Monday, September 30, 2019

Red Moon Gala October 5 at Middlesex Community College


Please join the Middlesex Community College Foundation for the eighth annual Red Moon Gala, on Saturday, October 5, 2019, at Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown. Beginning at 7 p.m., the gala will feature fine foods, wine and beer tastings, auctions, raffles, and high-energy entertainment by the New York Dueling Pianos. Tickets to the event are $50 each. To purchase tickets, please visit or call 860-343-5886.

Whether you attend the October 5 event or not, you can also participate in a our special raffle to win $10,000 cash, a one-week stay at Water's Edge Resort in Madison, or a home theater system. One raffle entry is $100 but must be purchased in person at the college. Only 300 entries are available and going fast. Please email for more details.

Saturday classes for ages 18 months to 8 years start this week!

Members of the Teeny Tiny Circus troupe in action at the 2019 Children's Circus of Middletown.
Photo by Bill De Kine.

Circobatics classes begin this Saturday, October 5 for ages 18 months to 8 years at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown.
These unique classes combine age-appropriate circus, acrobatics, movement and games. All classes are taught by Megan Berritta, who is a long-time teacher of dance and gymnastics, a circus performer, and Director of the Teeny Tiny Circus Troupe at the Children’s Circus of Middletown. Classes this fall meet Saturday mornings for 8 weeks.

“Teeny Tiny Circrobats with Caregiver” is for ages 18 months to 3 years and will meet 9:00 – 9:40 am. This class combines Music and Movement. Half the class is spent using age-appropriate circus props with music. Be prepared to sing, dance, and clown around. The second half is spent working Large Muscle Movement and Basic Tumbling with super fun obstacle courses.
“Intro to Circrobatics”, for ages 3 – 5, will meet from 10:00 – 10:45 am. This introductory hybrid circus arts class combines circus apparatus such as balls, peacock feathers, ribbons and hula-hoops with beginner acrobatic skills. Children will build coordination, flexibility and strength while having a great time. 
“Beginner Circrobatics”, for ages 6 – 8, will meet 11:00 – 11:45 am. This beginner hybrid circus arts class focuses on the progressions of learning circus skills such as 1 ball to 2 ball to 3 ball juggling. This class also continues to work basic tumbling while introducing next level individual, partner and pyramid acrobatic skills.

Tuition for any of these three classes is $100 for the 8-week session. Some financial aid is available for qualified families.
To register, or for more information, go to, call (860) 347-6143, or email Space is limited for all three classes, so be sure to sign up soon.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Not-So-Small Act of Kindness and other Durham Fair Happenings

The Heaviest Overall pumpkin weighed in at 1769.0 lbs
and was grown in Putnam, CT by Gene LaRiviere

The 100th Annual Durham Fair did not disappoint today: the weather was gorgeous, the exhibits were lively, the pumpkins were HUGE, the deep fried oreos were perfectly gooey, the mosquitoes stayed away, and a small act of kindness had a big impact on two young Middletown residents.

Did you ever wonder who actually wins the huge stuffed animals at a fair? For Old Lyme HS sophomores Emily Mesham, Caroline Crolius, Victoria Gage, Dylan Avelange, and Nick Adeletti, the answer tonight was their friend, Patrick Flanagan (wearing glasses and a beige sweatshirt in the photo). Middletown residents Sebastian Bartolotta and Anthony Mahr happened to be walking by right as the friends were celebrating Flanagan's big win. 

Old Lyme HS sophomores gifting their win to
Middletown resident Sebastian Bartolotta (in the green sweatshirt)
Flanagan offered to try to win the young boys their own giant stuffed sloth, but was unable to repeat his stunning balloon-popping performance. So, he offered up his own prize as compensation. "I'm not so sure I want to carry it around all night anyway," Flanagan said. Mary Bartolotta, Sebastian's mom, praised the teens for going out of their way to show kindness to a young stranger. "They didn't have to give up their prize, and I am so impressed that they took time out of their evening to include a young boy they didn't even know."

Getting the gift into Bartolotta's car was a different problem altogether. The sloth was too big for the front seat, and ended up getting shoved through the trunk and into the back seat. This highly amusing process happened in front of the buses loading up to return fair attendees to distant parking lots, so several people got a little extra show at the end of their night.

