Two young adults from Newtown have done what they can to make Easter a little nicer this year for 30 strangers. The friends, Capri Agresta and Rachel D’Ausilio, decided last month that they wanted to put together Easter baskets “to help people “to help people who might not have the opportunities we have, so that they could have a nice Easter,” Capri said Tuesday afternoon. She and Rachel, along with Rachel’s mother Lisa, went to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven and Harmony House in Danbury on April 15. The girls had the opportunity to deliver 14 baskets to the children’s hospital and another nine to the temporary shelter a few hours before they spoke with The Newtown Bee. Seven additional baskets were put together for elderly, shut-in members of the church the Agresta family attends.
Athol Fugard is widely and properly recognized as one of the world’s greatest living playwrights. We in Connecticut are fortunate that so many of his works receive their premieres here, earlier at Yale Rep and now at Long Wharf, where recent recent years have featured a trio of gripping dramas. Long Wharf was also the venue, in January 1997, for a production of "The Road to Mecca" starring the late Julie Harris. Now Long Wharf is producing a new work by Fugard, "The Shadow of a Hummingbird." What is special about this one is that the main role is performed by the playwright himself.
More than two dozen members of Newtown Senior Center enjoyed a musical treat last week, when Bethel musician Billy Michaels, on vocals and guitar, shared his considerable enthusiasm for the American heritage of songs. Kicking off the afternoon performance on April 10 with the seasonal “Easter Bonnet,” he moved smoothly into a series of other classic songs from the 1900s, and 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, including “Piano Roll Blues,” “Baby Face,” and a song he said was the “biggest American hit of all times,” the 1892 “After The Ball,” which sold over 2 million copies of sheet music that year. The afternoon of music got even better, though, when Mr Michaels, who has entertained at the center numerous times, introduced a local talent many had not had the pleasure of hearing before Thursday. Stephanie Paproski, a 2008 graduate of Newtown High School, added her vocals first to a set of country songs, and later to a medley of Beatles songs, accompanied by Mr Michaels.
Horatio is a lucky pony. With large dark eyes peeking over his stall door, he stood still and watched as former Sandy Hook resident Sarah Rosado glanced his way. Having been with her in Bethel for the last several weeks, she said, “He is gaining weight, that’s good.” Unsure of how or why the underweight pony ended up at a recent New Jersey auction where she found him, Ms Rosado, who runs For The Animals Rescue Inc, was determined to raise enough money to purchase the pony and save his life. Unsure of how or why the underweight pony ended up at the New Jersey auction, Ms Rosado, who runs For The Animals Rescue (FTAR) Inc, had been determined to bring him home, and received the help she needed from acquaintances, including Newtown resident Kylee Gioiele. “This was going to turn into a happy ending for the poor pony,” Ms Gioiele added. “I know Sarah will nurse him back to health and most important, he will be happy.” Ms Rosado plans to eventually move Horatio to property she still owns in Newtown.
It was May 1, 1989, when Marilyn Place walked into the Senior Center at 14 Riverside Road. A mother of two “who volunteered all over the place,” Ms Place was stepping into a part-time position as coordinator of programs, working under Senior Center director Marvi Fast. She had no idea that within weeks, with Ms Fast out on an extended sick leave, she would be catapulted into a position as acting director, and that two years later, she would find herself in the top position. “Twenty-five years went by like this,” exclaimed Ms Place, snapping her fingers. Seated in her office, where piles of papers and craft materials adorn every surface, and mementos given to her by Senior Center members serve as décor, she reflected on the quarter of a century of serving and loving Newtown’s senior citizens.
Prompting residents to get “outside in the sweet spring sunshine,” the Newtown Earth Day is encouraging visitors to “Discover the wonders of nature” at the 7th Annual Earth Day celebration. Scheduled for Saturday, April 26, between 10 am and 4 pm, at Newtown Middle School, the upcoming Earth Day Festival promises “tons of kids’ activities,” including the Sharon Audubon’s birds of prey exhibit, where live birds will be present. Live music, a silent auction, “tasty food,” a vendors’ fair and more await guests at the annual spring festival that is aimed at helping the community “learn how to become a bit more green,” also according to the website. Earth Day Committee member Bill Buchler is “proud,” he said, that the day, growing in popularity each year, has become a “bona fide” event.
Splashes of deep purple, blues, and whites speckle a hillside at Treadwell Park. On Wednesday, April 9, late afternoon sunlight gave the small crocus petals an early spring glow. Brid Craddock walked with her husband Harvey Pessin, stepping carefully through the flower clusters. “This is great,” Ms Craddock said. “There are quite a lot.” A swath of color dotted the sloping ground where hundreds of crocuses had emerged, with more to come. Roughly 10,000 bulbs are planted there. Aside from crocuses, there are “a mix of cultivars that will come up throughout the year,” Mr Pessin said. The bulbs were a gift to town, received within days of 12/14. The Parks and Recreation Department had then asked for help, and Mr Pessin and his wife soon had a team of more than 100 volunteers eager to help plant the bulbs in honor of the shooting victims. Volunteers of all ages descended on Treadwell Park on Saturday, December 22, 2012, to plant the donations.
The 2014 Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest was held last weekend, and more than 1,100 people paid to run, walk, and romp in the mud for a few hours in New York. A large percentage of that number were people from Newtown, including the immediate family of the event’s namesake. The Daniel Barden Mudfest was created last year to honor and celebrate the life of Daniel Barden, one of the children killed on 12/14. The event was launched by Dan Williams, a family friend of the Bardens who came up with the event while seeking a way to support the family. The 5K obstacle race also offers a half-mile Half Pint Kids’ Fun Run for ages 5-12, as well as an additional five-mile timed Mud Run for elite athletes. Mark Barden said the idea of helping others, especially strangers, through the course was part of the plan. “It’s pretty much impossible to do this alone,” said Mr Barden. “This idea of helping hands was designed right into the course. And that goes right into our little Daniel’s spirit of being a little helper, and looking out for the people around him."