VAX Facts

As of May 19th, 51.83% of the town’s population had been vaccinated with a first dose.

Stratford clinics have dispensed 11,876 vaccines to date. It’s important to keep in mind that we are part of a larger regional and statewide vaccination network and effort. Stratford does not vaccinate ONLY Stratford residents – many of residents and first responders have been vaccinated at locations outside Stratford, and conversely, many from outside of Stratford have been vaccinated here.

The Stratford Health Department offered its last mass vaccination clinic for those wanting the MODERNA vaccine on Wednesday, May 26th. This clinic was the last “first dose” clinic being offered. Corresponding (28 days later) second dose clinics will take place in June.

Anyone wanting a Johnson and Johnson vaccine can still make an appointment for June Wednesday clinics as it only requires one dose. For questions about the June Wednesday vaccine clinics, please contact the Stratford Health Department by email at or by phone at 203-385-4090.

Statewide Covid-19 Vaccine Clinics:
To view a statewide list and map of COVID-19 vaccine clinics, go to:, and enter your zip code or town in the location box on the right, and press the yellow search icon.

Telephone: Those without internet access can call Connecticut’s COVID Vaccine Appointment Assistance Line: 877-918-2224. The phone system is targeted to provide support for eligible vaccine recipients who have limited technology access, or who have language, disability, or other barriers that could prevent them from using existing self-scheduling options successfully. The line will take calls on Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will offer a call-back option when all contact specialists are busy serving other callers. The team will aim to return calls as soon as possible, with the goal of same-day response.

Imporant: If you are having a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, it must be of the same type as your first dose. The vaccines cannot be mixed.

Mayor Announces Changes to Masking and Distancing Guidance in Town Hall Effective May 24th
Mayor Laura R. Hoydick has issued changes to requirements on social distancing and masking in Town Hall and other Town buildings. In accordance with CDC guidelines and executive orders from Governor Ned Lamont, restrictions on social distancing and masking are relaxed for employees and for visitors to Town buildings.

Individuals who have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks will no longer be required to wear masks indoors or to maintain 6-foot distance from others. Those who are not vaccinated, or have not yet been fully vaccinated for two weeks will continue to be required to wear masks and to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.

The Mayor noted that the Human Resources Department is maintaining records of employees who are fully vaccinated to ensure compliance with the new guidance.

New Guidance Changes
As of May 19, 2021, Connecticut’s protocols regarding masks and face coverings were updated to align with the recently modified CDC recommendations. The protocols that are currently in effect statewide are as follows:

Outdoors? Masks not required

Indoors: Vaccinated not required to wear masks, Unvaccinated must wear masks

Masks are required to be worn by everyone in certain settings such as healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and childcare
Businesses and state and local government offices have the option to require masks to be worn by everyone in their establishments

YES WE CAN: Big Win in 2020 By Stratford Residents

You took on a developer and town government and WON

A house located at 2019 Main Street, the Lillie Devereux Blake house; is an important part of Stratford’s history. Built in 1856 by Lillie Devereux Blake’s mother, Sarah Elizabeth Johnson Devereux, it sits on what was part of the William Samuel Johnson estate and called Elm Cottage.

The house is an American Carpenter Gothic. Most American Carpenter Gothic structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which may help to ensure their preservation. Many, though, are not listed and those in urban areas are endangered by the increased value of the land they occupy. Apparently this was the case in Stratford.

In June Kaali-Nagy Properties submitted an application to the Stratford Zoning commission with a proposal to build a 100-unit apartment complex at 2009-2019 Main Street referred to as The Village. The developers of The Village intended to raze the house and replace it with 6 residential units “that will appear to be part of the neighborhood”.

