Darien developer organizes free virtual activities during pandemic
While Darien residents have been encouraged to shelter in place and all non-essential businesses are closed, this doesn’t have to stop people from participating in a variety of activities and events — virtually.
Baywater Properties and PG Properties has organized a packed calendar of virtual events and activities — through the beginning of June.
From music concerts to exercise classes to wine tasting to cooking lessons, they’re all free and appeal to a wide variety of tastes and age groups.
Each class has been created by one or more Darien business, and made possible by The Corbin District, which will be a mixed-use redevelopment spanning from Corbin Drive to the Bank of America building on Post Road.
For details of each class, visit thecorbindistrict.com/events/. This is a growing list.
“Kind Bud,” an acoustic guitar jam and vocals duo, will perform Friday, May 1, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Kind Bud will play original songs as well as the music of Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, and others.
Exercise and dance
For those who like to move, there is Family Dance Night with D&L, a mix of high and low intensity dances.
There is also Barry’s Bootcamp Class, a bar class called The Bar Method, and JoyRide with Dina Fay’s Cycle to the 80’s.
Additional movement classes planned over the coming weeks include a family dance class to benefit Corbin Cares, a barre method workout and a fitness workout called “Badass and Beautiful.”
There are also yoga and meditation classes.
Wine and food
Wine lovers may like the wine tasting series on Thursday evenings.
There are also cocktail-making lessons on Cinco de Mayo, and cocktail- and guacamole-making classes.
Those who like to cook may be interested in a cooking class taught by local restaurant chefs.
Crafts and books
Crafters can make a project led by Erika Allen of Make-Modern Crafting Studio.
Bookworms may enjoy “A Battle of the Books” sponsored by Barrett Bookstore, where local celebrities choose their favorite books, and the audience votes on which book they want to read most.
Background: Birth of an idea
During the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, Baywater Properties and PG Properties created the Darien Summer Nights concert series at Grove Street Plaza, a weekly concert on Friday nights that was organized “to give people something fun to do, given our belief that many might not be taking vacations” during that time, according to David Genovese, Corbin District Project Developer.
That concert series has continued to this day, “and has grown to attract crowds of between 200 and 1,500 people each night,” he added.
“Witnessing the community’s incredible response to the idea of Corbin Cares, we decided to organize some events for the community to enjoy together, via Zoom,” Genovese said.
Earlier events, which took place over the past few weeks, included a boot camp fitness class, a wine tasting, and a concert by Darien native Doug Allen to benefit The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.
The community response to these events “has been amazing,” Genovese said.
About 50 people came on for Doug Allen and about 50 people for participated in the wine tasting. Workout classes were attended by about 30 people, according to Genovese.
Genovese is encouraging residents to shop local during the pandemic - and even when it’s over.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic stress for many of us, especially our local retailers and restauranteurs. It seems clear to me that one of the realizations many people in our community have had as a result of this crisis is how much they care about and love their local businesses. So many people have asked me, ‘What can we do to help?’ during this time,” he said.
Genovese said his answer to that question is to support those businesses “as much as you can now, but when this dark cloud passes, support them continuously. When you have a choice between shopping on Amazon or elsewhere online, or supporting a local business, shop local. These are your neighbors and your friends, they are the fabric of our community and we need to invest in them to help them thrive and endure.”
A vibrant downtown “is important to each of us,” Genovese added. “It is where we gather as a community and can spend time with friends and family. Without these businesses, we will have just empty storefronts. We do not want to see that happen in our beloved town.”