Dec 27, 2013
05:54 PM
Connecticut Today

2013 in Connecticut (Magazine): Best Dining, Arts, Politics, Issues, Fashion & More

2013 in Connecticut (Magazine): Best Dining, Arts, Politics, Issues, Fashion & More

2013 was a great year—at least in terms of the broad range of compelling stories we offered in the print version of Connecticut magazine and in our online “verticals,” or categories of digital content focused on dining, the arts, politics, style and more.

As a way of bidding farewell to the year that was, and to offer “sustenance” amid the year-ending cold snap, as we all hibernate in warm interiors, we’re taking a look back at some of the most notable—or simply interesting—stories of 2013.

So light a fire, grab a mug of hot chocolate, tea or coffee, or pour a glass of wine, get cozy and let the glow of a tablet computer light the way to interesting reading.

We’ve broken this year-in-review into categories, as highlighted below. Read on or click to go directly to the topic that interests you most.

Cover Stories & Issues

Connecticut People

Politics & Government

Best Restaurants & Dining

Arts & Entertainment

Style & Shopping



Homes & Gardens


Cover Stories & Issues

January: We launched the year with two of our most popular annual features, Success Stories and 40 Under 40. It’s especially enlightening to look back at both now, as we’re in the midst of wrapping up the 2014 versions of both at the moment—and the folks we’ve found for the new year are especially inspiring.

February: Last winter we offered the experts’ take on the best restaurants and dining in Connecticut. In the January 2014 issue, which is live online now, we “dig into” the issue from a different perspective, that of our readers—a feature we liberally salted with companion pieces highlighting great options the readers  didn’t elevate to the top.

Taken together, the experts’ advice and Readers’ Choice tell you everything you need to know about dining well in Connecticut—everything except the added intel in Best Restaurants & Dining section that’s part of this year-in-review feature.

Our February magazine also had a terrific story, Saving Maggie’s Farm, about the efforts to preserve Coogan Farm in Stonington.

March: This is the opening of our cover story on the case of Lisa White, who vanished in 1974:

IT WAS 2011. One of those crisp, late September evenings we treasure here in New England. Walking around the Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival on the grounds of Brookside Park off Route 140, in Ellington, I ran into 71-year-old Judi Kelly. We knew each other from town. She’d read several of my books. I went to school with one of her daughters, who ended up becoming my daughter’s first dance instructor. But it was Judi’s missing child, 13-year-old Lisa Joy White, allegedly abducted on Nov. 1, 1974, that brought us together.

In a bouffant hairdo, teased beehive-high like the B-52’s Kate Pierson, Judi reminded me of one of those glamorous, pinup gals from the ’60s. She was always eager to talk, and one of those rare people who actually listened to what you had to say. Judi had heard I’d recently completed shooting the first season of my Investigation Discovery series, “Dark Minds,” a show that focuses on unsolved, cold cases. She congratulated me.

My daughter was dancing as part of an exhibition at the carnival. I thought that I might see Judi, who was, after some four decades, still an intrinsic player in the tri-town region dance scene.

“I’m planning on looking into Lisa’s disappearance,” I said.

Judi had this energy about her. When I mentioned how I wanted to profile Lisa’s disappearance to a national audience, she lit up. She said she’d been waiting for something like this since Lisa vanished from the Rockville section of Vernon 37 years ago.

Read the full story.

April: Our April cover story was the always popular Top Docs, but the magazine also contained this compelling feature about a Connecticut phenomenon:

Life is about to imitate art on this bleak Sunday night, in the depths of January, at the Galaxy Roller Rink in Groton, which looks as if it hasn’t changed since Buddy Holly was rocking such venues. The Shoreline Roller Derby Girls are getting ready for their 2013 season: 13 bouts from March to September in Groton and other cities around the Northeast.

May: May is the month of Mother’s Day, but our tribute to moms in 2013 was far from the ordinary story. This one opened liked this:

Lisa Labella remembers the day, in 1999, when she became an activist for gun violence prevention.

“My daughter was 6 and my son 3 when the shootings happened at Columbine High School in Colorado,” she says. “Up until then, school shootings had mostly taken place in the South. But I remember that TIME magazine had an in-depth story that compared the Littleton, Colo., community to my town of Trumbull. That was what made me fully realize that this could happen to us. I felt I had to do something.” That’s why she began working with Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV), a Southport-based organization whose mission is to identify, develop and promote passage of common-sense legislation designed to enhance gun safety.
Henrietta Beckman remembers the day, in 2002, when she became an activist for gun violence prevention.

