‘One of the Truly Bright Lights’: Amid Pandemic, Local Clergy Members Form Stronger Bonds

Even prior to the onset of COVID-19, New Canaan’s local clergy association stood out in the experience of the Rev. Stephen Chapin Garner. Collegial and kind, it includes unusually gifted people whose monthly gatherings are free of a type of guardedness can limit such groups, Garner said. As the pandemic set in this spring, bringing unforeseen practical challenges among other demands, New Canaan’s spiritual leaders began leaning harder into one another, according to Garner, senior minister at the Congregational Church of New Canaan. “We laugh together, we joke, we share the challenges of time and we have gone past ‘friendly,’ to friends,” Garner told NewCanaanite.com. “For me, some of these folks are people I would turn to if I had a complex issue in my life, let alone the church.

PHOTOS, VIDEO: New Canaan Memorial Day Parade 2015

New Canaan’s Boyd Harden gained his greatest appreciation for what Memorial Day means in 1995, about one year after flying dozens of international relief missions to Somalia as a U.S. Marine Corps aviator and officer. As a member of the “Thundering Third”—the third battalion, fourth Marines—the 1983 NCHS graduate went to the island of Iwo Jima, a small volcanic island that had seen some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II in February and March 1945. Addressing hundreds of New Canaanites gathered at Lakeview Cemetery for a solemn ceremony following the annual Memorial Day Parade on Main Street, Harden asked the crowd to envision what those Marines had faced in what would be a pivotal battle of WWII. Imagine, Harden said, that loaded with 120 pounds of combat gear, it was the job of those gathered to get from Lakeview Cemetery to the water towers at Waveny, with 22,000 Japanese soldiers lying in wait in every home along the way. “They [the Japanese] have been practicing for months and their sole intention is to kill all of us,” Harden said.

Memorial Day Parade Starts 9:30 a.m. Monday; Guest Speaker, Line of March Set

The Memorial Day Parade will start at 9:30 a.m. Monday, following Main Street from St. Mark’s Episocpal Church and concluding with a ceremony at Lakeview Cemetery whose guest speaker is a 1983 New Canaan High School graduate and deeply involved resident of the town who is a decorated veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Boyd Harden, after earning degrees including an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, went on to serve as a U.S. Marine Corps officer, officials say. He attended naval aviation flight school and was designated as a U.S. Marine Corps aviator in April 1992. “He is a rotary wing and a fixed wing pilot,” according to a press release issued by the Office of the First Selectman.

Did You Hear … ?

To help promote the 2015 Books, Blues, and BBQ party to benefit the New Canaan Library, the event’s committee members are encouraging residents to post on the library’s Facebook page photos of themselves wearing a favorite cowboy hat. “Over the years, cowboy attire has become associated with this important fundraising event,” Holly Parmelee, committee co-chairperson, said in a press release. “It is common that party-goers come decked out in cowboy hats and boots. So we thought it would be fun to encourage community members to show their support for the library and the event by posting a photo of themselves wearing their favorite cowboy hat.” See the gallery above for some familiar faces around town that are already participating. ***

Some disturbing news here: We’re hearing that some residents of Spring Water Lane last Wednesday discovered ‘#WhiteLivesMatter’ flyers, in Zip-loc bags and weighed down with rocks, on top of their mailboxes.

Holy Smokers, May Fair Volunteers Prep for Big Day at St. Mark’s [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

The Holy Smokers—St. Mark’s men of prolonged vowels and serious barbecue—typically wait until 5 a.m. on the Thursday prior to May Fair Saturday to light the fires whose smoke will flavor their famed brisket and pork. This year, with more than 600 pounds of each, the guys—supplying their own smokers, including at least one built from scratch—lit the flames at midnight and put the first of 37 shoulders on about 90 minutes later, according to Holy Smoker and New Canaanite George Wright, a native Virginian who doubles as a coordinator with CERT, a key organization in helping May Fair run well. “We rub the first of the meat on Wednesday night and they are coming off now, most of them are off for that first turn,” Wright said Thursday afternoon from what soon will transform into the hub of the May Fair Food Court, a portable stereo playing country music nearby. “They are gong to cool down, and then we will pull them and sauce them.”

This year, visitors will enjoy the first-ever “Friday Night Lights” at the 66th annual May Fair—rides, live music and some food (pizza, burgers, dogs and ice cream “up top” on the wholly pesticide-free fairgrounds), running 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday.