<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usSat, 19 Aug 2017 16:46:38 -0400Sat, 19 Aug 2017 16:46:38 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sights From Clear The Shelters 2017]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:57:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/happiness+adoption.jpeg

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Pets Adopted at Clear The Shelters 2017]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:43:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*213/austin+and+mikka.jpeg

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[How to Make Apartment Living Work for You and Your Pup]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:39:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bergs-dog.jpg

Living in an apartment with your canine companion isn’t much different from living with a human roommate: They don't clean, they don’t pay for groceries and you're starting to suspect they don't even have a job.

But canine roommates present additional, unique challenges.

Arguably the biggest challenge for dog owners in apartments is having to escort their furry friend outside for all exercise — and all bathroom — breaks. That means rain, shine, sleet, snow, 6 a.m. or 3 a.m. or 11:30 p.m. — buddy, you’ve got to put on your pants.

"If you’re living in an apartment with a dog, first and foremost the onus is more on you to get the dog out for all of his or her needs," says Mike Kaviani. Kaviani is the Director of Lifesaving Operations at the no-kill shelter Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, Texas, and he says apartment living can in some cases actually benefit your pup.

"As long as the owner is committed to getting the dog out for fun outings, the dogs actually end up getting more activity and more outings and more time with their person," he says. Kaviani knows from personal experience: He lived in a studio apartment with the first dog he owned as an adult, and he recalls having to "leash him up and go out there."

"As long as you're willing to do that — I mean, he had so much activity." With multiple daily outings, Kaviani realized he and his pup were both getting more activity because of their apartment lifestyle.

"So, I actually think it can be a real win for the dog," he said.

Anthony Newman, a canine behavior consultant in New York City, echoes Kaviani on the activity level of house dogs versus that of apartment dogs.

"Often, in fact, I find dogs in suburban areas suffer from 'suburban dog syndrome,' lacking adequate socialization, exercise and leadership due to lack of regular daily owner-led walks, obedience work and daily off-leash social play in dog parks," Newman says.

He says he noticed his family's dogs, while growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis, had behavior issues stemming from lack of discipline and socialization.

"City dogs can end up being the calmest, most social, peaceful and obedient dogs around," Newman noted.

No matter how committed you are to your apartment dog, however, you're going to have to leave him or her alone sometimes. And since apartments do not have doggie doors, your pup can't just stroll outside for business purposes.

If you know that you won’t be able to get back to walk your pup at the usual time, that’s fine — you can hire a professional or convince a trusted neighbor to come by to walk your dog.

There is likely a dog-walking service of some kind in your neighborhood — research online and ask other dog owners in the area to find a service that works for you. Try to meet the person who’ll be walking your dog if they’re going to be doing so on a regular basis.

You should also give a trusted person in your building a set of your keys; if you’re away and the building needs to be evacuated for any reason, you’ll want someone to help get your pup out, too.

Speaking of neighbors, they present another significant difference between apartment dog life and house dog life.

You should make an effort to introduce your dog to your apartment neighbors, especially those who live on your floor and those directly above you and below you. It’s also a good idea to introduce yourself to anyone in your building with young children — you can let parents know whether your dog is cool with kids. Make clear to your neighbors what your dog's boundaries are, and be consistent in your interactions with them.

Another thing about apartment neighbors is their physical proximity to you.  

It's important to remember that dogs are not silent. Barking is not the only noise dogs make — they like to play, to run around and toss and catch. And it’s fine to play those games indoors with your dog, but if you have people below you, just keep in mind what time of day or night it is when you break out that hard plastic toy your dog likes to throw against the floor. If your floors aren’t carpeted, getting an area rug (probably not an expensive one) will help muffle noises for people below and will also help protect hardwood floors from scuffing.

If your dog reacts to your absence by barking herself hoarse while you are gone, this is a problem (unless you never leave, but that actually sounds like a different kind of problem). Not only will this incessant row irritate your neighbors — maybe enough to complain to your landlord — it’s also a sign that your pup isn’t able to relax when you go out to do the human stuff you have to do.

"Separation anxiety," says Newman, can be a problem for your nervous pet, and then for you and even your neighbors — some dogs bark, or whine, to express their anxiety.

To help curb some of that separation anxiety, Newman emphasizes the importance of creating a calm, relaxing space for your pup within your apartment. If she views the apartment as the place where you and she play around and have fun — and not as the place where you do that AND the place where she hangs out and sleeps in her own bed — "when you leave, [s]he barks and tears the place up. Also guarding, digging, chewing, and other destructive behaviors" can present as symptoms of separation anxiety.

Newman says to help your dog get accustomed to chilling solo in a new living environment, it's best to make sure your pet's "exhausted and fulfilled mentally, physically and socially, and feeling comfortable at home with her bed, toys and chews" before leaving her alone in the place.

Kaviani recommends teaching your dog new tricks or providing them with brain-stimulating puzzle toys indoors to keep them entertained in the smaller space.

So, if you've got an apartment but want a dog, or if you've got a dog but want to move into an apartment, you should start by considering your dog's needs and temperament, Kaviani says. "If the dog can handle being in an elevator with strange people, and sometimes strange dogs," he shouldn't have an unusually rough time adapting to apartment lifestyle.

"Where it can go poorly, or where you’ll find some challenges, though, would be if the context or living environment isn’t conducive to the dog’s needs," says Kaviani. He cautions that if you have a dog with some shyness or some fearful behavior, they may not be comfortable hopping in and out of elevators or winding their way through crowded hallways and staircases. You should do your best to find a living space that won't cause too much additional stress on your pet. 

But, he says, "don't overthink it."

"Dogs don’t need a mansion to live in. They don’t need a certain amount of square footage to meet their standards. Really, when they’re home, they just want to chill with you, their person." The living arrangement would only become a problem, he says, if your work or life schedule isn't "conducive to spending a good amount of time with your dog."

Apartment living with your dog requires a more serious commitment than living with your dog in a house with a fenced-in yard. 

