It’s a Wonderful Life – Stratford Style

by David Wright
from the Stratford Historical Society

It’s a Wonderful Life is the quintessential American Christmas movie classic produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift. The movie made its American theatrical debut on Christmas Day 1946. Three years earlier, almost to the day, a real life version of It’s a Wonderful Life unfolded in the Town of Stratford.

Weather in Stratford for December 1943 was unusual with continual warming and cooling episodes causing ice on ponds to form and recede continually throughout the month. Residents, particularly in the South End, were being warned to stay off lake and pond ice due to the ice’s instability. Frash Pond, with its continual incursion of sea water, formed an even less stable ice surface.

A particularly virulent influenza had invaded Stratford immediately following Thanksgiving. It seemed everyone in town had just recovered from the flu or was coming down with it. Governor Ray Baldwin was at home in Stratford with a bad case. The headline of the December 22, 1943 The Stratford News read “Anyone Who Hasn’t Been Ill Of Grippe, Or Isn’t, Seems In A Very Exclusive Class.”

The Stratford Housing Authority had formed by the Town Council in August of 1943 due to the town’s dissatisfaction with the way in which the town’s housing projects were being administered by Bridgeport and the Federal Government. Francis Brennan, a very successful, 59 yea old, businessman and community leader, was selected by the town from a pool of seven candidates to be the Executive Director.

When the Stratford Housing Authority was created, the Federal Government promised the Town there would be no out-of-pocket expenses for the Town. From the Housing Authority’s creation until mid-January of 1944, the Town received no money from the Federal Government to administer the Authority. Francis Brennan, consequently, had received no salary for his work through December.

The northeast was experiencing a critical coal shortage. Coal in short supply and one of Francis Brennan’s daily struggles was to find sufficient coal to heat the Wood End Housing Project’s housing units. Coal was selected as the heat source for the project as the coal furnaces were less expensive to install and operate.

Christmas break for the elementary students began after the end of the school day Thursday, December 23rd, and classes weren’t scheduled to resume until Monday, January 3rd. The children had to be delighted the afternoon of December 23rd to be free from school for several days. Additionally, Santa was coming in two days. Frash Pond’s ice covered surface must have looked inviting for an afternoon of play now that school was out for the holidays. The outdoor temperature was reported at about 16 degrees the afternoon of December 23rd.

Early in the afternoon of December 23rd, eight year old Eleanor Baclawsi frantically ran into Francis Brennan’s Main Street office, which was located across the street from the Chance-Vaught plant (today’s Army Engine plant). Eleanor shouted that two boys had just fallen through the ice on Frash Pond.

Francis sprinted from his office stripping off his coat and vest as he ran the 200 feet to where the boys had fallen through the ice. Seven yea old Kenneth Mackes was under water, so Francis Brennan dove in to locate him. On finding Kenneth, Francis swam with him to the shore. On reading the Frash Pond shore, Francis saw the ice that nine year old Robert Mackes was clinging to break apart. Robert was submerged. Francis dove back into the icy water and pulled Robert to the safety of the short.

(Editor’s Note: In a recent conversation with Robert Mackes, re remarked, “I can still recall being under water and I thank God for Mr. Brennan as I was going down for the count when he was able to pull me out.”) 

Now that both boys were secured on the shore, Francis began to administer first aid to the boys. Francis continued his ministrations on Kenneth and Robert until an ambulance arrived and took the boys to Bridgeport Hospital.

Francis Brennan retrieved his coat and vest, and returned to his office to finish out his work day.

Just over three weeks later, Francis was working in his office when ten year old Christina Munumer ran in shouting that another boy had fallen through the Frash Pond ice. Once more, Francis dashed to Frash Pond, plunged in, and pulled five year old Rodney Peavey to safety.

