Top-10 Stories of 2015


We had a great 2015 at, backed by our wonderful local advertisers and loyal readers. As we approach our two-year anniversary, I take stock of what has been an amazing journey so far and express my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the site. This is a dream job and for us there is no better town to report than New Canaan. Our own highlights in 2015 include hitting 1 million overall pageviews in August, then hitting 1 million pageviews for 2015 alone, cracking the 100,000-pageview mark for a single month, going on vacation and taking an office right on Elm Street.

What follows is a list of our top-10 most-read articles of 2015:

  1. The Pop Up Park on a recent weekend. It's open Friday evening through Sunday evening, all summer long, on South Avenue between Morse Court and Elm Street. Credit: Terry Dinan

    The Pop Up Park. Credit: Terry Dinan

    Organizers Suspend Pop Up Park after Some Merchants Raise Concerns

The Pop Up Park downtown is back on for about three weeks in August 2016, though it’s been an uphill battle for the volunteers who help organize and oversee it. The major hurdle they faced in 2015 was from a vocal group of merchants who spoke out against a plan to install the Pop Up Park from the end of school through the summer. (The rift surrounding the Pop Up Park’s future gave rise to’s first Community Coffee, in June, and we’ve held another well-attended event since then—look out for news in early 2016 of a regular monthly coffee.) Our article breaking the news of a petition signed by some merchants opposed to the Pop Up Park, and subsequent suspension, was the 10th-most-read article of 2015.

  1. Wilky Gilmore

    Wilky Gilmore

    Wilky Gilmore: ‘He Was One of Our Own’

Terry’s profile on NCHS great Wilky Gilmore was the 9th most-read single story of 2015. Published in January, the article includes interviews with family and friends who remember the standout student and basketball player. From the story: “For legions of New Canaanites, especially friends and relatives who were lucky enough to know him personally, Gilmore—selfless, charismatic, intelligent and graceful—etched a singular legacy here in town. That he did so in an era marked by civil unrest makes his accomplishments perhaps that much more impressive—though those close to Gilmore say his rare gifts of compassion and decency saw him transcend matters such as race and, in more than one way, ‘raise the game’ of everyone around him.”

  1. Lunch Lady Sues New Canaan Board of Ed, Citing Abuse by Food Services Director

Our first article detailing a boss’s abuses cited by a lunch lady in a lawsuit she brought against the district was the 8th-most-read article of 2015. Here’s a summary of the district’s answer to the suit—essentially an attempt to have it thrown out—and a follow-up on a judge’s decision to uphold six of the eight original counts listed in the lawsuit.

  1. Kay Timmis

    Kay Timmis

    ‘She Was Everyone’s Grandmother’: Kay Timmis, 82, Beloved Substitute Teacher in New Canaan

A story on the sudden passing of Kay Timmis, a cherished substitute teacher in New Canaan through parts of five decades, was our seventh-most-read article of 2015. A local resident whose kids had experienced Timmis’s kindness firsthand established a ‘Kay Timmis Award’ through the New Canaan Community Foundation (the inaugural award went to Charlotte Risom). The NCHS Book Drive in 2015 also was dedicated to Kay Timmis, and a tree planted out back of NCHS also honors Timmis, an avid reader and gardener.

  1. Terry DardenVIDEO: Crossing Guard Terry Darden Receives His Gift from the Community

The sixth-most-read article of 2015 is a recent one—this post including the video that shows crossing guard Terry Darden receiving a generous gift from the community. A local resident and mom discovered through casual conversation that Darden’s car had broken down and the cost to fix it could preempt plans to visit his own mother in Florida. She launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $3,000 needed and New Canaanites responded by giving more than three times that amount.

  1. SEARCH: History of New Canaan Street Names

After several months of working out how to tailor a plug-in to make it work, in August we launched a searchable database that allows readers to look up the history of street names in town. This was a collaborative effort with the terrific New Canaan Historical Society up on God’s Acre.

  1. Buddy Hunt of New Canaan. Contributed photo

    Buddy Hunt of New Canaan. Contributed photo

    Family Dog Alerts New Canaan Man to Black Bear on Rear Porch Late Saturday

This article from April garnered nearly 3,000 Facebook likes and landed as our 4th-most-read article of 2015. A 250-pound black bear had followed the scent of food onto a screened-in porch of this Marvin Ridge Road family, pit bull ‘Buddy’ alerted the family and scared it off. Part of the story that touched many: The pit bull had been taken in by Bully Breed Rescue from the Bronx, where he had been left in an apartment for two weeks with no food—he was 22 pounds when police found him (he’s 65 pounds now).

  1. Carolina Welch dressed for the game and cheered on her teammates from the bench during Game 2, a 29-12 New Canaan win over rival Darien in a Little League State Tournament. Credit: Sophia Welch

    Carolina Welch dressed for the game and cheered on her teammates from the bench during Game 2, a 29-12 New Canaan win over rival Darien in a Little League State Tournament. Credit: Sophia Welch

    ‘I Think It’s Ridiculous’: New Canaan Girl, 10, Ousted from Softball Tournament Because She’s Too Young

We broke this story in July, about 10-year-old Carolina “Lina” Welch, a dominant softball pitcher and player who was ousted from a tournament because she was too young to play on an 11- and 12-year-old team (New Canaan didn’t have enough players to field a 9- and 10-year-old side). After a Darien man caught the age discrepancy, New Canaan forfeited a win against Darien in the first of a best-of-three game series, then with Lina on the bench, went on to beat Darien in the next two games anyway.

  1. Town Councilman: Heroin Has Killed Six Young People from New Canaan

The second-most-read article of 2015 involved Town Councilman Roger Williams’ assertion in August that over the prior 18 months or so, six teens and young adults from New Canaan had died as a result of heroin use. New Canaan like every other community in New England, and many beyond, is grappling with the fact of rising heroin use and the prospect of its continued proliferation. New Canaanite in March 2014 published a 3-part series on heroin that can be found here and the League of Women Voters of New Canaan has organized an panel on the opioid epidemic for Jan. 13 in the Town Meeting Room—details here.

  1. Co-owners (l-r) Jeb Swift, Ceal Swift, and Billy Auer at Gates Restaurant in New Canaan on the final day of operation, April 26, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan

    Co-owners (l-r) Jeb Swift, Ceal Swift, and Billy Auer at Gates Restaurant in New Canaan on the final day of operation, April 26, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan

    Gates Restaurant to Close Sunday; New Canaan Institution Has Been Sold

The single most-read article on in all of 2015 was the breaking news in April that Gates Restaurant had been sold and would close. Synonymous with downtown New Canaan since it opened on Forest Street in 1979, the restaurant operated by co-owners Billy Auer and Jeb and Ceal Swift had been the site of countless New Canaan reunions, special dinners, engagements and meet-ups. The owners penned a letter of thanks to the New Canaan community, and we discovered from the buyers of Gates that they would retain the name and reopen after reworking the menu and interior of the downtown mainstay. Here are some photos of the last day at Gates.

One thought on “Top-10 Stories of 2015

  1. Congratulations to Mike and Terry for a fantastic addition to our collective (respective?) inboxes! Tell us when to put the champagne on ice to mark the Big Two and we’ll have a celebration worthy of a town that truly knows how to do it!!

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