Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Windows

Time for the annual photos of holiday window decorations downtown! Every year, Main Street Waterbury's Design Committee encourages downtown businesses to get into the festive spirit of the season with a Holiday Window Decoration competition.

A couple of businesses, like Tony's Men's Shop and Ideal Jewelers, have tried and true designs they use every year. Others, like Shakesperience Productions and John Bale Books, seem to do something completely different every year.

The challenge for the businesses is to create an eye-catching, well-designed window display that is festive and incorporates their unique identity. Some businesses have enormous windows, some have small windows, some have tinted windows; all have their own challenges for design.

Here is a sampling of some of what's downtown this year.

City lamp post wreaths on Bank Street. The city decorations, especially
the ones on the Green, took a bad hit this year. The shed they were stored in
was broken into and the decorations were vandalized

Braza on Bank Street.

Part of the window display at the Palace Theater on East Main Street.
This was the Palace's first year entering the Main Street Waterbury competition.

Rendezvous on South Main Street.

Something Old, Something New on Bank Street.

Shakesperience Productions on Bank Street.

The Connecticut Store on Bank Street.

One of Connecticut Dance Theater's windows on Bank Street.

Connecticut Dance Theater's other window on Bank Street.

Princess Lingerie's candy theme on Grand Street.

John Bale Books, complete with a small tree made out of books (on the left), on Grand Street.

The Joba Cafe within the John Bale Books display.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Waterbury's First Female Attorney

Attorney Susan Cecelia O'Neill (1871-1934) was a pioneer of women's history in Connecticut, but you've probably never heard of her. Little has been written. She was the second woman admitted to the Connecticut Bar; the first woman to become an attorney in Connecticut was Mary Hall of Hartford, who was admitted to the bar in 1882. Hall rarely, if ever, appeared in court, out of concern that her gender would be a distraction to the court cases.

Susan O'Neill was admitted to the Connecticut Bar on June 19, 1898. She had graduated with distinction from NYU's law school the year before, only seven years after NYU began allowing women to attend their law school. Unlike Mary Hall, O'Neill regularly argued cases in court, not only in Waterbury, but also in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. She was the first woman in Connecticut to practice law in the courtrooms. Considering that Mary Hall didn't practice in the courts because it was too outrageous for a woman to do so, Susan O'Neill's career is that much more admirable.

In 1901, she became the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court of Connecticut. On April 24, 1904, she was admitted to and practiced before the Supreme Court of the United States (Belva A. Lockwood was the first woman to do so, in 1893).

Susan C. O'Neill
From the Hartford Courant, May 21, 1922

O'Neill's family was a mixture of Irish and Yankee. Her paternal grandmother was descended from the Puritans, while her paternal grandfather was an Irish immigrant who arrived in this country in 1833. Her maternal grandparents were both Irish immigrants. The O'Neill family moved to Waterbury in 1848.

Her father, John O'Neill, was also an attorney. He served in the state legislature in 1889, introducing new legislation establishing taxes on inheritances, investments, and on telegraph and express companies; the new taxes were intended to bring balance to the state tax system, which had been wreaking havoc on city and town property assessments. He was also Dean of the Waterbury Bar, and served on the board of the Bronson Library.

The O'Neill family lived at 131 Cook Street. For many decades, the O'Neill law firm (O'Neill, O'Neill & O'Neill) was located at 77 Bank Street. Susan practiced there with her father and two brothers. In 1920, O'Neill moved her practice to 53 Leavenworth Street; in 1922, she moved to 193 Grand Street.

O'Neill moved out of the family home after World War I, living at 315 Willow Street for close to a decade. She eventually moved in with her widowed mother in Woodbury.

77 Bank Street in 2012 (built after O'Neill practiced at the location)
This is sometimes referred to as the Russell Building, since the owners who had it built were the Russell law firm.
This building was constructed in 1930, long after O'Neill had moved to a new office location.
I haven't been able to find a good photograph of the building that was here before, but I suspect
it probably looked a lot like the one to the left of the current Russell Building.