Their plans were posted on Stratford Facebook pages, an on-line petition was created on, contact information on the Mayor and members of the Zoning Commission were posted – and in one week this is what happened next: This excerpt is from the July/August issue of Connecticut Preservation News:

Facing broad public sentiment, a developer dropped plans to demolish the home of an important but little known 19th-century author and feminist. In the years around 1860 Lillie Devereux Blake (1833-1913), lived in a Gothic Revival house (c.1855) on Main Street in what is now the Stratford National Register district. Her novel Southwold, published in 1859, is set in the town. Later, she became a leading figure in the women’s suffrage movement. The Kaali-Nagy Company of New Canaan had proposed razing the house for a six-unit apartment building to accompany a new 97-unit building to be built at the rear of the property. An online petition garnered more than 1,000 signatures, and on June 24 the town zoning commission approved revised plans with the requirement that the house be preserved and incorporated into the development. Damian Kaali-Nagy told the commission, “We understand and have great admiration for period and architectural identity… We will preserve at least the primary and architecturally significant portion of the existing building.” Blake’s childhood home in New Haven was demolished by Yale University in 1999, after a protracted preservation battle.

Lillie Devereux Blake (aka Elizabeth Johnson Devereux) was a noted woman suffragist, reformer, and writer. She is a direct descendent of Samuel Johnson, William Samuel Johnson, Judge Samuel William Johnson, and Rev. Jonathan Edwards.

In 1869 she joined the woman’s suffrage movement. She worked alongside Susan B. Anthony , and, after visiting the Woman Suffrage Headquarters and meeting Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others prominent in the movement, Lillie decided, “They’re ladies,” and began to participate actively. Lillie played a prominent part in the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (where she was unanimously elected president of the New York State Woman suffrage Association, an office she held for 11 years) and the American Woman’s Suffrage Association . Her writing was channeled to the movement and included a contribution to the Woman’s Bible, a publication based on Biblical criticism and ecclesiastical history, proving that there was “no explanation for the degraded status of women under all religious, and all so-called ‘Holy Books.'” The book created a sensation when it was printed in 1895, with widespread coverage in New York papers. The clergy declared it the work of Satan.

Lillie was a natural organizer. She worked on the national level, but her chief success was in the state of New York. She championed the working people, particularly the women An active lobbyist in the legislature, she pled for school suffrage, equality of property rights, women factory inspectors, women physicians in hospitals and insane institutions, and police matrons. A Committee on Legislative Advice was organized with her assistance, to help other suffragists; her leaflet of instructions was printed in the Woman’s Journal. She succeeded in seeing the passage of legislation granting women the first vote in state elections and the right to become trustees of schools; with the support of Governor Theodore Roosevelt and over “the persistent opposition of the New York Police Department,” a bill was passed providing for police matrons. Further legislation allowed women to retain citizenship following marriage to a foreigner, and her final accomplishment was the enactment of an equality of inheritance law by the New York assembly.

She was one of the active promoters of the movement that resulted in the founding of Barnard College. In 1869, she visited the Women’s Bureau in New York and soon after, began speaking all over the United States in support of female enfranchisement. She
earned a reputation as a freethinker and gained fame when she attacked the well known lectures of Morgan Dix, a clergyman who asserted that woman’s inferiority was supported by the Bible. Her lectures, published as Woman’s Place To-Day rejected this idea, asserting in one instance that if Eve was inferior to Adam because she was created after him, then by the same logic Adam was inferior to the fishes.

Doggone Good Advice

from the Town of Stratford Health Department


Election Day: Stratford

By Elizabeth Saint

“Something so simple has such a big impact.” Michael Vernon, first time voter.

Delicia Desouza proudly displayed her “I Voted Today” sticker.

Stratford’s election day was noted for “Early Lines,” “Lots of first time voters,” a “Constant stream of voters,”  “mask wearing and social distancing being followed” “as well as Very smooth and safe.”

The Stratford Crier toured many polling stations in the town of Stratford.

Here is what we heard and saw:

District 1: Lordship Elementary School


Election Moderator, Michael Rodriguez reported that at 5:15am there were already 50 to 60 people in line waiting for the doors to open.  “Things have been going smoothly.”

District 2: Stratford High School

There was not coverage of District 2 due to technical difficulties.

District: 3: Stratford Academy; Johnson House

Election Moderator, Robert Bradley said “We had about 25 people lined up to vote when I got here at 5:15.”