It’s quite apparent what the outcome of these two eventful days would have been had Francis Brennan decided to leave work early either day; or, if Francis would have been one of the unfortunates to contract the flu on December 23rd or January 18th, disaster would have been displayed rejoicing. Francis Brennan could have done what most of us would have in similar circumstances and just waited for the emergency responders to arrive and attempt to rescue the boys. Had he done so, however, three young lives would have been lost.

The Mackes family Christmas of 1943 had to be one filled with exceeding joy realizing what might have been had Francis not been at work on December 23rd. In the ensuing years, the Mackes family moved back to their former hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Kenneth Mackes graduated from Central High School in Scranton following which he served his country in the U.S. Army. Kenneth worked and travelled throughout the United States. He was working at Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vermont at the time of his passing in 2017.

Robert Mackes married and raised a family with his wife, Janice. Robert reports “I was fortunate to survive a potential drowning and hope my life has had a meaning and purpose. I served 4 years in the Air Force and retired after 28 years working for the CIA.” 

Rodney Peavey graduated from Stratford High School in 1957; served in the U.S. military after graduation; attended mechanics training school in Cheyenne, Wyoming; married a Shelton girl; and, was working as a mechanic at Sikorsky Aircraft at the time of his passing in 1974.

Francis Brennan continued his active community service until his passing in 1973. His selfless contributions to his community, even beyond the heroic rescue of three boys, were legion. It is a wonderful life, indeed!

How are we Celebrating our Pandemic Thanksgiving?

Stratford Crier Survey Results
Brought to you by our readers!

How is Stratford celebrating Thanksgiving?

According to the Stratford Crier survey respondents, all of us are staying home with immediate family. Several are going to Zoom with family members that are not local or out of state.

As for what we are thankful for – overwhelmingly we are thankful for our health, our family, and interestingly enough the Biden/Harris win. One respondent noted that they were thankful for “the endless supply of positivity around our town”.

How is this Thanksgiving going to be different around town? “Fewer people at the table”, “A smaller bird and no guests”, “More hope now for the future”, “I can be by myself, eat what I want, and not have to be in front of the TV with some dumb football game (or games)!”

Most of us are having the traditional turkey dinner; those with Italian heritage are going with the traditional turkey with lasagna and manicotti. The vegans and vegetarians are going with a “meatless turkey roast.” (who knew?)

One of our readers lost his father due to Covid-19, and to him and his family, and all of our readers who lost someone to Covid-19, we send you our most sincere condolences. Thank you all for filling out the survey, may many blessings come your way, wear a mask, stay socially distant, and stay safe.

Ode To Thanksgiving

Orna Rawls
Stratford Crier Board of Directors

Millions of people celebrate Thanksgiving, with many of us traveling to spend the day with loved ones, express gratitude, and share a meal together.(Would that be Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go). According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 54 million Americans travel over 50 miles or more on Thanksgiving.

Many Americans also use this holiday to help the less fortunate. Hosting a food drive is common, as is preparing free dinners for the hungry. The sense of community and thanks has given way to many powerful quotes and sayings reiterating these feelings.

Below is a collection of quotes, sayings, and puns to get you and your family in the festive mood.

Many people have shared their thoughts about Thanksgiving and being thankful .In a study by Statista, 50% of Americans reported that celebrating Thanksgiving is very important, while 70% of Americans think Thanksgiving is a holiday to spend time with family. Of the millions of people celebrating this holiday, many feel the need to express their gratitude and take inspiration from others.

Thanksgiving Quotes The Good, The Bad, and The Punny!

