As Labor Day looms, sun sets on Westport's summer fun
Summer is probably the only season that has several different "endings." There's the definitive meteorological transition from summer to autumn when the vernal equinox is ushered in each year on or around Sept. 21.
For many children, summer concludes a few weeks earlier when they head back to school. Others consider Labor Day as the last gasp of the summer season, which this year is Sept. 6.
Regardless of what measure people use to bring the season of the sun to a close, the waning days of summer are upon us and, in its fleeting days, people are scrambling to engage in activities in the Great Outdoors before winter's cold breath chases many indoors or to warmer climes out of state.
Throughout Fairfield County on Friday, people on a sun-splashed afternoon swam at beaches, golfed, fished, skateboarded and rollerbladed. Some soaked up the sun eating leisurely lunches in parks and on town greens and some hid from the sun under large umbrellas, still grateful for the opportunity to be outside.
"It's just nice being able to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather without having to do chores," said Colleen Chesney of Fairfield, who had lunch at a table in front of the Firehouse Deli in Fairfield with sons Ryan Chesney, 10; Aidan Chesney, 5, and mother-in-law Pat Chesney of Virginia Beach, Va.
"I'm going to miss summer," Ryan said.
"Me too," said Aidan, as the two recounted all they had done over summer vacation, with some prompting from mom, including campouts in the backyard, sleepover parties, having water gun fights, dog-sitting for a relative's border collie, Missy, and watching the Little League World Series.
"It always goes by fast," said David Hacker of Fairfield, as he prepared his 12-foot Sunfish on Penfield Beach for one of the last sails of the season. "The season winds down for help here on Labor Day. Labor Day is going to be it for me," he said.
The Monahan sisters -- Madelyn, 11; Caroline, 10, and Kelley, 4, of Fairfield -- also had a full plate this summer. They sailed and swam, played tennis and soccer, and vacationed in Vermont and at the Jersey shore, but rather than registering disappointment as summer's end approaches, they are actually looking forward to returning to school.
"They told me they were tired of going to the pool. They're ready to get back to school," said Kitty Monahan, the girls' grandmother, who is visiting from Newburgh, Ind., as the four ate lunch on Sherman Green in Fairfield.
Then there are the Cole and McGowan families, both of Fairfield, who will do anything to extend the summer season.
Teresa Cole said she and friend Jennifer McGowan have taken their collective group of seven kids to one of Fairfield's beaches on Long Island Sound and Lake Mohegan almost every day this summer and will continue that "tradition" even after school starts, and they will only stop going "when we think it's too cold."
At the Westport skate park at Compo Beach on Friday, Dane Dorta of Fairfield, the park supervisor, said it's gotten busier in the last week. "They're trying to get their last-minute skating in. In mid to late September it'll start tapering off," Dorta said. The park will close for the season in late October.
That won't impede skateboarders and rollerbladers. "There are other parks that are open all year," said Louis Mason, 13, of Westport.
Chris Bowles, 12, of Westport, said he will skate at indoor places, but has other activities in mind. "I'm disappointed. I really do enjoy summer, but winter gives me a chance to snowboard," he said.
Some adults are already bemoaning the fact that the strength of the sun's warmth is diminishing while others can't wait for cooler weather and cold-weather activities.
Hacker said he will move on to his non-summer time pursuits ... gardening in his make-shift greenhouse "and maybe some skiing."
Ted Giannitti of Westport, who golfed at Longshore Club in Westport on Friday, said he looks forward to a drop in temperature. "I can't handle the heat. That 85-degree stuff knocks me out," he said. But Giannitti admitted he will continue golfing at least until mid-December or until snow covers the golf course.
On the lawn of the Longshore Club, the Stamford-based Pickel Law Firm celebrated summer at the water's edge with its 6th annual Summer Fest, which featured festive, multi-colored straw hats, Hawaiian leis, beach balls, decorative vibrantly colored parasols, sunflowers, and a menu that included lobsters and a sea-themed multi-tiered cake topped in seahorses and shells.
"We couldn't have asked for a better day," said Alan Pickel, owner of the law firm.
Party guests, however, still had some regrets over summer's impending close. "The sun is leaving us. No more sun tan. No more walks on the beach until next year because it gets too cold," said Marinelis Sena of Bridgeport.
Nancy Perez of Bridgeport said that soon she'll have to pay to fly to another spot on the globe to find the warmest sun.