Johnson School, which is in District 3, reported that 70% of their registered voters had voted by 2 p.m.

District 4: The Franklin School

Voter, Ray Hess reported it took “about six minutes” from parking his car to casting his vote.

District 5: Nichols Elementary

At 10:19am there were approximately 36 people in line wrapping around the school.  The line moved efficiently and the mood was positive.

Tiaire Lee said it was his first time voting in a Presidential election.  “It took about twenty minutes and it was pretty easy.”

Diana Kosa,  planned ahead and brought her own chair.

District 6: Wooster 

Judy Cleri, Election Moderator reported lines of voters ready at 6am and wrapping around the building.  The line flowed constantly, with lots of new voters, even creating a need for double lines until about 8:30am, when things began to slow.”


District 7:  Wilcoxson Elementary

Election Moderator, Elizabeth Christiansen reported being busy all morning.  “Right now we are in a lull.” She said,  even as voters arrived in a steady trickle.  “People started standing in line at 5:30am.  The line finally dissipated at 8:30am. Everyone has been fine.


District 8 — Chapel Street School

One couple, when asked about their voting experience said.  “ It was wonderful.  We didn’t even wait a minute.”

Father, Mark Vernon accompanied his son, Michael Vernon, who is 19 years old, to the polls for his first experience voting in a Presidential election.  When asked how it felt, Michael said, “Filling in the ballot is a little underwhelming.  You are just filling in a circle.  But you remember that doing something so simple has such a big impact.”

Zach Kassay, Cameron Vatnais, Lily Kassay, Julia Delke, Madison Letsch and Noa Reid

Assorted organizations saw election day as an opportunity.  At the Chapel Street School, the Sixth grade class was hosting a bake sale to raise money for end-of-sixth grade awards and picnics.  “We don’t know how it’s going to be this year but we are hopeful.” one sixth grade mother said.

Enthusiastic sellers included: (from left to right)





District 9: Bunnell High School


Everything was quiet with single voters arriving every few minutes.  However, Malcolm Starratt, the Election Moderator, said the day didn’t start that way.  “At six am the line went up back along the side of the school.  And they kept coming till about 8:30am. It was just packed.

Malcolm Starratt, Election Moderator for 18 years takes a breath during a busy day of voting.

Then it started tapering down but it has been consistent all day.”  “What I’m hearing”, said Starratt, “is that all the districts had powerful mornings.”

Starratt has been an Election Moderator for about 18 years.

“We’ve got a great team.”  He said, “A great team that works well together”  — referring to the women and men working the Bunnell High School polling station.

“I’ve never done this with a mask before.  It’s a different thing.  Everyone has had a mask. Everyone was keeping a social distance.  It’s been nice.  We haven’t had to tell anyone to wear a mask.  It’s the biggest round of people I’ve seen.  It’s big.”

District 10: Second Hill Lane


This morning there was a line of approximately 47 people.

Beth Kardamis reported that the experience was a positive one.  That it felt very “smooth and safe.”

Joyce Varrone (pictured here with her “I Voted” sticker) reported that she arrived at 10:50 and took her almost exactly 20 minutes to vote.  “It didn’t take that long.”




First July 4th Celebration

The first time fireworks were used to celebrate July 4th was on July 8th, 1776. According to, some of the fireworks used may have been used mockingly, because in England fireworks were used as a birthday celebration for the kings and queens. Firing the fireworks to celebrate the separation of the colonies from England was to some the celebration of the “death” of the king’s power over them.

The next year, on July 4th, 1777, the first official July 4th celebration was held. This day was celebrated with the firing of guns, cannons, bonfires and fireworks. Philadelphia was the first city to celebrate July 4th in this manner (which was the capitol of the United States at the time). Other cities soon took up the practice of firing guns and fireworks on July 4th as well.

Ship’s cannons fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.

On America’s first Fourth of July celebration in 1777, fireworks were one color: orange. There were no elaborate sparkles, no red, white, and blue stars — nothing more than a few glorified (although uplifting) explosions in the sky.

