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Top Of The Mountain



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This week’s Hometown Person is very dear to the hearts of those here at Bee Publishing Company. We like to think we’re the second family of Frank LaPak, a former longtime member of our Production Department. Our friend and retiree also used to spend many (many) hours toiling at The Pleasance, often under the watchful eye — and the occasional comment — of our late Publisher, Scudder Smith. Frank is celebrating a milestone birthday that happens to coincide with the date of this week’s issue. It seems a fitting time to finally make him our hometown person. If you know who he is and where he lives, give an extra honk or two when you drive past his house this weekend. Tell him Mountain said it’s OK.

“It is the mission of Newtown Police Department to protect and serve our community while honoring our badge, our integrity, and the public trust. Working together with the community, we will seek justice for all while holding ourselves and others accountable for their actions under the color of the law.” Those words guide the men and women of our local police department, and they now greet every officer when they report to the PD roll call room at the start of each shift. The department was recently gifted the presentation of its mission by Dylan Goyette of Auto-Merch, who does facility branding. Dylan donated his time, talent, and the materials, and the result is gorgeous.

The next FAITH Food Pantry Drive-Thru Food Drive is this Saturday (August 5), from 10 am until noon. Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the monthly events have continued. Volunteers will be ready near the yellow building behind St Rose Church, 46 Church Hill Road, to help unload nonperishable food, household cleaning supplies, pet supplies, etc for distribution to Newtown residents by the nondenominational food pantry (FAITH’s acronym stands for Food Assistance, Immediate Temporary Help).

Presidential Pit Stop? OK! Former US President William J. Clinton’s hankering for tasty garlic knots lured him into Papa Al’s Pizza in Hawleyville last weekend, and he took a few moments to chat and pose for a photo with the restaurant’s longtime chef Dritan Hodza. According to Newtown Bee sources, it was Clinton’s Secret Service detail that steered the former president toward the Hawleyville establishment because they wanted some pizza along their travel route on Sunday, July 30. But once Clinton learned about Papa Al’s freshly made garlic knots, he couldn’t resist venturing in himself — causing a bit of a commotion.

Our best wishes to the 500+ athletes heading toward the Connecticut finale this weekend of the CMAK Foundation’s 2023 Race4Chase Kids’ Triathlon program. Six weeks of training will come to a head early Saturday morning in Southington, when boys and girls from across the state — including at least 19 from Newtown! — run, swim and bicycle toward a finish line each of them has worked very hard to reach.

Newtown Youth & Family Services will be the beneficiary this month of the Stop & Shop Community Bag Program. For each designated reusable bag purchased for $2.50 at the Newtown Stop & Shop in Sand Hill Plaza (228 South Main Street), NYFS will ultimately earn $1. NYFS has also joined the charities that can benefit from the Walnut Spark Good Round Up program. If you want to round up a purchase to the nearest dollar when shopping through Walmart.com, the change will be donated to the charity of your choice. Want to learn more about NYFS and what they do at 15 Berkshire Road? Mark your calendar for Monday, October 23, when the nonprofit youth service bureau and mental health clinic for all ages will be hosting an open house. Working with the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce (into which the Newtown Chamber merged just about a year ago), NYFS will host the networking event that evening from 5:30 until 7:30. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet staff and learn about the programs, events, and services offered year-round.

The next two Free Movie Weekends at Edmond Town Hall, an ongoing generosity thanks to Ingersoll Auto of Danbury (owned by Newtown resident Todd Ingersoll), have been announced. The latest Wes Anderson film, Asteroid City, will be screened at 45 Main Street Friday through Sunday, August 11-13. Tickets to all six of that weekend’s shows — 1 and 7:30 pm each day — can be reserved now through edmondtownhall.org. Remaining tickets will also be available at the box office prior to each show. Next month’s Free Movie Weekend will feature Barbie. Yes, believe it or not the summer blockbuster is already scheduled for its visit to Newtown, and Ingersoll Auto has again stepped up to cover all six planned screenings. The Margot Robbie-Ryan Gosling film will be here September 8-10, and those tickets are already available for reservations.

