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Ashley Abbatiello’s smile brightened under early afternoon sun where she stood on the corner of Glen Road and Church Hill Road outside Foundry Kitchen & Tavern. A few restaurant samples for sale that day, including Ethiopian popcorn and cider, benefited Sandy Hook Promise, a local grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about gun violence and prevention of gun-related deaths.
Behind her, and across the river lining Church Hill Road, were autumn-colored balloons tied to street lamps, and a canopy casting shade on musicians playing in the street outside Sandy Hook Hair Co. Crossing between stopped cars were residents visiting downtown businesses during the 7th Annual Passport to Sandy Hook.
From 11 am to 4 pm on October 7, Sandy Hook Center offered children’s activities, arts and crafts, live music and dance performances, food/refreshments, local business open house events, and a chance to win one of three gift baskets. Guests enjoyed a walking tour of businesses in the area during the 7th Annual Passport To Sandy Hook, a free event presented by Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP).
Standing on The Glen next to Sabrina Style were Peter Pinho and Kendal Reed with WPLR. Walking across the bridge near The Glen were Lenie and Curtis Urbina. They had paused to look at Julie Friend’s display promoting Museum in Our Streets, an evolving walking tour project for Sandy Hook that will include plaques offering a glimpse of the location’s history.
Up the hill were Andy Sachs, Kris Kling, and Jen Kelley with Coldwell Banker. Joining guests at their booth was Koda, a Newtown Strong Therapy Dog, with owner Liz Luzietti.
Across the street, Boy Scout Troop 170 members and parents sold popcorn as an annual fundraising event.
Among the many residents’ faces were local politicians out to greet the public.
In the rear parking lot of 100 Church Hill Road were Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue trucks suspending the American flag. Beneath its rippling red and white stripes was a booth set up to receive donations for FAITH Food Pantry. Another booth offered information about SHOP.
Thirty merchants contributed toward this year’s prize packages valued at more than $2,100. Those who attended Passport were given “passports,” which needed to be stamped at a number of locations before being turned in for a raffle drawing late Saturday afternoon. The gift baskets included dozens of gift certificates to local businesses, use of the Newtown Savings Bank suite at Webster Bank Arena and tickets for a Bridgeport Sound Tigers game, tickets to Rocktoberfest at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, music classes at Newtown Suzuki, tickets to the First Saturday Spaghetti Supper at Newtown United Methodist Church, a Christmas tree from Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue’s annual fundraiser, and passes to The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, among other prizes donated by merchants.
This year’s winners were: first place (a prize package valued at $932), Amanda Marchese; second place (prize package valued at $648), Karen Sando; and third place (prize package valued at $533), Lucia, Roberto, and Alex Rodriguez.
The next SHOP event will be the Annual Sandy Hook Halloween Walk, scheduled for Saturday, October 28, 11 am to 2 pm, rain or shine. Costumed children are invited to visit stores, businesses, and organizations within the area of Church Hill Road, Washington Avenue, Riverside Road and Glen Road for Halloween treats.
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue will be doing Stuff-A-Truck for FAITH Food Pantry.