If you’ve ever wondered why we celebrate Independence Day with these colorful explosions, you can thank the British — and John Adams. On July 2nd, 1776, two days before the Declaration of Independence was signed, he wrote this letter to his wife:

“This day will be most memorable in the history of America,” he predicted. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade… bonfires and illuminations [fireworks]… from one end of this content to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” …and so it was. On July 4, 1777, the first anniversary of America’s country-hood, there were indeed fireworks, and there would be for more than 200 years to follow.

Official Holiday Declaration
July 4th was not declared an official federal holiday until 1941. Before then the 4th of July was still celebrated around the country but in a less official capacity. Once July 4th was named a federal holiday, more people than ever started using fireworks as a part of their Independence Day celebrations.

Today, nearly everyone celebrates July 4th with fireworks of some kind. Almost every city in the country has its own special July 4th fireworks displays. Families use sparkers and firecrackers at their own homes to celebrate our nation’s independence.

Since 1988, Stratford performs an annual fireworks display at Short Beach. (The rain date is July 5th). The fireworks display begins right after sunset at, approximately, 9:00 p.m. and over 5,000 people have attended this town wide event.

As it turns out, although we’ve been lighting fireworks for the last 2000 years or so, modern fireworks were only invented in the 1830s — so, what were they like before then?

Like many inventions, firecrackers fireworks were created by accident… and by the search for immortality. Around 200 BC, the Chinese unintentionally invented firecrackers by tossing bamboo into fire, but it took another thousand years before true fireworks came alive. As the story goes, around 800 AD, an alchemist mixed sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (a food preservative) hoping to find the secret to eternal life. Instead, the mixture caught on fire, and gunpowder was born! When the powder was packed into bamboo or paper tubes and lit on fire, history had its first fireworks!

If you attended a fireworks show in 1600, the science would not have been much different from ancient China, but it was a lot more entertaining! Now used for military victories, religious events, or royal celebrations, aerial fireworks (still plain orange — no color yet!) were run by “firemasters” and their assistants, “green men”. Before the show, the green men, named for the leaves they wore to protect themselves from sparks, would tell jokes to the crowd while they prepared the celebration. Being a green man, however, was a highly dangerous position, and many were injured or killed when their fireworks malfunctioned.

The colorful explosions we see today would not be created for another sixty years when Italian inventors added in metals like strontium or barium. In the 1830s, our modern fireworks were born, and celebrations took on an entirely new light.

If you watch a fireworks show this Fourth of July, you will witness over 2000 years of danger, invention, and beauty wrapped into a simple package. From exploding bamboo to parcels of gunpowder and metals, our science — and our world — have come a long way in the past millennia! Even the most common science often has a wonderful and fascinating history. Who knows what the future will bring next?

Early U.S. settlers brought their love of fireworks with them to the New World and fireworks were part of the very first Independence Day – a tradition that continues every 4th of July when we celebrate as John Adams had hoped “with pomp, parade….bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” Americans’ spirit of celebration continued to grow and in the late 18th century, politicians used displays to attract crowds to their speeches.

While July 4th is still the “big day”, Americans continue to use fireworks year-round to celebrate at festivals, special events, and sporting traditions such as the Olympics and Super Bowl.

Fireworks entertainment generates dollars as well as smiles. Thunder Over Louisville is one of the country’s largest fireworks displays and an economic study conducted by the Derby Festival determined that Thunder generates more than $56 million for the local economy.

But more than anything else, when you think of the fireworks, you think of the Fourth of July and the celebration of our country’s Independence. Fireworks have been with Americans since our nation’s beginning and that is why the American Pyrotechnics Association continues its work to Preserve and Promote an American Tradition!

Connecticut Connection to Fireworks (Grucci Family Upstarts!)
M. Backes and Sons of Wallingford, started as a company in 1876 manufacturing caps for cap guns. It began to make fireworks like fountains and spinners for “backyard use” and flares and signals during World War II.

The company closed in 1962 after rebuilding several times as explosions destroyed several factories, breaking windows and damaging homes for miles around.

