I grew up on the Southern Connecticut shoreline in the small city of West Haven. I spent every weekend in the summer on Sea Bluff Beach making sandcastles, searching for shells, walking out to Bradley Point on low tide, and exploring Long Island Sound. Most nights I would walk down the boardwalk with my family, stopping to get ice cream from the ice cream truck in Old Grove Park. I always noticed the sign for “The Thunderbolt” on the wooden fence by the bocce courts. I remember visiting the Savin Rock Museum and Learning Center on school field trips where I learned the history of my city, and the importance of that sign. West Haven was home to Savin Rock Amusement Park, a New England treasure and that was known for its bandstand, rides, horse races, marathon dances, and food. Popular local restaurants, such as Jimmie’s and Turks, were established during the golden age of Savin Rock. My grandmother told me about the fun times she had at “The Rock,” and remembers taking my father and his siblings there as young kids. The park shut down before I was born, but its legacy has always lived on.
I have vivid childhood memories from The Savin Rock Festival. I remember going on the carousel as a young girl while my mom stood beside me, while my father watched and waved. My brother always enjoyed the slide and would race me every year-I remember winning every time. My friends from school were always there, and some of them even performed during the day with their dance schools, bands, and other organizations. I am not the only twenty-something year old Westie who fondly recalls The Savin Rock Festival.
In more recent years, I helped my father by volunteering with his team. I saw first-hand how hard his administration worked to give West Haven the festival it deserved. Thousands of people would come to watch the bands and dance the night away. A few years ago, The Temptations performed, and I was awestruck by the excitement of the crowd. The festival opens our city up to the Greater New Haven area and promotes our shoreline, businesses, and community. While those benefits are not numerically calculated, they are important. Visitors become patrons of our beloved city and may return after the festival because of the fond memories they have. I always took the festival for granted.
I am saddened and disappointed that the new administration has decided to halt a long-standing West Haven tradition that honors our heritage. While I understand the need to budget and save money, this act is harmful to our city and more performative than sincere. The amount of money being saved by cutting the festival is quite small, compared to the advantages it has. Last year was the 39th annual Savin Rock Festival, and I am proud to know that my father upheld its legacy.
Use the SRC site
My name is Sandra G. Ineson of 79 West Walk. I have been working with Ermenia Gaeta, also of West Walk, to get a new senior center for the seniors of West Haven. There are so many of us with no place to go for comradery, trips, luncheons,and just plain fun — a safe place that is worthy of us and the years we have put in to support West Haven. It’s amazing that East Haven, Milford, Orange etc. have wonderful senior centers built with money from the state. What is wrong with West Haven that we cannot get funding from Hartford so we could have a beautiful Center for The elderly of our city?
We now have a chance to get a building for our seniors, the Conference Center. It is architecturally perfect for the seniors’ gatherings, large enough, great parking, beautiful location, centrally located. The state could easily fund the Conference Center so West Haven can have a senior center. I know that the seniors of West Haven are disgusted with the buildings that the City of West Haven have given for senior senters…very run down and dangerous!!
Mayor Rossi, when it is your time to enjoy your senior years, wouldn’t it be Nice to have a senior center to join where you can meet friends, make new friends, go on trips, have a nutritional lunch, just live your golden years, not just survive them! Please make this happen for all of us: a Senior Center we can use to enhance our golden years. Give us th Conference Center as the permanent home for The West Haven Senior Center!
I never received a response from Mayor Rossi’s office. I am really disappointed. I have heard that she is revamping the first floor of Noble Street senior center. It does not solve the problem with that building and the area in which it is located. We seniors, somehow, have to make the State of Connecticut Senior Care Dept. aware of the huge problem we have here in West Haven, and ask them why it jas not helped us monetarily have a senior center commensurate with the centers is other towns. The Conference Center is available for use as our senior center. If Hartford would get involved and help us, we could have a senior center as wonderful as the other towns have around West Haven.
Sandra G. Ineson