  • “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson
  • “Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put into words is all that is necessary.” — Margaret Cousins
  • “Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
  • “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” — W. Clement Stone
  • “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey
  • “Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Halftimes take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” — Erma Bombeck
  • “When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” — Sam Lefkowitz
  • “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” — John F. Kennedy
  • “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have
    roses.” — Alphonse Karr
  • “The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in
    every hour, some heavenly blessings.” — Henry Ward Beecher
  • “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are
    conscious of our treasures.” — Thornton Wilder
  • “I like football. I find it’s an exciting strategic game. It’s a great way to avoid
    conversation with your family at Thanksgiving.” — Craig Ferguson
  • “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what
    he’s going to get.” — Frank W. Clarke
  • “When you give and carry out acts of kindness, it’s as though something inside your body responds and says, ‘Yes, this is how I ought to feel.’” — Rabbi Harold Kushner

Thanksgiving Puns
Thanksgiving can also be fun and whimsical. Often during happy gatherings, people like to bring humor to the table, just remember, “Laughter is the best medicine”!

  • Oh my gourd!
  • Gobble until you wobble
  • Feast mode
  • I’m all about that baste
  • Corn you believe it?
  • That’s a-maize-ing
  • I yam who I yam
  • Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater
  • B-autumns up
  • Fowl play
  • Turnip the beat
  • Taters gonna tate
  • Easy as pie!

Thanksgiving Sayings

  • There’s always something to be thankful for
  • There’s always room for seconds
  • Give thanks with a grateful heart
  • Pumpkin spice and everything nice
  • Thankful and blessed
  • Leftovers are for quitters
  • Eat, drink, and be thankful
  • In all things give thanks
  • Let our lives be full of both thanks and giving
  • Gather here with grateful hearts
  • Get your pie on
  • It’s turkey time
  • Keep calm and gobble on
  • Count your blessings

And to close, we leave you with these thoughts:

“Piglet noticed that although he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” A.A. Milne

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received,
Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling,
Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse”
Henry Van Dyke

We at the Stratford Crier wish all of you a Blessed Holiday.


Quotes Source:

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Probate Corner with Judge Max L. Rosenberg

Greetings Stratfordites and friends! I am Max L. Rosenberg, the Judge of Probate Court for Stratford, District 47.

In this installment, I want to discuss the risks of dying without a will. I have been asked on several occasions, how the artist formerly known as Prince could have died without leaving a will. This musical phenomenon, who was a virtuoso on no less than four instruments, and arguably a shrewd businessman, who unlike his contemporaries, took control of his musical catalog and copyrights, left no will? Why?

Reportedly, he hated lawyers. But increasingly, and unexpectedly, people are losing loved ones far too soon to COVID-19. Often, these events are surrounded by abrupt and hectic circumstances with little to no time to prepare or discuss intentions. Other notable people that have not left a Will (which resulted in expensive, time consuming wastes of resources with loved ones being left forgotten) are Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, and Sonny Bono. Stieg Larsson, the author of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise, left no will and his lifelong partner of thirty-two years, Eva Gabrielsson, received nothing. (His family did grant her ownership of the couple’s apartment). If there is a lesson here, it’s to prepare early. Now is the time to get your estate planning house in order.

What is intestate or intestacy? This is the term we use regarding a deceased person and their estate when they have not left a Will. For some people, this may not seem too alarming, assuming they plan on dying with no assets or assuming they have left no loved ones behind. However, if you have assets and loved ones, it seems irresponsible not to leave considerate directions for when you are gone. In the news today, I was saddened to be reminded that Chadwick Boseman, Marvel Comics’ Black Panther, died at such a young age (43) and at the height of his career. I was sadder to read that he died intestate. Its no surprise or secret that people put off getting their Wills taken care of.

No one wants to contemplate their own mortality. The younger the person is, the less likely they believe it to be necessary. Mr. Boseman was 43, and while it does not seem he had any children, he left behind two parents and a wife, Taylor Simone Ledward. Ms. Ledward has now filed in Los Angeles Probate Court and requested for a judge to name her an administrator of her husband’s estate with limited authority. She listed the estimated value of the “Black Panther” star’s estate at $938,500.

You may be wondering what will happen with this estate as there are not clear directions from the decedent (deceased person). The state’s Intestate Succession laws or probate law will now dictate how Mr. Boseman’s money will devolve, to whom and in what proportions.

