Woog’s World / Support the PAL fireworks
There are many ways to get into Compo Beach for next Wednesday’s July 4 — er, July 3 — fireworks.
You can Uber. You can park as far away as the preschool on Hillspoint Road (or, even further, the office building on Greens Farms) and walk over. You can ride your bike, scooter, skateboard or boat.
Or you can buy a pass for $35 and actually park in the lot.
That’s great if you’ve got young kids. If you’re hauling tables, chairs and enough food to feed a small army.
It’s also great if you want to get into the community spirit and help the community.
The fireworks don’t just fall from the sky (well, they do, but I mean metaphorically). They’re the product of a ton of hard work by Westport PAL. They sponsor the townwide bash (with generous support from Melissa & Doug, the toy company). It’s their biggest fundraiser of the year. The $35 parking pass pays for all kinds of Independence Day-related expenses and also covers the hundreds of thousands of dollars the organization spends on youth sports programs, college scholarships, fields and lights, and much more.
It’s your choice. You can keep the $35 (which covers, for your picnic, a bottle or two of wine), and pat yourself on the back for getting in for free. Or you can head over to the Parks and Recreation office in Longshore (business hours) or police headquarters on Jesup Green (24/7) to help out a volunteer organization that helps all of us, tirelessly and thanklessly — and has done so since 1948.
Of course, the July 3 fireworks event is not the only freebie. You can spend 55 nights every summer watching a different type of entertainment every night at the Levitt Pavilion, and not pay a dime.
Rock groups, jazz musicians, military bands, children’s artists, ballet dancers, the Westport Community Band — every type of entertainer except Topo Gigio — they’re all there, all under the stars, all for free. You can spend the money you save on, well, a bottle or two of wine. The grass is perfect for picnicking, and parking is a breeze.
The Levitt can do all that — and has, for more than 40 years — thanks to the generosity of sponsors and members of its Friends group. There are also three ticketed events this year: a Charlie Karp tribute July 6 (featuring some of the best rock and jazz the Levitt has ever heard); the eclectic Our Native Daughters group July 23, and the Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo 40th anniversary tour Aug. 27.
As with the fireworks, there’s no pressure to buy tickets. No one will know if you walk into the beach or miss one of the ticketed shows. But if too many people do, neither the PAL nor the Levitt can sustain itself.
I’m just saying.
Meanwhile — speaking of the Levitt — have you seen the new library?
The outside looks the same (though the Riverwalk entrance has been enhanced, and there’s a fantastic new staircase and entry fronting Jesup Green).
But inside — let’s just say this is the coolest, most bad-ass library you’ve ever seen.
I won’t go into details. I won’t tell you about the fantastic, flexible Forum that is combines the Pyramids of Egypt and the people-watching of Times Square with a state-of-the-art performance space. I won’t describe the new recording studio, MakerSpace, children’s library, and reading and meeting rooms, or the reimagined stacks on the lower level.
All I’ll say is: It didn’t come cheap.
A ton of townspeople and others (including the town) contributed to the $24 million project. It came in on time and under budget, and now it’s there for all of us to enjoy.
Including anyone who did not contribute a penny.
This is a library, after all. It’s open to all — more than that, it wants everyone to come.
But when the library makes its annual appeal, or hosts its Booked for the Evening fundraiser, as it does every June, consider that nothing is free. If you can help, what’s stopping you from doing so? The Westport Library is one of the crown jewels of our village, and it takes a village to keep it going.
That’s not all, of course. The Memorial Day parade: free, thanks to the incredible work of never-thanked-enough Bill Vornkahl, and the Veterans Council.
Wakeman Town Farm and Earthplace: there are always fun, educational and important programs going on at our two environmental centers, at opposite ends of town. Of course, you can always contribute to their fund drives too.
All of those organizations and events are special. They make Westport what it is. You could even call them priceless.
Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.