Anthony Newman's tips for moving yourself and your dog(s) to a new apartment:

  • Establish a plan to exercise and socialize your dog multiple hours a day from the get-go. Call and interview walkers, walking services and/or daycares. Do research on the local dog parks. When moving in, especially the first few weeks, exhaust your dog mentally, physically and socially, so he can start to condition the new home positively.
  • When moving in, set your dogs’ beds down (the more the merrier!) as a first item of furniture. Work the "go to your bed" command early and often. Experiment with "long rewards", e.g. Kongs stuffed with wet food and chews like bully sticks.
  • When you initially enter your new home, keep your dog on leash and lead her around to every room. You lead and introduce to minimize marking and other destructive behaviors.
  • Be careful of the first few times you leave her home alone to minimize separation anxiety. If you start the ball rolling, it will worsen; so get off to a good start by having your dog exhausted and fulfilled mentally, physically and socially, and feeling comfortable at home with her bed, toys and chews, before you leave her alone in the place for the first time. Then, leave very briefly and return soon. Repeat as needed, leaving for gradually longer periods. After a week of conditioning, most dogs should be fine being left alone for a few hours.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Berg/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[The Luxurious Lifestyle of New York's Poshest Pooches]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:57:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/1LK_3334_NYCDogs_WEB.jpg

Ashley and Cooper get a taste of the high life, New York style. From a five-star hotel exclusively for dogs to a puppy pool party in the Hamptons, it's clear that NYC really has gone to the dogs!

<![CDATA['Captain Jack Sparrow' Visits Children's Hospital]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:04:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/Johnny+Depp+11.jpg Actor Johnny Depp visited BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia for five hours on August 14

Photo Credit: BC Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Yard Goats to Hold Brew Fest at Dunkin' Donuts Park in October ]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 13:12:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Dunkin-Donuts-Park-Hartford.jpg

Dunkin’ Donuts Park will transform from the home of the Hartford Yard Goats to the home of the “G.O.A.T. ‘Greatest of All Time’ Brew Fest” in October.

The Hartford Yard Goats Baseball Club is hosting its first Brew Fest at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Bus Drivers will be performing the music. 

Tickets are $40 for general admission. A limited number of VIP, or VIG tickets, are $75 and the charge for designated drivers is $20.

Proceeds will benefit the Yard Goats Foundation, a Connecticut-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing social, educational and scholarship opportunities for the youth in local communities in connection with the activities of the Hartford Yard Goats Baseball Club.

You can get tickets by calling 860-246-GOAT (4628), online or in person at the Click It or Ticket Box Office at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. 

All guests must be 21 years or older to attend this event.

Beer sampling takes place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for attendees with a general admission ticket and you’ll get a collectible sample mug.

Guests who purchase a VIP, or VIG ticket, will be allowed early entry to Dunkin’ Donuts Park at noon and will also have access to the dugouts and warning track to hang and listen to the band.

Breweries that signed up early include Ballast Point Brewing Co., Goose Island, Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, Long Trail, Shebeen Brewing Company and These Guys Brewing Company and more are expected to join the roster.

You can find more information and buy tickets online here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Beth Stern, Katie Lee Talk Clear the Shelters and 'Pethood']]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:53:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/Katie+Lee+Beth+Stern.jpg

Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive to help animals in need finding loving homes, will take place on Saturday, August 19.

This year's event hosts, celebrity chef Katie Lee and Beth Stern, stopped by the "Today Show" to talk about the initiative.

They also brought along a few rescues from North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington, New York, who are in need of forever homes.

Stern advised potential pet parents to assess their lifestyle before going through with an adoption, noting "pethood is hard."

Photo Credit: 'Today'
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<![CDATA[6 Free Apps for Pet Owners]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:47:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-77541854.jpg Nowadays, caring for your pet has never been easier and more enjoyable. From finding a pet sitter and setting up play dates to handling medical emergencies and training your pet, there’s an app for that. Whether your looking to better fulfill your pets needs or find resources to help you with yours, these free pets apps have you covered.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Let's 'Clear the Shelters' on Saturday, August 19!]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:46:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/2017+CTS+Collage+TopLine+2083x854%5B1%5D.jpg Every summer, animal shelters and rescues are filled to the brim with new spring litters and homeless pets. Shelters run on all cylinders to match pets with new forever families. Their efforts result in many pets finding new loving homes, but unfortunately some pets are left behind and live in shelters for months or even years until they are adopted. Inspired by a North Texas pet adoption effort led by our Dallas NBC and Telemundo stations, all of our NBC and Telemundo-owned stations decided to step up to the plate to help their local animal shelters and communities 'Clear the Shelters' every summer.
View Full Story

Photo Credit: NBC Universal]]>
<![CDATA[Simsbury Home for Sale Perfect for Entertaining]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:51:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/188*120/19+Cobtail+infinity+pool.png

Photo Credit: Tony Healy of Capture, LLC]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds of Pikachus Parade Through Yokohama, Japan]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:58:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pikachuparade.jpg

More than 100 Pikachus, a character from the game Pokemon, paraded through the streets of Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 14.

<![CDATA[Foxwoods to Add Thrill Rides]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 12:00:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Foxwoods+external+photo.jpg

Two thrill rides are coming to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashanutucket. 

The casino announced Monday that it will open the Thrill Tower at Foxwoods, which will include the Sky Drop and Sky Launch.

The Sky Drop will take four riders at a time who will be lifted to the top of Thrill Tower before free-falling 120 feet to the bottom.

Sky Launch will propel two riders sitting back-to-back from the ground to the top of Thrill Tower and back again.

“At Foxwoods, our mission is to reimagine the modern resort casino,” Jason Guyot, vice president of resort operations and development at Foxwoods Resort Casino, said. “Thrill Tower at Foxwoods offers guests the chance to experience an unforgettable and truly unique moment, which is exactly what guests expect when they walk through our doors. The addition of these outdoor adventure attractions represent a significant development in a larger strategy to separate from the competition with bold, innovative property offerings.”

Foxwoods previously announced the opening of the HighFlyer Zipline, a 33-story high adventure that launches guests from the top of the Fox Tower to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center at a top speed of 60 miles per hour.

Thrill Tower at Foxwoods will be open later this summer from 10 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Sunday.

<![CDATA[Cream or Sugar? Our Favorite Local Coffee Spots]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:07:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*122/PEABURY%27S+CAFE+SIMSBURY.JPG

Photo Credit: Peaberry's Cafe]]>
<![CDATA[State Police Want Your Help in 'Best Looking Cruiser Contest']]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 18:03:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/State+Police+car.jpg

Connecticut State Police troopers are asking for the public's help, but not in the search for a suspect or a missing person.  Connecticut's troopers are competing in the "Best Looking Cruiser Contest" against the nation's other state police forces.

The contest runs through Monday, Aug. 14 at 5 p.m.  To vote, you need to go to the contest's Facebook page and "like" the photo of the Connecticut cruiser.  Comments won't count as votes, only likes.

Some of the current top votegetters include: Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Connecticut's cruiser currently has 2,300 likes as of Friday evening.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police
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<![CDATA['SNL' Alum Rachel Dratch Gets 20-Year-Old Parking Ticket From Chicago]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:50:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/Rachel+Dratch+2007+Tribeca+Film+Festival+Bryan+Bedder.JPG

Former "Saturday Night Live" star Rachel Dratch posted a photo on Twitter of a 20-year-old parking ticket she received this week from the City of Chicago.

"Chicago does not f around," the New York City-based comedian wrote on Twitter. "I received this parking ticket in the mail today. Look at date. It's from TWENTY years ago." 

The ticket was issued on Dec. 8, 1997 — right around the time Dratch was a member of the Second City cast in Chicago.

Sure enough, the "offense location" is listed as 150 W. North Ave., just a block from the historic comedy club in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.

NBC 5 asked the City of Chicago about the ticket's authenticity and whether there is a statute of limitations on parking violations. 

A spokeswoman for the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management and Department of Finance, which is responsible for collecting parking and red light ticket fines, responded. Here's what she said:

"The City sends at least five separate notifications to motorists regarding parking violations before referring a ticket to collections. Once a ticket is in collections additional notifications are sent, and it can be re-referred to a separate collection agency to work to identify new or updated mailing information. We followed the same process in this instance."

While a 20-year-old parking ticket sounds like it may be a plot line from Dratch's iconic "Debbie Downer" sketches, the actor will have to pay a real $73.20 fine to the city, unless she contests it.

Dratch performed on Second City’s main stage from 1995 through 1998, alongside fellow 'SNL" alum Tina Fey, according to her bio on the theater’s website.

She then went on to star on "SNL" from 1999 to 2006, and has appeared in several films and television series, including Fey’s "30 Rock," "Bob’s Burgers," "Inside Amy Schumer" and more.

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<![CDATA[What Kind of Dog Best Fits Your Lifestyle?]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:03:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Dogs-GettyImages-180680638.jpg

There are a million reasons why people love dogs. They make great companions, provide a slew of the health benefits and love unconditionally.

Yet, there are lots of valid reasons why some people opt out of bringing home a furry friend. From cramped living quarters, to allergies, to busy work schedules and social lives, caring for a dog is a huge commitment, so it’s important to make sure your lifestyle is compatible with your four-legged friend’s.

Fortunately, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, personality traits and energy levels, and chances are there’s a pup who’s right for you.

Use the filter above to see what kind of dog could potentially match your lifestyle:

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Traveling Safe With Your Pet]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 16:28:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-454008386.jpg

One of the most stressful parts of pet ownership is what to do with your four-legged companion when you travel. While some pet owners opt for boarding, others choose to bring their furry family members along.

If you’re looking to hit the road or fly the skies with your canine companion or feline friend, American Kennel Club the has some tips to make the trip as smooth as possible.

Health Checks: Bring your pet to the veterinarian for a check up before going on a long journey trip. Make sure all vaccinations are up to date and obtain a record showing proof of up-to-date vaccinations. Health certifications are required for airline travel.

Ask the vet about potential health risks at your destination, like Lyme disease, and what the necessary preventive measures your pet needs to take.

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Crates: If traveling by car, pets should be confined to a crate or carrier in the back seat. This will prevent distractions as well as protect the animal in the event of a collision. It can also keep your pet from getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host's home. Airlines also require that pets travel in a carrier or crate, whether they are flying in the cargo hold or plane's main cabin. Contact your airline directly for information on their pet policy. 

Crates are available from most pet supply stores. Look for these features when purchasing and check out these crash-tested options:

  • Large enough to allow the pet to stand, turn and lie down.
  • Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
  • Leakproof bottom covered with absorbent material.
  • Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.

Have Proper ID: In the event that your dog or cat slips away during the trip, you significantly increase the odds of recovery by making sure they can be properly identified.

  • Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags with the dog's name, your name, and your home phone number, as well as proof of rabies shots.
  • Mark your pet's crate with your name, contact number, destination phone number, and photo of your pet. You should also carry a picture of your pet.
  • Consider a permanent form of identification, such as a microchip.
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Traveling by car: Bringing your pet along for a road trip requires more than just throwing a crate in the back seat, especially for long distance trips or if you plan on being away for a long period of time. 

  • Get your pet geared up by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car.
  • Bring food, a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents. 
  • Be sure to pack plenty of bottled water, and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Traveling on a full stomach can also cause pets to become car sick.
  • Keep the car well-ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
  • Don't let pets ride cars with their heads outside the window. Dirt and other debris can enter their eyes, ears and nose and cause injury or infection.
  • Make frequent stops to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and get some exercise. Be sure to clean up after your pet. 
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Traveling by plane: Most airlines have their own set of rules for canine air travel. Call ahead for information and make arrangements in advance of your trip.

  • All airlines require health certifications and proof of vaccinations.
  • Federal regulations require pets to be at least 8 weeks old and they should be weaned at least 5 days before flying.
  • Try to book a nonstop flight and avoid plane changes when possible. Some airlines will not transport animals when it is extremely hot or cold. 
  • Dogs must be in an airline-approved crate when transported as cargo. Some airlines allow certain breeds and sizes to travel under the seat in a crate or carrier.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Starbucks' Latest Frappuccino 'Inspired' by Horchata Drinks]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 07:24:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*128/starbucksfrap0809.JPG

From unicorns to horchata. 

Starbucks announced Tuesday its new Horchata Almondmilk Frappuccino is now available in participating U.S. and Canada stores, in a move that is getting a mixed reception from horchata fans. 

Starbucks’ beverage features a combination of almond milk, cinnamon dolce syrup, coffee and ice. It also includes whipped cream, cinnamon, sugar sprinkles and a swirl of caramel on top. The company said their drink was inspired “by the popular Horchata beverages, which vary by culture and region.” 

“The creamy and cool texture-ideal for warm August days-is complemented by sweet caramel and warm spice flavors of cinnamon which hint that fall is near,” Starbucks’ release said. 

The drink was first offered in U.S. and Canadian stores on Aug. 8, a Starbucks spokesperson said. While it is the first frappuccino that uses almond milk as a default milk, the drink is not dairy-free because it is topped with whipped cream and other dairy-filled products. 

Eater.com notes that Americans are most familiar with the Mexican version of horchata, a rice-based drink that is also made with cinnamon and vanilla. 

In fact, Starbucks first offered the Horchata Frappuccino in Mexican outposts in the summer of 2013.

But versions of horchata in Spain are made with tigernuts and horchata drinks also vary across Latin America. 

In El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica, jicaro seeds are ground with rice and spices for a drink called semilla de jicaro. 

Horchata de ajonjolí in Puerto Rico is made with ground sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are also used for a version of horchata in parts of Venezuela.  

The drink’s debut hasn’t gone unnoticed among horchata aficionados, with some contrasting the drink to the Unicorn Frappuccino. 

“Starbucks has a new Frappuccino. If you like horchata, it might make you angry,” blared one headline on Miami.com

“The horchata is not some mystical, purple-haired unicorn,” the post's writer Chloe Herring said. “It’s a real ass drink. It wasn’t broken and it didn’t need Starbucks’ sugary adaptation or ‘fixing.‘” 

Latin culture site Remezla.com featured a handful of tweets that ranged from curiosity over Starbucks’ offering to predictions of being underwhelmed by the product. 

“We imagine Starbucks is riffing off of Mexican horchata and that this new drink will appeal to many taste buds, but we also believe many will stick to the horchata they already know because it’s already perfect,” the site’s writer concluded.

--Daniel Macht contributed to this story

Photo Credit: Starbucks ]]>
<![CDATA[Mario Lopez, Melissa Joan Hart Film Christmas Movie in CT]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 20:12:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mario+lopez+new+britain.jpg

New Britain is seeing some holiday cheer this week as it plays the host of the set of a new Christmas movie!

In a much-anticipated appearance, Mario Lopez greeted fans in downtown New Britain Wednesday as he made his way from street to set.

“It's just exciting everybody's excited, I mean AC Slater and Clarissa are in the house,” New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said.

It was a packed house Wednesday at Amatos Toy and Hobby store in downtown New Britain as the shop, turned movie set, buzzed with production teams for day two of filming of "Christmas Hours.”

The biggest draw was fans waiting for a glimpse of the film's stars, Mario Lopez of Saved by the Bell Fame and Melissa Joan Hart who grew up on TV in "Clarissa Explains it All" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."

“Mario Lopez was so sweet, he was walking up to everybody that was there taking pictures for those who wanted it. It just says a lot about him as a person too,” Stewart said

Stewart is flattered her city will be featured in a holiday film.

“This is awesome to have them and Heartbreak productions to choose New Britain to be one of the main areas that they do most of their filming here,” Stewart said.

“We chose New Britain and Bristol because it has that kind of New England kind of feel and the storefronts are great, the locations are great,” Andrew Gernhard said.

Connecticut native Andrew Gernhard, a producer on the film says there's been quite a frenzy over the flick.

“It's been a little crazy we have had a lot of crowds a lot of fans trying to keep it kind of low-key because it is a small film,” Gernhard said.

“I came to hopefully meet Melissa Joan Hart because I'm a big fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” Emily Bowmar said.

Bowmar came from Windsor to catch up with Hart... Stewart says her time with the star was spent talking shop.

“Actually got to have a couple conversations with Melissa Joan Hart. She’s into politics, who knew and we were talking a little bit about politics,” Stewart said.

After hours of waiting, fans lined an alleyway as they watched Lopez show his love to their city.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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<![CDATA[Wine Festival Celebrating Connecticut’s Vineyards Kicks Off This Weekend]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 13:00:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/white-wine-generic-186205780.jpg

The 11th annual Shoreline Wine Festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday at Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market and Winery in Guilford. 

In honor of celebrating the various wineries and vineyards throughout the state, this event will allow visitors to sample several wines the state offers along with different food from the shoreline area. 

The festival will feature wine that ranges from grape wines to fruit wines and everything in between offered by the various vineyards and wineries from the state. 

Attendees will be able to tour Bishop’s Orchards’ Winery, meet vendors and artisans, and enjoy live music while sampling choosing from a wide array of food trucks to pair with the wine. 

Tickets for the event are $35 per person, or $70 for VIP and can only be used for one of the two days—these can be purchased online or at the festival. 

This event kicks off Saturday, August 12, from noon to at 7 p.m., and continues Sunday, August 13, from noon to 6 p.m. 

More information about the event can be found on the Shoreline Wine Festival website.

Photo Credit: ASAblanca via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DEEP Sponsors Free Fishing License and Saltwater Fishing Day]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 12:39:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fishing+generic.jpg

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will allow anyone 16 or older to obtain a free one-day fishing license this Saturday, Aug. 12.

This opportunity coincides with the DEEP sponsoring the No Child Left Inside program at the 6th annual Saltwater Fishing Day in New London.

“Free Fishing License Day” permits both residents and non-residents of the state to receive this license to visit any inland or saltwater fishing area in Connecticut.

Those who wish to participate in this opportunity are able to do so by going to the DEEP website or to any official fishing license venue.

According to DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen this day will, “connect people with outdoor activities and Connecticut’s natural resources. This day reflects how fishing is much more than catching fish. For many, the quality time spent connecting with friends and family outdoors is priceless.”

For those younger than 16, the Saltwater Fishing Day at Fort Trumbull in New London is part of this initiative by DEEP to get children to experience their environments and search for fish or crabs, and participate in fishing activities while learning various fishing tactics.

This event will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The DEEP and the Connecticut Bureau of Aquaculture have exhibits throughout the state in conjunction with Saturday’s two other events.

More information about where people will be able to take advantage as well as fishing regulations for the state of “Free Fishing License Day” can be found here.

<![CDATA[For Sale: House That Inspired Stephen King's 'Pet Sematary']]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 19:35:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/stephen-king.jpg

In the market for a haunted house? The Orrington, Maine, home that inspired Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" is currently on sale for $255,000, 'Today' reported.

King came up with the idea for the novel in 1979 while renting the two-story house, which features wood floors, two fireplaces and new paint.

The book and subsequent movie adaptation were inspired by real events: when King's daughter's cat was run over by a truck, he buried the animal in the woods, where local kids had created a makeshift cemetery for other slain pets.

The house sits on a three-acre plot, and many rooms have a wall of windows that let in plenty of light.

Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Moscow Mules in Copper Mugs Won't Kill You: Officials]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 19:31:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/moscow-mule-copper-mug.jpg

Don't worry, Moscow Mule fans: Those solid copper mugs often used to serve the popular alcoholic drink probably aren't going to kill you.

Contrary to reports last week that Iowa was banning copper mugs entirely, a state official said that restrictions apply only to restaurants and bars, who may not serve acidic liquids -- like the lime juice in Moscow Mules -- in unlined copper vessels.

"It's not that if you drink a Moscow Mule from a copper cup, you're going to die," said David Werning, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

Most commercially available copper mugs are lined with tin or stainless steel, making them safe to serve any beverage, including the popular cocktail's mix of vodka, ginger beer and lime.

The controversy began after a routine inspection of the Hy-Vee Bar and Grille in Ankeny, Iowa, when restaurant inspectors found unlined copper mugs behind the bar, according to an inspection report provided to NBC.