Speaking of Barbie, have you seen that yet? Or Oppenheimer? Our latest website question concerns those two summer blockbusters. We’re wondering who has seen one or the other, done a double feature, or plans to completely avoid both. Visit NewtownBee.com and check on the poll, which changes occasionally and can be found along the right side of our home page.

Picnics & Parking will return next month. Organizers from Newtown Congregational Church are planning their annual Labor Day morning event, which opens with a pancake breakfast at 14 West Street and the opportunity to leave vehicles in the church parking lot for the brief walk to Main Street for the 10 am parade. Cost is $6 per person or $20 max for families. If you’d like to just take advantage of the proximity of the church’s parking lot to Main Street, organizers would be glad to accept a donation to the church for that. There are no reservations, but additional information may be available by calling 203-426-9024.

The 61st Newtown Labor Day Parade will follow its traditional plan that morning, stepping off from Main Street at the intersection of Currituck Road. Participants will then follow the 1.1-mile route south to Glover Avenue, and then onto Queen Street, concluding just prior to Church Hill Road. Monsignor Robert Weiss has been named this year’s Grand Marshal, and rumor has it at least one of his fans has gifted him with a beautiful sash bearing Labor Day Parade Grand Marshal lettering. The parade theme this year is “Deeply Rooted In Our Community.” Participants and sponsors are still being sought for the big end-of-summer celebration. Visit newtownCTlabordayparade.org for all the details.

The Town Players of Newtown Little Theatre will be hosting auditions next weekend for an October-November production of Dracula; see the press release over in Cultural Events for details. Meanwhile, the board of the local theater on Orchard Hill Road is hoping the public can help with a lousy summer problem: a broken A/C system. When the old system recently decided it had had enough, it not only stopped chilling the air, it also leaked onto the stage. The theater building itself also needs some “serious repair,” according to a recent appeal for help. Donations of any size will be appreciated, and will help the state’s longest running community theater. Town Players is a registered nonprofit, so donations are tax deductible. To learn more send a note to info@newtownplayers.org or visit newtownplayers.org. Town Players President Brian DeToma said the community theater is always looking for new members of its family. There are many ways to volunteer. Interested? Contact him directly at detomabrian@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, the local theater company is just days away from opening night of its next production. Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced, a Miss Marple murder-mystery, opens Friday, August 11. Visit our calendars, in print (Community Calendar can always be found on page A-2) and online (newtownbee.com/Calendar) for the schedule and ticket details.

Leslie Ballard reached out this week to ask me to let readers know that the final Panacea Reunion is just about a month away. “We’ve been hosting this since The 2013 Great Newtown Reunion,” Leslie said. She and fellow bandmates, who originally formed in the early 1970s, have been performing again almost yearly for the past decade. “It was a very unexpected thrill to get the old band back together once a year to be with Newtown friends, but we’ve decided that this will be our last,” she said. The Panacea & Friends Reunion 2023 event is planned for Sunday, September 3, at Dickinson Park. The NHS classes of 1968, 1970 and 1973 are planning their own reunion canopies that day as well. Additional details will be printed next week, but now’s a good time to get those dancing shoes ready, find your favorite blanket and/or chairs, dig out Flat Bridget if you have one, and even consider a donation in Bridget’s memory for The Bridget Seaman Memorial Food Pantry Drive.

I extend my paw of friendship this week to our new Assistant Town Clerk Esin Zilinek. If you see a new face in the halls of 3 Primrose Street, she may be getting used to her new digs.

I’m going to go dig into a nap, but I hope, as always, you will remember to … read me again.

Former US President William J. Clinton stopped in Hawleyville last weekend, where he met and enjoyed garlic knots fresh from the oven of longtime Papa Al's chef Dritan Hodza. —contributed photo
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