May 24, 2018

Community Comes Out to Celebrate Cross Lane Playground Opening

From right to left, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Old Lyme Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Bob Dunn, Love Your Playground Committee member and Columbia Cascade Company Sales Manager (the company from which the playground equipment was purchased) David Catalino, and Love Your Playground Chairman Anna Reiter celebrate after cutting the ribbon declaring the new playground officially open.

The warmth of the sun was reflected in the smiling faces all around as more than 100 people of all ages gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Cross Lane Playground last Thursday.

The playground was the dream child of a small but dedicated group of, primarily, women, who had worked tirelessly for several years to make the universally-accessible playground a reality.  Calling their committee the “Lyme-Old Lyme Love Your Playground” group, they were all members of the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club (LOLJWC), which supported them throughout the project.

The finished playground, which comprises various features making it accessible to physically challenged children, is set upon a rubber tile surface offering additional safety to all.  It also includes a see-saw, slides, climbing bars, rope ladders and swings.  A fence and plantings are planned later in the year.  The total cost of the playground was $200,000, $50,000 of which was raised by the LOLJWC and the remainder given by the Town.

After cutting the ceremonial ribbon, ‘Love Your Playground’ Chairman Anna Reiter thanked everyone — “our sponsors and the community” — for coming. Then in words that vastly understated the enormous effort that had gone into the creation of the playground, she summed up the process the group had followed as simply, “We dreamed it up … and we got it done.”

She singled out Old Lyme resident David Catalano, who was not only the playground equipment sales manager for Columbia Cascade Company (the company that supplied the equipment) but also had served on the committee, for special thanks.  Reiter noted he had not only been primarily responsible for “putting the playground in,” but also had “put up with us changing our minds … regularly.”

From left to right, David Catalino (Sales Manager for Columbia Cacade Company and Love Your Playground Committee member), Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Love Your Playground Chairman Anna Reiter, and Old Lyme Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Bob Dunn.

An effusive Old Lyme Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Bob Dunn spoke next, expressing his deep appreciation to all the members of the Playground Committee, and saying, “I’m so proud to see a group of people with an idea about something long overdue making it happen.”  He added, “I think your reward is all the smiles on the faces of all the children and parents here.”

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder offered, “Special thanks to the Junior Women who started the whole thing. They came to the town a couple of years ago and really have done all the heavy lifting.”  She noted, “What you see here today is what they’ve done — it’s a demonstration of what can happen when a community works together,” and then commented to laughter, “Plus they stayed within budget.”

Colorful balloons decorated the playground for the opening celebrations.

Reemsnyder also gave special praise to Catalano commenting, “He worked so hard,” and declaring, “This wouldn’t have happened without him.”  In the same breath, she added sincere thanks to Reiter, who had spearheaded the project from its inception.

With youngsters all around itching to try all aspects of the playground, Reemanyder drew the formal proceedings to a close with an invitation to all to go and “Enjoy the playground” … an invitation that was readily accepted!

 

 

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FloGris Museum Throws a Perfect Party to Welcome New Director, Becky Beaulieu

The new Director of the Florence Griswold Museum Becky Beaulieu greets guests at Thursday’s reception to welcome her to the community. Her husband Patrick Ford stands to her right.

UPDATED 04/16/18: More than 250 people turned out Thursday evening to welcome the new Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, Rebekah (Becky) Beaulieu, at a reception held at the Museum.  Beaulieu succeeds Jeffrey Andersen, who served in the position for more than 41 years prior to his recent retirement.  Beaulieu and Andersen overlapped in the position during February to ensure a smooth management transition.

Beaulieu and her husband Patrick Ford stood in the foyer of the Museum greeting each guest individually as they arrived.  A long, but extremely cheerful, line of people waiting to meet the new Director and her husband soon developed.  Beaulieu and Ford gave each guest as much time as desired maintaining a sense of calm despite the large numbers milling in the foyer.

The new Director of the Florence Griswold Museum Becky Beaulieu listens as Museum Trustee President Ted Hamilton welcomes her.

In the formal part of the evening, Museum Trustee President Ted Hamilton opened the proceedings, saying, “It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the new Director of our Museum.”  He reminisced about how, roughly 18 months ago, “Jeff Andersen, our Director of 40 years, told me that he wanted to retire.” Hamilton commented in a deadpan voice, “After I picked myself off the floor …” prompting roars of laughter, and then continued on a serious note, “… I knew that we had a big task in front of us.”

Search Committee member David Dangremond stands to the left of Museum Director Becky Beaulieu while Chair of the Search Committee John Noyes stands to her right.

Hamilton continued, “For the last year, we conducted a search for a new Director to replace Jeff. I appointed a Search Committee with John Noyes as the Chairman of the Committee. I asked six Museum Trustees to help him. The Trustees are David Dangremond, Lee Prichard, Andy Baxter, Carolyn Wakeman, Jeff Cooley, and Andrea Inglis. I was an Ex-officio Member of the Committee.”

The process was lengthy, Hamilton explained, “First, we searched for a Search Firm, which specializes in Museum and Not-for-Profit Organization Searches. We interviewed 10 firms and choose Korn Ferry, a Global Search Firm. They considered over 100 people throughout the world. We interviewed about 20 people to come up with five finalists.” He continued, “It was a rigorous and very thoughtful search. The team worked very hard for many hours each week.”

Museum Trustee President Ted Hamilton stands alongside the new Museum Director Becky Beaulieu.

Hamilton concluded,  “Our investment in time, work and money paid off. One person was head and shoulders above the rest – we knew that we found the best person for the job – Becky Beaulieu. Our hard work, worked out for us – I hope it does for her too.”

He then asked everyone present to welcome Beaulieu and her husband to the Museum and the community, ending with the words, ” Fellow Members, I present Becky Beaulieu, our new Director!”

Newly appointed Director fo the Florence Griswold Museum Becky Beaulieu stands for a photo with her husband Patrick Ford.

Responding to Hamilton’s warm welcome, Beaulieu spoke directly to the Museum’s members saying she recognized that they serve as “ambassadors or emissaries” for the Museum.  She said she hoped to take the Museum to “new heights” by “working alongside you [the members.]” Then, after thanking the members for their ongoing support, she expressed her gratitude to everyone present for making her and her husband feel, “unbelievably welcome.”

Guests galore gather in the Florence Griswold Museum to welcome new Director Becky Beaulieu.

She ended her remarks by saying simply, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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The End of an Era … but the Journey Continues: Jeff Andersen Retires From the FloGris Museum After 41 Years

Retiring Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeff Andersen stands between State Senator Paul Formica (left) and State Rep. Devin Carney holding the State Citation with which the two legislators had presented him.

There wasn’t a parking spot to be found Sunday afternoon at the Florence Griswold Museum, nor come to that at the Lyme Art Association. And the reason?  Despite torrential rain, it seemed as if the whole town had come out to say a fond farewell to Jeff Andersen, the much beloved Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, who was retiring after an amazing 41 years in that position.

Jeff Anderson stands with Charter Trustee George Willauer and New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice alongside the Willard Metcalf painting, “Kalmia,” which the board has now dedicated to Andersen in honor of his 41 years service.

The Museum hosted a wonderful party to celebrate Jeff and his wife, Maureen McCabe, and both Marshfield House and the tent situated in the courtyard outside were packed almost to capacity. Federal, state and local dignitaries were there along with Museum trustees, staff, volunteers, friends and pretty much anyone who had ever had a connection with Jeff, Maureen or the Museum — well over 400 people in total.

The formal segment of the event was emceed by Charter Trustee Jeff Cooley, who opened the proceedings by introducing Senator Richard Blumenthal. Describing the Florence Griswold as “a world-class Museum,” Blumenthal went on to present Andersen with a Certificate of Recognition from the US Senate, which he noted to considerable laughter, “was approved by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote.” He thanked Andersen warmly for, “Your immense public service … and your values.”

State Rep. Devin Carney says, “It all started with just one … and that was, you, Jeff.”

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) and State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) stepped up next the podium and Carney noted poignantly, “It all started with just one … and that was you, Jeff.”  Carney was referring to the fact that 41 years ago, Andersen was the Museum’s first — and only – employee whereas now the Museum has 20 staff, 255 volunteers, 3,000 members and 80,000 visitors annually.

Saying, “I truly want to thank you, Jeff, for doing so much good for the economy as a whole,” Carney pointed out that many of the visitors to the Museum, “come, stay and shop,” in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, adding, “You did a great job at the Museum … but you also stopped a train!”  This latter was a reference to the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposal to route a high speed train through the center of Old Lyme, which Andersen actively worked to defeat.

State Sen. Paul Formica reads the Citation from the state in honor of Jeff Andersen.