Under California law, when a person dies “intestate”, the spouse inherits all community property and splits the individual’s separate property with the parents. However, and more applicable to us, in Connecticut, the same situation would be differently handled. To wit: the spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your intestate property as well as three quarters (3/4) of the balance. The parents would inherit all the remaining intestate property.

So, while our state has a number of wonderfully crafted intestacy laws, I recommend not leaving something this important up to the court if you have options. Every adult should ask themselves the hard questions we normally avoid and prepare for the eventual inevitable. On a positive note, certain notable people did leave very specific directives in their Last Wills.

A few more interesting tid-bits in Connecticut intestacy law: If a person dies with no living relatives their property goes to the state. Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-439, If a person dies with half-siblings, they inherit as if you shared both parents. Also, relatives with immigration status issues inherit regardless of any legality as to their status. Babies born after, but conceived before a person’s death, inherit as though they were born before the person’s passing. And finally, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-447, if an heir is found guilty of murdering the relative, they lose their inheritance, and shall not profit from the killing. This is called the “Slayer Statute”.

Dusty Springfield, Alexander McQueen and Leona Helmsley left very generous, very specific provisions for their dogs and cats. William Shakespeare generously gave his “second-best bed, with the furniture” to his wife and his “broad silver-gilt bowl” to his daughter Judith and finally, a whole ten pounds to “the poor of Stratford,”. Even if it is just ten pounds, isn’t it nice to be remembered?

Know Your Town: Stratford Historical Society

96 Years of Preserving, Cherishing, Caring for History

Stratford Historical Society Celebrated 95th Anniversary in August

by David Wright
Board of Governors of the Stratford Historical Society

Home of the Stratford Historical Society, the Captain David Judson House (National Register of Historic Places) was built circa 1750 by Capt. David Judson on the site of his great-grandfather’s 1639 stone house, Judson House is an example of Georgian architecture, an furnished with period pieces of Stratford origin. There is an early piano which belonged to William Samuel Johnson, a Stratford resident, framer of the U.S. Constitution, and the second president of Columbia University.

Adjacent to the Judson House is the modern Catharine Bunnell Mitchell Museum with permanent exhibits of Stratford history and changing gallery exhibits which feature items from the collections of the Stratford Historical Society.

An extensive Genealogy library is located in the Office area of the Museum and is available to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm year round. Genealogical requests may be made by telephone, e-mail, U.S. mail and in person.

The Beach Family Carriage House: The carriage house, built approximately 1880-1885, was built by the prominent Beach family of 1812 Elm St. The carriage and horse were housed on the ground floor while the upper floor was used for storage of hay and grains.

Before 1909, when electricity came to Stratford, the Beach family owned a gasoline- powered electric generator which benefited several houses in the Elm St. area. The original green glass insulators on the building probably date to the turn of the 20th century. The upper level was used for many years for Halloween parties and other family and neighborhood gatherings.

In late February 2004, the Stratford Historical Society was given the opportunity to acquire and move the Carriage House which was in the way of development of the property at 1812 Elm St. The Society accepted the challenge, saved the building, and celebrated its re-birth in August 2005.

95 Years Preserving, Cherishing, Caring for History

The Stratford Historical Society celebrates its 95th birthday this year. On August 8th, 1925, the inaugural meeting of the Society was held to nominate officers for the Society. An organizational meeting had been held, earlier, on July 14, 1925.

There had been a desire on the part of many Stratfordites to form an historical society for three generations. However, with the death of Celia Curtis earlier in 1925, and her wish to donate her come to a town historical society, it became imperative that action be taken on forming a Society.

Additionally new residents moving to town were being asked to donate to the preservation of Celia’s former residence, the erstwhile Captain David Judson home. The new residents didn’t understand why they should donate.

It seems beneficial to re-read the purpose of the Society as detailed by the Society’s founders in 1925.

