
We also offer a Summer Fantasy Gymnastics & Art Camp in the mornings, for young gymnasts ages 4-7, as well as a summer program geared to competitive gymnastics: Specialty Competitive and Pre Competitive Gymnastics Camp Week takes place Aug. 19-23. The fee is $280 for the week; Y membership is required. For more information, email Sally Silverstein at email@example.com.
Our Dance Center has several fun summer programs, starting with Princess Dance Camp. This popular camp focuses on a different Disney princess each day to give dancing divas ages 3 to 5 a fun introduction to ballet and jazz. Led by Dance Center Director Lillian Cenatiempo, campers will also enjoy a craft that helps bring our princesses to life, with a story about one of our princesses each day during snack time. The week session are June 24-28 and July 15-19 and cost $180 per session for Y members and non-members alike.
July 15-19 is “Future Stars Dance Week,” for ages 6-10, which includes dance techniques, learning of choreography, lunch, dance routines plus a free swim. And this summer we have two week-long sessions for Broadway Bound Dance Week. It’s designed for young dancers ages 7-10, who will spend the week learning dances to music from the Broadway musical Newsies. The week includes costume making, a visiting instructor from New York and a fun in-studio presentation the final day for friends and family. The first session will be held June 24-28 from 12:30 to 3:30 pm and the second takes place July 8-12.
The Family Y offers a host of week-long morning programs designed to keep young kids active and give them the chance to develop basic skills in lacrosse, hockey and basketball. Click on the link above for more information and to register.
We’re also offering Elite Basketball Academy Weekend Clinics on June 22 and 29 for 6-8 Graders and on June 30 for 9-12 Graders, both girls and boys. Improve your individual skills and team play at both ends of the court with the help of top-quality coaching and a highly competitive environment. The Coaches are Tod Shofield, former professional basketball player and currently coaching and on staff at Greens Farms Academy and Paul Groves, Director of Middle School Athletics at GFA. Avid young hoopsters will get individual workouts, intensive conditioning drills and skills stations and group lectures about strategy and playmaking.
Fee: $85/day (no Y membership required); please bring drinks, lunch and snack. To register click on the links above or contact Sally Silverstein, Sports & Recreation Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-226-8981, ext. 118.
And, of course, the Family Y also offers a full schedule of Summer Session classes and programs. To review our Summer Brochure, please click here. Registration for the Summer Session of classes and programs begins Monday, May 6.
The Family Y also schedules open time in the Upper Gym for pick-up games and individual practice.
Leaders from the Y’s volunteer governing boards, staff and construction partners gathered at the Y’s Mahackeno campus on Friday, Apr. 5, to witness a milestone achievement in the construction of the new Y facility. Shortly after 10 am, the first cement truck arrived at the building site to pour concrete for the foundation of the 54,000 sq. ft. facility soon to rise from its scenic setting overlooking the Saugatuck River as it flows into Lees Pond, just north of downtown Westport.
As the first cement truck delivers its load of concrete, a second arrives to continue pouring the foundation of the new Family Y.
“This has been a very long saga of a wonderful vision and the striving to attain that vision,” said Steve Halstead, a member of the Y’s Construction Committee, the group of community volunteers who are helping guide the construction a modern new home for the Westport Weston Family Y at the Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno property, longtime home of its summer day camp.
“Here we are, on April 5, 2013, 10-plus years on our campaign to build what matters, and we are finally seeing this building coming out of the ground,” said Halstead, a veteran volunteer for a number of community building projects, including Bedford Middle School and the rebuilding of Staples High School.
“This is a real milestone — the real beginning of the fruition of the vision of our Family Y for the next 50, 100 years,” added a beaming Halstead (see below for video).
That future began today, Friday, April 5, 2013, with the first “100 yards” of concrete being poured to form the foundation of the new Westport Weston Family Y.
Since site preparation work began in late January, the building site has been transformed. Work crews first cleared the 6-acre building site of trees and brush. As excavation of the foundation has proceeded, the site has effectively become a materials processing “factory” in which excavated material is turned into separate piles of topsoil, crushed rock and other materials to be re-used on-site. The creation of what Turner Construction calls a “balanced site” means that truck traffic leaving and entering the site is limited, minimizing the impact to local roads.
Foundation work will continue over the coming weeks, after which the steel framework for the full-service Y facility will be erected.
Further details about the construction project and capital campaign to fund it may be found at www.westporty.org. The new Y is scheduled to open in November 2014.
The Family Y's 8th Grade Travel Basketball Team, with Coach Paul Groves.
With a season finish of 9 league game wins, 2 non-league wins, and 1 loss by 1 point against Darien YMCA in the championship playoffs, the Westport Weston Family Y 8th Grade Travel Basketball Team logged a strong, successful season. Coach Paul Groves is very proud of his team. “They never quit, fought hard and held on until the end.”
“These boys played like warriors all season long,” Coach Groves stated.
“The boys were successful because they had team unity, a great attitude and they gave it their all every second they were on the court.”
It was a tough season for the 8th graders with the Y closed for almost two months after Superstorm Sandy. Director of Sports and Recreation Sally Silverstein explained that the team could not practice in their home gym at the Y almost the entire season. This did not faze them one bit. Much of their success this season had to do with the tone the coach set right from the beginning of the season to keep moving forward and not look back, Silverstein explained.
The Family Y 8th graders played against teams from Stratford, Weston, Wilton, New Milford, Fairfield, Darien, Monroe, Woodbury, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Bethel and Stamford.
The Family Y will be holding a highly competitive Elite Basketball Academy Weekend Clinic for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 with visiting coaches this summer in June. For information about this and the Y Travel programs, contact Sally Silverstein at email@example.com.
Scott Smith joined the Westport Weston Family Y as director of communications in January 2011. He previously held the position of director of communications, editor, for the United States Golf Association and has been a staff writer and editor for an array of magazines, including BusinessWeek, Bon Appetit and Golf Digest. A resident of Westport since 1997, Scott is active in local community affairs, most recently serving as chair of the town-appointed Longshore 50th Anniversary Committee.
203-226-8981, ext. 112
Midge has served as Family Y Membership Coordinator since 2007. Born and raised in New York City, Midge worked as a researcher for “60 Minutes” and was a producer at CBS News. She moved to Westport in 1993 and has watched her two children, now 19 and 15, grow up at the Y. Midge is also an active volunteer in the community, having served on the board of the Westport Young Woman’s League, among other civic efforts. firstname.lastname@example.org