Because the mugs were tarnished and pitted, Werning said, the Iowa Alocholic Beverages Division issued an advisory July 28 to restaurants in the state, eventually drawing national attention.

While the advisory tells business owners that that a state code "prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods that have a pH below 6.0," such as fruit juice, it lacks any kind of restriction on individual consumption at home.

"The food code only governs licensed food establishments. I know for a fact in my own family there are some copper cups," Werning said. "What you want to do in your home kitchen or home bar is up to you."

Iowa's state code follows a model code prepared by the Food & Drug Administration -- one that has generally been adopted in every other state, Werning said. An FDA spokesperson referred NBC to this code and declined to comment further. 

Werning added that he does not recommend that people consume Moscow Mules out of unlined copper mugs, given "the science behind the food code" and the beverage's 3.5 pH.

For every kilogram of their body mass, someone would need at least 0.01 milligrams of copper in order to face a potential health risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 220-pound person, for example, would need to consume one milligram of copper to experience health effects.

It's unclear how many many Moscow Mules it would take to ingest a significant amount of copper, or how long the drink would need to sit inside an unlined mug to actually leach the metal.

Ingesting high levels of copper can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, while very high doses can lead to death, according to the CDC.

Photo Credit: Portland Press Herald via Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Sold: Someone Bought Obama's One-Time Brooklyn Brownstone]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 17:03:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/obama+house+bhs.jpg It looks like President Barack Obama's one-time Park Slope brownstone has a buyer. The home on Second Street in Park Slope hit the market in late April for a shade over $4 million. It was listed by Brown Harris Stevens.

Photo Credit: Brown Harris Stevens]]>
<![CDATA[Beach Compound and Part Ownership of a Lighthouse for Sale]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 17:28:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/170*120/101+3.jpg

Photo Credit: Dennis M. Carbo Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Connecticut Fall Fairs 2017]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 15:18:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pumpkin-spice1.jpg A list of the Connecticut agricultural and country fairs soon approaching this fall.

Photo Credit: Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mural Honors Late Linkin Park Frontman]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 10:00:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-08-02+at+6.33.03+PM.png

Los Angeles artist Jonas Never painted a mural of the late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington on the wall of a Sherman Oaks, California, pizzeria. Never, who has painted many murals around Los Angeles, says Bennington, who took his own life in July, inspired him to mix genres in his work.

<![CDATA[Pumpkin Spice Season Has Already Started]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 18:04:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pumpkin-spice1.jpg

It's barely August, but pumpkin spice mania is already upon us.

World Market released its annual pre-ground pumpkin spice coffee Tuesday, according to Today.com, joining plenty of other fall-themed products in grocery stores during the peak of summer.

Pumpkin spice versions of Cheerios, Dannon's yogurt, Ghirardelli's chocolates and Starbucks K-cups were all spotted in stores at the end of July.

Though pumpkin spice lattes won't hit Starbucks locations until Labor Day, the coffee chain has been known to give customers the opportunity to purchase the drink early.

Total sales of pumpkin-flavored foods in the U.S. grew almost 80 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to Nielsen data. Starbucks alone has sold over 200 million pumpkin spice lattes since 2003.

Photo Credit: Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Surf Up!: Hounds Ride Waves at Annual Competition]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 09:45:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/giphy4.gif

The World Surf Dog Competition will return to the Bay Area August 5, bringing with it a sea of hounds who can hang ten and a few who will wipeout.  

The competition, hosted by TasteTV, is open to amateurs looking to ride the waves with some of the world's top dog surfers.

Last year’s winner, Abbie, traveled from Southern California to compete, but owner Michael Uy said it was actually a home reunion.

The Australian Kelpie was adopted from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley after being rescued from the side of a road. 

Uy said he would take Abbie to the beach as part of her rehabilitation. He soon discovered Abbie could ride a wave by herself while he was out surfing one day.

The talented pooch has since gone on to become a decorated "surf dog" and holds the Guinness world record for longest wave surfed by a canine.

More surfers are opting to take their four-legged friend out on the waves with them. However, if your dog does not take to a surfboard immediately, there is still hope.

The Surf Dog Series released tips for getting your dogs ready to head out on the water and a decorated surf dog, Ricochet, hosts a home training schedule online:

Here are some of their tips you can use to get your dog stoked for surfing:

  1. Swim Before You Surf: "Make sure your dog can swim!" Uy said. Even his world record-holding dog Abbie falls off the board. Uy emphasized making sure conditions are safe and your dog can handle the wave.
  2. Safety First: Uy outfits his dog in a wet suit designed just for Abbie. But Judy Fridono, a dog trainer and owner to famous surfer dog Ricochet, said most people looking to surf with their dogs “are folks who go out a few times a summer.” Most active surfer dogs have at least a doggy life jacket on during the ride.
  3. Don’t Force It: Many owners can sense if they’re dog is having fun or not. Trainer Fridono emphasized the biggest rule for her is: "If they really don't want to surf, then find something else you both enjoy." While some dogs surf on their first time out on the water like Abbie, others take a bit longer to learn so patience and baby steps may be required.
  4. Train at Home Practice makes perfect! "Getting your dog to surf really depends on each individual dog,” Fridono said. However, she does suggest putting away the surfboard when you're not training so your dog gets excited each time.
  5. Food and Treats By serving treats and meal time on the surfboard, the trainer said you reinforce your behavior of your dog being on the board, rather than getting off it.
  6. Distraction Training: "Many dogs are very distracted by everything else going on, so they tend to jump off the board to play, go after a ball, sniff another dog …" The trainer said to complete basic distraction trainers to get your dog ready for crowded beaches.
  7. Use Verbal Cues: "Use a word to release your dog from being on the board, such as 'release.'" Many dogs surf backward so they can keep an eye on their owner. The trainer suggests using a word to help your dog learn that they should stay on the board even when you’re behind them.
  8. Say Cheese: Your dog has a special talent and people will take notice! Prep your dog for the social media fame that may follow.
  9. Have fun! Each trainer and owner emphasized that the biggest part of surfing with dogs is to spend more time with the dog. Make sure it is fun for you and your furry friend!

The second annual World Dog Surfing Championships is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 5 at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica.

Photo Credit: Michael Uy/Go Pro]]>
<![CDATA[World's Largest Suspension Bridge Opens in Switzerland]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 20:04:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_SUSPENSION_BRIDGE_073117_1-150154379559800001.jpg

Hikers can now travel more than a quarter mile on the world's largest pedestrian suspension bridge in Switzerland. The new bridge is part of the two-day Eueopaweg hike.

