PHOTOS: Second Annual ‘Scarecrow Fest’ Adorns Downtown New Canaan

Downtown New Canaan got a seasonal makeover this week as local families and businesses created dozens of scarecrows now hanging from lampposts on Elm, Forest and Main Streets and South Avenue. Organized by the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce and Young Women’s League, the second annual Scarecrow Fest is sponsored by Weed & Duryea. It’s “just a fun way to dress town up and get ready for the [Oct. 28] Halloween Parade,” Chamber Executive Tucker Murphy said. 

“Anybody who comes downtown—I don’t care if you are two or 102—if you walk up Elm and Main, no matter what street, all it does is bring a smile to your face,” she said. “It’s another great community builder.”

Many of those putting together the scarecrows got very creative, Murphy said, such as Francos Wine Merchants using corks for fingers and grapes for hair, or The Linen Shop, which features a scarecrow tucked under a shower curtain.

‘Braziliant Body Waxing’ Opens on Main Street 

Luciana Araujo had been working as a lawyer in her native Brazil when she arrived in Danbury with zero English and two young children in 2004. 

At 32, she’d followed her husband to the United States on the promise that after one year here on his own, he had secured a small apartment for the family. 

Instead, Araujo learned, he wanted the family to move in with a cousin who had no room for all four of them. The cousin handed them the keys to a car and urged them to “go look for an apartment,” she recalled. “We ended up sleeping for two days in the car in front of Target at Exit 8 in Danbury when I got here,” Araujo recalled on a recent afternoon. “Me, my kids and him. My kids still remember the situation.

Locals Gear up For ‘Taste of the Town Stroll’ on Thursday

Residents are gearing up for a popular event downtown that’s designed to showcase local businesses while raising food for the New Canaan Food Pantry as well as gently used eyeglasses and hearing aids for the Lion’s Club of New Canaan. The eighth annual “Taste of the Town Stroll” runs 6 to 8 p.m Thursday and will feature more than 15 stores, businesses and restaurants offering food and prizes. To earn a map of those locations and participate in the Stroll, people should bring (unopened and unexpired) goods—such as coffee, juice boxes, crackers, pasta sauce, canned stew, canned chicken, mayonnaise, tea bags and family-sized snacks—to the area out front of the Playhouse on Elm Street. 

For those seeking a one-stop shop for an appropriate donation for the pantry, Walter Stewart’s Market has generously put together bags of goods with a retail value of $30 that the cornerstone New Canaan business is selling for $20. “It is our pleasure to team up with the Chamber and support this fun event again this year,” said Doug Stewart of Walter Stewart’s. “We hope to help stock the New Canaan Food Pantry with much-needed groceries.”

Unwelcome Sight: New Parking Plan for Elm Street Takes Shape

An unwelcome change to parking on Elm Street in New Canaan has materialized in the form of thin strips of white paint. Though the permanent striping on New Canaan’s main business road is yet to come, public works officials have drawn the outline of a new parking arrangement over the recently repaved Elm Street that will see it lose 15 spaces. 

Prompted by a resident formally putting New Canaan on notice that the town was out of compliance with a little-known (and variously observed) state law that calls for a 25-foot buffer zone between a crosswalk and legal parking space—a notification that could open up the municipality to liability in the event of a collision—officials studied the parking plan on Elm Street and, reluctantly, approved revisions that respect the statute. Last week, residents got their first look at the new “no parking” zones based on outlines in the asphalt, and the change is dramatic. 

It also means downtown New Canaan, always struggling to accommodate demand for parking between workers and visitors, soon will be squeezed even tighter. Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce said the change makes it that much more urgent and necessary for those who work in both first- and second-floor businesses on Main and Elm to park in municipal lots. “Prime spots are for prime customers,” Budd said.

‘It’s Bittersweet’: Mackenzie’s Is Sold

Phyllis Weinstein and Jim Berry, owners of Mackenzie’s on South Avenue for 13 years, said Wednesday that they’ve sold the business to a young couple in the area. 

Though Berry will continue to work part-time at the iconic downtown New Canaan candy, party goods and specialty gift shop, golden retriever Tahoe and Weinstein herself will be out after this week, she said. “It’s bittersweet, but it’s time,” Weinstein told NewCanaanite.com. 

To the loyal and regular customers of Mackenzie’s, Weinstein said “thank you for making this 13 of the happiest years that I have had.”

“It was a real happy time to come here every day. I was a nurse and director of the Red Cross, so I worked in sad and serious situations my whole life, and to come here and be with happy, upbeat people, it was a thrill.”

A Stamford resident, Weinstein added that what she’s enjoyed most during her stewardship of Mackenzie’s has been “watching the kids grow up and blossom and see the parents.” Through 13 years, the owners have seen New Canaan kids rise from kindergarteners to high school seniors and beyond. “It’s been a relationship,” she said. “It’s like watching your own kids grow up and it’s really special.”

Known during the school year as the primary Friday afternoon destination of Saxe Middle School kids who pile their backpacks outside the door, Mackenzie’s came to Weinstein and Berry when their son purchased more than a decade ago, and they kept operating it even after he took a different job some years ago.