Dec 27, 2013
05:54 PMConnecticut Today
2013 in Connecticut (Magazine): Best Dining, Arts, Politics, Issues, Fashion & More
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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
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.
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.
June: The history of the Mafia in Connecticut; need we say more?
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.