<![CDATA[Luxury Bed and Breakfast House for Sale in Wethersfield]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:11:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/175*120/srFront1.jpg

Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman Real Estate]]>
<![CDATA[MAC Giving Away Free Lipstick on #NationalLipstickDay]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 16:07:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MAC-Generic.jpg

One of the world's most popular makeup brands is giving away free lipsticks in celebration of National Lipstick Day on Saturday. 

MAC Cosmetics will give away a full-size lipstick -- valued at about $17 -- to anyone who gets to one of its stores or retailers on July 29, the company announced in a series of tweets Friday.

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And there's no catch. Customers don't need to make a purchase to score a free tube and customers can choose whatever color they want.

The offer is exclusive to participating U.S. stores and MAC counters across America. Contact your local MAC store to inquire about participation in your area.

However, supplies are limited and, according to MAC, lines are likely to be long early in the day. 

Another popular brand for lipstick lovers, Kat Von D, is offerings its own #NationalLipstickDay deal: its normally $21 Studded Kiss lipsticks will be priced at $15 on its website, and a free mini Everlasting Liquid Lipstick will also be thrown in with promo code LIPSTICK, according to Allure

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Boston's 'Skinny House' Was Built on Betrayal and Spite]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 12:43:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Skinny+House.JPG

Sandwiched between two brick and mortar buildings in Boston's North End is the city's famous “Skinny House,” a structure built on betrayal and trust.

The 1,166-square-foot home at 44 Hull Street was sold in May to an anonymous buyer for $900,000. The new resident now lives in a piece of Boston history, albeit cramped and not ideal for too much company. 

The property is said to have belonged to two brothers who inherited land from their father in the 1800’s. However, when one of the brothers was away fighting in the Civil War, the other sibling built a large home on the property, taking up more than his share of land. When the other brother returned to find his share of the land invaded, out of spite, he decided to squeeze in an adjacent house, blocking this brother's views and sunlight.

The “spite house” has no front door. Guests enter the home through a side door that resembles a window. 

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It boasts four floors that are less than 300 square feet each. It has all of the amenities of a normal home, just much, much more compact. Most furniture cannot fit in the building due to the tiny space allotted between the walls and stairs. 

However, this unique home packs a lot into a small amount of space. All of the furniture and household needs fit snugly into the nooks and crannies of the Skinny House.

It does have a surprisingly spacious backyard for a North End dwelling, and the roof deck  great views.

NBC Boston took a tour of this historic dwelling with a representative of the anonymous buyer so you can see this charming attraction for yourself.

<![CDATA[25 Pet-Friendly Colleges in America]]> Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:21:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/189*120/Stetson1.jpg

Use the map above to locate a pet-friendly college near you.

Heading off to college for the first time and leaving the comforts of home can be a difficult transition. And for students leaving an animal companion behind, the move can feel even more difficult. 

While most schools have a strict no pet policy for campus housing, some offer special accommodations for students to help ease the process.

From lizards to horses, each school has a different pet policy, including restrictions on age, weight, cage, and sometimes, whether or not the animal was a family pet before entering college.

While service animals on campus were once used only exclusively as guide dogs for students with visual impairments, today schools are grappling with a rise of "emotional support animals."

As diagnoses of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems among college students reaches record highs, according the Center of Collegiate Mental Health, so has the prescription of these pets, also known as comfort animals, for their soothing abilities. 

Whether or not a school agrees that these animals are therapeutic is besides the point; imposing an outright animal ban for all students could violate federal law prohibiting discrimination in housing.

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So which college is most pet-friendly? According to Animal Planet, Eckerd college. Residents may choose from 14 residence halls that permit dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, chinchillas and ferrets. In addition, small pets in cages are permitted in all residence halls. Students also have access to a local veterinarian who does pet health checks twice a year.

Best of all, outgoing pets at Eckerd are honored at a separate graduation ceremony.

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Photo Credit: John Raoux/AP
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<![CDATA[CT Residents are Hoppy over Craft Brewery Spike]]> Sat, 29 Jul 2017 17:49:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Stony-Creek.jpg

Craft breweries are finding a hoppy success in Connecticut after the opening of dozens of companies within recent years. 

"The sun is always shining at Stony Creek Brewery," Ed Cowey Jr., co-founder of the Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, said. "There has been a noticeable increase in demand for craft beer in Connecticut. We just feel so blessed to be a part of this time in beer popularity."

In Connecticut, 16 breweries opened in 2012 and that number increased to 49 in 2016, according to the National Brewers Association. In 2014, breweries added about 4,632 jobs in Connecticut and more than 424,000 jobs nationwide. 

The increase in breweries is due, in part, to the state legislature changing liquor laws to allow breweries to serve beer on the premises in 2012. Before the change, breweries were only allowed to give tastings and were required to get a liquor license in order to serve beer.

Today, breweries can sell beer "over the counter" in its very own taprooms, allowing them to make a larger profit without having to deal with the extra costs and regulations of obtaining a liquor license.

Shortly after the law was changed, many new breweries opened their doors, including Two Roads Brewery in Stratford. They were one of the advocates to push for the change in Connecticut liquor laws.

"We worked very closely with town and state officials to present a compelling case to have this law altered," Brad Hittle, co-founder of Two Roads Brewery, said. "It worked to our benefit, as well as, all the other breweries in Connecticut that have opened since then. We couldn't be more pleased with how things have turned out."

At the beginning of July, the state made another change to liquor laws, tailored more narrowly towards farm breweries. The Farm Brewery Bill allows the manufacturing, bottling, wholesale distribution and sale of beer manufactured at the farm. The bill also gives permission to advertise the beer as 'Connecticut State Beer', as long as at least 25 percent of the ingredients used to make the beer come from within the state.

Representative James M. Albis of the 99th district in Connecticut was one of the main supporters of the bill and sees supporting craft breweries as beneficial to the state’s economy. He has noticed a significant increase in the number of craft breweries and is optimistic about the economic impact this increase will bring to the state.

"Craft breweries hire local residents, participate in local chambers of commerce, and provide social outlets for residents in our state," Albis said. "By keeping as much of the supply chain for beer in state, consumers will be spending their money on local products and businesses that hire local residents. The higher market share for Connecticut craft beer, the more we will be feeding into our local economy."

Many towns and communities across Connecticut have bore witness to the economic development that a local brewery brings. In Bristol, Firefly Hollow Brewing Company has brought in more foot traffic and according to founder Dana Bourque, has encouraged more businesses to start up nearby.

"It’s not an uncommon thing to see a depressed area start seeing a lot more traffic when a brewery is in the town," Bourque said. "A lot of industries have come to the same area as the brewery and have benefited from the business that the brewery brings. The brewery helps to revitalize the town a bit."