Formica then presented Andersen with a Citation from the Connecticut House and Senate, which recognized Andersen for his “passionate dedication directing, restoring and revitalizing the Florence Griswold Museum,” noting, “For 40 years you shared your vision and inspired countless volunteers and workers to help fulfill this vision expanding exhibits, gardens and collections making it into the reputable attraction we know today.” The Citation concluded, “We want to thank you for your tireless leadership and congratulate you on your retirement.”

Following the legislators was Old Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who immediately confessed, “Frankly, I have to say I didn’t think there would ever be a time when Jeff wouldn’t be here.”  She continued, “It’s good for him [Jeff] and all of us to be aware of all you have done.  You’re part of our DNA, you’re the heart of our culture,” and then announced that the Town of Old Lyme was declaring Feb. 11 as “Jeff Andersen Day,”  adding to loud applause and much laughter that it was a unanimous vote.

Andersen mingled freely with the more than 400 guests gathered to say their goodbyes.

She read a Proclamation from the Town which stated, “Since he began working with the Museum in 1976, the Florence Griswold Museum has grown from a small seasonal house museum where he was the only staff member to a nationally recognized center for American art.” The Proclamation also noted that, “Jeff is recognized today as the pre-eminent scholar on the historic Lyme Art Colony … and has helped grow the Museum’s modest collection of works of American Impressionism into a deep and distinguished regional collection of American art.”  Describing Andersen as a “visionary Leader,” with a “thoughtful devotion to excellence,” Reemsnyder concluded, still reading from the Proclamation, that Andersen’s, “tireless advocacy for the Museum and its uniquely Connecticut story has transformed the Florence Griswold Museum into one of the state’s most important and beloved cultural destinations.”

Jeff Cooley (center) emceed thw formal proceedings at the party. His wife Betsy stands to his left.

Charter Trustees George Willauer and Cooley then unveiled the beautiful 1905 painting titled, “Kalmia,” by Willard L. Metcalf to which a plaque had been attached stating that it now honored Andersen’s 41 years of service during which he “transformed” the Museum “through his unswerving devotion to preserving the legacy of the Lyme Art Colony.”

Jeff Andersen addresses the at capacity audience.

A clearly emotional Andersen then addressed the audience, which by now was overflowing the tent, saying simply, “We are feeling the love …”  He gave a long list of thank you’s, noting that he and his wife had, “felt such affection and regard since announcing his retirement.” Andersen then shared his opinion that, “whatever you give to the Museum – whether time, talent or money – it is returned to you many fold.”  He said, “Not many get the opportunity to have a career in one place [in his case, from age 23 to 64] and for that I am deeply grateful and humble.  Stressing, “Be assured the future is bright,” he commented almost wistfully, “What an incredible journey this has been … but the journey continues.”

Jeff Andersen and his wife Maureen McCabe applaud the pianist after he played a tune to which they had danced together at the very end of the party.

And with that, Cooley proposed a toast to Jeff and Maureen, glasses were raised, Prosecco was drunk and then vigorous applause and loud cheers erupted all around.

Florence Griswold Museum docent Linda Ahnert points out a detail from the newspaper cutting to fellow doscents.  The cutting announced Andersen’s arrival as the Museum’s first director — and then only employee — 41 years ago.

We here at LymeLine.com can only add our deep and personal thanks to Jeff and Maureen for an extraordinary career in which so much given with such incredible warmth and humility.  Rep. Carney said it best so we’ll end by echoing his words, “The Florence Griswold is truly a treasure, but so are you … Miss Florence would be really proud of you.”

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A Rally to Remember — Women (Mostly) Gather to Call Attention to Power of Peaceful Protest

Three generations fighting for freedom: from left to right, Dale Griffith of Ivoryton takes time out from the rally for a photo with her five-year-old granddaughter, Eva Levonick, and her daughter (Eva’s mom) Becky Petersen, both of Old Lyme.

More than 400 warmly dressed people gathered Saturday morning under clear skies on the forecourt of the Two Wrasslin’ Cats cafe in East Haddam to stand in solidarity with all the other Sister Marches taking place all over the country … and beyond.  The event was organized by Together We Rise CT (TWRCT) and facilitated by Theresa Govert, founder and chair of TWRCT.

Govert, pictured above, spoke passionately to the assembled crowd, which spanned both age and gender, reminding members that it was precisely one year since President Trump took office and to look back on all the things his presidency had changed and to be cognizant of all the things that are in line for change.  She emphasized the need at all times for peaceful protest and was emphatic about never responding to violence.

Govert is a recently returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer. She served for three years in Botswana, where she worked with her community to organize thousands for a national campaign to end gender-based violence, started a small business as an alternative economic employment opportunity for female sex workers and presented to participants of the White House Mapathon on the importance of free, accessible data.

In 2016, she was selected to receive the prestigious John F. Kennedy Service Award, awarded every five years to six individuals.

Christine Palm gave an impassioned speech to the attentive crowd.

The keynote speaker was Chester resident Christine Palm, who is Women’s Policy Analyst for the General Assembly’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and also principal of Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC.

Palm opened by reminding those gathered that, “One year ago, many people predicted the Women’s March would fizzle out — that we couldn’t sustain the momentum,” but then pointed out that, in fact, the opposite has happened, and, “In this past year, it’s only grown broader and deeper and more ferocious and more inclusive, and now nothing coming out of Washington escapes our notice, or our resistance.”

Noting, “It has not escaped our notice that this administration is defunding programs for veterans, kicking brave transgendered soldiers out of the military, and attacking women’s reproductive rights  that have been in place for decades,” Palm added, “We have paid attention to the fracking, back-stabbing … money-grubbing and gerrymandering,” before declaring, “The Women’s March has grown to encompass it all.”

Recalling the words of the renowned African-American civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, who lived locally in Chester, Palm said, “There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us,” pointing out, “That’s why we’re all still here, a year later.”

After thanking all those attending for “paying attention to what’s going on in our fractured, frightened world,” and acknowledging the work of all “the new, well organized progressive groups,” Palm expressed her gratitude to, “the hard-core folks who have kept vigil at this enlightened business, Two Wrasslin’ Cats, through rain and sweltering heat, every Saturday, for a year.”

Palm urged everyone not to give up, commenting on the fact that for the older people present, “it seems, we’ve been boycotting, and protesting, and working to right what is wrong,” for a very long time, but she noted, “We are buoyed not only by one another, but in remarkable new ways, by a smart, hardworking and committed group of young people.”  She thanked the Millennials for their “passion and energy,” which she determined, “cannot be overestimated.”

Palm gave a list of practical steps out of which she proposed everyone present could find at least one to follow.  Her suggestions included, “If you’re old enough to vote, do it. Don’t forget the municipal elections, which  have been lost and won by a handful of votes. If you are unaffiliated, please consider registering with a party so you can vote in the primary,” and “If you have a driver’s license and a car, offer to drive an elderly voter to the polls in November.”

She continued, “If you have any disposable income, support candidates you believe in. If you can walk, knock on doors. If you can hear, make telephone calls. If you like to cook, make food for a house party. If you speak a language other than English, offer to translate for an immigrants’ rights group. If you can write, pen an op-ed or a letter to the editor. If you teach, welcome difficult conversations in the classroom.”

Finally, she offered the idea, “If you can speak into a mic, testify at the Capitol,” before closing with the rousing call to all to, “Stay vigilant.  But stay hopeful, too,” and …

Pink “pussy” hats were much in evidence at the rally.

… “Above all, stay together.”

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So Long, Skip! Sibley Steps Down After 16 Years as Old Lyme Selectman

Final Farewell. Old Lyme Selectman Arthur ‘Skip’ Sibley stands for one last time with fellow Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (left) and First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who together serve as the current board of selectmen through Nov. 30 when Sibley retired from the board.

Current, former and newly-appointed board of selectmen members, other Old Lyme board and committee members, friends, family and Old Lyme townspeople gathered in the Meeting Room at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall Nov. 20 to say farewell to Old Lyme Selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley, who was stepping down from the board of selectmen after serving what Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder fondly described as, “16 long years.”

Reemsnyder read from a citation presented by the Town of Old Lyme to Sibley noting that, “During Skip’s tenure, he played an integral role in major projects, including a renovated and expanded Memorial Town Hall, and Regional District 18’s renovation of Mile Creek, Center, Lyme Consolidated, and Middle Schools, followed a decade later by a re-designed high school.” She added, “Other projects during his decade and a half of service were the development of Town Woods Park, the closure of our Landfill, Church Corner and  Lyme Street Reconstruction, relocation of the school district’s Bus Barn to a non-residential area, the dredging of the Black Hall & Four Mile Rivers, and the design and construction of a brand new Hains Park Boathouse.”

Continuing her overview of the innumerable changes that had happened in Old Lyme over the past 16 years, Reemsnyder explained, “With Skip as Selectman, Town voters approved the formation of both Open Space and Sound View Commissions and adopted a Code of Ethics as a new Town Ordinance,” adding, “The Town hired its first Finance Director, installed Stop signs at the intersection of Lyme Street and Library Lane, launched a GIS system and a new Town website, and witnessed the consolidation of our Probate Court. We “solarized” the Town and became part of a Health District.”

