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The Top of the Mountain

I’m a pro at stretching and relaxing, but even if you’re not, you can be a part of the Newtown Yoga Festival. The all-day yoga extravaganza takes place this Saturday, August 23, from 9 am to 4 pm, at NYA. A “Yoga Buffet” served up by local yoga instructors provides the chance to try out several yoga practices in approximately 20-minute segments during the morning. Then, in the afternoon, join internationally and nationally recognized yoga teachers Ray Crist, Tiffany Maloney, and Jennifer Reis for some really special sessions. You might not get to stretch up in a field of sunflowers like Jennifer, but you can find you own field of dreams in the guided meditation she will lead, known as yoga Nidra. Plenty of vendors will be located in the courtyard. Don’t forget to BYOM — Bring Your Own Mat. Registration, $25 per person, and details can be found at www.newtownyogafestival.com.

Sue Shaw, president, and Candy Wain, creative coordinator, of Hearts of Hope Newtown Chapter, were scheduled to join Hearts of Hope Director Judy Pederson, and Norwalk Police Officer Phil Taborda and his mother, Olga Taborda, Friday morning, August 22, at the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital. The group was paying forward the love Officer Taborda felt when, as one of the first responders 12/14, he was honored last October with his own special Heart of Hope. He was so moved, that he visited the New Jersey fourth grader who had painted his Heart of Hope. (Hearts of Hope is spread through the creation of palm-sized, hand painted ceramic hearts that are given to those going through difficulties in life. Each Heart of Hope includes a message of caring from the painter.) Mrs Taborda, a 23-year breast cancer survivor and Whittingham Cancer Center volunteer, went with her son to New Jersey and was so touched by the program, she decided to spread the Hearts of Hope to cancer patients in Norwalk. One hundred Hearts of Hope were to be distributed on Friday morning, with Mrs Taborda and her son personally delivering many of them. The Newtown Chapter meets monthly, most of the year, at the Newtown United Methodist Church, to paint Hearts of Hope. No experience is necessary, and a small donation is all that is requested. For more information visit www.ourheartsofhope.org.

Longtime resident Karla Bernstein is getting ready to celebrate the opening of an exhibition of her photography at Visual Impact Gallery, 12 Finance Drive, Danbury (within Commerce Park), August 25 through October 23. The exhibition offers images from two of Karla’s photo collections, showing her love of the sea and the shoreline, and images from a recently completed yearlong project, of a photo a week for a year, from within a mile of her home.

A collection of nearly 1,000 paper cranes that nested temporarily at Newtown Congregational Church last year before being sent to Old South Church in Boston following the marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, have reportedly taken flight toward their new home. The Boston Globe reported on Monday morning that members of Old South Church had blessed the cranes a day earlier, during August 17 services, after church leaders decided that it was time for the cranes to move on to a new home: Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo., to help that community heal following the shooting by police of Michael Brown in the adjacent municipality of Ferguson, reportedly an unarmed teenager, on August 9. The origami peace cranes originated at Saron United Church of Christ in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., in honor of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. They first went to Pilgrim Christian Church in Chardon, Ohio, following the February 2012 shootings at that town’s high school. They arrived in Newtown shortly after 12/14. NCC member Diane Ciba hand delivered the cranes last year to the Boston church, which is located yards away from the marathon’s finish line.

Everybody has been busy enjoying the lovely summer days, or vacation plans have taken you away, putting charity donations on hold. But many in Newtown rely on the FAITH Food Pantry every day of the year. Right now, supplies are depleted at the pantry. While you are shopping for back to school supplies and treats, please pick up food items to drop off at FAITH, located in the basement of St John’s Episcopal Church on Washington Avenue, in the center of Sandy Hook. Donations are accepted Tuesdays, 10 am to noon, or Thursday evenings between 6 and 7:30 pm.

Oh, but here’s how you really know summer is waning — news from the school district. Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, has started a blog. It is located off of the school district’s main website, newtown.k12.ct.us. The first post is a letter sent out to school district parents, about parent involvement, transportation, active and engaged parents, safety and security, and communication. Don’t forget, he holds an open office hour starting at 6:30 am each weekday. I’ve never been an early bird, but if I had kittens I’d certainly take advantage of that. I highly suspect Dr Erardi is looking forward to his first day of the school year in Newtown. Are you ready for August 26?

 Education reporter Eliza Hallabeck is already working out her schedule for the first day of school. She’ll be around town snapping as many photos as is humanly possible for one person. She welcomes you to share your first day of school photos for a future print edition, or an online slideshow, by e-mailing them to Eliza@thebee.com by 5 pm, Wednesday, August 27.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the donation gauge for the Newtown Labor Day Parade, posted at the corner of South Main Street and Glover Avenue. The red mark has been steadily rising, but there is still a ways to go to reach the goal of $30,000. Yes, that is the cost of putting on our end of summer parade. Title Sponsor Newtown Savings Bank, and Platinum and Gold Level sponsors, as well as Event Sponsors, help offset the costs. But the Parade Committee counts on donations from residents to support the efforts, too. If the fabulous parade brings you joy, please visit www.newtownctlabordayparade.org and donate. There’s a lot of FPD — Fun Per Dollar — with this donation.

The cool nights recently have hinted that fall is on the way. Now I’m certain it is. I see that Blue Jay Orchards on Plumtrees Road in Bethel will open for apple picking Labor Day weekend. Apple picking sounds like a great afternoon wrap-up to attending the parade Labor Day morning, if you ask me.

I might be wrapping up this week’s column, but you know there will be more to report next week. Be sure to… Read me again.

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