April 23, 2018
Westport, Connecticut pulled out all the stops for WSN’s Creative Director, Rachel, and me. We took the Metro North Rail out of Grand Central, hopping on the last car with what we thought were seconds before the doors shut before our pitiful faces. It turned out the train was delayed by five minutes — time must not be of the essence to these Connecticut commuters.
After boarding the train, we bunkered down into a row across from the greatest college reunion I’ve ever seen. Five of them gathered around in opposing seats, laughing and mixing up a sake-lemonade concoction. Their words were slurred by the time we reached Stamford.
The train stops, and we’ve arrived to the promised land. Wikipedia had prepared me for an “affluent town,” and Westport did not disappoint. The train dropped us off in what at first seemed like the middle of nowhere, and our Ford Crown Victoria circa 1995 chariot pulled up to bring us right into the action of this “affluent” civilization.
Our taxi cab driver seemed a little too irritable for it to be just 11 a.m.; I assumed his mood mirrored his disdain for other college kids like us who flock to Westport for a weekend getaway. His snarky remarks and furrowed brow undoubtedly set the tone for what we were about to experience. We asked him to take us to Westport’s “downtown” area to which he abandoned us at a high-end strip mall — Tiffany’s, Blue Mercury, Patagonia and Anthropologie & Co. lined the main street that sat upon the town-dividing Saugatuck River.
Kids played cornhole in front of the Vineyard Vines as families passed by making their Saturday errands. Young couples wore matching plaid shirts, preteen girls strutted around in $128 lululemon leggings and grandmas accompanied their “grandbabies” into the Baby Gap. The locals characterized a perfectly-posed ad torn out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
Across the street, white tents created a canopy over Westport’s seventh annual Maker Faire. The event was filled with food, music and locally-made innovations from 4 Paws Wearables, a light-up pet collar, to Tooth and Nail, which sells all your viking and barbarian needs for your next medieval event. Connecticut’s very own Silver Steel band played the soundtrack for the fair with hits like “The Little Mermaid’s” “Under the Sea.”
In the parking lot dotted with food trucks next to the fair, more music played by a local band composed of middle schoolers whose proud parents watched on as they snapped pictures with their huge DSLR cameras.
There was also a strange PVC pipe contraption that emulated a row of pseudo cages, which housed children as they made crafts. One girl’s craft consisted of her just hammering paper.
Despite the grilled cheese food truck emitting gas and cheesy oils at the Maker Faire, residents of Westport seem to take their health seriously and have compassion for the environment. Green & Tonic, a health food chain, welcomes visitors to Westport’s downtown food scene — heads up, there’s not much else.
Outside the store, customers and passerbys could make mini sunflower pots and sample an ogre green smoothie that tasted more like bananas than whatever other health magic in it. As we deposed of our formerly smoothie-filled plastic cups, the skater boy with vegan veins employee boasted about Green & Tonic’s recent addition of compostable paper straws, remarking, “Here we’re all about loving the environment.”
From the few hours I spent there, I got a glimpse of a safe haven where the has-beens of New York City go after they’re hitched and the kids have popped out. So if you’re anything like me, visiting Westport was a flashback to everything I left behind in my whitewashed small town prior to NYU. But if you want a warm hug of suburbia, visit Westport for the afternoon and you’ll walk away happy from such a warm embrace.