Play Ball! Easton Baseball League Upgrades Field

The Easton Baseball League has rounded third and crossed home plate on its newly renovated 50/70 Majors field for eligible fifth, sixth and seventh graders playing in the Cal Ripken youth baseball league. Located at 650 Morehouse Road, the field—which measures 70 feet from home plate to first base, and 50 feet from home plate to the pitcher’s mound—is an exciting new addition to Easton’s youth baseball community.

Although Covid-19 extended the timeline of the project, planning for the field renovation started long before the pandemic. “The Easton Baseball Board began planning for a new 50/70 baseball field five to six years ago,” said Rob McDermott, president of the Easton Baseball League. “We began to fundraise for this project a year and a half ago and decided as a group that we would utilize the field that was in existence behind Easton Country Day school and greatly enhance it.”

Danielle Alves, Easton Park and Recreation Department director, worked closely with Easton Baseball on the renovations, and is excited to share all of the upgrades the new field has to offer.

“Easton Baseball recently did a huge fencing upgrade at the 50/70 field, including a double-sided batting cage, solar-powered scoreboard, and  final touches of bleachers as well as turf,” said Alves.

New scoreboard at Easton Baseball’s renovated 50/70 field.Photo Easton Courier Staff

Although the renovation was several years in the making, McDermott says the results were definitely worth the wait for Easton baseball families. “As a baseball community, we feel that this field is going to be so important to our players,” said McDermott. “As our children come up through our league, they will look forward not only to playing at our great Field of Dreams field at Staples, but to our new 50/70 baseball facility as well.”

Although the new and improved field has been open for several weeks, Covid protocols and guidelines have still remained in the forefront as the Easton youth baseball program continues to emphasize safety so that everyone can enjoy the new field together. “We have continued to follow the Connecticut Youth Sports Covid Guidelines, and at the start of the season dugouts and spectator stands remained closed,” said McDermott.

Initially, the new 50/70 field was available only for practices but was able to schedule games by mid-May as Covid conditions have improved and the guidelines have been adjusted, according to McDermott. 

“The process for putting this plan in motion had many moving parts, on our end, many board members past and current were involved in seeing this through as well as we have collaborated with town agencies, particularly our great Easton Park and Recreation partner,” McDermott said. “Danielle Alves and her team were very helpful in this process and their importance in this field getting built should be noted, as well as their importance to our town.”

New dugout at renovated 50/70 baseball field at 650 Morehouse Road.–Photo Easton Courier Staff

It was “all hands on deck” throughout the renovation process, and McDermott expressed his gratitude for all the support he received from his fellow volunteers. “All past and present Easton Baseball League board members should be congratulated on their hard work and in particular past President Kerry Caylor,” McDermott said. “Kerry has been instrumental in this process and even after stepping down from his role as president has seen this through and taken this to the goal line.”

McDermott is most impressed by the overwhelming support the project received from the Easton families during renovations and is hopeful that the community enjoys the new addition. “The baseball community has been very supportive of this project and now that we have the field complete, and our community reads this article, we hope folks come and enjoy the new field this summer,” said McDermott. For now, “games will be played on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings throughout the spring.”

New batting cage at renovated 50/70 baseball field.–Photo Easton Courier Staff

Now that the improved 50/70 field project is completed, the Park and Recreation Department will focus on its next field renovation project, Alves said.

“Our department will be renovating the infield at Easton Country Day’s [46/60 Minors] field in June most likely, and that is part of Easton Park and Recreation’s five-year baseball infield renovation plan,” said Alves. “We rotate the work on the ball fields each year so we can make sure they are safe for play and looking great.”

Easton parents and players enjoying the renovated 50/70 field at 650 Morehouse Road.–Photo Courtesy of Easton Baseball League

For more information regarding Easton Baseball visit http://eastonbaseballleague.website.sportssignup.com/.

Who Let the Dogs Out? Easton, Connecticut.

Like all dog owners, Jeff Lacey wants the best for his dog. The Easton resident has been coming to the Easton dog park almost every day now for two years with his two-and-a-half-year-old chocolate lab, Hobie.

“All the dogs play well together, Hobie absolutely loves it,” said Lacey.  

360 Sport Hill Rd, Easton, CT 06612— Gabriella Tamburri Photo

Opened during the summer of 2015, the dog park has been a cooperative project between dog lovers and the Easton Park and Recreation Department

“The dog park was put in place by the previous director and the Easton residents,” said Danielle Alves, park and recreation director.

Many families make a trip to the dog park part of their daily routine throughout the year. “I go pretty much every day,” said Lacey. “It’s also good for the owners to socialize.” 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of the park significantly. 

“Although we didn’t have to shut the park down, we had to mandate new rules following COVID-19 guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing,” said Alves. 

There was a significant decline in the number of families using the park at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. After several weeks of being stuck at home, however — and after families became comfortable with the new social distancing and outdoor safety guidelines — many dog owners could no longer resist the urge to bring their pets back to the park.

Robin Seymour of Weston now comes to the park almost every day with her rescue Tucker, who is part Lab, part pit bull, and part Chow Chow. Tucker gets along with all the other dogs at the park. “When COVID-19 first came, I definitely got scared and did not come for a month or two, and then couldn’t take it anymore,” said Seymour. 