Being a female attorney during the early years of the 20th century made O'Neill something of an oddity. The American public was fascinated by the concept of a female professional. The Indiana Weekly magazine wrote the following review of her abilities in 1901:

"The young Connecticut woman attorney has a charming personality, and a clear and full voice. At a recent appearance before the highest court of the Nutmeg State she spoke for fifteen minutes without notes, showing evident mastery of the technical details of her case. She made an excellent impression."

The New Jersey Law Journal, in 1907, wrote that she was "the most remarkable woman lawyer in New England, as well as one of the youngest." The Journal noted that her father was one of the two leading lawyers of Connecticut, and then gushed "Miss O'Neill is a young woman just entering the thirties, tall and possessed of a faultless figure, a face full of girlish sweetness and has a charming personality."

O'Neill was particularly interested in how the legal system handled juveniles. She was among a growing number of people who believed that youthful offenders should be treated differently than adults. O'Neill presented a substitute bill to the state legislature in 1913 proposing that the state should be divided into five juvenile court districts, one for each congressional district. The bill specified that the assistant to the judge for each district must be a woman. At the presentation of her bill to the state legislature, O'Neill emphasized the importance of crime prevention, noting that the existing system did not address this, since they became involved only after a crime was committed. Her proposed bill required that juvenile offenders be jailed in a dedicated detention house, instead of placing them in prisons with adult offenders. Her bill also proposed giving the court jurisdiction over offenders under the age of 16 (unless the crime was “an infamous one”), and jurisdiction over cases involving misdemeanors, guardianship of orphans, and cases of non-support of children. O’Neill’s proposed bill included an appropriation of $25,000 to establish the new system. (I have not yet found out what happened to her proposal; there were other options presented at the same time.)

A few of O'Neill's cases made the newspapers. In 1901, O’Neill represented Margaret Heffernan of Bristol, who sought to regain custody of her young daughter from her husband, who had taken her away to his parents’ home in Harwinton. The description in the newspaper clearly indicates that Margaret Heffernan had been suffering from severe post-partum depression (shortly after giving birth, she declared that she hated her newborn daughter and spent months subtly abusing her), but back then the problem was not understood. The Hartford Courant (September 24, 1901) described it as a “strange condition.” The judge in the case declared that the laws of the land established the father as legal guardian (men having far more rights than women in 1901). Fortunately, the father decided to take the toddler back home, hoping that his wife would “treat it more kindly” than before. Although the case had a happy ending, it is sad to see how poorly understand post-partum depression was. When asked to comment on the case, the judge said that Margaret Heffernan must hate her husband, because why else would she have abused their child?

O'Neill also represented Mary Wright Smith of Westport, who became somewhat notorious after her attorneys were forced to sue her for payment. O'Neill wound up representing herself and another female attorney, Isabella M. Pettus of New York. The case was settled with O'Neill and Pettus taking possession of a farm in Easton owned by Smith (who subsequently swore off lawyers and began studying law for herself.)

O’Neill made state headlines for her defense of the “Flapper” in 1922 (written up in the Hartford Courant, May 21, 1922). In her argument before the Connecticut Supreme Court, she defended short skirts, noting that they allow “much freer action getting about, especially going up stairs, climbing aboard trolley cars or into autos.” She further state that short skirts “are far more sanitary than the skirts of several years ago, which swept the sidewalks and collected the germs of the careless spitters and brought diseases into homes."

Depiction of a Flapper in The Outlook magazine, June 7, 1922
Although modest by our standards, this was a radical, rebellious look in the '20s.

O’Neill also defended the choice of fabric material and color, perhaps to rebut concerns that flapper dresses were too distracting. O’Neill declared that “It is not surprising that the average girl looks chic and winsome” in the “lively” hues of their dresses.

