Top-10 Stories of 2016


Here’s a big ‘Thank you’ to our loyal readers and fabulous advertisers—you are absolutely the best—for delivering a wonderful 2016 here at the New Canaanite.

In’s second full year, traffic on the news site increased 19.8 percent, to nearly 1.3 million pageviews.

The top-10 most-read articles from 2016, listed below, reflect the town’s wide-ranging interests and point to a burgeoning and popular category of news that revolves around breaches of civility.

Hopefully, the list also reflects our own steadily re-examined and refined coverage plan. As we’ve said since launching Jan. 31, 2014, has made quality-of-life matters for local people a priority—parking, traffic, pets, public parks, the downtown, resident profiles, local history and land use. With feedback from readers at our monthly Community Coffee at New Canaan Library (please join us at 8:30 a.m. next Thursday, Jan. 5), letters to the editor, news tips, visits to our office at 140 Elm St. and most of all, informal conversations in and around town every day, our news judgment, focus and priorities continue to undergo refinement.

So far, so good: Our daily newsletter now counts about 1,500 subscribers and its open rate is 66.4 percent, click-thru rate 31.3 percent (against industry averages of 17.5 and 3.8 percent, according to Mailchimp).

Here are your most-read articles of 2016.

Happy New Year, everyone:

10. PHOTOS: Fire at Main Street Commercial Building on Monday Night

Scenes from the fire at 96 Main St. in New Canaan on Sept. 5, 2016. Credit: Terry Dinan

A fire that started in the third story of a Main Street building on Labor Dayis the 10th-most-read article of the year on Firefighters closed the busy intersection of Main at East Avenue and punched a hole in the roof of the 1912-built brick building in order to control the blaze. The fire forced several businesses to close for a time and officials eventually determined that it had been caused by an electrical short. It would have been far worse if not for a working sprinkler system, the fire chief said. The business on the street level of the building—Cava Wine Bar & Restaurant, facing Forest Street—remains closed and will reopen in the spring following an extensive renovation.

9. Plans Filed To Rebuild ‘Merritt Apartments’ Downtown; Project Would Triple Number of Units

A view of the planned Merritt Village complex in New Canaan. Courtesy of SLAM Collaborative

The first installment of a storyline that would dominate headlines all summer—the planned redevelopment of the Merritt Apartments property—is the 9th-most-read article of 2016. When plans were first filed in June, they called for 123 units—a number lowered, following six public hearings that ran through October—to 110 for P&Z’s final approval last month. Last week, the property’s owner appealed six of the conditions that P&Z attached to its approval.

8. New Canaan Woman: Wild Turkey Attacked Me and My Chihuahua

By Sasha Kopf – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This unusual incident from midsummer garnered enough traffic to place 8th on our list of the year’s most-read stories. It happened near Briscoe and Cross Ridge Roads, and the woman menaced by the turkey said she altered her walking route as a result of the confrontation.

7. PHOTOS: 13 NCHS Seniors Sign Early Letters of Intent To Play Sports in College

These thirteen NCHS seniors signed early letters of intent to play sports in college, on Nov. 9, 2016. Credit: Michael Dinan

Last month, the largest-ever group of New Canaan High School seniors to sign early “Letters of Intent” to play sports in college gathered in the NCHS auxiliary gym for a ceremony. The group included students who will participate in baseball, softball, crew, swimming, lacrosse, diving and track & field at schools that include Dartmouth, UConn, UNC, Brown, UVA, Brown, UVM, Penn and Providence. The regular National Letter of Intent Day is Feb. 1.

6. ‘The Vibe Is Awesome’: Gates Reopens

Scenes from Gates Restaurant on Tuesday, Feb. 23, as the popular New Canaan restaurant reopens following its sale and major renovation and re-imagining. Credit: Michael Dinan

The single most-read article for all of 2015 was the breaking news that Gates Restaurant had been sold and would close. It reopened 10 months later, in February 2016, and our article on that reopening is the sixth-most-read article of the year. The highly anticipated reopening saw locals flock to the beloved bar, while an invite-only crowd filled the dining room. Gates now features an entirely renovated interior, food bar with open kitchen, wood-fired oven and extensive selection of beers on tap.