At the trailhead of the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail, you can connect to a place called Fireworks Island, in the Yalesville section of town. The trail offers some stellar views of the Quinnipiac and a history lesson of a place that was once home to the “Fireworks Capital of Connecticut.”
The new northern segment begins on Fireworks Island, created when a manmade channel — known as the “Yalesville Raceway” — was dug in the 1850s to harness the water power of the Quinnipiac. The raceway was dug by hand and was 30 feet wide and 8 feet deep. The stonewalls and locks of the raceway can still be seen from a bridge accessing the trail’s parking lot. The island which was formed is known as ‘Fireworks Island,’ named for the M. Backes and Sons fireworks company which maintained a storage facility on the island.

Today’s Firepower Families
Lighting up the skies is a family business. Passed down from generation to generation, and not without dangers, fireworks are still practiced as a trade brought over from Italy and Portugal by their great great great grandfathers. The genealogy of these families lights up many a branch of their family trees.

This genealogy of firework families is a blast. And an international one, too. It blazes from early China and those royal family trees with spectacular genealogical lines to Florence, Italy in the 1400s where the fireworks manufacturing biz was booming.

Now, the genealogy of fireworks in America is into a new generation. These fireworks businesses are booming with the genealogy of a forth, fifth, sixth and seventh generation now in their family business.

A brief list of Italian or Portuguese fireworks families who have brought excitement to New Year’s eve, Fourth of July and special event excitement in today’s USA includes:

• Bartolotta: Family of Sam Bartolotta who turned a hobby he began in 1930 into a company Bartolotta Fireworks Inc. of Genesee Depot, Wisconsin in 1977, now on its third generation.

• Cartolano: Ancestors of Mike Cartolano current head of Melrose Fireworks, Melrose Park/Kingsbury, Illinois.

• Grucci: The Grucci Family owners of Fireworks By Grucci, Long Island, NY.

• Rozzi: The descendants of Paul Rozzi of Rozzi Fireworks in Cincinatti/Loveland, Ohio.

• Serpico: The family of John Serpico did run the business. Gerry Serpico, who worked with one of the Serpico sons, and her son Randy now run International Fireworks, Douglassville, PA originally from North Bergen, NJ.

• Sorgi: The Sorgi Family owners of American Fireworks, Hudson, Ohio.

• Souza: The Souza Family owners of Pyro Spectaculars, Inc., Rialto, CA.

• Vitale: The Vitale Family owner of Constantino Vitale’s Pyrotecnico begun in Pietramelara, Italy in 1889 and relocated in 1920 in New Castle, PA.

• Zambelli: The Zambelli Family owners of Zambelli Internationale, Inc., New Castle, PA and Florida.

New Laws Taking Effect on July 1st

State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,
A number of new laws that my colleagues and I worked on during the 2022 legislative session to implement meaningful change in our state will take effect in Connecticut on July 1st, 2022.

The list is extensive, but see below for some highlights:

Paid Family Leave

Starting Friday, among other provisions, the act requires employers to notify their employees at the time of hiring and every year thereafter about their entitlement to family and medical leave and family violence leave and the terms under which the leaves may be used, about the opportunity to file a benefits claim under the FMLI program. The law also prohibits employer retaliation against an employee for requesting, applying for, or using family medical leave for which an employee is eligible.

Protections for Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Services

In light of the recent Supreme Court Decision on Roe v Wade, I am pleased that Connecticut took proactive steps to ensure reproductive rights. This new law establishes protections for individuals seeking an abortion and physicians performing services. It also protects against out-of-state judgments based on reproductive or gender-affirming health care services that are legal in Connecticut, allowing these individuals to recover certain costs they incurred defending the out-of-state action and bringing an action under the new law. The law allows advanced practice registered nurses, nurse midwives, and physician assistants to provide reproductive services.

Isolated Confinement

This new law limits the amount of time and circumstances under which an incarcerated person may be held in isolated confinement with less than four hours per day out of a cell beginning July 1, 2022 in the general population, gradually increasing to 5 hours per day on and after April 1, 2023. The law also requires that any use of isolated confinement maintain the least restrictive environment needed for the safety of incarcerated individuals, staff, and facility security and prohibits holding minors in isolated confinement. It also places new limits on its use by considering physical and mental health evaluations.