Two other Middletown residents were spotted in the poultry exhibit. Stephen Devoto and his wife, Joyce Powzyk, brought two turkeys and two peacocks from their farm on Country Club Road. The couple is raising 29 turkeys this year as part of a long-running Thanksgiving Turkey co-op.

The weather will continue to cooperate for the rest of the 100th Annual Durham Fair. Sunday is Military Appreciation Day, and all US Active Military and US Veterans will receive free admission with a military ID or VA ID. Other acceptable forms of ID for Veterans are a copy of a DD214 or proof of membership to any Veterans organization. A number of participating vendors will offer special promotions to veterans on Sunday: the full list of vendors and offers is here.

Fantastic Folk Musicians, Youth Watercolor Class and More This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Ebin-Rose Trio & Local Honey

September 27 @ 8-10 pm, $15

The Buttonwood Tree is proud to present the Ebin-Rose Trio on September 27 from 8-10pm. Admission is $15. Their gigs go back over 25 years to their very first performances at The Buttonwood Tree. For them every gig feels like a trip home.

Since their debut as a trio at the Katharine Hepburn theater the inclusion of Bobo on upright bass has brought Ebin-Rose Trio into a more free form unit. Their Four CD’s “Bare Wires”, “Wind Pictures”, “Bright As the Sun”  and “Live From The Buttonwood Tree” receive a broad range of airplay both online and on college radio. Ahead of this years show the band will release a new EP of covers of Nick Drake, Paul Wheeler/John Martyn & Sandy denny,  the songs that shaped the band. ”Rose’s voice and Ebin’s guitar work as a flowing musical mosaic…the sum being greater than the parts,” — Ken Bastura, musicHound folk The Essential Album Guide / Frogbelly Folk News

“Awash with soft accents, guitar flourishes, finger-picked fineries, and seductively sung vocals, this is a sonic treat for all”.Dirty Linen,

Owing much in mood to the timeless qualities found in the music of Nick Drake, acoustic John Martyn, and Pentangle” Dirty Linen

“Parker’s technique on the fretboard and Bengtson’s vocals evoke the best of what has been termed “folk Music” (Scott Appel, Recording Artist)

The Local Honey Project offers a sonic experience ranging from the emotionally-rich acoustic song to a driving rock pulse. The project features the songwriting of Erin Smith and Frank Natter, whose songs lead audiences to appreciate Local Honey both in its intimate acoustic form as well as in an electric band arrangement, which is powered by a changeable line up of Connecticut River Valley’s finest players. In the spirit of Neil Young’s stinging edge, Pink Floyd’s epic flow, and CSN’s nuanced harmonies, The Local Honey Project presents a limitless fresh memorable sound.
Reserve seats here

Aligned with Source: Empowering Workshop for Self-Awareness
September 28 @ 10:30-12 pm, $10
Topic: The Micro and the Macro
Are we really all connected? How do our personal lives affect our outer and vice versa?

Watercolor Class for Youth

September 28 @ 3-5 pm, $10 per session

The Buttonwood Tree is offering a special class for young budding artists, ages 12-18, interested in opportunities to showcase their visual creations and develop their skills on September 28 from 3-5 pm. Admission is $10 for each class. This is the first class. Reserve a spot here

The instructor is Jenavieve Hawks, a local artist and art teacher.

Scholarships are available. Please call for more information. (860) 347-4957.

We thank the Middletown Commission on the Arts for supporting this program!!

The Kennedys

September 28 @ 8-10 pm, $20

Pete and Maura Kennedy return for a lively, fun acoustic folk-rock pop show. Be sure to reserve your seat!  They always fill the room!! 
The Kennedys will be playing a variety of songs from across their two dozen albums, plus Pete will do a brief reading from his new book: Tone, Twang, and Taste: A Guitar Memoir. And of course, they ’ll play your requests! 