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder reads a citation from the Town of Old Lyme to Selectman Sibley.

Reemsnyder commented, “With Skip as Selectman, we have bid farewell to Irene Carnell, Town Clerk  for 32 years;  Walter Kent, Assessor for 38 years; and Bea McLean, Town Treasurer for 52 years,” concluding, “Skip Sibley joins that distinguished list of public servants as we thank him for the legacy he leaves after 16 years of service as our Selectman.”

After an extended standing ovation for Sibley, Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell rose and spoke warmly of his long friendship with Sibley.  Russell recalled that he and Sibley were at high school together in Middletown, Conn., where their respective fathers served on different boards in the city. Russell described Sibley as “a fighter,” noting, “He’s fought for the Town of Old Lyme,” but saying that, all the while, “It’s been fun [working with Sibley.]

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, who served “a good many years,” alongside Sibley noted that “When Skip did something, he always did it well … and for the betterment of the town.  Griswold praised Sibley saying, “We can be proud of what has happened to this town.  You weren’t just a part-time guy … you were very involved and knew your stuff.”

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, who six years ago joined the board on which Sibley and Reemsnyder already served, said, “I looked up to both of you so much … your experience was worth so much.”  She thanked Sibley for his service and then State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) stepped forward to present Sibley with a State Citation sponsored by himself and State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th).

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) presents Selectman Sibley with a citation from the State of Connecticut.

Carney opened by offering Sibley, “Congratulations on your retirement,” which generated a chuckle around the room. Carney continued, “We could use more people like you in Hartford,” adding, “You’ve really focused on making the quality of life better for the townspeople of Old Lyme.”  He then read the citation from the Capitol, which was in recognition of Sibley’s 16 years of service on the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen, and stated, “For the past 16 years, you have worked tirelessly to maintain and improve Old Lyme’s strong quality of life and ensure the people’s voices are heard. Through your years of dedication and hard work as a community leader, you have truly made a difference to so many and helped to make Old Lyme one of the greatest towns in Connecticut.”

Sibley gives his final speech as Selectman of Old Lyme.

After another long standing ovation, Sibley himself addressed the audience thanking them for being there and saying, “It’s been a great run,” but stressing, “It’s been a team … it wasn’t me … I’ve just put together groups of people with different skill sets … it has to be a team effort.”  Sibley spoke warmly of the residents of Old Lyme expressing his view that, “This is a fantastic community,” commenting, “This whole Republican/Democrat thing should melt away in town politics, [because] we’re all looking to spend money wisely.”

 

After all the speeches, Sibley enjoys a moment with his family members and First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder. From left to right, (son) Dustin, (wife) Sheree, (father) Arthur, Skip, Bonnie Reemsnyder, and (daughter) Lexi. Missing from photo, (daughter) Amanda.

A smiling Sibley concluded, “I’m not going away, I’m not moving … I’m going to be available,” adding, “I must thank my family. They’ve put up with a lot of nights [with my absence.] I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

And after yet another standing ovation, the official ceremony ended and the attendees mingled while enjoying some celebratory cake.

Skip stands with his wife Sheree and two of their three children, Lexi and Dustin.

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Lyme-Old Lyme HS Students Host Rousing Veteran’s Day Assembly, Filled With Emotion

Last Friday, when many public schools gave students a vacation day in honor of Veterans Day, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools took a different approach. With students attending school for a full day, LOL Schools chose to honor veterans in their community in a highly respectful and meaningful morning of ceremonies that begin in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School with a hearty breakfast.  After a ceremony there, the veterans moved to the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) where, after a short reception, they were ushered into the school’s auditorium.

After a welcome by Assistant Principal Jeanne Manfredi, colors were presented and then Emma Sked led the Pledge of Allegiance and asked for a moment of silence in honor of all the nation’s veterans.

Senior Emily Rivera (pictured above) gave opening remarks in which she spoke fondly of her life as the child of military parents and how her dream now is to pursue a career in the US Air Force.

Lyme-Old Lyme Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #1467 Commander Larry Olsen (right in photo above) was the first guest speaker. He described the origin of Veterans Day and spoke of his deep pride in the strength and integrity of the American military.  Olsen went on to present LOLHS student Alex Williams (left in photo above) with the Voice of Democracy Essay Award and Williams then read an excerpt from his essay.

The screening of a poignant video titled, “A Soldier’s Story,” featuring Old Lyme resident James Keenan followed. A deep hush fell over the auditorium as Keenan described his experience in World War II’s European area of operations in which he initially fought and was then captured, held under horrific conditions in a prison camp, transported in a truck packed with other prisoners almost to the point of suffocation for three long days and nights, before ultimately being liberated by the Allies.

After Brynn McGlinchey and Bella Hine had read the names of the fallen from Lyme and Old Lyme in all wars from World War I onwards, the band changed the somber tone of the proceedings when they struck up the Armed Forces Salute.  Members of each branch of the military stood when their respective part of the Salute was played.

At the end of the music, Caroline LeCour proudly stepped forward to introduce her grandfather, Morris LeCour (pictured below), who offered his own remembrances of his military service.

Following  a spirited rendition of ‘America The Beautiful’ by the combined LOLHS chorus and band, all the individual veterans present were acknowledged one by one.

The colors were retrieved and as the color guard climbed the auditorium stairs, physics teacher and US Navy veteran Glenn Elliott (pictured above) proudly saluted.

After the ceremony, Manfredi (left in photo above) took the opportunity to chat with Emily Rivera (right) and her parents, while each veteran filed out and was presented with a gift bag as a remembrance of the day.

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Honoring Those Who Serve … or Served

Firing a three-round salute to honor all US Veterans.

Despite the bitterly cold weather last Friday, a brief but touching ceremony to honor the nation’s veterans was held outside Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall led by members of the Lymes’ Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #1467.

Larry Olsen, Commander of Post #1467, (at left in photo above) gave introductory remarks and offered prayers.  He was joined by fellow VFW members in uniform, the newly-re-elected Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (in white jacket in photo above) and a number of local townspeople.

A three-round salute was fired and then a Lyme-Old Lyme High School student (in red jacket in photo below) played ‘Taps’ followed by a second student playing the echo.

Finally, when the ceremony was concluded, the veterans were no doubt relieved to go into the town hall for some well-earned refreshments … and warmth!

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Reemsnyder, Nosal Re-elected; Kerr Takes Third Spot on Old Lyme Board of Selectmen,

Incumbent Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal hug after both were announced respectively as the top two vote-getters in the board of selectmen race.  Both therefore retain their seats.

Democrat Bonnie Reemsnyder swept to a fourth term as Old Lyme Selectwoman with a convincing 1,520 votes over her Republican opponent Judith Read, who polled 1,248 votes. Noting, “It was quite a race,” Reemsnyder commented, “We had a formidable campaign, [against a] formidable opponent. I would not take her [Read’s] candidacy lightly.”

Incumbent selectwoman, fellow Democrat Mary Jo Nosal, received the second highest number of votes with 1,478 while Republican Chris Kerr took 1,266 votes. Since Kerr received more votes than Read, he will take the third spot on the board of selectmen vacated by selectman Arthur “Skip” Sibley, who chose not to run again.  Reemsnyder spoke highly of Kerr saying that since he has served on the board of finance for many years, “He’s familiar with what’s going on.”  Nosal added, “I’m looking forward to working with Chris.”

A smiling Bonnie Reemsnyder celebrates her election to a fourth term as Old Lyme First Selectwoman with BJ Bernblum (right) who was also re-elected to the board of finance. Chris Kerr (rear, left) was elected to the board of selectmen and becomes its newest member.

Having stood outside the polling station since 5:30 a.m., an exhausted Reemsnyder was clearly pleased with the result declaring, “I am very excited — I’m delighted to be continuing to serve Old Lyme.”

Similarly, Nosal summed up her feelings in one word, “Exhilarated. “She added, “I’m very happy.  We had a fabulous team that worked so hard.”  Finally, Nosal expressed thanks to, “All the voters who came out to support us,” while also noting, “Judy ran an excellent race.”

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Everyone Loves the Lyme Parade!

Smoke billows into the air immediately after the firing of muskets during the parade. Photo by B.A. Harris.

The sun shone, the band played, and the muskets boomed as Lyme held its annual Independence Day parade yesterday.

The parade heads down the hill towards the Hamburg Cove Yacht Club. Photo by B.A. Harris.

Each segment of the crowd eagerly awaited the parade’s arrival …

Looking down on the parade from atop a tank! Photo by T. Noyes.

and then cheered loudly and clapped enthusiastically as the parade approached.

Camp Clare campers added bright colors and youthful smiles to the parade. Photo by B.A. Harris.