Her 20-year-old son, Randy, was shot to death in his car just one street over from her North End neighborhood in Hartford. “Randy was shot in the head, leg and arm. He lived for four days. He had a 4-month-old son who’s 11 now.” Adding to her heartbreak is the fact that the case is still unsolved. “The police have a suspect that they’re 99.9 percent sure is guilty,” she says, “but they haven’t found a witness who’ll come forward.” She found little consolation in learning her son’s death was the result of mistaken identity. “Somebody sent word back, ‘Oh, we’re sorry, Mrs. Beckman, we didn’t know it was Randy.’ I said, ‘Whoopee. You shouldn’t be out here shooting nobody.’” Shortly thereafter, she co-founded Mothers United Against Violence, a grassroots community organization that promotes gun-violence awareness and activism and provides support to those who have lost loved ones at the barrel of a gun.

Erin Nikitchyuk remembers the day—Dec. 14, 2012—when she became an activist for gun violence prevention.

That was when her 8-year-old son, Bear, student “office assistant” for the week at Sandy Hook Elementary School, might’ve wound up directly in shooter Adam Lanza’s path but for a quick-thinking teacher who pulled him out of harm’s way. “He was taking papers to the front office and was in the hallway just outside the door when the shooter broke in,” she says. She admits she wasn’t fully aware of what was happening until later in the day.

“Just as I got in my car to drive to work, a friend called to say, ‘Are you on your way?’” she says. “I was like, ‘On my way where?’ She said, ‘To the school! You’ve got to go get Bear!’” Unable to park close by, Nikitchyuk became increasingly alarmed by the chaos that grew as she walked toward the school. “At one point, a neighbor drove by, hysterical, screeching at me, ‘I’ve seen him! Bear’s okay!’ So before I even realized I had anything to panic about, I knew he was all right.” She found him huddled with his teacher, Robin Walker, “who’s taught all my kids; she’s like one of the family,” she says. “When I reached them, Mrs. Walker hugged me and said, ‘The bullets weren’t as close as they seemed.’” Nikitchyuk has since become a co-founder of the Newtown Action Alliance, which focuses on legislation, victim outreach and education.

Read the full story.

June: The history of the Mafia in Connecticut; need we say more?

July: This issue had both a sunny side—the cover story on farmers’ markets—and a dark side. Here’s how that piece begins:

One of the great fallacies within the Roman Catholic Church in the late-20th and early-21st centuries has been that the abuse of minors by the clergy was an American issue, with lawsuits brought by a litigious society and sensationalized by the American media. Another belief among church officials has been that Vatican II and homosexuals in the seminaries were to blame for the scandal. Some believed that it was Satan’s work. Yet others charged that the young victims themselves were at fault for seducing priests.

But perhaps the greatest fallacy has been the belief by the Church’s hierarchy that if enough money was shelled out to pay off victims—an estimated $3 billion so far in the United States alone, according to Bishop Accountability, a nonprofit organization that documents clergy sexual-abuse cases—and enough apologies were finally uttered, the problem would go away.

Not so. Not for the estimated tens of thousands of victims throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, and especially not for the victims of Marcial Maciel Degollado—known to his followers and victims simply as Father Maciel—the charismatic and powerful founder of the Legion of Christ, the secretive religious order headquartered in Cheshire, Conn.

Read the full story.


August: As the year titled toward November and the municipal elections, we focused on lens on classical mode corruption in Connecticut.

September: Our annual Best of Connecticut, with resources ranging from dining to shopping and so much more, scored the September cover.

Inside the magazine was a story that got just as much attention—a feature on Connecticut’s animal welfare groups that passionately protect pets. It opens like this.

In his seminal 1923 work The Philosophy of Civil­iza­tion, Albert Schweit­zer wrote, “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.” Roughly 80 years later, comedian Ricky Gervais said, “Dear intel­ligent people of the world, don’t get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now f--king stop torturing animals.” As time goes on, we, as “in­telligent” peo­ple, still aban­­­don our cats and dogs to the streets in harrowing num­bers, hunt wild animals for sport and slaughter them in­­­hu­manely for food. Fortunately, there are many animal rights and animal welfare organizations in Connecticut work­ing to secure our animals’ well-being.

See the full story.

October: We got the jump on the new season for UConn men’s basketball with a cover story on Coach Kevin Ollie, notably illustrated by terrific portraits taken by New Haven Register veteran photographer Peter Hvizdak.

Another story from the issue that drew some buzz was our piece on who controls the media in Connecticut.

November: Our Rating the Towns feature and package of stories was crushed with traffic the moment it went online. We built a hierarchy in a new way this year, choosing median home prices as the yardstick for grouping communities.