The short haircut of the flapper was also being defended. O’Neill called the bobbed haircut “another sign of progress,” simplifying the chore involved with taking care of long hair. O’Neill also approved of knickers (or knickerbockers), commenting that the pants “are becoming quite common in the larger centers of population” and were likely to start appearing more frequently for golfing and hiking. She was also amenable to a small amount of makeup, “rouge and powder,” for girls with poor complexions.

The one trend O’Neill spoke out against was smoking: “In my opinion a girl loses charm when she smokes.”

The Courant article ended with an inspiring quote from O’Neill:
“Now that equal franchise has been granted to women I look to see a greater number of young women selecting the legal profession. Women as a rule make keen, alert counselors and are sharp in the trial of cases. The practice of law should appeal to women. It is a most honorable profession and it would please me to see women more largely represented.” 

At the time, O’Neill was one of about four women practicing law in Connecticut.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving at PAL

I had a great turkey lunch at Waterbury PAL this afternoon. They served up about 100 turkeys (deep fried in peanut oil), mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, cranberry sauce, salad, and pie to everyone who stopped by. It was a good excuse to get my dad out of the house to do something a little different from his normal schedule.

There was a DJ playing classics from the '80s, giving the little kids something to dance to.

The kids liked the giant turkey too!

For more photos of PAL's Thanksgiving event, check out their Facebook page.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Pet Vaccination Clinic

Can't afford to take your cat or dog to the vet for vaccinations? Here's a much more affordable alternative for rabies shots and DHPP. 

Take your cat or dog (in a carrier or on a leash!) to PAL this Saturday afternoon and keep them safe from rabies and parvovirus.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Women's Suffrage

It's been 92 years since women were finally given the right to vote in this country. This is one of those history trivia bits that has astounded me ever since I was a kid. There are women alive today who were born at a time when it was illegal for them to vote, simply because they weren't men.

Women and men started advocating for women's suffrage (the right to vote) before the Civil War. Many abolitionists were also suffragists, the sort of people who have more recently been derided as "bleeding-heart liberals," the sort of people who advocate strongly for human rights and civil rights. Abolishing slavery was, not surprisingly, seen as a higher priority than women's suffrage. After the Civil War, the suffrage movement, and the women's rights movement (dress reform, allowing women to wear trousers, was among the items women had to fight for), began to pick up steam.

History tends to gloss over certain types of details. For example, after the Civil War, giving black men the right to vote in every state was controversial. In October 1865, Connecticut men voted against removing the word "white" from the U.S. Constitution. The Columbian Register, a New Haven newspaper, declared it a "glorious triumph," establishing that ours is "a white man's government" that "should be administered by white men." The paper praised voters for crossing partisan lines "to do a patriotic act."

In 1869, a Chicago advocate for universal suffrage was quoted in the Columbian Register as saying that "Western women comprehend that humanity is one--that the colored man cannot be elevated without at the same time uplifting the colored woman--and they see very clearly that through the gap in the fence made by the colored man as he passes over into citizenship, all American women will pass to the same destination."

An early suffragist in Waterbury was a Mrs. Armes, who attended Women's Suffrage meetings during the 1870s. I have not yet found more information about her.

In Connecticut, women were given the right to vote in school-related elections in 1889 (their ballots were cast separately from those cast by men). In 1895, Waterbury's State Representative Warren L. Hall put forth a bill claiming that "the better class of women" wanted the right revoked because "the undesirable class of women" had voted during the last election. Hall argued that women should not be "forced" to vote. Others, including the editor of the Waterbury Republican newspaper, argued that the extremely low turnout of women voters at school elections was proof that there was no point in giving women the right to vote.

Surprisingly, not all women wanted the right to vote. There were many women who identified themselves as "against women suffrage" only a few years before they were given the right to vote. Among them was Waterbury's Mary Williams Phipps, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College. Phipps was active in women's organizations, including the Waterbury Women's Club, and in the Congregational Church ministries.