Founded by the late Dr. William Irving as an impromptu event for his immediate family in 1958, this small town parade has now grown into something that draws a large crowd of not only residents but also many visitors from further afield.

Traveling in vintage style …

Yet it remains a delightfully casual affair that still marches proudly over Hamburg Cove each Independence Day led by soldiers firing their muskets, dressed in costumes from yesteryear.

Campers at Camp Clare gathered for a photo before the parade began. Photo by T. Noyes.

Also gathered for a photo were the firemen of Lyme.

Lyme’s fearless firemen stand in line for a pre-parade photo. Photo by T. Noyes.

Back to the parade proper, and George Willauer carried important cargo …

George Willauer drove the car carrying this year’s Grand Marshal.

namely, this year’s Grand Marshal, who was …

Lyme Public Hall President William Denow was the Grand Marshal. He is also a member of the Lyme Garden Club and volunteers for numerous other organizations in town including the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the Lyme Cemetery Gang.

His fans at the Lyme Public Hall were out in force …

Lyme Public Hall and Lyme Land Trust members waved enthusiastically from the balcony of Lyme Public Hall, where an exhibition honoring the organization’s 50th anniversary was being held.

Other marchers included members of the Lyme Garden Club …

The ladies of the Lyme Garden Club are an always present parade participant. Photo by B.A. Harris.

the Lyme Fire Department …

Lady Liberty …

Lady Liberty proudly held her torch high as she was driven along the parade route.  Photo by B.A. Harris.

the four-man, hometown band …

The best (and only!) band in the parade played a selection of patriotic tunes. The popular jazz combo was missing for the first year in as many years as anyone can remember tuba player Stu Ingersol of Essex, who passed away this past spring.

George Washington, …

George Washington took a turn at the wheel.

whose passenger was …

Betsy Ross waved her flag and extended Independence Day wishes to all.

As always the military half track driven by Bruce Noyes took its place in the parade.

Tammy Noyes waves from the top of the military vehicle she and husband Bruce Noyes own.

as did vintage cars galore …

Antique cars made for a fine procession. Photo by J. Ballachino.

and still more …

This splendid automobile pulled a trio of bears … Photo by J. Ballachino.

Lauren and Brian Girasoli were there, decked in red variations for their first married July 4th parade …

Lauren and Brian Girasoli. Photo by M. Dickey.

Some sore-footed bears also joined the march in a vintage wheelchair courtesy of the Lyme Ambulance Association.

A pram with a purpose — Lyme Ambulance Association took the opportunity to publicize their upcoming Square Dance on Friday, July 7. Photo by M. Dickey.

And one poor pup was so traumatized by the musket fire that he refused to walk when the 15-minute event was over and had to be carried like a tired toddler.

Liz Wilson loyally carries her dog, who had been somewhat perturbed by the musket fire, to a safe refuge at the end of the parade. Photo by M. Dickey.

And then it was all over — until next year!

 

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Old Lyme Property Transactions are Back!

One of the immeasurable joys  — well, actually this one is distinctly measurable — of having a summer intern is that he kindly goes around picking up things that I have dropped. I’m, of course, using that expression figuratively … specifically, in this case, I mean Jacob has been quietly working away in the Old Lyme Town Hall in his spare moments and has now managed to catch up for us with records of all the Old Lyme property transactions in 2017!

We have more to do, including the Lyme property transaction for 2017, because we were way behind with all property transactions, but this is a terrific start — so thank you sincerely, Jacob!

Here’s the link to the 2017 Property Transactions — enjoy!

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Reemsnyder, Nosal Seeking Re-election to Old Lyme’s Board of Selectmen in November

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, a Democrat, plans to run again in November for the position she has held for the past five and a half years.

In an exclusive interview with LymeLine.com, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (D) has announced her intention to run for a fourth term in November of this year along with fellow incumbent Democratic Selectwoman MaryJo Nosal, with whom she has campaigned successfully for the past three elections.

Reemsnyder told LymeLine.com that she felt she and Nosal together had accomplished a great deal during their tenure by focusing on four broad areas of action.  These were, firstly, projects, which she described as, “Getting things done;” secondly, setting up systems “that will continue on after our tenure,”in a wide variety of areas; thirdly, “support initiatives that add to the quality of life for everyone in Old Lyme;” and finally, “improving customer advocacy and support.”

Democrat MaryJo Nosal will run again in November for the position of Old Lyme Selectwoman.

Reemsnyder went on to give detailed examples of activities she and Nosal had successfully completed under each heading.  In the ‘Projects’ category, she mentioned the Rogers Lake Dam and associated fish ladder, closure of the Town’s landfill, improvements at Sound View including new sidewalks, ADA crosswalks, paving, and parking payment kiosks, and the rebuilding of the Fred Emerson Boathouse at Hains Park.  She noted that the Sound View Improvements Project was 80 percent funded by a federal grant and the boathouse project 50 percent funded by a STEAP grant.

Under the systems heading, Reemsnyder highlighted how the introduction of centralized purchasing in town hall and enhanced cleaning schedule of town buildings had improved service without raising costs.  She also noted that maintenance improvements have resulting in the hiring of a Facilities Manager, who oversees a regular maintenance schedule on all town buildings and improvements in the grounds around town hall. The introduction of new technology under Reemsnyder’s watch has allowed online permit processing for land use permits, including building, zoning, fire marshal and possibly, in the future, health.

In terms of quality of life projects, Reemsnyder cited Lymes’ Senior Center improvements that have resulted in the hiring of a full time Senior Center Director and increased usage of the facility each year by seniors in Lyme and Old Lyme.  She also mentioned the installation of art displays in town hall, the introduction of a ‘No Smoking’ policy in town buildings and beaches, the increased use of town hall space for community meetings, and the establishment of the Rogers Lake Weeds Committee.

Finally, in the improving customer advocacy and support category, Reemsnyder listed some of her and Nosal’s achievements as the increase in the Town’s surplus from 16 to 23 percent, an improvement in work relations with both the Town of Lyme and Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, the establishment of two special funds — one for road improvements and the second for town buildings — to plan for the future maintenance and unexpected costs, and finally the vigorous opposition to the proposed high-speed rail bypass through Old Lyme.

Asked why she was running again, Reemsnyder said there are still a number of projects in the works that she and Nosal, “want to see through.” She said these include the Academy Lane Fire Dock, Sound View improvements, wastewater management in Sound View, the Mile Creek bridge and the LED street-lighting project.

Reemsnyder continued, “I think I have been very pro-active for people,” commenting, “I have been very communicative,” before adding, “When people call, I try to respond as soon as possible.”

And then she concluded cheerfully, “And most important, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve really enjoyed serving the people of Old Lyme.”

Editor’s Note: It should be noted that Reemsnyder supplied us with a lengthy list of her administration’s achievements, but we were only able to include a selection of them in this article.

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Studio 80’s ‘Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017’ on View Through October

View of the Sculpture Grounds at Studio 80 where the Opening Reception for Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 will be hosted on June 10. Three works by Gilbert Boro can be seen in the photo.

Opening Reception Features Live Performances by GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project 

Gilbert Boro, owner and sculptor at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme, is hosting an Opening Reception on Saturday, June 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. for two new exhibitions on his property, Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 and The Golden Hour. All are welcome to attend the reception at which light refreshments will be served.

During the Opening Reception, there will be two live, outdoor performances at 6 and 7 p.m. by the GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project. All are welcome to attend the reception, watch the dance performances and wander the beautiful gardens and on-site gallery to view the works.

GUSTO Dance & River Valley Dance Project will present two live performances on Saturday, June 10, at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds.

Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 follows on naturally from last year’s extremely successful juried exhibition of the same name , which drew large crowds and had to be extended into October to meet public demand.  This new exhibition on the grounds adjoining Boro’s studio and inside the Emily Seward Boro (ESB) Gallery on the property features works created by 17 widely acclaimed sculptors interspersed among Boro’s own sculptures, along with works by 22 other contributing artists.  More than 30 sculptors from across the country responded to the Call for Entries submitting some 60 works.

Boro’s expansive Sculpture Gardens are located on 4.5 acres of his residence on historic Lyme Street in the heart of Old Lyme, Conn.  The beautifully landscaped grounds slope down toward the Lieutenant River offering a unique en plein air experience for the exhibition, which combines both large- and small-scale contemporary sculptures. Many of the works, which are in a variety of media, are for sale.

In Love with an Idea’ is the signature mixed media piece in Susan Hickman’s ‘The Golden Hour’ exhibition on view in the ESB Gallery at the Sculpture Grounds during Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

A second exhibition will be on view in the ESB Gallery located on the Studio 80 grounds during the Showcase. “The Golden Hour” will feature mixed media works by talented indoor artist Susan Hickman, who was born a twin in rural Ohio.  She grew up in a small town and went on to study graphic design and photography at Ohio University.

