The race began with a splash. This year’s 2014 Great Pootatuck Duck Race on May 24 drew a bustling crowd. Parents and children filled the river’s banks in Sandy Hook Center, lining fences along the water near The Foundry, and across the Church Hill Road bridge that spans the Pootatuck River, and even filling the lot behind Porco’s Karate Academy on Church Hill Road. A record number of 3,863 tickets were sold this year, and an equal number of yellow rubber ducks spilled from a backhoe bucket tipped over the railing at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to funding through the Books Heal Hearts program at C.H. Booth Library, said Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison, she and committee members Ross MacDonald, Janice Bernard, Yvonne Cech, Kim Weber, and Georgia Monaghan are able to present two days of well-known author author and illustrators to students and residents of Newtown. A day of visits to the Newtown schools by children’s literature luminaries — to include Gail Carson Levine, Alan Katz, Sara Darer Littman, Jennifer Thermes, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Yaccarino, Paul Meisel, and Joe McKendry — will take place on Friday, June 6. The school visits will be followed by a day of presentations for the public at Reed Intermediate School.
Kirsten Liniger, dressed as Dorothy and carting “Toto” in her basket, waves to passersby before Sunday’s screening of "The Wizard of Oz" at the Edmond Town Hall Theatre. The classic film marked the debut of the Sunday Cinema Series organized by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission and the town hall Board of Managers. The next screening in the series — a monthly event through the end of the year that will continue to celebrate films of 1939 — is June 29 with "Ninotchka" featuring Greta Garbo along with a Laurel & Hardy film "Flying Deuces."
Days before her 80th birthday on Sunday, May 18, Vernice “VJ” Murphy and her rescue dog Cooper went for a brisk stroll around the block. The daily walk is just part of an exercise routine that Ms Murphy says “keeps me young.” She also takes a body sculpting class, “Ultimate Conditioning” with instructor Jill Deierlein, at NYA Sports & Fitness three mornings a week. Laughing as she recalled the class at the NYA, Ms Murphy, thinking of her own age, said the fitness facility “has something for everyone.” With a lifelong belief in physical activity and a good diet, Ms Murphy has again begun her regular routine of NYA classes, but weekly dance class is now on hold due to a hip replacement in December.
C.H. Booth Library Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison, and committee members including author-illustrator Ross MacDonald of Newtown, Janice Bernard, Georgia Monaghan, Yvonne Cech, and CHB Young Adult Librarian Kim Young are encouraging writers and artists age 19 and under to take part in a contest that will build upon the June 6 and 7 experience of famous author/illustrator visits to Newtown. Original works of art, illustration, poetry, fiction, graphic novels, digital art, paintings, collages, prints, fabric art and photography will be accepted through August 30. Mixed media or three-dimensional pieces can be submitted via a clear photograph of the piece. Each piece must relate to the theme “What inspires me…”
Running under the names of Wing Nuts, A Wing and a Prayer, Wingin’ It, Winging It 4 D, and Shagnar, five teams of 12 runners each set out Friday morning, May 9, from Hull, Mass., on a 192-mile relay run to support Dylan’s Wings Of Change. They were among nearly 600 Ragnar Relay Cape Cod teams overall, racing for 30 hours to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod, to raise money for favorite charities.
Dylan’s Wings of Change is the foundation set up by Nicole and Ian Hockley to honor the memory of their son, Dylan, one of 20 children who perished 12/14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“Dylan had autism,” said his father, Ian Hockley, reflecting Monday, May 19, on the successful Cape Cod fundraiser.
Dancer Rahul Acharya told guests at the Natya Tarang Festival of Arts Indian Classical Dance Recital last weekend the story of an unfaithful lover caught in his affair. It was a 12th Century story of courtship, love trysts, and the two beloveds, one of whom became tangled in deceit. The performance was part of a recital presented in The Alexandria Room of Edmond Town Hall.
For some, the passage of time in this town is brief. Others settle in, leaving an imprint of their lives over the course of many years. Julie and Pete Stern fall into the latter category, many who know them would say. Through community interaction and support, they have quietly interlaced their fingers with those of Newtown people and organizations for the nearly half century that they have called this town “home.” They have served on town commissions, joined civil and social groups, volunteered in schools and youth groups, shared their knowledge with young people, and actively supported the C.H. Booth Library. Following a loose philosophy of wanting to be “a contributor, not a taker,” they have given time and talents to improve their lives and those of their fellow residents, however they could. Letting go of the hand of Newtown will not be easy when they leave on June 2 for their new home in Haverford, Penn., they said.
More than three dozen members of the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library, library staff, and fellow book sale volunteers crowded into the Old Board Room of the C.H. Booth Library Monday morning, May 19, to wish well to Julie and Pete Stern. The Sterns, who have volunteered with the Friends for many years sorting books, serving on the board, and, in Mr Stern’s case, representing the Friends on the board of trustees of the C.H. Booth Library, are moving to Pennsylvania as of June 2. (See related story.)
“They’ve done a phenomenal amount of work here. They are amazing, both of them,” commented Friends’ President Jim Maher, prior to the celebration.