‘They Came Home to New Canaan’: Town Observes Veterans Day in God’s Acre Ceremony

New Canaan’s Steve Benko often recalls a photo that used to hang in his grandparents’ Summer Street home. It showed John and Elizabeth Benko sitting together on their front porch, while in the window hung a banner with five gold stars, indicating that five sons were in service of the nation. 

Steve, Paul, John, Lewis and William Benko had volunteered to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in the months that followed the Pearl Harbor attack. Lewis Benko, a great local athlete, enlisted in the U.S. Marines in September 1942. He was wounded in July 1944 at Saipan, rejoined his unit five months later, and was killed in action during the assault on Iwo Jima in February 1945—one of 38 New Canaan men to die during World War II. 

On Monday morning, Benko quoted something that his uncle Lewis said to Elizabeth as she dropped her son off at the train station prior to his leaving New Canaan for what would be the last time. “He says to my grandmother, ‘Gosh, I would never want to live anywhere else but this place,’ ” Benko told more than 150 residents gathered at God’s Acre on a clear, cool morning for the town’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, quoting from a 1946 Gold Star book featuring stories about the servicemen who never came home.

Sales of Passes, Attendance at Waveny Pool Hit 3-Year High

Passes sold for Waveny Pool, overall attendance and revenues all ticked up to three-year highs in the season just ended, officials said last week. Total attendance reached 40,059 during the Memorial-Day-to-Labor-Day season, including a record-high 7,644 nonresident visits, according to data presented to the Parks & Recreation Commission during its regular meeting. “We had a very good season,” Recreation Director Steve Benko told the Commission during the Sept. 11 meeting at Town Hall. 

“The weather cooperated,” he added. “We had a couple of weekends with a little bit of rain, but it was a very good season.”

Here’s a snapshot of attendance going back to 2014:

 

Owned and operated by the town with costs offset by sales of passes to local and area residents, the self-sustaining Waveny Pool long has been one envy of neighboring Darien and is widely seen as one of New Canaan’s most successful endeavors.

Waveny Summer Concerts a Success Despite ‘Weather Roulette’; Wednesday’s Show Postponed to Thursday

Despite unpredictable weather—including a poor forecast that postponed Wednesday’s installment to Thursday—the town’s annual Waveny Summer Concert Series has once again been a great success this year, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. Held on the lawn out back of Waveny House, the event is “a fun family night out,” Benko said. 

“A lot of people will get together with friends…they have a conversation, listen to the music, and have a nice time under the stars,” he added. The series has been running in some form for nearly 40 years, Benko said. It started out as a collaboration with Manhattan-based Music Performance Trust Fund, and has since evolved into a 12-concert summer series featuring a variety of local and area musicians. Sponsors this year include Rand Insurance Co., Hobbs Inc., Kaster Moving Company, the New Canaan Board of Realtors and Karl Chevrolet.