Hickman moved to New York for a year before making her way up to the New England area where she has spent the last 15 years.  She is currently a resident artist of Hygienic Gallery in New London.  An eclectic mixed media artist working with paper, acrylic, ink, oils, found objects, graphic design, clothing design, photography and more, Hickman has also owned and managed several small galleries in New London including DEW ART Gallery, TAKEOUT Gallery and Down Gallery in Mystic.

She utilizes studio waste, discarded paintings, and found textiles as well as new ones, thus creating a restorative process, making something new from the past. She enjoys experimenting with texture and color and finds making art of any kind an exploration and an escape.

The sculptors and the title(s) of their work(s) included in the Showcase are as follows:
Michael Alfano • Fox
Greg Bailey • Green Descent
Henneke Beaumont • Connected-Disconnected
Brooke Bofill • Tension, Reveal
Jerry Erlich • Third Wheel
Denis Folz • Structured Form 1

‘Amulet’ by Gints Grinbergs is the signature piece of Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

Gints Grinbergs • Amulet, Stainless Steel Globes
Deborah Hornbake • Leap
David Judelson • Pablo
Elizabeth Knowles & William Thielen • Locating
Carlin Morris • Untitled
Christ Plaisted • Victorious Vine
Marcia Raff • 3’s a Crowd
Janet Rutkowski • Cymbalic Journey
Lisa Simonds • Silueta
Matthew Weber • Cedar Shingles & Shim Stacks
Melanie Zibit • Echo

The signature piece of the exhibition is Amulet by Gints Grinbergs, who works with a variety of metals, including copper, bronze, and stainless steel, to create open forms.  Welding metal spheres and partial spheres, he creates modern structures, for indoors or out. Fascinated by pictures taken by the Hubble telescope and electron microscopes, Grinbergs makes associations with galaxies and molecular structures. The combination of a modern metal structure with rough, natural stone make these works unique sculptural forms.

Grinbergs has a BFA and a BA. in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and has studied at Massachusetts College of Art and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His work has been featured at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park; Michael Beauchemin Gallery, Boston; and Lever House Gallery, New York, N.Y. and is Included in private and corporate collections throughout North America.

‘Green Descent’ by Greg Bailey is a featured piece in Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

Greg Bailey’s Green Descent is a striking work featuring elongated cones creating a continuum in the shape of an arc.  Bailey comments, “I am more than halfway through my life and besides some fleeting glimpses of awakening, I remain to be a predominantly unconscious individual. I am surprised that I have not grown past being manipulated by advertisements, angered by the news, or frustrated by the people around me. My hope is that by the end of my days I can learn to be present and at peace.”

He adds, “The production of art offers opportunities for discovering unconscious motivations and rationalizations. In this way, working in the studio is a practice of introspection and clarification.”

Fox by Michael Alfano is a delightful, engaging study in realism.  The sculptor explains that he has been, “… sculpting figures, monuments, and philosophical pieces for 20 years,” and comments, “If the artist taps into a universal truth, the piece is felt by everyone like clear mountain air.” He first studied at the Art Students League of New York with an emphasis on life size sculpture and anatomy.

His formal education continued at Boston University, and was augmented by internships with several prominent sculptors. He continues his training with master classes, and occasionally teaches sculpture.  Alfano exhibits his work at galleries and other public venues, and he is a regular entrant in art shows, where he has garnered over 60 awards.  His sculptures are found in private collections throughout the world and can be seen in monuments and other public art on permanent display in the United States.  Alfano’s work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, books, and on television.

‘Fox’ by Michael Alfano is a featured piece in Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017.

The jurors for the exhibition were sculptor Gilbert V. Boro, art historian Barbara Zabel and photographer Christina Goldberg.

Boro has enjoyed an extraordinary and distinguished more than 50-year-career as a successful architect, sought-after international design consultant and an inspiring educator.  With a BFA from Duke University and post-graduate degrees from Columbia University, NYC, his work explores the interplay of space, place and scale in a wide range of media including steel, stone, wood, metal, aluminum and fiberglass.

Working in sculpture has been a compulsion rather than a possibility for Boro.  While mastering the rigors of technical competence, he developed a deep-seated passion for three-dimensional art, which continues to be the influential force behind his creations. He is both inspired and motivated by the creative freedom of sculpting, finding that abstract work is the means to fulfill his vision.  Boro’s sculptures can be found in art centers and public art venues across the US and throughout Europe; they have also been purchased by private collectors, corporations and foundations in both the US and internationally.

Sculptor Gilbert V. Boro in his studio.

Zabel is Professor Emerita of Art History at Connecticut College, where she taught modern and contemporary art.  She received her PhD at the University of Virginia and has received grants from the NEH, the Smithsonian, and the Mellon Foundation. She has written for art magazines and has published two books, the latest Calder’s Portraits, published in 2011 by the Smithsonian for the exhibition she curated at the National Portrait Gallery.

Since her retirement, Professor Zabel has taught several courses at local museums and has organized several exhibitions for the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, most recently The David Smalley Memorial Exhibition, which opens June 3 and is on view through Aug. 13.

Goldberg has worked as Exhibitions Coordinator and resident photographer for Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds for almost five years.  She is chief curator of Summer Sculpture Showcase 2017 and also photographs all the works exhibited on the sculpture grounds on a revolving basis. Additionally, she builds and designs web content for a great range of social media outlets, both for Studio 80 and external clients.

With a background in visual arts and communications from the University of Hartford Art School and Suffolk University, Goldberg’s photographs have been published extensively in numerous local print and digital venues including Coastal Connecticut magazine, Middletown Press, and Events magazine. A selection of her photographs will be on display in the coming months at Paynter Fine Art Gallery, located in the heart of Old Lyme’s Historical District.

View across Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds looking towards Studio 80.

This Summer Sculpture Showcase offers a unique opportunity for established sculptors to exhibit their work in a different location, while also effectively creating a new exhibition within the Sculpture Gardens.  Boro comments, “I’m delighted to be able to open my grounds to these exceptional sculptors whose work intrigues me.  Each one offers original creative thinking resulting in a combination of contrasting conceptual designs in a variety of media.  I think any visitor to the exhibition is going to be thoroughly engaged by what he or she sees – including children.”

Boro is somewhat unusual as a professional sculptor in that he loves to see folk of all ages directly interacting with his sculptures, noting that he has a strong aversion to exhibitions, “… where people can’t touch my work.”  Apart from attracting visitors to see the works on his grounds, Boro is thoroughly invested in the vibrant Old Lyme arts scene and hopes this exhibition will help cement the town as a summer destination for art-loving visitors from near and far, especially during the town’s Midsummer Festival, which this year is on Friday, July 28, and Saturday, July 29.

About Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds:  Located at 80-1 Lyme St., less than a minute from Exit 70 on I-95, the Sculpture Grounds are open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Admission is free.  Children, field trips and group visits are all welcome. The Studio is open by appointment.  For further information, contact 860-434-5957, visit www.sculpturegrounds.com or email studio80sculpturegrounds@gmail.com

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On Board the ‘Onrust;’ Famed Re-creation of Adriaen Block’s Boat Sails up Connecticut River

The ‘Onrust’ docked at Saybrook Point Inn and Spa.

It was “a momentous occasion,” according to Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs when a group of dignitaries and invited guests gathered to board the re-creation of Adriaen Block’s boat Onrust last Thursday.  Dobbs pointed out that it was, “400 years ago — 403 to be precise” since the original Onrust commenced its exploration of the Connecticut River ultimately exploring it upstream to just a little further north than present-day Hartford — a distance of approximately 60 miles from Long Island Sound.

Connecticut River Museum Executive Director Chris Dobbs takes a brief break from his duties as host on board the ‘Onrust.’

While overwintering (1613-1614) in New York Bay, the Dutch explorer Block’s first ship, the Tyger (Tiger), caught fire and burned to the waterline.  Working through the frigid winter, Block built a new ship from the salvaged remnants and named it the Onrust, Dutch for ‘Restless.’

It was the first vessel built by Europeans in New York State and the first yacht built in the New World.  In 1614, Block and his crew set off to explore coastal New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island with the intent of developing trade partnerships with Native Americans.  During his time on the water, Block became the first known European to travel up the Connecticut River  

The re-created Onrust was launched in 2009 by The Onrust Project, an all-volunteer non-profit out of New York, which built the vessel after painstakingly researching traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques.  

To reach the Saybrook Point Inn at Old Saybrook, Conn., where the guests boarded the ship, the Onrust followed a similar path to the one that Block took in 1614.  It departed from Kingston, N.Y., traveled to New York Bay, traversed the treacherous Hell Gate, entered Long Island Sound and sailed to the mouth of the Connecticut River. 

While preparations were made to launch, Connecticut River Museum Board Chairman Tom Wilcox told the guests now assembled on board the Onrust, “This is a most auspicious occasion,” and correctly predicted they would have, “a lovely sail.”  Despite an earlier threat of rain, the weather cooperated completely with warm temperatures and clear skies.