Tucked inside the magazine was a feature that can give you shivers. Here’s the opening:

The 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” which served as a violent prelude to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, will be observed Nov. 9, but for Oscar Berendsohn its horror has not faded with time.

“It was the most horrible night of my life. You cannot imagine the terror,” says the 89-year-old Newtown resident, who was a teenager in Hamburg, at the time. “There was no judge and no policeman who would help you.”

Yet Berendsohn, who is of Jewish descent on his father’s side, would escape the clutches of the Third Reich and live a life that seems dreamed up by a Hollywood screenwriter. He arrived in the U.S. during World War II on a banana boat and later would work on national security projects so sensitive that they would be classified for more than 40 years.

Living in Connecticut with his wife and children was a world apart from the hatred and racism he escaped after Kristallnacht.

Read the full story.

December: The return of Powder Ridge and skiing in Connecticut grabbed attention on our December cover; if only the weather had been more wintry and less fickle.

The “slopes” that really grabbed attention in the December magazine were the ones on a real-life castle in Woodstock in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner. It hardly looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale in photos—and there’s quite a story behind it.


Connecticut People

Daniel Trust (below) is a Rwandan genocide survivor, motivational speaker and so much more—and he’s only in his early 20s.

You have to connect with Daymon “Daym” Patterson via his viral YouTube dash-cam, fast-food review videos to really understand the phenomenon that launched a branded Travel Channel show. But our story is a great place to start.

Matt Harvey, the Mets phenom pitcher, is a Connecticut-bred talent who keeps his hometown family close.

Arika Kane (right), the soulful R&B singer who grew up in Killingly and is now a VH1 sensation, puts integrity and empowered women first as she pursues success with an independent Connecticut-based label. We like that.

Violin Virtuoso Sirena Huang is on track for a symphonically global career. We caught up with her just before some watershed concerts with the Hartford Symphony Orchesta.

Kevin Ollie, the UConn men’s basketball coach, was our October cover story.

Chelsea Wheeler, 10, of Oxford, was our digital “holiday story” in unexpected “wrapping.” She aspires to be a gourmet chef but needs a small bowel transplant and currently can’t eat. Her faith is strong, her story inspiring.

Anna Murphy of Stafford Springs wants to be a soccer star when she grows up. Whatever she does, she’ll be a role model, which is indicated by her role as 11-year-old philanthropist who keeps less-fortunate neighbors warm in the winter.

Ryan Bell of Wallingford puts all of us to shame. Despite the challenges he faces, he’s determined to, well, change the world.

And a NASCAR Bound Student at Forman School in Litchfield is a Dyslexia Philanthropist, at 17 (Photo above)


Latinos on the rise in politics and government in Connecticut checks in as one of our most notable pieces of 2013

The subjects of this next piece are far less inspiring. Here’s how the story opens:

A once-popular Connecticut governor defrauds taxpayers for personal gain, resigns and goes to prison as mayors of two of the state’s biggest cities and a state senator already sit behind bars. Local government, state government, legislative, executive—everywhere you turned 10 years ago, there was news of bribes, kickbacks and corruption.

“For the record, not everyone in Connecticut is a crook,” began a March 2003 New York Times article entitled, “The Nutmeg State Battles the Stigma of Corrupticut.”

Read all about the state’s abiding corruption.

So pervasive are the things wrong with the system of politics and government in Connecticut that we had to revisit the issue just a couple of months later.

It wouldn’t be a year in politics section without a story looking forward to how this shape up in the next gubernatorial race.

One the biggest draws online this fall was Jennifer Swift’s interactive story following the municipal elections in November, showing through a map how the balance of power had shifted statewide.

Our colleague Andy Thibault of Cool Justice opened a Pandora’s Box regarding politics in Danbury, taking aim at mayor and likely gubernatorial candidate Mark Boughton. Here’s the opening salvo of a tug-of-war still being chronicled in weekly columns at the New Haven Register.

And finally, in December we looked at campaign financing—and how to skirt the rules.


Best Restaurants & Dining

The category is kind of our sweet spot, you might say.

While it’s technically a January, 2014 feature, our Best Restaurants 2014: Readers’ Choice recently went live online and instantly became our most viewed story. It’s accompanied by a package of other dining stories on our home page—and it’s a bookend of sorts to a companion story in February 2013 that looked at the state’s best restaurants as chosen by experts.

Those two packages, combined with Best of Connecticut 2013 and our 12-month roster of restaurant reviews, offer a comprehensive view of the best of the best for dining well across the state.

Digging a little deeper into a still-ascendant trend, another feature chronicled the growing number of wine bars in Connecticut.