In contrast, Helen L. Welton was a strong advocate of women's suffrage. Welton was a business woman at a time when such a thing was rare. Her husband had become an invalid, so she took over, joining her father-in-law's real estate business. She was instrumental in developing Waterville. Her support of women's suffrage was based, at least in part, in her belief in "no taxation without representation." Her short biography in Volume 2 of Pape's History of Waterbury described her as "retaining the truly womanly traits of character" while still being highly competent in the business world. Back in 1916, those two things were considered to be mutually exclusive.

The Connecticut Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, founded in 1911, considered the right to vote "a menace to womanhood." The Association claimed to have some 60,000 members in 1914, which included members from Waterbury. The Waterbury branch was formed in 1913 and met at Rose Hill on Prospect Street, home of Mrs. Irving Chase. The first officers of the branch were Margaret Granniss, Mrs. George Goss, and Mrs. Chauncy P. Goss.

Suffragists were willing to go to prison. Many women were arrested and jailed for as long as six months in different parts of the country.

Kate Heffelfinger, an art student and suffragist from Pennsylvania,
being released from Occoquan Prison in Virginia, circa 1917.
Heffelfinger was sentenced to six months in jail for picketing for the right to vote.
She was one of 33 suffragist women brutally beaten by prison guards at Occoquan.
Photo from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Library of Congress, American Memory website.

Connecticut women were as active in the struggle for the right to vote as anyone.

Picketers at the National Republican Convention in Chicago, June 1920.
L-R Abby Scott Baker, Florence Taylor Marsh, Sue White, Elsie Hill, and Betty Gram.
Photo from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Library of Congress, American Memory website.

On October 9, 1920, the first woman to become registered to vote in Waterbury was Mrs. Adelaide Boyd of Arch Street. Roughly 15,000 Waterbury women registered right away.

Getting the vote wasn't the end of the story. In 1927, Waterbury's Mrs. Harry S. Coe (who had served in the General Assembly in 1925) and the Connecticut League of Women Voters petitioned for women's right to serve on juries. The Connecticut Attorney General had previously ruled that women could not serve as jurors, even though they did have the right to vote.

In 1934, Connecticut's Governor Wilbur Cross unveiled a plaque honoring 31 Connecticut women pioneers in the struggle for women's suffrage. Among the women honored were Waterbury's Harriet Fowler Maltby and Elsie Rowland Chase, sister-in-law of anti-suffragist Mrs. Irving Chase.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Clinton Comes To Waterbury

Last week, Linda McMahon was able to get the Governor of New Jersey to stump for her in Waterbury. This week, Chris Murphy brought us former President Bill Clinton. Oh yeah! Sorry, Linda, but a former President definitely trumps a Governor from some other state.

I was one of the lucky 2,500 people who got tickets. There was a little bit of last-minute change to the schedule, due to the impending "Frankenstorm." I sympathize with every political campaign being impacted by the storm--they're already exhausted, heading into the last week of campaigning after many months of effort, and now they've got one more thing to juggle. Then again, we did this last year too, only then it was snow!

I wasn't able to get good photos of Clinton. We were told in advance that no cameras would be allowed, and I didn't want to be kicked out or have my camera confiscated, so I followed the rules and brought only my cell phone. Of course, the no-camera rule is completely illogical when you consider that pretty much every audience member took photos with their cell phones, and none of the security guards or ushers seemed to care. Oh well.

For those of you who missed it, here's a random snippet of President Clinton's speech supporting Chris Murphy for Senate:

There were several other speakers: Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Esty, Senator Blumenthal, Governor Malloy, Lt. Gov. Wyman, and Mayor O'Leary.

Chris Murphy had a very good description of how hard this campaign has been (as did Blumenthal, who said that he knows how hard it is to go up against a "$50 million attack machine"). Murphy said that when he got the phone call telling him that President Clinton was coming, he "straightened his spine" and reminded himself that "we can do this."