Steven Tagliatella, owner of the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, addressed the guests on board the ‘Onrust.’

Another guest on board was Steven Tagliatella, owner of the Saybrook Point Inn, who spoke effusively about the upcoming trip to the Connecticut River Museum describing the Onrust as “a spectacular sight.”  He also took the opportunity to mention the new tourism coalition he has formed to promote tourism in the state, noting that the Onrust offers “a wonderful opportunity” for tourism.

Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward speaks on the theme of ‘restlessness,’ echoing the name of the boat — ‘Onrust’ translates from the Dutch to ‘restless.’

Walter Woodward, Connecticut’s State Historian, really spoke for everyone aboard when he said, “To be on this boat on this day is so exciting,” but then asked the guests to take themselves back in time to the spring of 1614 when Block brought the boat he had built the previous winter and named Onrust – Restless – to the mouth of the river the natives call Quinitticut. Woodward declared that Block, “was as restless as his little vessel,” explaining, “The 47-year-old trader-explorer was anxious to make up the losses he had experienced the previous winter, when his ship the Tyger had accidentally caught fire.”

Woodward pursued the theme of ‘restlessness’ as he continued, saying, “Then as now, the word restless had many meanings … A generation of restless Europeans … both Dutch and English would come to this river, first in search of trade with the indigenous people, and soon after, in the quest for their land and resources.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna (center in sunglasses) chats with a guest during the trip up the Connecticut River.

Woodward added, “Some were restless too in a godly way – troubled in mind and spirit, seeking a place to serve God as their consciences demanded.”

He also noted that, “For those already here, the arrival of the Onrust heralded a new native restlessness – first, as the indigenous people jostled with each other for control of the distribution of European trade goods … and later to fight the efforts of these insurgents to drive them from their homes.”

Jennifer White-Dobbs enjoys the glorious river views with her son (right) and a guest.

Keeping to his theme, Woodward ended with the words, “I know you are restless to get underway, so let me conclude by saying it is a privilege to be here today to mark the moment in time, when Adriaen Block and his Onrust entered the river he named Fresh River, and a world-transforming era of restless change began.”

The Essex Sailing Masters of 1812 greeted the ‘Onrust’ with bright melodies in front of the Museum.

Before introducing the next speaker, Dobbs noted, “The amount of research to build this vessel was amazing,” and also that it had taken, “Around 250 people to build the Onrust.” He explained that the Onrust will be a floating exhibit at the Museum through early October, open for dockside tours, school and Scout programs, along with public cruises and charters.

The guests vigorously waved Dutch flags as the ‘Onrust’ pulled into the Connecticut River Museum’s dock.

Dobbs then presented Emily Boucher, who brought a message from Senator Chris Murphy, which she read aloud to the guests on the Onrust. In the message, Murphy expressed the wish that he could join everyone on the trip, and noted he was pleased with the financial assistance the state had given the Museum which, “was going to allow it [the Museum] to not float away.”

A crew member prepares to fire the cannon to announce the boat’s arrival at the Connecticut River Museum.

Finally the Onrust departed from Saybrook Point inn and sailed serenely up the Connecticut River offering spectacular views in all directions. As the three-man crew prepared for arrival at the Museum during the first hour of the popular RiverFare event, one crew member fired a celebratory cannon. Meanwhile, Essex’s very own Sailing Masters of 1812 provided a cheery, musical fanfare as the historic vessel approached the Museum’s dock. 

It was indeed a wonderful and “momentous” voyage!

For more information on the Connecticut River Museum and the Onrust, visit the Museum’s website.  The Museum extends special thanks to Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa, Essex Meadows, the Sailing Masters of 1812, and The Onrust Project for their efforts in arranging the vessel’s arrival. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street in Essex and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum, located in the historic Steamboat Dock building, offers exhibits and programs about the history and environment of the Connecticut River. For a full listing of Museum programs or to buy tickets for the Onrust, RiverFare, and many other events go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.

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No Parade (Again) for Old Lyme but Indoor Ceremony Still Exudes Memorial Day Spirit

Despite the wet weather causing the cancellation of Old Lyme’s traditional Memorial Day parade for the second year in a row, more than 100 people still turned out for the Memorial Day ceremony held in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School’s auditorium Monday morning.

From left to right, Commander Bill Appleby, American Legion Post 41’s Veteran of the Year Mervin Roberts and the Rev. Mark Robinson of Saint Ann’s in Old Lyme.

William Appleby (pictured above), Commander of American Legion Post 41, was Master of Ceremonies.  The ceremony began with the Invocation given by the Reverend Joseph C. Ashe, pastor of Christ The King Roman Catholic Church in Old Lyme, which was then followed by the arrival of colors into the auditorium.  All serving and former members of the armed forces, including the Lyme-Old Lyme veterans assembled on the stage, saluted the colors as they were marched down the stairs of the auditorium.

Under the leadership of Choral Director Kristine Pekar, Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s Select Singers followed with a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

The winners of the American Legion/VFW Essay Contest for fifth graders in Lyme and Old Lyme read their essays titled, “What Memorial Day Means to Me.” Appleby told the winners that although the rain had denied them the chance to be driven Lyme Street in an vintage Mustang in the Memorial Day parade, they would have a second opportunity during the Sound View Independence Day parade on Saturday, July  3.

Abby Hale, who attends Mile Creek School was awarded the bronze medal as Second Runner-up, while Jack Porter, who also attends Mile Creek, was the First Runner-up and received the silver medal from Commander Appleby.

Emma Baehr, a Lyme Consolidated School student, was the gold medal winner.  Her essay ended with the poignant reminder that all those who had given the ultimate sacrifice had done so in order that, “We may continue to enjoy our lives and enjoy our freedom that they fought so hard to keep.”  Each of these students received a medal, a proclamation from the American Legion, a monetary award and, “most significantly,” in Appleby’s words, will also have a flag flown in their honor over the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Performing again and displaying extraordinary talent, the Select Singers then sang “America The Beautiful.”

The Reverend Mark Robinson of Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme gave the Benediction remembering those, “for whom the trumpets have sounded on the other side,” and urging that “Their sacrifices here help to establish the freedom for which they died.”

Mervin Roberts, Chaplain of the Fire Department, then gave the homily, which he explained is something defined as “a philosophical dissertation grounded on a Biblical or ethical subject.”

He commented that during the traditional parade and post-parade ceremony, “We celebrate our heroic military, mourn our departed, offer prayers, honor our ancestors, award prizes and enjoy a parade.”

He asked a little later in his homily, “So what did I neglect to mention?” and answered his own question with the words, “Plenty. Lives cut short, sometimes needlessly, heroes forgotten, relatives and friends gone.”  Roberts went on to explain the history of Memorial Day, which used to be called “Decoration Day” at that time when July 4 was known as “Declaration Day.” The former “got started around 1863 during the Civil War.’ and, “… began, get this, in the Confederate States to honor rebel soldiers who had died in battle.”

A smiling Mervin Roberts (left), Chaplain of Old Lyme’s Fire Department and American Legion Post 41’s Veteran of the Year 2016-17, stands with the Reverend Mark Robinson of Saint Ann’s.

Noting, “Freedom in principle is great but in practice it’s certainly elusive and it’s certainly not cheap,” Roberts added, “The dozen cemeteries of Old Lyme serve to remind all of us of the price that has been paid to keep us free.”

Roberts concluded, “There were some who gave their lives for causes no longer popular, for wars unnecessarily fought or poorly led. Wars were also fought for a concept now often swept under the carpet, the concept that freedom is worth fighting for, actually giving one’s life to preserve, and the corollary to that is that freedom without justice is not true freedom.”

Veteran of the Year Mervin Roberts is seated  second from left while everyone in the auditorium honors him with a standing ovation.

Commander Appleby then introduced the 2016-17 Veteran of the Year, which was none other than Mr. Roberts! Appleby quoted Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who had said at the dinner when the award was made, “Can anyone think of Old Lyme and not think of Mervin Roberts?” Following Appleby’s words, Roberts was given a warm and extended standing ovation by the audience

Wrapping up the proceedings, the traditional three-shot-volley was fired outside — but within earshot — of the auditorium, ‘Taps’ (with an echo) was played, and then the flag-bearers solemnly filed out of the auditorium while salutes were made.

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Dedication Ceremony for New Boathouse Celebrates Old Lyme’s Decades-Long, Continuing Passion for Rowing

Surrounded by VIPs at the Dedication Ceremony for the Fred Emerson Boathouse, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder cuts the ribbon to declare the boathouse officially open.  Photo by Tanya Patten.

More than 100 people gathered Saturday morning at Hains Park on the shores of Rogers Lake  to join a ceremony to dedicate the recently completed Fred Emerson Boathouse.  All joined by a love of rowing, they were there to celebrate the official opening of the boathouse, which is the new home for boats owned by Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and the Old Lyme Rowing Club/Blood Street Sculls.

Old Lyme Rowing Association/Blood Street Sculls President Greg Hack spoke to the assembled crowd expressing thanks to many individuals and organizations saying, “On behalf  of  the over 150 athletes who will row on Rogers Lake this year, I would like to express how thrilled we are that the new Boathouse is now complete.  We all feel a deep sense of gratitude to the people of the Town of Old Lyme, and to the State of Connecticut, for their support throughout this project.”

Construction of the boathouse was initially funded by a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for $478,000, which was awarded in July 2013, and then subsequently Old Lyme residents approved a request from their board of selectmen in October 2014 for an additional $405,000 to be taken from town funds.  The proposed renovations were intended to make the boathouse ADA accessible, and provide sufficient space to store all the boats owned by Lyme-Old Lyme High School, the Old Lyme Rowing Club/Blood Street Sculls and Old Saybrook High School.  There will also be space available to carry out equipment maintenance and repair.  Renovation of the basketball court and new bathrooms, which would be accessible to the public, were also included in the project.

Hack continued his words of gratitude thanking Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, “for her leadership and unwavering support during all phases of the project … [Old Lyme Selectman] Skip Sibley, a former collegiate rower who shared our dream of a new boathouse when it was first just a sketch on a cocktail napkin … and [Old Lyme Selectwoman] MJ Nosal for her enthusiasm and support.”

He also thanked Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser and Athletic Director Hildie Heck, “for their support, and for recognizing how important the sport of rowing has been for Lyme-Old Lyme High School.”

Turning to the members of the Boathouse Hains Park Improvement Committee (BHPIC), Hack commended, “their tireless work, and in particular [the efforts of] our co-chairs Paul Fuchs and Paul Gianquinto.  Paul F brought tremendous expertise on rowing matters to the project, and Paul G brought intimate knowledge of construction procedures that were oh so valuable, not to mention his incredible dedication and tenacity throughout the project.”

Hack also thanked Nina Peck, “our architect, for creating a wonderful plan for the new building that is both attractive and highly functional.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented, “We are grateful to the Town of Old Lyme for pursuing the STEAP grant that helped support the construction of the new boathouse. This structure will allow our rowing programs to continue to grow and allow us to build upon our past successes. The new boathouse will provide much needed support for our student rowers for many years to come.”

Old Lyme Selectman Skip Sibley addresses the crowd at the Fred Emerson Boathouse Dedication.  Photo by Tanya Patten.

Sibley gave a brief history of the man after whom the boathouse is named, Fred L. Emerson Jr. of Lyme. Sibley noted Emerson was an avid rower who founded and financed crew programs at more than 60 high schools, colleges and private clubs throughout the nation. In Connecticut alone, Sibley mentioned, Emerson is solely responsible for the creation of programs at the East Lyme High School, the Coast Guard Academy, Old Lyme High School, Connecticut College, Simsbury High School, and the Middletown High School.  Emerson also gave strong support to university crew programs at Wesleyan, Trinity and Yale , and school crew programs at Choate, the Thames River Sculls, South Kent, and Gunnery.

Emerson was born and raised in Upstate New York where his father founded a prosperous shoe company. He started his rowing career at the Culver Military Academy in Indiana, and later captained the rowing squad at the University of Wisconsin Class of ‘32.  Sibley noted that, while competing for the Badgers, Emerson became aware of the challenges of financing a rowing program when his own varsity career was impacted by budget restrictions. This lesson inspired Emerson later on in his life to support fledgling rowing programs generously.

Sibley submitted that Emerson was widely regarded a champion of the underdog, who sponsored women’s crew long before Title IX established the legal requirement for equity across the genders.

Sibley went on to share the origins of Rogers Lake rowing, drawing his information from a number of sources.  He commented that the catalyst for US Women’s Rowing was when the U.S. announced their plan for a women’s rowing team to compete in the 1976 Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Montreal.  At that time, women’s rowing was still in its infancy — the US announcement precipitated a quantum leap in the sport onto the national stage.

Sibley explained that in February 1971 Emerson connected with Connecticut College rowing coach C. Bart Gullong.  They organized the first meeting of women’s rowing coaches from across the country and this marked the inception of the New England Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges.

The following spring, in May 1972, the New England Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (NEAWRC) held its first regatta on Rogers Lake in Old Lyme, thanks in great part to the generosity of Emerson, who designed the 1,000-meter course, donated boats to many of the participating schools, and provided almost all of the financial backing for the event. One eight from each institution was allowed to participate, with the Princeton crew emerging victorious.

In 1974, the name of the organization was changed to the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges (EAWRC) and 19 teams took part in the first race known as the EAWRC Sprints on Lake Besek in Middlefield, Conn.  (The schools participating were Barnard, Boston University, Connecticut College, Dartmouth, Drexel, MIT, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Middletown High School, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Radcliffe, Rhode Island, Syracuse, Washington, Wellesley, Williams, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale.)

Because this was the first year in which five or more women’s teams from the Ivy League participated in a championship event, this 1974 regatta is generally seen as marking the beginning of championship competition for women in any sport, in any Division I conference. Radcliffe won that event and is thus considered the first Ivy League and EAWRC champion.

Sibley concluded, “Fred’s ‘can do’ philosophy of building programs and his passion to share the benefits of rowing amongst all skills will endure for ever. And this new boathouse bearing his name is certainly a testament to that.”

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses rowing enthusiasts of all ages who attended Saturday’s Dedication Ceremony. Photo by Sheree Sibley.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) and BHPIC Co-chair Paul Fuchs also spoke enthusiastically about the boathouse and its future impact on the local rowing programs.  Fuchs noted that Saturday, June 3, is National Learn To Row Day and for the fourth year, this event will be celebrated at Fred Emerson Boathouse by opening its doors to everyone to try rowing at no cost.

Before the speeches ended and the celebrations began, Hack summed up the joy and excitement of the occasion saying, “Over 50 years ago, Fred Emerson first coached young people out of the original boathouse on Blood Street.  Since then we have grown and achieved new levels of enthusiasm and success in what are truly community-based programs.  I am hopeful that Fred would be pleased with what we have built here together.”

He concluded, “I thank the people of Old Lyme and all who were involved in the project for their vision and for their understanding about how rowing helps to make the Town of Old Lyme such a unique and special place.  We pledge to be good stewards of this new facility for decades to come.”

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School Budget Passes Easily in Both Towns

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser sends details of the referendum results to Region 18 Board of Education members.

Voters in both Lyme and Old Lyme passed the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools’ 2017-18 proposed $33.6 million budget convincingly yesterday.

In Lyme, only four people voted against the $33,634, 371 budget while in Old Lyme, 88 voted No. In an extremely low turnout in both towns, the Yes votes in Lyme and Old Lyme respectively were 111 and 271 giving final totals across the Regional School District of 382 Yes’s to 92 No’s.

A delighted Lyme-Old Lyme School’s Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented after the results had been announced, “I’d like to thank the voters for supporting the education budget.  We were proud to bring forward the lowest budget increase on record and are happy to continue the great work of educating the children of Lyme and Old Lyme.”

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Polls Open 6am in Referendum on Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Proposed $33.6M Budget, Result on LymeLine Tonight

Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools will hold a referendum today in Lyme and Old Lyme — the two towns that comprise Regional District #18 — on their proposed $33,634, 371 budget for the 2017-18 school year.

Voting will take place Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cross Lane Firehouse for Old Lyme residents and Lyme Town Hall for Lyme residents. LymeLine.com will publish the result as soon as it is announced shortly after 8 p.m.

When LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser presented the budget for approval to the Region #18 Board of Education in February, he commented, “We are proud to present the lowest budget increase on record for Region #18.  While the increase is exceptionally low, this has been achieved through savings that do not impact any of our existing programs or services. ”

During his presentation Neviaser explained the budget was set to support the objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan by:

  • Preserving and building upon the high standards of education in Lyme-Old Lyme while remaining fiscally responsible to our communities
  • Supporting the ongoing renewal of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and staff development activities in response to the expectations of state and national standards.
  • Continuing to plan and provide technology infrastructure and applications that are consistent with highly effective and efficient programming and operational standards.
  • Maintaining high facility standards for all district buildings and grounds.
  • Maintaining a dynamic and responsive approach to programming needs and mandates in special education.
  • Maintaining both compliance and reasonableness in response to state and federal mandates.

He noted that budget increases include certified and non-certified salaries, instructional programming, and administrative services while decreases include costs for benefits, special education and debt service.  Neviaser stressed that while showing only a minimal increase, the operations/program budget still reflects:

  • Continued adherence to class size guidelines
  • Reduction of staff to account for enrollment decline
  • Continuance of existing academic and extracurricular activities
  • Adjustments for anticipated changes in the special education population
  • Adequate funding for maintenance and repair of buildings and grounds
  • Scheduled replacement of technology and equipment
  • Program improvements that are consistent with high academic and operational standards

He also highlighted that several new programs were being implemented and a selection of facilities being upgraded. Program improvements include a new/updated elementary math program, technology infrastructure advancements and replacement of staff computers.  