History of Stratford, 1939

by William Howard Wilcoxson

On January 17, 1925, Articles of Association were filed by Mrs. Adelaide Curtis Gunther, Miss Frances B. Russell, Mrs. Margaret Beardsley DeLacour, Rev. George W. Judson, Mr. John C. Wilcoxson and Mr. Charles H. Welles, associating them selves as a body politic and corporate, under the name of The Stratford Historical Society, Incorporated. The purposes of the society were state to be “to preserve, cherish and care for all historical material whether written matter or material objects relating to the history of the town of Stratford, Connecticut; to maintain a building for the preservation and exhibition of such material; to collect and expend money for such purposes and to hold funds and property in trust for such purposes.” How well the society as succeeded in its objects, is evident to all who visit the headquarters of the society in the historic Judson House. 

It’s also interesting to review the details of the July 25th organizational meeting:

The Bridgeport Telegram
July 15, 1925

New Historical Society Stirs up Unfavorable Comment about “Who’s Who” in Old Stratford

The formation of a Stratford historical society which has been discussed for more than three generations reached the state of temporary organization last Friday night, and incidentally has brought about one of the biggest social and political mixups [sic.] that the town has ever witnessed. 

Objection is made in many quarters as to the methods of calling the preliminary meeting to complete the temporary organization and now the argument has been reopened as to just whoa re the best people in Stratford rather than how many of the townspeople could be induced to interest themselves in the history of Stratford…


Muster Call For Veterans of Foreign Wars on Veterans Day 11/11/2020

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Raymond T Goldbach Post 9460, located at 100 Veterans Blvd, was formed over 73 years ago. The VFW post is named after Raymond T. Goldbach, the first veteran from Stratford killed in the Pacific during World War II.

Commander Steve Evangelista has issued a muster call this Veterans Day to veterans having served in the Vietnam War, Operation Just Cause in Panama, Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan to step forward and join Goldbach Post 9460.

According to Commander Evangelista, “Presently we have 365 members on our roster, down from 1,300. We are losing World War II and Korean veterans, and those who served in Desert Shield, Desert Freedom, and Vietnam are not becoming very active, thinking it’s for “old people. We need youth to carry on the legend of the post.”

In order to join the VFW you have to be a combat veteran who served on foreign soil for 30 consecutive days or more. Though you are not eligible to join if you never had boots on the ground, those who served in the military but never got deployed overseas is eligible to join the VFW Auxiliary. To join you would need a copy of your DD214 and $35.

Mary Bango, President of the VFW Auxiliary stated that the VFW Auxiliary is open to anyone, male or female, who has, or had, family that served in the military or have served in the military that never got deployed overseas. The

Auxiliary presently has 175 active members. They meet on the 2 nd Wednesday of the month.

All money raised by the Auxiliary is used to identify financial needs of veterans, Homes for the Brave, Sterling House, as well as other civic organizations. Due to Covid 19 they are presently only open 3 days a week: Friday and Saturday from 3-9 and Sunday 1-7. Post 9460 has a reputation of having VERY reasonably priced home cooked meals (they serve lunch and dinner), low priced cocktails, and camaraderie.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, with its Auxiliaries, includes 2.2 million members in approximately 8,100 Posts worldwide. Its mission is to “honor the dead by helping the living” through veterans’ service, community service, national security and a strong national defense.

The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home wounded or sick.  There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for

These veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.  After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum.  By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.

Since then, the VFW’s voice had been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome.

In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active-duty service members, and members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.

Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, in 2005 they became the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial.

VFWs also provide $2.5 million in college scholarships to high school students every year; Stratford Voice of Democracy essays award money to high school students, and Patriots Pen is for middle school students. Stratford students participating are judged and given scholarships at post, district, and state levels. The top scholarship available to graduating seniors is $33,000.

The VFW is there honoring the dead by helping the living.