The Buttonwood tree is proud to have The Kennedys back on September 28 from 8-10 pm. Admission is $20. Pete and Maura Kennedy, both East Coast natives, met in Austin, Texas, joined forces with Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra for a couple of years, and set out on a road that, for two decades, has led them not only west but all over the US and the UK many times.
Originally based in Austin, Texas, they spent a few years in the Washington DC area before moving to the East Village in New York City, where they have been based for most of the last two decades. The Kennedys are known nationwide as the hosts of the late lamented Dharma Café program on Sirius Satellite Radio, and on Broadway, they are regular cast members of Theatre Within’s annual tribute to John Lennon — working in that capacity with Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper and a host of others.
Life on the road and time spent in the creative ecosystem of the Village have informed their songwriting over the course of 14 duo albums and half a dozen side projects, and Safe Until Tomorrow is true to that tradition. What sets the album apart is the inclusion of several anthemic, rocking songs of social consciousness that convey a strong message best summed up in one of the song titles: “Be Silent No More.” The Kennedys’ music has been described as uplifting, empowering and encouraging. In these turbulent times, they rise to the occasion with Safe Until Tomorrow.  
The Kennedys are recognized for their harmonies and instrumental prowess, blending elements of country music, bluegrass, Western swing and janglepop. Read a great article on The Kennedys here

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. There is ample, free parking behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments, viewing of Buttonwood's Art show, the bookstore and refreshments are all open and available. Call for info: (860) 347-4957. If you want to see what events we have lined up for the month check our website's event calendar here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Get Dirty for the Coginchaug River, Saturday, September 28!

Get dirty for the Coginchaug River at the cleanup this Saturday, September 28, 9am to noon, at Veterans Park in Middletown! It looks like it will be a beautiful day for a river cleanup...come for all or part of the morning and pitch in to make our rivers cleaner! 

Please sign up at…/join…/join-a-group-map/entry/2686/

Many thanks to Jeff Myjak, who runs the program Cans-4-A-Cause in Middletown, who has donated slightly used trash bags for the cleanup.  And thank you to others who will bring kayaks and have offered to bring baked goods to share.

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Middletown’s Solar For All Program Extended

Middletown’s Solar For All Program Extended
Middletown Solar and Energy Efficiency Program Deadline Pushed to October 31st with New Workshop Added!

Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew (left) and
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Conner
Middletown is pleased to announce the “Solar for All” program is being extended for residents. Launched in May, the program makes solar and energy efficiency upgrades more affordable to all Middletown homeowners through a partnership between the Connecticut Green bank and PosiGen Solar.  

PosiGen’s lease program covers the full cost of installing, maintaining and insuring the solar system, with no minimum income or no credit score requirements, and no equipment to buy. Since the program launch, there has been high interest with 22 Middletown homeowners signing up and almost a dozen in process of being installed! As a result, the program is being extended until October 31st.

The nationally-recognized program combines a solar lease with energy efficiency upgrades to lower the energy burden on participating households. PosiGen’s lease program offers an extremely affordable opportunity to go solar and provides a production and savings guarantee

CHEER is a program of the City of Middletown that supports comfortable, healthy, energy efficient, renewable housing in Middletown.

The City of Middletown and CHEER invite you to a community workshop Wednesday, October 9th from 5:30pm-6:30pm at the Middletown Senior Center, 61 Durant Terrace, Middletown.

Contact: Michael Harris, Energy Coordinator, City of Middletown,,
                    Susan Young, Community Marketing Manager, PosiGen,, 203-308-0876 

State Commissioner, U.S. Senator Visit to Hear About City School Successes

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona came to Macdonough Monday to hear from local educators and students about the success that our city's schools have had in recent years. They held a round table discussion in the gym, with about 35 interested parents and other elected officials watching in a circle around them.

Senator Murphy and State Education Commissioner Cardona were motivated to visit our city for this event as a result of the efforts of mayoral candidate Ben Florsheim, who worked for Senator Murphy for 5 years.

Participating in the round table were Board of Education member Lisa Loomis, Macdonough principal Damian Reardon, two Macdonough teachers, Sarah Claffey and Lauren Mikulak, and three students, Will, Ella, and Ryan.

The discussion revolved around three issues: the benefits to students of learning in a diverse environment, the challenge of ensuring that there is no racial inequity in the outcomes of education, and one approach being used in our city schools towards that end, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Connor, Superintendent of Schools.