Zeroing in specifically on Connecticut’s hottest hotspot for innovative desserts, we told the world about pastry chef Tommy Juliano at Community Table in Washington. (Dessert below)

Getting lofty in Connecticut’s capital, we connected with another talented young chef, the culinary visionary at ON20.

We took note of a beloved Litchfield Hills restaurant marking its 20th anniversary in the Woodbury location, Carole Peck’s Good News Café.

And yes, you’ve just survived this “storm,” but you’ll be hungry again soon for terrific desserts and cookies, and when that happens, this story on Sweet Maria’s new small-bites cookbook will come in handy.

Arts & Entertainment

This is one of our busiest categories, both in print and online, with far too many stories (daily online) to recap.

Here are just a few on topics that stood out.

We have to open with this headline from a digital story that drew a massive response: Ed and Lorraine Warren of "The Conjuring" Have a Long History of Paranormal Investigation in Connecticut

Connecticut’s historic movie palaces

The Coast Guard Band

The Halloween phenomenon known as Pumpkinlandia

Jason Alexander and ‘his hair’

The terrific art museum at Saint Joseph University

Paul Newman as a Connecticut ‘Santa’ through his philanthropy

Connecticut’s barns trail

CPTV Celebrates 50 Years: Present at the Creation

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University (photo left)

Chuck Close exhibit at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich

Then, too, there were our Q-and-A stories with a couple of icons, actor John Lithgow and folk musician Tom Rush.



Style & Shopping

This relatively new online “vertical” of content has been one of our most popular additions to and it’s easy to see why. Connecticut is full of super-talented people doing great and stylish things. Here are some of the folks we featured in 2013.

Lamberston Truex and its luxe handbags and leather accessories post-Tiffany & Co. (left)

Swedish style in a new book by Connecticut experts

New Preston, the tiny village with a waterfall and incomparable shopping

Stackpole Moore Tyron in Hartford, an epicenter of style that never goes out of fashion

Potter Guy Wolff, who once had a Martha Stewart-Oprah moment

MakerBot and its 3D printer style comes to Greenwich

Deb Velasquez of New Hartford wins an international rug design contest

Telling the story of the textiles house to the Kennedys, Scalamandre

Evocateur and its jewelry alchemy; cuffs that glitter and beyond (right)

New Haven fashion designer Neville Wisdom, whose designs flatter all shapes

Why ESPN’s Sage Steele will be wearing a design from this re-emerging Connecticut entrepreneur

Denyse Schmidt, Connecticut’s Picasso of fine art quilts


We talked to Brazilian supermoms who opened a STEM enrichment center called Zaniac in Greenwich (think ‘Bend It Like Beckham’).

We were inspired by an Afghan student at Westover School who is using Skype outreach to connect her classmates with cultures around the world.

A former ‘Murder One’ actress gets our Oscar for the role of a lifetime; a philanthropist helping challenged young woman in Hartford go to college.

Hotchkiss School having its own farm and getting students to focus on sustainability caught our attention.

The new Fortin Center at St. Vincent’s College in Bridgeport is noteworthy.

The story on Katie Weiser of Litchfield and her pursuit of a career as a singer had a nice harmony.

Back-to-School Inspiration: Wallingford Student's 'Transformation' Philanthropy

And our brand new story on a team of MBA students from the Yale School of Management winning a business plan competition with an app to deal with no-show patients at doctors’ offices is attracting positive attention.



Any health section has to start with our Top Docs and Top Dentists.

One of the stories we published online with the most gravity concerned the battle against cancer with gene therapy.

Another important story chronicles the quest of a doctor who lives in Woodbury, who is also a Harvard Fellow, to cure what’s wrong with doctors through a med school curriculum based on the arts—like opera.

Our story on Chelsea Wheeler of Oxford is a must-read.

Also important was the story on the Norwalk-based HIV Equal campaign.

And it seems like the right time of year for our story on destination spas.

On the more substantial side is our October feature on healthy living beyond cancer treatment.

And closing out the year, we checked in with the new juice “detox” venture Karma Cleanse, launched in Connecticut by a former attorney.

Homes & Gardens

There are lots of print stories to choose from, all of them compelling. Just a few select ones to leave you with:

Man caves

Energy efficient homes

Landscaping don’ts and do’s

Hope you enjoyed this look back at 2013 through the lens of Connecticut Magazine. All of that content was a mere fraction of what we published in all—either in print or online, or both. And we expect in 2014 to significantly increase the volume, variety and range of stories, especially online. Stay tuned to for everything you need to know about our great state in the year to come.

And Happy New Year!


2013 in Connecticut (Magazine): Best Dining, Arts, Politics, Issues, Fashion & More

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