Stratford Halloween: Less Participants, More Creativity

by Elizabeth Saint

A friendly health reminder & a witch pulley system on Blakeman Street

Participation may have been down but Halloween-loving Stratford creativity soared on Saturday night.

From chutes to laundry lines, “take one” tables and Halloween trees decked  in candy “ornaments” Stratford residents made sure their visiting ghouls and goblins were rewarded for coming out.

For those who were in it for getting the candy… participation maps were posted on various facebook pages including The Stratford Ladies Facebook page, The Stratford Parents School page and the Old Stratford Neighborhood Association page.

Candy chute delivering treats directly into candy bag. No contact required!

All of the Halloween activities took place under a blue moon.  A blue moon is a second full moon to take place in a calendar month.  The appearance of

Catherine Johannessen, age 3. Her Covid mask makes the perfect turkey beak to match her costume!

a blue moon on a Halloween night won’t happen again for another nineteen years!

Here is only a tiny sampling of some of the candy transportation options.  — Please send in your own… or a neighbor’s efforts.  Mail photos to  We’ll create a photo archive of Halloween 2020.



Long Awaited Dog Park is a Tail Wagging Success

By Bob Levine

After 12 long years Jared’s Dog Park finally opened to the public on Saturday, August 8th. The Park, located at 700 Peters Lane in Stratford was the culmination of years of planning and “jumping through hoops” by the Stratford Dog Park Action Committee.

Jared’s Dog Park is approximately 2 acres of fenced in natural forest landscape for dogs and their owners to exercise, play and socialize! There are separate areas for large and small dogs (dogs under 30 pounds and over 30 pounds), a double gated entry/exit area for safety, water fountains (available Spring/Summer/Fall), agility/play structures created by local youth Scout groups, memorial benches/gardens and much more!

Jared’s Dog Park was named after Jared Levine, a lifelong resident of Stratford who attended Chapel Street School, Flood Middle School and graduated from Bunnell High School with honors. Levine was passionate about caring for others. He became the youngest EMT for the Town of Stratford when he was 16. He served for 5 years and received the Florence Silvestri Award for Bravery. Between High School and College Levine served as a volunteer firefighter.

Jared was a volunteer at the Audubon in Fairfield, Trumbull Animal Shelter and TAG. He loved going for hikes at Roosevelt Forest, target shooting at a local range and fishing with his Dad. During a gap year between high school and college he served as a volunteer fireman in Nichols. Jared completed two years at Sacred Heart University and wanted to become a carpenter. He followed his dream of becoming a Master Craftsman. After apprenticing with several craftsmen he opened his own home improvement business.

Jared died in 2016 at the age of 36 from complications from an untimely auto accident where he was injured by a drunken driver in a 2014 crash.

His happiest days were spent walking the trails in Roosevelt Forest with his fur babies! This park will allow his memory to live on and provide the people of Stratford a place where they can let their dogs run free and socialize with others.

Thank you for helping to make this dream a reality. The park is open from Sunrise to Sunset, all dogs must be licensed and vaccinated and wearing their tags while in the Dog Park.

“It is our hope that this park will allow his memory to live on and provide the people of Stratford a place where they can let their dogs run free and socialize with others.” Robert Levine, Jared’s father

All of the initial and ongoing costs associated with Jared’s Dog Park is paid for through fundraising efforts, including costs for annual maintenance and operational costs of the park (fence repairs, waste bags etc.).

Thank you for helping to make this dream a reality. Donations may be made by sending a check to: Friends of Jared’s Dog Park, 17 Matthew Drive, Stratford, CT 06614. Or through PayPal:,

Stratford School Update: Coronavirus Data Dashboard

As of Thursday, 32 Bunnell High School students were in quarantine, and four Bunnell community members — two students and two teachers — were isolating after testing positive.

