Woog's World / An honor roll of special days only a Westporter could love
Published 7:21 am, Sunday, April 6, 2014
For some reason the other day, Robert Jacobs' mind flashed back to 2005. His son Alex was captain of the Staples High School boys tennis team -- undefeated for four years. At the end of the season, First Selectwoman Diane Farrell honored the squad. And she proclaimed June 27 "Alex Jacobs Day" in Westport.
I'm guessing it came and went without much racket.
Proclaiming "days" is one of those countless tasks of first selectpeople. I suppose it is one that they relish, or at least enjoy more than answering complaints about potholes or condemning trees to death. After all, as Robert Jacobs' recent trip down memory lane shows, the honorees of special days remember them long after the sun sets.
I was part of a day too, back in the day. It was after one of the dozen or so trips I organized to Europe, for Westport Soccer Association teams I coached. Our guys won a major tournament -- the Italy Cup, I think -- and whoever was first selectman or woman at the time proclaimed it "Soccer Day" in Westport. Players and parents gathered on the steps of Town Hall. Photos were taken. A plaque filled with "Whereases" and "Howsoevers" was read.
I have no idea where the plaque is now. I could not locate one photo if world peace depended on it. But I remember it was our day. Even if no one else in town knew, or cared.
I think that at one time or another, every Westporter who has lived here for more than a couple of weeks, and every organization that ever taped a flyer to a store window, has been honored with a special day. Artists, musicians and athletes; Eagle Scouts, Girl Scout troops, troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- you name it, all have had their day on the Town Hall steps.
So it's probably time to expand the parameters of who and what gets honored. We're a big tent here in Westport, and we want to be sure the canvas encloses us all.
Why not have a day celebrating people who actually know how to park? If you can manage to pull your car or SUV into a spot without straddling a striped line; can position your car vertically rather than horizontally, or can correctly infer from the blue "Handicapped" sign that you must have a disability and a legitimate sticker to be there -- hey, it's your lucky day. Westport salutes you!
This being Westport, we often celebrate academic achievement. But why limit it to the 95 percent of students who are above average? Instead of relying on car decals and sly references to attending school in "Cambridge," we can make every kid (and parent) feel honored and respected. If the first selectman can't find time to proclaim a day for all those first-graders who can draw within the lines, every sixth-grader whose pod made it outside during a fire drill, and each Staples student who throws trash from his cafeteria table into the garbage -- well, that's not a politician we want leading our town. Although, in all fairness, that part about kids tossing garbage is a bit of a stretch.
I'm sure Metro-North would love to feel our love. One of these years we should honor our favorite transportation agency for their crackerjack work getting us to New York only 15 minutes late, in cars with actual heat (winter) or air conditioning (summer) and doors that open without human intervention. Just let us know when.
How about a day for every Main Street business that is locally owned, has served customers reliably and well since the last century, cares about and supports the community, and will probably be here long after every women's clothing store folds? That's actually a ceremony that need not be held at Town Hall. The first selectman could just wander down the hill and present the proclamation to the one recipient, at Oscar's.
Every dog should have its day, too. Those that manage to romp at Winslow Park without straying onto the condominium property where certain Westport News columnists live; those that can read the signs saying where and when to enjoy Compo Beach, and those that clean up after themselves (with a little help from their masters) ought to be rewarded with a first selectman's proclamation.
And a few treats in the lobby afterward. If they don't finish them all, they can take them home. In a doggy bag.
I don't think first selectmen will ever run out of candidates for special "days." But if they do, they just have to look in the mirror. For all their hard work, I'd like a selectman to honor him or herself. A proclamation praising proclamation-praising -- that would make my day.