5. ‘An Aspirational Brand at Achievable Prices’: New Canaan’s Mellick Family Launches ‘Beachmate’

New Canaan’s Jeff Mellick with his own Beachmate, a product he conceived and developed with his wife, Beatrice. The 1993 NCHS graduate went live this week with the summer item, which has garnered high praise and promise from industry insiders. Credit: Michael Dinan

Big year for New Canaan’s Jeff Mellick. Together with is wife, Beatrice, the Center School alumnus and town resident launched the “essential family beach bag” Beachmate system in March. In September, the NCHS baseball and basketball standout was honored by the New Canaan Old Timers Association. Understandably, business peaked for Beachmate when school let out and the summer started in earnest for local families, with the overall system itself and “Turkish Towels” topping the list of most-popular items. We wish the Mellicks all the best as Beachmate approaches its second full summer season.

4. ‘It Was An Amazing Place To Live’: Actor Christopher Lloyd Returns To Waveny House

Scenes from Waveny House on April 3, 2016, for the launch of “Waveny: New Canaan’s Treasure,” a children’s book by Arianne Kolb with illustrations by Nicole Johnson Murphy. The event was attended by the actor Christopher Lloyd, who grew up at Waveny from a very young age until he was in his late-20s, when in 1967 his mother Ruth Lapham Lloyd gifted the buildings and grounds that now form Wavey Park to the town. Credit: Eden Lucien Photography (

Christopher Lloyd grew up at Waveny House and called the now-public building home well into his 20s. In April, he returned to the mansion and grounds of his childhood—his mother, Ruth Lapham Lloyd, conveyed the property to the town in 1967—for a children’s book-signing event co-sponsored by the town and New Canaan Preservation Alliance. We caught up with the “Back to the Future” and “Taxi” star, and asked him about his memories of Waveny and his feelings on the very special place it holds now in the hearts of New Canaanites.

3. ‘It Does Not Come Close’: Fines, Probation for New Canaan Woman Who Caused Near-Fatal Car Crash

The scene on Silvermine Road in the aftermath of the Oct. 30, 2014 accident.

Our coverage of the sentencing of a New Canaan woman who caused near-fatal car crash in town in October 2014 is the third-most-read article of the year. At the court hearing, we heard for the first time from the woman herself, as well as from a young man who suffered severe physical and other injuries as a result of the head-on crash on Silvermine Road. The woman pleaded no contest and was fined the maximum $300 for a reckless driving charge and an additional $500 plus court costs and sentenced to six months, suspended after 48 hours. She entered a formal ‘nolo contendere’ plea, meaning that she accepts a conviction without admitting guilt.

2. ‘She Was the Best Soul I Knew’: Friends, Colleagues, Students and Parents Remember Kelly Devine

L-R: Clayton Burt, Libby O’Hare, Kelly Devine, Meghan Egan, and Catherine Granito on early Letter of Intent signing day, 2015. Photo courtesy of Kat Munson

In the second-most-read article of 2016 on, we interviewed students, friends and colleagues of beloved NCHS teacher Kelly Devine days after her passing in April following a brief and unexpected illness. Those who knew her well remembered Devine as “an amazing teacher” and “huge influence.” She was “extremely respected” as a swim coach as well as a “talented,” “warm and wonderful” teacher. Devine was described as “a rare gem” who was “funny, kind and energetic” and remembered by one close friend and colleague as “the best soul I knew.”

1. After Angry Woman Throws Ice Cream Sundae, ‘BOGO Tuesdays’ at Baskin Robbins in Jeopardy

Anna Krolikowski, asked about the strangest request a customer ever made, recalled someone’s misunderstanding about Baskin-Robbins “chilly burgers,” which are ice cream sandwiches. “They said, ‘Can I get a ‘chili burger’ medium well?’ I’m like, ‘They’re ice cream sandwiches.’ They said, ‘Oh we thought it was a hamburger.’ Hello? We’re an ice cream store. You see it says Baskin Robbins?” Credit: Michael Dinan

The single-most-read article of all of 2016 is a 400-word, single-source story that details a rather strange incident at a downtown New Canaan institution. She’s been dubbed ‘The Sundae Slinger’—a woman who stormed into Baskin Robbins with a sundae that her husband had purchased as part of a ‘BOGO Tuesday’ (buy-one-get-one-free) promotion, scolded the store’s young staff members because it was melting by the time her spouse had brought it back to her, demanded her money back and ended up throwing the sundae to the floor behind the counter. The incident threatened to end the popular BOGO Tuesday promotion—something local store owner Anna Valente puts on voluntarily, for the community. Ultimately, ice cream lovers turned out in high numbers for the next available BOGO Tuesday to show support for the business and its workers.

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