Facility upgrades include installation of window AC units at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and Lyme School​; addition of main campus pathway lighting; increasing the number of security cameras​; installation of a concrete lacrosse practice wall​ and replacement of the fuel oil tank at Lyme School​.

For more information on the Region #18 budget, visit this link on the Lyme-Old Lyme School’s website.

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Old Lyme Town Budget Calls for 3.26 Percent Increase, Requires 0.55 Mill Rate Increase to 21.75

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell presents the Town’s proposed 2017-18 budget at Monday night’s meeting.

Around 30 residents showed up for Monday night’s public hearing in the Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Room of the Town’s proposed budget of $36,355,031 for the 2017-18 fiscal year.  The proposed budget presented by Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell, which includes $26.5 million for Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools, represents a 3.26 percent increase over the 2016-17 approved budget.

The Towns of Lyme and Old Lyme divide the LOL Schools’ budget of $33,634, 371 between them based on percentages representing the respective number of students that each town has attending LOL Schools. The total LOL Schools budget for both towns reflects a 0.49 percent increase over the current year, but when translated exclusively to the Old Lyme budget, the sum represents a 3.65 percent increase over the current year’s figure.

Old Lyme’s general government and capital budgets, which make up the balance of the Town budget (excluding the school budget), total $9,819,829 representing a 1.84 percent increase over the current year.  This number comprises $8,774,129 for general government and $1,045,700 for capital spending.

Russell summarized key increases and decreases in the the two sections of the budget, noting that regarding grants to non-profits , “The only one to receive an an increase is the Old Lyme Library.”  He commented on the subject of Debt Service that “The only debt that the Town has relates to the Town Hall,” and that the period remaining on the debt is seven years.

The two largest single items in General Government capital expenditures are replacement of the Cross Lane Playground equipment ($150,000) and renovations to the bathrooms at Hains Park (also $150,000.)

The former expense was the reason that many in the audience attended the meeting.  Stacy Winchell, Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club President, which has been working to raise money for the playground, commented in an email after the meeting, “As we have been working diligently for three years in bringing a safe and all-accessible playground to Cross Lane, we wanted to represent to the public that we continue to support and contribute to the return of a playground at Cross Lane.”

Renovations to the Hains Park bathrooms were originally included in the boathouse plans but now needed additional funding.

Another project which received increased funding ($10,000) was a feasibility study to determine the viability of a sidewalk from Town Woods Park to Rte. 1/Boston Post Rd.

Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell answers a question about the Town’s proposed 2017-18 budget at Monday night’s meeting.

Russell said the board of finance was proposing to take, “$800,000 out of surplus to soften the blow to taxpayers,” but adding, “$600,000 was taken out of surplus for each of the last two years … but not needed last year.”  Adding, “We probably won’t need it this year,” he noted that the mill rate for 2017-18 is scheduled to increase from 21.2 to 21.75 mills, an increase of 2.58 percent.

Russell cited three examples of how the mill rate will impact property owners.  The first was for a house appraised at $347,200 and assessed at $243,000.  This homeowner paid $5,152 in property taxes in 2016-17, but will pay $5,285 under the proposed mill rate next year.

His second example related to a house appraised at $540,200 and assessed at $378,100.  This homeowner paid $8,016 in property taxes in 2016-17, but would pay $8,224 next year under the proposed budget.

Russell’s consistent message throughout the presentation was that the board always pursues a course that errs on the conservative side.  As a result, he explained, the town enjoys the highest credit rating possible.  Additionally, he noted that the board uses a predicted collection rate on taxes of 98.25 percent whereas the rate is, in fact, typically over 99 percent.

When public comment opened, one resident asked if the cameras being installed in police cars would be transferable between vehicles and Russell  confirmed they would.

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold, who is now town treasurer,  stated, “The Hains Park bathhouse is a controversial issue.” He agreed the bathrooms “need to be fixed,” but said, “The question should have gone to a Town Meeting … to be aired fully.”  Griswold suggested it was now, “… lost in the budget.”

Russell responded that the question had been much discussed by the board and in the end, members had decided that since, “The Town had approved bathrooms and the boathouse,” the board should now add the necessary funds for the bathrooms into the budget.  David Kelsey commented from the floor that this new sum to fund the bathrooms is now, “… buried in the budget.”  Judith Read also questioned the boathouse project funding asking whether there was a surplus in hand on the boathouse project and if monies for the bathrooms were originally included in the boathouse project.

After the close of public comment, Russell said the proposed budget will now go forward for approval by residents at a town meeting to be held May 15.

Prior to that, Lyme and Old Lyme residents will vote separately in a referendum on the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools $33.6 million budget to be held May 2. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in both towns and the results from each town are combined to determine if the budget has passed.  Voting in Old Lyme will be held in the Cross Lane Firehouse.

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Celebrating her 99th, Mary Vidbergs is Justifiably ‘Queen for a Day’

Happy 99th birthday, Mary !

It may have been one of the coldest days of the year last Sunday, March 12, but nothing was going to stop Mary Vidbergs’ family — one branch of whom lives in Old Lyme , namely the Pfeiffers — from celebrating the long-time Essex resident’s 99th birthday in style.

Mary arrived around 11 a.m. at the top of Main Street and was promptly presented with a large bouquet and ‘crowned’ with a tiara.

The family — some of whom braved the bone-chilling temperatures in lederhosen — had planned a surprise for Mary, which involved driving her from the top of Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage down to the Griswold Inn.

Dr. John Pfeiffer of Old Lyme (third from right, front row, in the photo above), who is Mary’s son-in-law as well as Old Lyme’s Town Historian, is well-known for his penchant for wearing shorts in all weathers around town!

She may be 99, but Mary was determined to enjoy the view from her carriage!

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Mary smiled continuously through the whole adventure and insisted at the end of her ride on thanking the horses for their labors.

An ever-cheerful Mary waved goodbye to the crowd before entering the Griswold Inn where all her family joined her for what we’re sure was a wonderful family party.

Happy 99th, Mary, from all your friends at ValleyNewsNow.com — we’re looking forward to your 100th already!

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Old Saybrook ‘Sister March’ Draws Almost 1,000 on Saturday

Baby’s first march — we suspect not Grandma’s!

The march may only have been registered late last week, but almost 1,000 people still turned out Saturday morning in Old Saybrook to join the movement that inspired around three million people across the globe to publicly express their opinions on the rights of women and other minority groups, and in many ways on the new Trump presidency as a whole.

More than 500 people had gathered by 10 a.m. on the Old Saybrook Town Green unsure whether they were just going to simply stand in front of the Town Hall or whether they were actually going to march.

They came from towns all along the shoreline — Guilford, Clinton, Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme, and Old Saybrook were all mentioned — and they spanned in age from a few months to others well into their 80s and many wore what had become the signature pink “Pussy Hats.” Many people brought signs ranging from hand-written words painted on pieces of cardboard to an elaborately embroidered banner bearing the words “Not My President.”

Others like Alison Mitchell of Old Lyme fearlessly sat in her wheelchair strongly and stoically making her point.

Around 10:30 a.m., it became apparent that a march was beginning going north up Main St. on the east side towards Boston Post Rd. then crossing over and returning to the Green going south on the west side.  By this time the crowd had swelled by several hundred more and as the demonstrators marched, more and more people joined.

Women were definitely in the majority but there were plenty of men marching too.  There were some chants, “Love Trumps Hate” was a popular one, and songs,”We Shall Overcome” rang out at one point, and overall, it was a cheerful, friendly occasion.  When the clouds cleared and the sun finally broke through on the return leg, marcher Rosemary Barclay of Old Lyme said with a chuckle, “It’s certainly not going to rain on our parade!”

From left to right, some Old Lyme marchers share a smile.

But once wasn’t enough for these intrepid marchers.  Almost as soon as they found themselves back at ‘The Kate,’ they started re-tracing their steps and ultimately completed a second loop. The Old Saybrook Police did a wonderful job stopping the patient traffic so that the marchers could cross Main Street whenever necessary.

By the time of the second circuit, the line of marchers was so long that it snaked down one side of Main St., across the road and then up the other side.  Passengers were getting out of cars to join the march, horns were being sounded regularly — and loudly — in support of the marchers and only one lone pick-up truck with “Trump’ flags was spotted.

At the end of it all, the marchers happily gathered in front of the Town Hall and in communion with all the other marchers across the nation and the world, observed a meaningful moment of silence before peacefully dispersing.

More signs …

… and another …

… and another …

… and another …

David Brown with coffee and a sign …

A previous presidential campaign slogan refocused …

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