Governor Malloy started with a speech about the impending hurricane. It was a good speech, in that he successfully instilled fear of the storm in me. When he emphasized that this will be a 36-hour storm, and that normal storms stick around for only 6 to 12 hours, I got very anxious. I started thinking maybe I should run to the store and buy supplies of some sort, I don't know what, maybe a generator and some water. At this point, judging from photos being posted on Facebook, there's no point trying to buy anything. The bread aisles are empty.

I had been hoping to get a really good seat. The event was originally planned for Library Park, which might have been nicer in terms of getting close, but the Palace was definitely warmer. I can't complain too much about where I was seated, except that there was no chance of shaking Clinton's hand. Darn!

The view from my seat on the mezzanine. We were originally one row back.
Half way through the event, the loggia seats opened up, and many of us moved up a row.

The doors were scheduled to open at 2 p.m. We arrived at 1:15, at which point the line stretched from the Palace to WAMS.

Linda McMahon sent some of her campaigners to wave signs at us while we stood in line. Seems like a real wasted effort, considering that pretty much everyone standing in line is a Democrat, and the majority of people standing in line have probably contributed to her opponent's campaign.

Today was also the walk/race held by St. Vincent DePaul. Walk in Their Footsteps/Race for Awareness is a fundraiser for the mission. The racers were cheered on as they passed by the line of people waiting to enter the Palace.

It was cold and a little breezy. We watched the storm clouds roll in while we waited in line.

Here comes Sandy!

The program started pretty quickly once we got inside. Mayor O'Leary was joined on stage by a group of kids from the PAL program. They led us in the pledge of allegiance. Side note: I've been noticing that very few people actually pledge their allegiance. Most people start with "to the flag."

Mayor O'Leary and PAL

 Although I wasn't able to get very close, it was still awesome to be in the same room as President Clinton. I didn't think it would be, but as soon as he walked on stage, I was moved with emotion, thinking "oh wow, it's really him!" I'm not usually much of a groupie. I don't get excited if I see a celebrity in real life. But some people are larger than life, and have done so much with their lives that I can't help being impressed. Bill Clinton is one of those people.

Chris Murphy and Bill Clinton.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vote Smart

Election Day is just around the corner. If you are planning to vote, please spend some time researching the candidates first. Be informed. Don't base your decisions on campaign rhetoric, party loyalties, or random patterns. Base your decision on solid information about each candidate. It takes time, but it is very important.

One of the best things you can do is to visit the website of each candidate that has one (see my Election Guide post from July for links). Read what they have to say about their platform, see where they stand on the issues.

Think about what you feel is important. What direction do you think the country and the state should be going? 

Think about what you read. Does it make sense? Do you understand what the candidate has stated? If you have questions, do some more research. For example, Romney's website states that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Don't know what that is? Look it up.

Look at the whole picture. If a candidate promises to cut spending to certain programs, like funding for the arts and humanities, while also promising to increase spending on the military, what impact do you think that will that have?

Try doing a side-by-side comparison of the candidates for different issues, researching both what is on their websites and what they have said at debates and speeches. 

Use critical thinking when you read about the candidates. A lot of what they say is pure rhetoric, empty statements that sound good, but have no substance.

Another place to look for information are fact checker sites. Be careful: many sites claiming to be fact checkers are partisan, supporting one side over the other. You may need to fact check the fact checkers (crazy world!).

Fact checker sites that seem to be trustworthy include The Washington Post,,, and, of course,, which has tackled some of the more popular political rumors make the rounds of Facebook and email.

