Greetings dear friends and kind readers and welcome back to the Front Porch for a late November visit, where we're gearing up for Thanksgiving and the Big Game.

In the Teddy Bear-stork delivery department, congratulations to Evie and Steve Cofone, of Westerly, upon the arrival of their brand new grandbaby. Julian Matthew Ricci was born to Mary (Cofone) and Matt Ricci at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence on Wednesday, Nov. 6, to the delight of the entire family. Evie says Julian's big brother Jacob, or "JJ," as he's called, is so excited that he's even mastered his new brother's name. Julian evens the numbers for Evie and Steve, who are now the proud grandparents of three girls and three boys for a total of six grandchildren. Grandpa Steve, of course, is a well-known member of the Rotary Club of Westerly, whose members held a perfect and well-attended pasta supper last Wednesday night despite the goof (on my part) of announcing the incorrect day for the annual dinner held to benefit the Jonnycake Center of Westerly. Stay tuned for photos! 

Belated congratulations also to Kate and Dan Riordan, who welcomed Willa Fern Riordan on Sept. 25. 

I heard it was an all star cast of folks who attended the farewell party for Beth and Davis Jepson Saturday at the Calabrese Club when about 150 people — patrons and actors from the Granite Theatre, family members and friends from their pre-Granite, City Nights venue — gathered to celebrate the couple who plan to retire to Florida following 20 years at the Granite's helm. Ann Westendorf and Mandy Solis (who kindly shared her report with me) headed up the party committee while Ann, John Cillino and Jude Pescatello served as emcees. Scott Morency, who recently served as musical director for the Granite's stunning production of "Man of LaMancha," accompanied several performers on the keyboard and Beth’s daughter, Susan Denice, shared cute stories of her childhood as the daughter of an actress before singing a dynamic version of "Don’t Rain On My Parade," Mandy said. Touching vocal performances were also provided by Diana Blanda, Jane Mandes, Michaela and Frank Pendola, Rochelle Weinrauch, and Jessica Gates. Long time season ticket holder, Dr. Raymond Johnson, honored the Jepsons with a "very moving talk," and catering from Dunns Corners Market was enjoyed by all. The evening ended with everyone singing "Auld Lang Syne." The outpouring of love in the room was heartfelt and a true testimony to how much the Jepsons have meant to the community.      

Our friends Jane Simmons and Dan Meiser at Stone Acres Farm have certainly had a lot going on at their Yellow Farmhouse Education Center. Last week, journalist Jeff Gordinier, food and drink editor for Esquire Magazine, stopped by the farm in celebration of his book, "Hungry."  

Make sure to find a copy of last week's "People" mag to read about our beloved hometown favorite Billy Gilman in a terrific article written by Tomas Mier, called "Billy Gilman Opens Up About Being 'Pulled Out' from Country and His 'Dark' Journey to Self-Acceptance." "With meaningful lyrics and beautiful visuals at the front of his mind, Gilman released the powerful song 'Soldier' in August, with "its tear-jerking music video" that "encapsulates Gilman’s own battles after having contemplated suicide and facing an industry that rejected him for being gay." Thank you, dear Billy, as always for being so honest, open and cool. "I’m giving my heart and I just really hope that it shows," Gilman told Mier.

Yes, Billy, it does! Ciao bella!

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