Five students at Flood Middle School were quarantining as of Thursday as a result of testing positive for the virus, as were four Lordship Elementary School students, one Nichols Elementary School student and one Stratford High School student. Three Stratford High School staff members were in isolation after they were confirmed to have the virus.

Fifteen Stratford High School community members and 14 people associated with Flood Middle School were in isolation as of Thursday after close contact with a person who tested positive.

The large number of quarantines comes as the district moves forward with plans to switch from a hybrid learning model to a schedule that would bring students into the classroom four days per week, despite vocal opposition from teachers and community members.

Know Your Town: The Arts Alliance of Stratford

by Mark Hannon
President of the Arts Alliance of Stratford

The Arts Alliance of Stratford, was conceived as a way to support and foster the growth of the arts, educational and cultural experiences in the Stratford. The Alliance creates collaborations among professional and emerging artists of all mediums, patrons of the arts, businesses, schools and community organizations, as well as by advocating for the arts.

The Alliance was born in 2007, originally as the Stratford Arts Guild, a vision of resident Debbie Gilbert, to see a unified “place” for the arts and artists. Acknowledging an abundance of talent in the performing, writing, music, and visual arts, she envisioned that all could participate as artists, audience and supporters, creating economic benefit for the community. “We need look no further than our neighbors in Bridgeport and Milford to see how partnerships among government, the business community and the arts attract people to visit and spend their money,” said founder and current VP/Treasurer, Debbie Gilbert. In 2014 the name of the organization was changed to the Coastal Arts Guild of CT to reflect its focus on regional partnerships.

Debbie took a hiatus and Mark Hannon, the current President, fulfilled Debbie’s vision for the Alliance by receiving 501c3 charitable status. He continues to work tirelessly, leading the Alliance by providing art opportunities to the community and its members. Other Board members include Secretary Anne Mulligan, Education Director Megan McCool, and members at large Vinny Faggella, Colin Healey, and Margaret Bodell.

In “normal” times, the Arts Alliance hosts monthly member meetings at Sterling House; participates in many high quality juried craft shows; produces International Make Music Day (a town-wide celebration on the summer solstice that happens around the world); makes field trips to museums and plein-air painting locations.

In addition to creative classes and workshops, they sponsor a series of business workshops for artists, in conjunction with SCORE. It also partners with Artists for World Peace, a Middletown based organization that sells donated 6”x6” canvasses from their moving Peace Wall to raise money for humanitarian causes.

Early in 2020, The Alliance officially partnered with Sterling House and renovated the exhibition room into an art gallery, where future shows, music recitals, poetry and play readings can take place. The room historically hosted art shows but in recent years had been used for many purposes, including an annual youth and adult art show in June. The Alliance proposed adding a program of community and member art shows at other times during the year. An advocate of the arts herself, Executive Director Amanda Meeson saw tremendous value in a partnership with the Alliance and it was made official just prior to Covid-19 shutdowns.

In recognition of this partnership and moving activities to Sterling House, The Alliance changed its name again from the Coastal Arts Guild of CT to Arts Alliance of Stratford.

This year, The Alliance, like so many other organizations, pivoted to offer programs online. Figure drawing on Zoom has been very successful. It created additional opportunities to bring in artists and models from all over the country. Make Music Day was presented virtually in June. It hopes to host a virtual visual art show before the end of the year. The Alliance is recruiting teaching artists to offer programming remotely and planning a journalism project with the public high schools.

As a creative partner in the Town of Stratford, Arts Alliance of Stratford, along with the other arts organizations, envisions Stratford as an arts destination. With many natural and creative assets, Stratford has an abundance of talent to share. The Alliance actively supports and advocates to make Stratford a destination for those who enjoy the arts, and to drive economic success.

The Alliance is currently continuing its monthly member meetings over Zoom, on the first Tuesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00. Included in the meeting is a monthly art challenge to create a piece of visual, written or musical art around a theme and the opportunity to present and critique members’ current work.

For more information please visit