The budget established the JobsCT tax rebate program for companies in specified industries to earn rebates against insurance premiums, corporation business, and pass-through entity (PE) taxes for reaching certain job creation targets.

Indoor Air Quality in Public Schools

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature passed several initiatives to improve schools’ indoor air quality. A grant program was created to reimburse boards of education or regional education service centers for costs associated with installing, replacing, or upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems or other air quality improvements.
The budget makes $150 million available for the program ($75 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and $75 million in general obligation bonds effective July 1, 2022). Additionally, the act requires boards of education to conduct a uniform inspection and evaluation of the HVAC system in each school building under its jurisdiction every five years and take any necessary corrective actions. It also establishes a working group to study and make recommendations related to indoor air quality within schools.

Captive Audience Meetings

A new law generally prohibits employers from penalizing employees or threatening to do so for refusing to attend employer-sponsored meetings, listen to speech, or view communications primarily intended to convey the employer’s opinion about religious or political matters, including decisions to join or support labor organizations. The law provides exceptions for, among other things, employers to communicate information required by law or that the employees need to perform their jobs.

Catalytic Converters
Several changes were made regarding the receipt and sale of catalytic converters, including prohibiting anyone other than a motor vehicle recycler or motor vehicle repair shop from selling more than one unattached converter to a scrap metal processor, junk dealer, or junk yard owner or operator in a day. The law also establishes several recordkeeping requirements and other conditions, such as affixing or writing a stock number on converters.

Your calls, emails, and testimony at public hearings during this year’s legislative session had a direct influence on these new laws. Thank you and continue expressing your views and making your voice heard.
For a complete list of new laws that go into effect on July 1st go to:


Garden Party at Judson House

The first organizational meeting of the Judson House Garden Club on Saturday, June 25th, featured speakers, and a “hands on” demonstration on making a Butterfly Puddler, (feeding station).

Jean Puchalski, a Board Member of Pollinator Pathway, Master Gardener, and Master Composter, ( delivered insights on planting and caring for Pollinator Pathways.

Pollinator Pathways were also discussed by the garden managers of Stratford’s  Pollinator Pathways:

  • Shakespeare Park, known as “Will’s Garden” managed by Jean Goodnow. Volunteer Anne Lees spoke about the garden and opportunities for volunteering. These women are also active in the well being of the gardens at Boothe Memorial Park.
  • Stratford Animal Control: Landscape designer Pat Lammers designed the garden (she is also the consultant/designer for the gardens at Judson House). Rachael Solveira oversees the pollinator garden and garden club members at the animal shelter.
  • Stratford Library: Rotary sponsored and recently planted their Pollinator Pathway
  • Longbrook Park: Councilwoman Kaitlin Shake, Marca Leigh and Lisa Zawadski spoke.
  • Stratford Beautification Committee: Christine Griffin spoke about the Lordship pollinator gardens. She is the Chairman for the Longbrook Improvement Association’s Environment & Education Committee. She also is the Co-chair for the Town’s Beautification Committee. The Beautification Committee has a new Facebook page and urged those in attendance to submit photos of Stratford resident gardens for their annual Summer Beautification Awards.

The Judson House Historic Gardens are themed, growing plants and herbs that were specific to the colonial era, along with information and education on their uses. Medicinal, culinary, aromatic and some just for plain beauty. Some that we can and still use to this day.

A new addition to the Judson House gardens is a beautiful Pollinator Demonstration Garden. Judson House is part of the “Pollinator Pathway”, and in this garden they hope to demonstrate and educate others with clear, real-life examples of the valuable services that all our pollinators provide, and how easy it is to support them. We offer public programming that engage and educate our Stratford community and beyond on the importance of our local pollinators, and hopefully, encourage others to create their own pollinator gardens.

Sign up for the garden club is through this link:

or scan this QR code.