Don't forget to research the local-level candidates. They may not get as much media coverage as national-level candidates, but they are just as important.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Landlords vs. Tenants

I've been waiting months for the new laws regarding blighted rental properties to take effect. Connecticut's new law (Sections 3 and 4 of HB 5319) became effective on October 1 and imposes harsher fines for landlords who refuse to clean up their properties, and places liens on the properties. It also establishes willful violation of blight regulations as a misdemeanor criminal offense. This is the part I like best--a slumlord who lives in Stamford and refuses to clean up his rental property in Waterbury can be forced to come here to be held accountable. Before this legislation, nothing could be done about that Stamford-based slumlord.

Today's Rep-Am had a very disheartening article related to this topic. Each municipality with an existing blight ordinance is required to update it to reflect the new laws. Waterbury's Board of Aldermen are dragging their heels on this, after being told by landlords that they shouldn't be held accountable for the messes created by their tenants.

There has been a growing tension between landlords and tenants in recent years. As cities have grown tougher on blight, landlords have begun fighting anti-blight ordinances.

Before any landlords get upset at what I'm writing, let me say that I know what they are talking about. I know there are bad tenants out there. I know there are tenants who will trash the apartment, rip out copper pipes, smash holes in the walls and doors, leave a foot-thick layer of dog feces and urine in the basement, pull ceiling fans out of the ceiling and claim it fell on them and injured them. I know there are tenants who leave behind furniture, clothing, garbage. I also know that in every case I know of a tenant trashing an apartment, the landlord never did any sort of background check before renting to them. I hope all landlords at least require a security deposit to pay for the cleanup. That's what a security deposit is for.

Landlords: if you know your tenant is trashing your property, if you are there regularly to clean up after them, REPORT THEM. Don't sit back and wait for the city to come after you. Be pro-active. If your property is blighted enough for the city to get involved, you should have done something about it long before the city noticed. If your tenant is creating blight on your property, call the Police Department at 203-574-6920 and ask for the Blight Enforcement & Control Division. If your tenant trashes your property and you don't take action, then you should expect to be held responsible.

My interpretation of the new state ordinance is that it is intended to target slumlords. "Willful violation" of anti-blight laws is very different from landlords who need help with bad tenants, with illegal dumping on their property, with lack of resources. The law is intended to target the landlords who just don't care.

Take, for example, the owner of 76 Oak Street. The property has fallen into a blighted state over the past five years, after having been acquired by someone in Stamford in 2006. I have been complaining about the blight for years, but because the owner is out of town, the city hasn't been able to do much.

This summer, a new tenant moved in and made an agreement with the landlord to clean up the property. The tenant came in with a machete, a weed whacker, and some friends and made huge progress in clearing out overgrown weeds and trees that had grown up through the fence and were leaning precariously over my garage. The next step was to haul away the mountain of debris that fills up a quarter of the back yard. The landlord suddenly reneged on his promise to pay the tenant for the labor and the cost of removing the debris. The tenant can't afford to haul away the debris on his own, so all cleanup work stopped. The tenant has also complained to the landlord about the tree branch that has fallen on the roof and appears to be causing the roof to leak, which in turn appears to have caused part of the second floor to collapse. The landlord refuses to do anything about the leaking roof.

There are a lot of bad landlords in my neighborhood. One neighbor has told us that the heat duct no longer goes to the second floor, and her landlord refuses to fix it. The neighbor also says that the landlord has threatened them with eviction if they complain to HUD.

One of the houses across the street has been owned by Abreu Realty since 2007. Until a few weeks ago, there was a massive dead tree in the front yard that made everyone nervous, wondering if someone would be killed by a falling branch. The landlord refused to get rid of the tree, saying it wasn't his responsibility. It took a lot of pressure, but the tree is now gone. Meanwhile, however, take a look at the some of rest of the property:

254 Wood Street

The gutter on the porch has foot-tall grass growing in it (or did before the cold weather started). The porch slats are broken and have been for years. The porch steps are slick with mold. What kind of tenant does the landlord think he will attract when the property looks like this? Why would a tenant care about keeping the property clean when the landlord clearly does not care about how it looks?

