Greetings dear friends and gentle readers and welcome back for our second visit of the new year on the Front Porch, where the sun rose this morning at 7:12 and will set at 4:37 p.m. 

Let's begin this week with a round of applause for Joey DeCaro, of Westerly, who won his first Fantasy Football title in our hometown league, defeating Tony DeGiacomo in the championship game. Well done, Joey! Congratulations!

And let us continue with some birthday wishes for a few longtime readers. Happy birthday and many happy returns to Westerly native Ralph X. Nardone, originally of 7 Dayton St., who turns 98 this Saturday, Jan. 15. A URI grad, Ralph currently lives in Laurel, Maryland, with his daughter, Jane W. Nardone Mills, and her family, where Jane tells me he is actively involved in book clubs, bridge clubs and the stock market. "He also faithfully reads The Westerly Sun daily in order to keep up with his peers and the town news," Jane said. (Next week, I'll include a few photos of Ralph, so stay tuned!)

Happy birthday also to former Charlestown resident Ruth Payte, who turns 100 years old on Jan. 17. Ruth's sister, Barbara Burdick, who also grew up in Charlestown but makes her home in Peace Dale, called to share the birthday news about her sister, who lives in the Brookdale Senior Living complex in South Kingstown. 

It's been fun to see so many Front Porch friends being highlighted in the regional press. In the last few weeks I've seen photos and stories about Lou and Judy Toscano, David Zapataka and Kevin "Big Lux" Lowther in newspapers from New London to Boston.

There was an excellent story in "The Day" over the holidays, written by Stonington resident and longtime Day reporter Joe Wojtas about Lou and Judy Toscano and "Feast of the Seven Fishes," the Christmas Eve tradition kept by so many Westerly area Italian families. I enjoyed reading about the menu — the eels, smelts, baccalà, squid and those jelly, roll-up cookies — but I especially appreciated the part about Lou's sister who remained unnamed in the story, but who we all know (and love) as Nancy Toscano Christina and who really is an angel on earth.

Also, Avondale native David Zapataka and Westerly resident Kevin "Big Lux" Lowther were both featured in the Boston Globe a few weeks back. Zapatka, a North Kingstown resident, photographer and "lighthouse aficionado" who has traveled the world and who inaugurated the “Artisan in Residence Program” at Ocean House several years ago, "finds himself in a race against time," according to Globe staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick. Zapatka, who once told me he credits his former WHS English teacher Maureen Logan for giving him his start in photography (she offered him the job of year book photographer in exchange for a hall pass) is "engaged in a midnight quest to photograph the nation’s 800 working lighthouses at night, beneath the stars," Fitzpatrick writes. It's a good story about a good guy! Make sure to check it out!

As for Big Lux, he is featured in a not-to-be-missed video titled "Big Lux's Beautiful Resistance: A Veteran's Violin Sings Black Lives Matter," produced by Jeneé Osterheldt and directed and edited by Daymian Mejia. Google it!

Well dear readers, stay cozy, and remember please, get boosted if you can, keep your social distances, mask up with a proper KN95 mask, wash your hands, stay safe, be kind, and ciao bella!

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