Easton resident Virginia DiCesare is the owner of Holly, a three-year-old Welsh Springer. Like Seymour, DiCesare decided after a month of staying at home that going to the dog park was the perfect antidote to isolation. 

“It got very isolated being at home, so I thought if I just go to the park wearing a mask and social distance at least Holly could run around and exercise,” said DiCesare.  

Hiram Rosenberg of Trumbull comes to the park all year round with Lucy, his one-year-old pug.  “One of the things that I love about this dog park is the dogs are very friendly, especially since Lucy is so small,” said Rosenberg. 

Because dog owners have been very good about following the COVID-19 precautions, the town did not have to shut down the dog park, according to Alves.  Even in the midst of the pandemic, the dog park was more popular during the summer months because of the warmer weather.

“Usually you see bigger dogs in the winter because they tend to love to play in the snow, but I definitely think it’s more utilized in the summer,” said Alves. 

Although the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging during these unprecedented times, the Easton Dog Park remains a safe space for dogs and dog owners to enjoy. “The people really love it. It’s a great asset to the community,” said Alves.

Photo at top: Hiram Rosenberg with Lucy, his one-year-old pug. — Gabriella Tamburri Photo

Halloween Celebrations Change But Carry On

Trunk or Treat event decoration

For years now, after summer has ended, the Easton community looks forward to celebrating fall with festivities organized by town residents. However, public health restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic are causing major changes and cancellations for this year’s celebrations.

The most beloved autumn event, the bonfire and Halloween costume contest, will not be taking place this year due to capacity regulations for outdoor events to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Lions Club of Easton has sponsored the bonfire for decades, according to Charles Lynch, one of the event leaders.

The Lions Club bonfire at Samuel Staples Elementary School is a Halloween Eve tradition.

“The Lions Club has been sponsoring this event for the past 75 years,” Lynch said. “Timothy McCann and the fire department help set up these big 30-foot wooden posts for the bonfire, and people come in their best costumes, eat snacks, listen to music and drink cider.

“Normally we have a crowd of 300 to 400 people, but this year the max capacity could only be 150 guests because of Covid,” said Lynch. “So, the Lions had to cancel the Halloween bonfire.”

The pandemic has taken a toll on other autumn events this year as well. The annual Trunk or Treat event at Samuel Staples Elementary School also had to be canceled. The event would have been set up for people to decorate their trunks with a theme of their choice and hand out candy to the children.

“We’ve been having it here in Easton for seven or eight years now where we typically get around 350-400 participants, and we’re all really upset that it’s not being held this year,” according to Danielle Alves, Easton Park and Recreation Department director.

The Easton Public Library Storybook Parade marches along Morehouse Road. — Archive Photo

The Easton Public Library usually hosts autumn events such as the storybook parade and Country Fair and Cow Chip Raffle that help with fundraising. The fundraising event was discontinued a few years ago due to the lack of active Friends of the Library members, and the book parade will be different this year due to the pandemic, according to Lynn Zaffino, library director.

“For almost 30 years, the friends have been doing a book parade and this year we are making it a car parade,” said Zaffino. “So, normally it would be a parade that starts a mile up the road where children and parents dress up as their favorite book characters and would march from the school to the library. But this year we’re encouraging people to decorate their cars in book themes, and the kids will get goodie bags at the end of the parade instead of activities inside the library.” 

The library would normally hold an event the week before Halloween where children trick or treat inside the library, except that this year it will be held virtually. 

“Normally we would ask all of the kids from the children’s program to come throughout the week dressed up and we would take them trick or treating around the library to different stations,” said Zaffino. “What the children’s department is doing instead is a Halloween program over Zoom called Zoomaween, where the kids can wear costumes if they want, share their favorite books and listen to the librarians read Halloween picture books for the younger kids and scary books for the older kids.” 

The Easton Community Center will also sponsor Halloween events, according to Tina Turechek, art and marketing director. Turechek said they have created fun events that comply with Covid -19 safety guidelines to keep the community happy and safe.

The ECC Pet Halloween Costume Contest invites the community to submit photos by Oct. 25 for community judging on Oct. 26.

“We are going to be running a social media Pet Halloween Costume Contest, where participants will submit photos to the Easton Community Center,” said Turechek. People may send in their photos to be posted online and vote for their favorite on Oct. 26.

“Our preschool will be having a Halloween parade outside by class only in smaller groups than usual, but each child participating will be dressing up in their Halloween costume and marching around the ECC gazebo,” Turechek said. “We will be having individual Halloween classroom parties in the preschool as well.”

The pandemic may have changed Halloween this year, but community leaders are hopeful that the events they’ve planned will still give everyone that warm festive feeling during such a confusing time.

“I think the main thing that I’m hoping is that although things aren’t running the way they normally do that people will still try and find a way to participate in the events because we are really trying very hard, and we have been ever since we were shut down in March,” said Zaffino. “We are trying to engage with the community in different ways with digital and virtual programs to let people know that the library is here and we’re still offering things to the community.”

The Lions Club plans to bring back the bonfire “as big as ever next year,” Lynch said.