Connor opened the discussion by introducing Murphy. The senator spoke very briefly, starting by noting how personal this was for him, having a 2nd grader and a 5th grader of his own in public schools. But in general,  he was not at Macdonough to give his point of view, he was here to learn about what our city has done to improve learning outcomes. He set the stage for a discussion by pointing to studies that children learn better in a classroom that is diverse, "Controlling for background [of students], students with diverse classmates perform 30% better."

Murphy then asked to hear from teachers and from students. Claffey described the new "project-based learning" approaches she has been taking. When Murphy turned to Ella and Will, they lit up the room with their enthusiasm for the approach. They said that when they were given a deadline for finishing a group project, and they had flexibility to make decisions on how to do it, they learned a lot without feeling like it was just school.

Murphy also heard about some of the challenges that the schools face.

Ryan, a junior at Middletown High, pointed out that there was a big disparity in the racial makeup of teachers and the racial makeup of the student body. He said there was a school in New Haven in which 90% of the children were persons of color, while among the classroom teachers, there was not a single person of color.

Murphy himself pointed out a second systemic issue with the schools, namely the gross inequities in funding. As an example, he used the town of Westport, which he said spends almost double what the city of Bridgeport spends, on a per-pupil basis. Murphy said that this unfairness needed to be addressed at the state and the federal level, something he hoped he could help do.

State Senator Mary Abrams said that another aspect of diversity that needed to be emphasized was in what is being taught. She expressed her hope that the state would pass a law mandating a diverse curriculum, in which students would learn the history and culture of the multiple different communities that each have contributed to what Connecticut is today.

In addition to Abrams, other elected officials in attendance were State Representative Quentin Phipps, Councilmen Phil Pessina, Seb Giuliano, and Gene Nocera, and Board of Education member Ed Ford.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Thursday: Wesleyan President Michael Roth to Discuss Campus "safe enough spaces" at RJ Julia Bookstore

Wesleyan RJ Julia Booksellers Presents

Michael S. Roth
Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatists Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, And Political Correctness on College Campuses

In Conversation with Roxanne J. Coady,
Founder, RJ Julia Booksellers

DATE & TIME: Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 7pm
LOCATION: Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, 413 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457

From the president of Wesleyan University, a compassionate and provocative manifesto on the crises confronting higher education.

"A timely book on a fascinating topic. . . . Roth’s historical approach is useful and instructive."
—Sarah Carr, Washington Post

“In Safe Enough Spaces, Wesleyan President Michael Roth offers historical, sociological, and economic contexts for the free speech debates on campus. Pragmatism may be foolhardy in our hyperbolic time, but it is exactly what we need right now. Bravo!”
—Cathy N. Davidson, author of The New Education

In this bracing book, Michael S. Roth stakes out a pragmatist path through the thicket of issues facing colleges today to carry out the mission of higher education. With great empathy, candor, subtlety, and insight, Roth offers a sane approach to the noisy debates surrounding affirmative action, political correctness, and free speech, urging us to envision college as a space in which students are empowered to engage with criticism and with a variety of ideas.

Countering the increasing cynical dismissal—from both liberals and conservatives—of the traditional core values of higher education, this book champions the merits of different diversities, including intellectual diversity, with a timely call for universities to embrace boldness, rigor, and practical idealism.

Michael S. Roth is president of Wesleyan University and a historian, curator, and teacher. His previous books include Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters.

Located on Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore is a place of inspiration, information, and excitement, and serves the Wesleyan University and Greater Middletown communities.

Managing partner RJ Julia Booksellers opened almost 30 years ago as an independent bookstore whose mission was, and is, to be a place where words matter, where writer meets reader, where the ambiance and selection and merchandising of books creates an atmosphere that is welcoming and presents the opportunity for discovery.  Having won several major awards nationally, statewide and locally, RJ Julia hosts over 300 events each year.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Saturday: Hike Oak Ledges Preserve

Submitted by Kathy Blachowski.

Join John LeShane at Oak Ledges Preserve in Portland for a hike on Saturday,
September 28th at 10:00 a.m. to noon.

From the Arrigoni Bridge, take Route 66 East.  Turn left onto Route 17 (Gospel Lane) and then turn right onto Cox Road. Turn left onto Rose Hill Road and then take your first right onto Cox Road. Take a left onto South Road. Parking is along the side of the road on South Road across from the Cranberry Bog.