We absolutely need to have an ordinance making blight a criminal offense. I have seen first hand that the city can't enforce anti-blight laws if there are no real penalties involved. There are too many landlords that just don't care.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spirit Awards

Do you know of an unsung hero who quietly goes about making Waterbury a great place to be? The Spirit of Waterbury is looking for nominations to recognize those people who, through their quiet efforts, make Waterbury a great place to live, an asset to their neighborhoods. Nominees will be honored with a certificate from the Mayor, recognizing their contributions to Waterbury. 

To nominate someone, send an email with their name, address, and why you are nominating them to

All nominees will be entered in a drawing to be held at the Spirit Festival and Mardi Gross event on October 27th, 11:00 am to 5:00pm on East Main street, in front of UConn-Waterbury.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oh deer!

Yesterday, I was stopped at a red light, waiting to leave the Stop & Shop plaza on Chase Avenue. While I waited, I looked across the street at the cliff-like hillside behind the Aamco and spotted a deer, with antlers, eating his dinner just above the drop-off.

It was an amazing thing to see in Waterbury, surrounded by traffic and pavement and buildings. When the light turned green, I drove into the Aamco parking lot and tried to get some good photos. All I had was my iPhone, and I couldn't get very close, so they aren't the best shots, but you can make out the deer in them, if you look closely (I've circled him to help you see him).

The past week has been tremendously stressful for me, and the stress is probably going to continue for a while. Being able to sit and watch this deer munching away on plants was profound, like a ray of sunshine, a reminder of the peace and harmony that exists in nature, that not everything is chaos and noise.

Also, it was just kind of cool to realize there are deer in the city!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Brew Fest!

Here are some shots from yesterday's Brew Fest at Library Park. The Brew Fest is a major annual fundraiser for Main Street Waterbury. It brings more than 2,000 people to downtown for the day; when they leave the Brew Fest at dinner time, they're all given maps to the restaurants downtown, and many of them, who come from out of town, make downtown hotel reservations so they can fully enjoy the Brew Fest.

First up, the classic car show outside the park on Grand Street:

 There weren't as many as usual. After the first heavy rain, they were gone.

Not part of the car show, this plate was in the ramparage.

The Brew Fest sold out in advance. The signs were a great idea--every year, after the last ticket is sold, people keep coming, begging to be let in.

 There were close to 300 brewers present. Fisch from Radio 104.1 had a tent set up as well.

The rain kept coming in short bursts. One minute here, three minutes there. A few times there was a torrential downpour, but most of the rainfall was pretty gentle.

Pretzel necklaces

Creative headgear at the Belgian tent

The Brass City Brewmaid made her annual appearance.

Presenters for the seminar on Beer in Revolutionary America.
They brought along beer brewed from George Washington's recipe.

Shock Top mobile tap. I tried their pumpkin wheat--very good, flavorful without any bitterness.


A couple thousand beer lovers in attendance.

Information booth for the Connecticut Beer Trail. More creative headgear.

It's a great event for beer drinkers--you can sample hundreds of
different beers, and talk to the brewers about them.

This is the one thing that I don't like about the Brew Fest. People stand around drinking under the tent, making it impossible for anyone to reach the beer. Granted, when I took this photo, it was pouring rain, but even when it isn't, they still crowd around under the tent.

People watching is half the fun of the Brew Fest
(at least, it is for me when I'm volunteering at the Brew Fest).

Happy people! I'd say the Brew Fest earned a thumb's up from the guy in the middle.

Newspaperman John Murray, publisher of the Waterbury Observer,
with camera gear in tow. He took some great shots of
Timmy Maia's performance at the Brew Fest.

Rep-Am reporter Andrew Larsen filming Main Street Waterbury Director Carl Rosa.
The final video can be viewed on the Rep-Am website.

T-Shirts! By the end of the day, there weren't many left. Main Street Waterbury also had souvenir glasses for sale--they sold out in less than three hours.