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Let me start this week by offering birthday wishes to Marie Walker, who is celebrating a milestone birthday today (June 7). It was wonderful to see her watching her daughter once again during last weekend’s Lathrop School of Dance Stardust Revue.

Best wishes for all members of Newtown Lions Club as they head toward their anniversary dinner this weekend. The members, spouses and special guests will be celebrating 75 years of serving Newtown. We hope everyone has a great time on Sunday, and we can’t wait to hear all about the party ahead of next week’s paper.

It’ll be a long weekend for the Lions, who will wrap their annual Great Pootatuck Duck Race on Saturday. Best wishes to everyone who will be holding tickets when the ducks go into the river in Sandy Hook Center that afternoon.

Speaking of this weekend, it’s Sandy Hook LobsterFest time and Bruce the Spruce is ready to party. Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue will present its annual two-night event at their main station Friday and Saturday, June 7-8. We had a run on tickets at the office this week, thanks to everyone who wanted to get their tickets early, save a few dollars, and get a head start on the dinner line those nights. Dinner will be served from 5-9 pm on Friday, and 4-9 pm Saturday at 18-20 Riverside Road. Ticket holders will enjoy a full lobster, steak, hamburger or hot dog dinner, each with plenty of sides. Tickets at the door will be $40 for lobster or steak dinners, $10 for hamburger or hot dog dinners, with cash, check and cards all accepted.

Bruce was spruced up earlier this week, having returned from a one-month break while cousin Connie The Conifer was in place. Bruce the Lobster Spruce’s new ensemble features lobster claws and tail, and a tip of the hat to our friends getting ready to celebrate LobsterFest this weekend, whether those who are volunteering at the fundraiser or those who are planning to enjoy dinner, music, and fun.

Newtown Historical Society is reportedly in urgent need of a Secretary for its Board of Trustees. If interested, contact Barbara Wilson at bkwilsonhistory@yahoo.com.

Booth Library has regularly hosted visits with therapy dogs. Now the 25 Main Street institution has added another new offering: Prairie Dog Story Time! While the therapy dog visits have been open to everyone, the new program is for the younger readers. Ages 4-7 and an adult caregiver are invited to join Miss Nora on Saturday, June 15, at 11 am, when she leads the special story time to coincide with a new prairie dog exhibit opening at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. Each participant will receive a coupon for a special prize redeemable at the zoo. Registration is required and available by visiting chboothlibrary.org or calling 203-426-4533.

The library was one of the stops last week for the annual Middle Gate School Second Grade Walking Tour. For three hours last Friday morning, the entire second grade was joined by parent chaperones on a walking tour that took everyone to five different locations. The group, divided by classroom, visited Edmond Town Hall, Hook & Ladder’s firehouse, The Matthew Curtiss House, and our office in addition to the library, learning about each location and its importance to town.

Such questions and enthusiasm too! We know it’s a long day for those young students, and we’re proud to say it was another great year with good questions and great manners, even when they were clearly getting tired. Well done teachers, chaperones and students. It was an honor to host you, and your Hawley School contemporaries who did a similar tour the previous Friday.

Eleven local schools were represented in this year’s Byrd’s Books Bookmark Contest, including four Newtown locations! There were also a few submissions in the adult division this year, and even at least one entry from a high school in Alabama. Earlier this week the Bethel bookstore announced that Eileen from Newtown High School won this year’s high school division (the book store does not share the last name of students), while Sandy Hook Elementary School student Sophia is a runner-up in one of the younger divisions this year. Eileen will receive 25 bookmarks featuring her winning design, along with a $25 Byrd’s Books gift certificate, and Sophia will receive a $10 gift certificate to the book store.

Congratulations also go out this week to Hayden Hughes, who finished the 2024 Scripps Spelling Bee tied for 22nd place following the sixth round last week. It was a difficult round! A Newtown resident, Hayden was one of 45 contestants standing at the beginning of that round. She and 23 others all succumbed to words ranging from atticotomy, cutiduris, and tennantite to ariary, pachnolite and notommatid. I wouldn’t have made it past that round myself!

Hayden’s final journey to the national spelling bee began in earnest three months ago, when she was crowned The 2024 Connecticut Spelling Bee Champion. The seventh grade student of Hughes Homeschool bested 46 students from across the state when she correctly spelled “dropsical” and won the title. Sponsored by The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, hosts of the Connecticut competition, Hayden was then one of 245 students from across the country who spent all or part of the week of May 26-31 at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Port Washington, Md. I truly hope she had a great time during Bee Week.

Newtown High School senior Connor Kwarcinski has added another way for readers to purchase his 2024-25 Newtown Veterans Calendar. A feature last week (“NHS Senior’s Capstone Project Is Helping Raise Money For Veterans”) introduced readers to his latest effort to raise awareness and funds for veterans. Connor has designed and is now selling an 18-month calendar featuring local veterans. The calendars are $20 each, with all proceeds to be divided between the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and two additional in-state organizations Connor has yet to select. The calendars were already being sold through Venmo (@Operation SOM), Apple Pay (203-595-1846) and via checks mailed to Connor, 162 Boggs Hill Road, Newtown CT 06470. As of last Friday morning, we are proudly hosting sales of the calendar as well. Readers can stop in at 5 Church Hill Road any time we’re open (weekdays, generally 8 am-5 pm; earlier and later by chance) to purchase calendars with cash or check.

We had a call in to the office last Saturday morning from someone who had a bear encounter in southern Newtown. The anonymous caller said he was making the left turn from Pecks Lane onto South Main Street around 11 am Friday when, he said, a big black bear crossed the street in front of his car. The caller stopped his vehicle, he said, as did the smart driver of a second vehicle, traveling north on South Main. The two vehicles simply waited to let the bear cross the road, and everyone continued safely with their day.

The message reminded me of something someone else asked me just last week to convey to readers: did you know that unless a bear is attacking or is near children, there is nothing local police officers can do about a bear sighting? Just seeing a bear is not considered an emergency. We shouldn’t be calling 911 to report a sighting alone. If you want to report a simple sighting — which is still important, just not a life emergency — CT DEEP would love to hear from you. Visit portal.ct.gov/deep/wildlife/report-a-wildlife-sighting and follow the prompts. If it’s a true emergency, call 911 or even CT DEEP’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at 860-424-3333.

We didn’t receive much notice ahead of a collection that concludes this weekend, but if you have an American flag that needs to be retired, State Representatives Mitch Bolinsky (R-106) and Martin Foncello (R-107), in cooperation with Newtown VFW Post 308 and Scout Troop 270, are helping local residents dispose of their worn American flags in a dignified and respectful way. Through June 8, flags ready for proper retirement can be dropped off at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street; Newtown Community Center, 8 Simpson Street; and the lobby of Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street. Additional collections have been created at Brookfield Town Hall, 100 Pocono Road, and Brookfield Library, 182 Whisconier Road/Route 25, also though Saturday. Saturday morning between 8-10 am, the local lawmakers will join members of Newtown Scout Troop 270 for an in-person flag collection in front of Booth Library.

Readers are reminded that flags can also be dropped off year-round at VFW Post 308 on Tinkerfield Road, and the office of The Newtown Bee, 5 Church Hill Road.

I’ll promise to share more good news and reminders next week if you’ll promise to come back here and … read me again.

Bruce the Spruce is ready for LobsterFest! —Bee Photo, Hicks
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