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I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. One of the highlights of my day was an unexpected visit with at least three generations of the Nezvesky family. Members of the family assembled last Thursday morning for their annual Thanksgiving Football Game, this time trying the field at Treadwell Park. Jay Nezvesky said the family tradition dates to 1958. It has been played at different locations over the years, he shared, and the family has only missed one year … due to COVID, of course. It was amazing to see everyone from babies in arms right up to those who were watching from the sidelines last week. Those folks definitely earned their stuffing!

New month, slight change for one of our traditions. Birthday Cake has long been a popular offering of this newspaper, and will remain in play as long as children have birthdays. While we will continue to work with our friends at Ferris Acres Creamery to offer a free ice cream cake to one birthday girl or boy every week, we will be pausing on the delivery of the FAC ice cream cakes. The Creamery closes for the winter months, and in the past they have created extra cakes for us to keep on hand for Birthday Cake winners. But we all know that freezers and ice cream don’t play well together for too long. We’ve heard that some of the cakes that are picked up toward the end of the winter closure weren’t always to the Creamery’s standards. So this winter, we’re still giving out gift certificates for a cake, but the winners will need to hold onto them until April, when the Creamery opens for its 2024 season. Then winners will have a few weeks to redeem their certificates and resume those birthday celebrations.

Family and friends of Amy Krompinger already know she’s a busy wife and mother. She’s also the founder, owner and head coach of Aim Athletes Field Hockey Club, the Newtown-based team for players in grades 1-12 that practices, competes and does other events year-round. Further, Amy made it onto the USA Women’s Master O35 Field Hockey Team. She will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, this month to represent the USA in the World Masters Hockey Pan American Continental Cup. The tournament runs December 6-14, and if you’d like to watch the action or check on updates visit worldmastershockey.org, click on Events, then 2023 WMH Pam Am Continental Cup Buenos Aires. I can’t tell if there will be livestreaming through that page or just updates, but we at 5 Church Hill Road will certainly be checking in for updates. As one friend told us, Amy “is truly an inspiration for other young girls and women and an asset to our community. Her family and friends are so incredibly proud of her achievements and can’t wait to cheer her on in Buenos Aires, Argentina.” We wish Amy nothing but our mejores deseos.

Fifteen Eastern Connecticut State University students made the long drive to Mahwah, N.J., in October to present research on topics ranging from history to coding at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Northeastern Conference. Among the students was Junior English major Samantha Vertucci of Sandy Hook who stepped outside of her discipline to present work on psychology research. In her talk, “The Two Waldens: Henry David Thoreau’s American Transcendentalism and B. F. Skinner’s Radical Behaviorism,” she analyzed how Thoreau and Skinner had a mutualistic relationship of credit and relevance, despite being a century apart in their writing. Students from six universities came together to share their research at the COPLAC conference, which was Samantha’s first oral discussion sessions centered around her work. ECSU shared details about Samantha and her presentation, which followed an independent study suggested by one of her professors during her freshman year.

It’s a big weekend for holiday events in town, as evidenced by the Holiday Events Calendar that begins on page A1 this week. As noted elsewhere in the paper and on our website, do make note that Friday’s Ram Pasture Tree Lighting event has been pushed out to next weekend due to the bad weather now expected on December 1.

Santa Sleigh Rides will return to Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company on Saturday, December 9. I must have still been only half awake from a catnap when I gave you the incorrect date in last week’s Mountain. Bad cat! Rides begin at 12:30 and will continue until everyone in line gets to take a ride on the antique sleigh with Santa, who travels with friends from Tolland Fire every year for the event. There is no cost, although donations are gratefully accepted and benefit Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue. I understand the Sandy Hook VFR Ladies Auxiliary has something new planned this year, too. In addition to hot chocolate and other light refreshments as well as the games and crafts they provide during Santa Sleigh Rides, the ladies will be raffling decorated wreaths next weekend.

Sandy Hook VFR’s Christmas Trees (& More!) Sale should still be happening that weekend too, although I hear they sold over 270 of the 700 available trees already last weekend. Firefighters were at the main station early Black Friday morning, unloading those trees, and then sales began before noon. By late Sunday afternoon, tired firefighters and Ladies Auxiliary members were cleaning up the sales area, restocking the tree racks, and taking a breather ahead of this weekend. Sales continue Thursday and Friday nights, 6-9 pm this week; Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm; and Sunday, 9 am to 6 pm. Proceeds from that event also benefit the fire company.

Members of Newtown Police Department are preparing for The 2024 Bender Classic, an ice hockey tournament returning next month to raise funds for Special Olympics Connecticut. It looks like Community Services Sergeant Will Chapman and Officers Matthew Hayes and Peter Wlasuk will be lacing up once more to face opponents not yet named, although it looks it may again be members of UConn Police Department, which would be a repeat of last year’s challenge. Having raised $5,000 in their first outing, another $5,000 in the second Classic, and $11,000 last year, players and supporters alike are hoping to increase those figures again as they work toward tipoff on January 20. This week Newtown PD announced the acquisition of a 2023-24 Boston Bruins team jersey to help raise money. At least 18 members of the team signed the jersey during an autograph event in October, according to the certificate of authenticity that will go to the winning bidder. Stay tuned for updates. If you’d like to make an early donation toward the Newtown PD team efforts, visit benderclassichockey.com.

The Newtown Chapter of the Salvation Army will be at various locations throughout Newtown on December 8-9 and 15-16. On those Fridays and Saturdays, volunteer bell ringers will be participating in the 2023 Red Kettle Campaign, collecting funds to help local neighbors in need of housing, fuel, and food funding. Glenn Nanavaty, president of the Salvation Army Newtown Unit, reminds readers that 90 percent of all funds collected in Newtown stay in town. Glenn and other members of the local unit are still looking for volunteers to staff kettles in upcoming weekend. Minimum time commitment is one hour. Interested? Visit rebrand.ly/ring-newtown to sign up.

According to the organizers at Scripps National Spelling Bee — who organize one of my favorite events every year — Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023 is authentic. It’s a term for something we’re thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever. “A high-volume lookup most years, authentic saw a substantial increase in 2023, driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media,” the Scripps team said this week. “Authentic has a number of meanings including ‘not false or imitation,’ a synonym of real and actual; and also “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.’ Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate — two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary. Rizz, deepfake, and coronation were some of the other words that defined 2023, but I’m sticking with authentic. I am authentically looking forward to Memorial Day week next year, which is when the National Finals will be aired.

Let’s keep reading good things, building our vocabulary, and keeping our chins up until next week, when I hope you will remember to come back and … read me again.

Newtown news and notes, told from the point of view of a cat named Mountain.
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