Blog Archives

Memories of an Island Christmas

Snapshots of a Westport Community Association event

As we draw the curtains on this Christmas season, a quick peek back at the Westport Community Association’s Island Christmas Program…

Thanks to Emily Small, Flutter Focus Photography, we have some photos to memorialize neighbors being neighbors: singing Christmas carols in the church and lighting the first community Christmas tree in many years — perhaps a new annual tradition. Join with your neighbors to be a part of next year’s celebration.

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Halloween Spirit on Westport Island

Masquerade and hocus pocus at the Town Hall

The Community Association’s annual Halloween party included pirates, a bat, a convict, a jester, a zombie bride, town elders and a fairy princess that turned her grandma into a rabbit. Were Vincent Van Gogh and King Arthur also spotted? No, it wasn’t Van Gogh! It was Bob Ross, PBS’s silly artist, promoting “his” philosophy that “there are no mistakes – just happy accidents.”

Fashionistas wore black and white, and the dashing Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara grabbed the spotlight. Scarlett was the belle of the ball with a hooped ball gown fashioned from drapes — with the rod still attached — winning her accolades for most original costume.

Deciding awards for most original, funniest and scariest costumes taxed Judges Deborah Williams, Christy Hopkins and Debbie Speed. All of the masqueraders exhibited award-winning Halloween spirit. One must wonder what the loon, who has been presiding over town hall events since 1889, thought of the Halloween hijinks.

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Photo credits for “Bob Ross” to Johnny Scott and for the fairy princess to Laurie Jaramillo

Westport Community Association’s 60th Anniversary Celebration

Bodacious…

On Sunday, August 16, the Town Hall was dressed for a party — with quilts papering the walls, and arts and crafts decorating the walking space. People were admiring, smiling and saying hello. The Community Church was alive with music. It was a fitting way to pay respects to the the role the Community Association has played through the years in defining the word “community” for our town.

Here’s a peek at the celebration honoring a community institution that has “roots in the rock”…

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A Westport Island Christmas Photo Album

Celebrity Puppet, “Roadkill”, to Visit Westport Island

The Westport Community Association hosts Ventriloquist Burt Prater

Burt Prater and his puppet, RoadkillDon’t miss this year’s annual meeting and potluck dinner of the Westport Community Association Saturday, September 27, at the Town Hall. All are welcome! The Community Association’s special guest this year — “Roadkill” — promises to give the Island some moments to remember.

“Roadkill” is an opossum who was born in the studios of Axtell Expressions, a premiere puppet design company in Ventura, CA, whose puppets have been on Broadway, in the movies and on stages across the country. Roadkill was “adopted” by Dr. Burt Prater (of South Carolina and Westport Island), when he became infatuated with ventriloquism. They are fast friends and partners who like to make people laugh.

Burt is a retired family physician who now does environmental medicine consulting. While consulting for a medical device company at a convention in Las Vegas, he saw a female ventriloquist with an Italian puppet promoting another medical device. He thought the ventriloquist was awesome and couldn’t stop watching. She noticed his interest and invited him to a ventriloquist convention in Las Vegas as her guest.

Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham offered classes at the convention, and Burt started taking his classes. His first gig as a ventriloquist was as the comedy act at the Senior Follies in Atlanta – where most of the performers were former Broadway performers. It was grueling but great, although too demanding to do again as a practicing medical professional.

Burt Prater checking the sound at the town hall

Checking the sound at the Town Hall

Burt had selected the opossum puppet, Roadkill, as his partner, because he grew up on a farm in Alabama — so he knew possums and country humor. Roadkill is versatile companion who can help work crowds from cabaret venues, like the Follies, to family venues.

Burt and his wife Joan have been coming to Westport Island for 10 years. They discovered Westport on a visit to his sister and brother-in-law in Cape Elizabeth. During the visit, he and his wife went for a drive and ended up spending a night at the Squire Tarbox Inn on Westport. They fell in love with the Island. Serendipitously, when they were headed off the Island, they saw a sign advertising a home for sale. Although not looking for a home, they decided to check it out. They ended up buying the house, and the rest is history.

The Praters love the Island, their house and the people on the Island (although Burt says you couldn’t get him to stay for the winter with a straight jacket.) They recently moved to South Carolina after many years in Georgia. Join them next Saturday at the Town Hall for some laughs and neighborliness.  The evening begins at 6 p.m.

Westport Islanders Kick Up Their Heels

Celebrating the start of summer

Square dancers at Westport Island Town HallThe band Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” set the tone for a fun evening at the Community Association’s recent “modern” square dance. Casual attire and a mixture of tunes that ran the gamut from traditional square dance to Michael Jackson had Island square dancers laughing and dancing their way through a fun June evening. The square dance event was the first — but not the last — square dance the Town Hall is likely to see in modern times. Those who rediscovered the fun of toe-tapping music, swinging their partners and weaving a room with dance are already talking about doing it again next year.

The dance was called by Walt Bull from Topsham, a regular on the Maine square dance circuit. Trying to keep up with allemande left, allemande right, swing your partner and “do si do” kept everyone thinking, moving and laughing.

Background music, “Spanish Fandango” courtesy of Smokey Hormel Live at WFMU on Jeffrey Cobb’s Show, 4/3/2008