WESTPORT, Conn. — People of all ages gathered on Westport’s Church Lane to help the Westport Weston Family Y celebrate its 90th birthday in style on Wednesday.
The street was closed to traffic and transformed into a giant block party featuring music, dancing, inflatables for children, a balloon artist, guest speakers and of course, plenty of cake. World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Mick Foley was also there and led party-goers in the singing of “Happy Birthday.”
“Imagine 90 years ago, Sept. 5 1923, on those steps over there, Edward T. Bedford dedicated and opened the YMCA in Westport,” Y CEO Rob Reeves said, pointing to the steps of the historic Bedford building at the corner of Post Road East and Main Street.
That day, about 1,500 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the Y, including then-Connecticut Gov. Charles E. Templeton and the Rev. George B. Hatch of Greens Farms Congregational Church.
At least 500 people attended Wednesday’s celebration, including Y officials, staff, volunteers and donors; members of the Bedford family, including Edward Bedford's great-great grandson, state Sen. John McKinney (R-28th District); the Rev. Jeffrey Rider of Greens Farms Congregational Church; longtime Y supporter Allen Raymond; First Selectman Gordon Joseloff; state Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26th District); and state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143rd District).
“I have great affection for the Y— it’s been a part of my life and a part of Westporters lives for many, many decades,” Joseloff said.
He told party-goers his first memory of the Y goes back to about 1953 when he was a child. He also fondly recalled how, at age 16, he and some friends started a radio station in the Bedford building.
“I look around at all these youngsters here and I hope they will be at the dedication of the new Y so that 90 years from now, they can look back and remember when they were young kids,” he said. “They can tell their kids about the Y, and the influence and importance it has to Westport, and to them.”
During the celebration, it was announced that the new Y building — which is currently under construction at the Y’s Mahackeno campus — will be named the Bedford Family Center, in recognition of the Bedford family’s numerous contributions to the Y over the years.
The 54,000-square-foot building — which is Phase 1 of the 102,000-square-foot facility to be built — is slated to open next September. The building will include an aquatics center that features a 10-lane 25-yard lap pool and adjacent shallow warm-water pool, a health and wellness center, a multi-purpose gymnasium, three group fitness studios, a Child Watch/Kids’ Adventure Gym area, five locker rooms and other amenities.