A love for beer and a love for the local community, keeps customers coming back week after week for a glass of their hometown beer. For the brewers, it’s this love and appreciation for their local community that brings more and more aspiring brewers to set up their business in Connecticut. Cowey couldn't imagine opening Stony Creek Brewery anywhere else.

"We live in the town of Branford and we absolutely love it here. We wanted to create a destination brewery in Connecticut. A place where people can come and vibe out and have a good time," Cowey said. 

Photo Credit: Michelle Price]]>
<![CDATA[Coke Zero is Getting a New Recipe, New Name]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 15:32:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/231*120/coke+zero+sugar.JPG

The new name is intended to make clearer that the drink has no sugar, and a new recipe is intended to make the drink taste more like regular Coke. The company isn't specifying what it's changing aside from saying it tweaked the "blend of flavors." It says the drink will use the same artificial sweeteners.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. says the new cans and bottles, which will incorporate more red like regular Coke, will start hitting shelves in August.

Fans who like Coke Zero just the way it is took to social media, with some people joking about stockpiling the current version or referencing the history of New Coke. Others asked the company to please reconsider, and Coca-Cola's social media team was busily responding, saying they're hopeful that people will love the new version.

The push behind Coke Zero comes as Americans continue moving away from Diet Coke, which was introduced in the 1980s and has its own taste that's different from Coke. Coke Zero was introduced in 2005 and is intended to more closely mimic the flagship cola.

Coke Zero has generally been marketed to sporting events that skew to a male audience, while Diet Coke has been marketed to audiences that skew female, says Duane Stanford, editor of Beverage Digest. Both drinks are listed as having no calories.

Coca-Cola in the past has blamed the declines of Diet Coke on concerns over the aspartame used in the drink, though the ingredient is also used in Coke Zero, which has enjoyed growth globally.

James Quincey, CEO of Coca-Cola, says people haven't always understood that Diet Coke and Coke Zero have no sugar.

"It may surprise you to learn, but it's true," Quincey

Coca-Cola notes that the newer version of Coke Zero has already been launched in some other countries. That may allay concerns that the revamp won't go over well with fans, such as the infamous 1985 rollout of "New Coke," or PepsiCo's more recent recipe change for Diet Pepsi. PepsiCo had removed aspartame, which it said people didn't like. But then it brought back a version of Diet Pepsi with the artificial sweetener after sales fell.

Photo Credit: Coca-Cola via AP ]]>
<![CDATA[Places to Celebrate National Chicken Wing Day in Connecticut]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:42:42 -0400 Visit J. Timothy's website ]]> Visit J. Timothy's website ]]> http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/WingsMannyLarge.jpg

Photo Credit: Manny Vargas]]>
<![CDATA[Yard Goats to Host 'What If' Night on Thursday]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 17:01:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/what+if+night+2.jpg

The Hartford Yard Goats will become the Praying Mantis for one night.  On Thursday, July 27, the Goats will host "What If" Night at Dunkin' Donuts Park celebrating the name Praying Mantis, one of the five finalists when the team was hosting a naming contest in early 2015.

"We will no longer be the Yard Goats, we will be the Praying Mantis," said Dana Feigenbaum, the Yard Goats' promotions manager. "Great night. We have a secret special mascot who may be coming out. Everything in the ballpark will become Praying Mantis. No one will know what the Yard Goats are that night. Hats, jerseys, everything."

There are only two times during the 2017 season when the Yard Goats will wear special uniforms.  Those nights are Whalers Alumni Weekend, which took place earlier this month, and "What If" Night.  The first 2,000 fans will receive a special Praying Mantis baseball cap.  Fans will also have the chance to buy special Praying Mantis merchandise. 

Fan Jackson Grady submitted the name Praying Mantis in the team naming contest after the Connecticut state insect.

The other runners up for the team name were: Hedgehogs, River Hogs, and Whirlybirds.

"What If" Night on Thursday kicks off a busy four-game homestand for the Goats against the Reading Fightin Phils, the Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.  

Thursday's game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.  Gates will open at 6 p.m.

Friday's game will feature "Christmas in July" events, including cookie decorating, a dress up contest, and the chance to get your picture taken with Santa.  Post-game fireworks will light up the night sky.

Fireworks will also take place after the game Saturday night.

Sunday wraps up the homestand with the Chompers Mascot Bobblehead Giveaway for the first 2,000 fans.

NBC Connecticut is proud to sponsor "What If" Night and to be the official television partner of the Hartford Yard Goats.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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<![CDATA[Wags to Riches: Rescue Dogs Living the Good Life]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:10:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-520304204-marnie.jpg

Which Instagram celebrity has garnered 2.1 million followers, gone backstage at a Demi Lovato concert, and snapped a picture with Taylor Swift at a Grammy Awards after-party?

Marnie the Dog.

Instagram-famous pets attract the attention of social media users around the world, gathering thousands of likes on each adorable picture. Like many celebrities, some of these furry friends were not born into fame, but rather rose from unlikely circumstances.

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Marnie the Dog is one of these famous canines who began life in an animal shelter. Marnie's owner, Shirley Braha, was browsing through the animal adoption site Petfinder when she spotted Marnie.

"Marnie's condition when she was living in the shelter was not that fantastic," Braha said. "She had stomach worms, was really dirty, and seemed sad. I felt guilty leaving her there so I took her home."

After a thorough grooming and some time to settle in, Braha got to know Marnie's personality and began posting photos of her dog on her personal Instagram. Once a friend with 10,000 followers posted a photo with Marnie, the pup's following grew rapidly.

Marnie, adopted at age 11 as a senior dog, poses with celebrities and entertains followers with her cute photo-ops.

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"A lot of these older dogs have a harder time getting adopted," Braha said. "It just seems like the right thing to do would be to go help an animal."

Marnie is not the only canine that emerged as a social media hit from humble beginnings. Instagram-famous dog Popeye the Foodie began life as a stray on the streets of Los Angeles when his future owner Ivy Diep found him. Diep quickly discovered how much her new pet enjoyed going out with her, so she began bringing Popeye to pet-friendly restaurants. When a friend pointed out how photogenic Popeye is, Diep began brainstorming ideas for an Instagram account.

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"I wanted to do something different and it just clicked: how about a dog foodie?" Diep said. "A lot of people call themselves foodies … [Popeye] can be a foodie too!"

Popeye can be spotted at restaurants all around Los Angeles, posing with gourmet meals and desserts in photos that get thousands of likes. While Popeye was not adopted, Diep acknowledges that she would always promote adoption as the first choice for people looking to get a pet.