The Oak Ledges Preserve is an 8.27-acre preserve that was acquired by the Middlesex Land Trust in 2000 through donation from our longtime Board member and leader of this hike, John LeShane. The property is densely wooded with beautiful oak trees and outcroppings of rock. Enjoy the signs of the changing seasons from the shaded trail.

Please wear sturdy boots or sneakers, and bring snacks and water as desired. Kids are welcome, as Facebook page or website for updates. Please call the Middlesex Land Trust at (860) 343-7537 or send an email to for more information, or to let us know that you plan on attending – although you are welcome to attend without advance notice.
are dogs on leash. Downpours or storms will cancel the hike – check our

Additional hikes are planned monthly through November, with upcoming hikes in East Hampton and Haddam Neck. Check our website for the full schedule and more details.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Wadsworth Mansion Halloween Bash - A Strange Evening with Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde

Submitted by Catie Griffin, Event Supervisor, The Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill
The Wadsworth Mansion at 421 Wadsworth St, will host its Haunted Halloween Bash on Friday October 25th, and Saturday October 26th from 7:00 p.m. to midnight.

The Mansion transforms into the residence of two personalities in one body: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Enter into the grand home of Dr. Jekyll but be on the lookout for his dangerous counterpart, Mr. Hyde.  Dress in costume to disguise your identity for a night of food, dancing, and thrills.

Lights and DJ by Audio Media Solutions, cash bar, delicious food by David Alan Catering, and an immersive experience by Boston Circus Guild not to be missed!  Tickets are $50.00 per person. Must be 21 or older to attend. Tickets may be purchased here.  For more information contact

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Climate Events Friday

Perhaps you will be in Hartford Friday, September 20 at noontime - the nearest event in the global climate strike is a rally at the statehouse.  There is more information at

There are several activities Friday at Wesleyan University timed to coincide with the week of youth-led climate actions.  There is a rally at noontime at the Usdan patio (Wyllys Avenue) for those who can't make it to Hartford:

A talk at 4:30 in Exley 150 (the Science Center, corner of Pine and Church Streets, first floor) will be titled "Tipping Points: Physical, Environmental, Social, and Personal":

The talk will be followed at 6 p.m. by a march into Middletown.

Those wanting to do a little brushing up on the climate crisis can refer to my recent post on the Eye.

Woman-centric, world-class stand up comedy Saturday night

You can see world class stand-up comedy in Middletown this Saturday, thanks to Tasty Chicks Comedy. For the third straight month, Oddfellows Playhouse is presenting the Tasty Chicks (who are Oddfellows Alumnus Tricia D’Onofrio and Aviel Stern) and the classy female headliners that they have brought to town. The show starts at 7:30, it is very affordable, and it’s a unique opportunity to see big-name comics without having to go to a bar, a comedy club, or travel to New York or Boston. Come check it out!
This month’s headliner is Caitlin Reese, who looks to be really entertaining.

Caitlin Reese is a Brooklyn based stand up comedian, improviser, and sketch writer. Caitlin has been a comedy writer since 2005 with a self-published magazine distributed by Tower Records and sold out copies at the Portland Zine Fest. In 2014, she kicked off comedy as a career and regularly performs at theaters, clubs, and bars throughout the northeast. She has traveled throughout the US for festivals and shows. She features for headliners on tour and auditioned successfully for the Academy at Upright Citizens Brigade New York. Her comedic voice is honest, goofy, and offbeat.

Doors at 7 pm, Show at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15, or $10 if you bring three canned goods for the local food pantry.

The evening will also feature Caitlin Arcand. Caitlin is a Boston comedian and the Creator and Executive Director of Ladyspike Media. This past November, her solo stand up musical "She Doesn't Even Live Here" premiered at New York's SOLOCOM, featuring original songs and tales of her weekly commutes to the city. She has well been featured on the North Carolina Comedy Festival.

Warming up for Caitlin and Caitlin are Ryan Shea and Eryca Nolan, and the whole evening will be hosted by the Tasty Chicks: Aviel Stern & Tricia D'Onofrio, who bring energy and joy to the stage with their humorous banter.

So you actually get to see six comedians working the crowd. Here in Middletown. Saturday night. At 128 Washington Street. Get your tickets in advance HERE, or buy them at the door.