‘Gridiron Show’ Honoring Tom Stadler Set for April 25-26 [Q&A]

The annual Gridiron Show is coming up April 25 and 26 at Country Club of New Canaan, and this year’s honoree—or “Fall Guy”—is Tom Stadler. 

We put some questions to Gridiron Club member Eric Thunem about the upcoming organization, its history and this year’s show. 

Here’s our exchange. ***

New Canaanite: Before we talk about this year’s Gridiron Show, please tell our readers a little bit about the organization. How and when did Gridiron Club begin? Eric Thunem: The first event, held on February 2, 1961, was initially organized as a testimonial dinner for departing local newspaper editor, Carlton Hill. State Senator Bob Bliss decided, however, that the dinner should be a roast, modeled after the tradition of the Gridiron Club in Washington, D.C. and he thought it would be a great way to bring people together and have a few laughs at the expense of the designated “Fall Guy”.

Town Approves Contract for Fireworks at ‘Family Fourth,’ Set for July 6 at Waveny

Town officials on Tuesday approved a $35,000 contract with a Douglassville, Pa.-based company to put on a fireworks show for the annual Family Fourth picnic at Waveny. The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 in favor of the contract with International Fireworks Mfg. The popular gathering of local families is “a Norman Rockwell quintessential event,” according to Tom Stadler, chair of the Family Fourth Committee. “We’re getting everything in place right now,” Stadler told the selectmen during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “We have the garbage contract here, we’re working to get the bands lined up, get the food trucks lined up,” he said.

‘I Know He’s Thrilled’: New Canaan Dedicates ‘Steve Benko Pool’ at Waveny

The architects’ original specifications for the popular community pool in Waveny Park were for a certified Olympic competition pool that could play host to official state, regional and national swim meets, according to Steve Karl. Citing an anecdote from Assistant Recreation Director Bill Kapp, Karl told more than 200 people gathered poolside Saturday morning that Steve Benko immediately objected to those plans “because the shallow end of the pool was about 20 feet long at a depth of six feet, and sloping much deeper to the diving well end.”

“Steve realized as a municipal pool, we had to have a shallow end three-and-a-half to four feet deep so that kids and teens could stand up,” Karl continued. “The battle would continue as the architects refused to build a custom pool. Steve also objected to the length of the shallow end, that it was too small, and mandated that the shallow end should be at least doubled in size, and the entire slope of the pool would be would be re-engineered. This was because as a municipal pool we had to accommodate most of the public to enjoy the shallow end.

‘Family Fourth’ Picnic and Fireworks at Waveny Scheduled for July 2; Committee Works on How To Honor 2021 Passes

The organizers the Fourth of July picnic and fireworks at Waveny are trying to figure out a way to honor passes purchased for last summer’s canceled event while also gauging how many people will come this year and possibly selling more. Since the Family Fourth Committee has the names and addresses of 2021 pass-holders, it could send a mailer requesting that those seeking to attend the 2022 event pick up a new pass at the Recreation Department, committee members said during a special meeting held Jan. 12. 

About 2,000 tickets were sold for the 2021 Family Fourth, which was postponed twice due to rain before being canceled. (The 2020 Family Fourth had been canceled due to the pandemic.)

Committee Chair Tom Stadler said the group must find a way to get a read on how many existing pass-holders will come, and then figure out how many additional passes to sell or whether a cap is needed at all. “If only half the people want to come then we’ll have 1,000 families out there instead of 2,000,” Stadler said.