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"We're trying to get the point across that you can find a wonderful dog out there," Diep said. "Just to show that, hey, this dog that might not be in its best condition at the moment … can blossom with a little bit of love and care."

Businesses are also looking to join in on the success of social media-famous animals, with advertisers reaching out to the pet owners for opportunities to promote products. Popeye the Foodie has been featured in sponsored posts by companies such as Burger King, American Express, and Honda.

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Along with these advertising opportunities, famous dogs living lavish lifestyles have the power to make a difference. Marnie the Dog, for example, recently became a therapy dog at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

"I have this dog that makes people so happy," Braha said. "It feels like it's a really good use of my time and Marnie's time to bring a little bit of happiness to these children who are in situations that no one should ever be in."

Organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) encourage adoption and utilize the social media presence of famous adopted dogs to spread that message. Joey Teixeira, senior manager of planned giving at the ASPCA and owner of Instagram-famous dog Mervin the Chihuahua, recognizes the impact that adoption can have on the lives of animals and their owners.

"We really just focus on making the right match, trying to work with people to remove those barriers [to adopting]," Teixeira said. "When you adopt, you're not only gaining a new family member, but you're also saving a life."

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Mervin first arrived at the ASPCA shelter emaciated, missing his teeth and in need of care. Now, three years after Teixeira adopted the chihuahua, Mervin has come into his own and puts smiles on the faces of his Instagram followers.

"Once he got into a loving home, he was able to really come out of his shell and become his true self," Teixeira said.

Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ASPCA, File
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<![CDATA[Pet-o-nomics: The Cost of Owning a Dog or Cat]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:22:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-112705133.jpg

Dogs are known to help reduce stress and teach family members lessons in responsibility — but dog ownership demands fiscal responsibility, too.

The costs of bringing an animal into your home go far beyond any initial adoption fee, which will be waved or significantly reduced at hundreds of shelters around the country on Aug. 19 for Clear the Shelters.

The first year includes hidden fees that the owner must take into account, including supplies like a crate, collar, and veterinary bills. The price may vary based on differing circumstances, but a pet owner can expect to spend anywhere from $1,144 for a cat to over $2,000 for a largest breeds of dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

After the first year, the ASPCA says pet owners can expect to shell out about $700 annually for smaller dogs to over $1,000 a year for big breeds.

Below is a breakdown of the average first year and annual costs the average pet owner will incur:

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Photo Credit: Franck Prevel/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Unique Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher Items on Display at Comic-Con]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:43:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/leisphone.jpg

An auction house is showcasing some unique personal items belonging to Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher. The items will go to auction on Sept. 23.

<![CDATA[Guns N’ Roses Tour Is Coming to Hartford]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:47:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Guns+n+Roses+Getty+images.jpg

Hartford will be one of the stops rock band Guns n’ Roses will make during the 2017 Not in This Lifetime tour.  

The legendary band will be at the XL Center on Monday, Oct. 23. Tickets will go on sale for the general public on Friday, July 28 at 10 a.m.  

The tour comes on the 30th anniversary of Guns n’ Roses’ debut album “Appetite for Destruction,” which Billboard Magazine called the biggest-selling debut in U.S. history.  

Citi card members will have access to the presale, which begins on Monday, July 24 at 10 a.m. local time through Citi’s Private Pass, according to Live Nation.  

Presale for AT&T customers will begin on Thursday, July 27 at 10 p.m. local time. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYers Are Paying $12 to Eat Ice Cream Topped With Insects]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:35:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_17124010068337.jpg

Manhattan ice cream shop La Newyorkina has introduced what may be the most unique sundae the city has to offer.

The Greenwich Village Mexican ice cream and paleta shop tops its new Happy-Hoppy Sundae with chili-coated, crunchy grasshoppers.

The interesting insect topping is paired with Mexican vanilla ice cream that has a hint of chili, mezcal infused caramel sauce and a candied orange slice.

The spicy, sweet and salty flavors seem like they would be palatable, if you can get past the fact that you are eating a dead bug.

Mike Chau, a blogger based in New York, tried the sundae and described the flavors as unexpected.

“The ice cream was great, as always at La Newyorkina. The chapulines [grasshoppers] were very crunchy and salty, and also had a really strong tangy flavor,” Chau said. 

Chau also said he wouldn’t order the sundae again, but felt like it was worth it and fun to try.

If you are interested in trying the sundae for yourself, the one of a kind treat will cost you $12.

The sundae is available through the end of July, but the shop has added the chili grasshoppers as a permanent topping because it has become so popular.

So if vanilla chili ice cream isn't your thing, you can still try the insects on a different flavor of ice cream. 

Though the cricket topping might seem weird, it is actually a popular snack in Mexico, eaten like nuts. The crickets are high-quality and also sustainably sourced, according to the eatery.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Take a Look Inside O.J. Simpson's Former Florida Home]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:49:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/OJKendallHome.jpg After his 1995 murder acquittal, O.J. Simpson lived in Miami's Kendall neighborhood for years before he was convicted and sentenced to prison for a 2007 armed robbery attempt in a Las Vegas hotel. His 1.65-acre home was foreclosed in 2012. It is now listed for $1,299,900, according to Zillow.com. The renovated home has four bedrooms and four bathrooms with a huge backyard and a basketball court. It is currently owned by Southern Farms International USA, Inc.

Photo Credit: Oscar Ramirez, Miami Association of Realtors]]>
<![CDATA[Fried Chicken Socks? KFC Launches New Clothing Line]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 20:28:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/KFC_Launches_New_Clothing_Line.jpg

Colonel Sanders may be best known for his chicken and for his Mother's Day romance novels, but he is stepping out of KFC and into the world of apparel and luxury goods.

Need some "Fried Chicken Socks?" How about a "Finger Lickin' Good Necklace?" Or perhaps a shirt that lets everyone know you're the "World's No. 1 Chicken Salesman?" "KFC Ltd." is your one-stop shop for all this and more.

You can even get a good night sleep with the "Dream Colonel Pillowcase." As the website notes, "It's important to have a dream. And if your dream is to have a bunch of dreams while lying face-to-face with a Colonel whose dream of building a fried chicken empire actually came true, well then, you're in luck."

And if you have some disposable income, you can pay the astronomical price of $20,000 for a "Zinger Meteorite": a "real, space-made meteorite from space" shaped like a Zinger chicken sandwich. It is made from "iron and other space stuff" and is "not for human consumption."

Colonel Sanders is continuing to build his resume this year after penning "Tender Wings of Desire," a romance novella that was offered for free ahead of Mother's Day.

Photo Credit: KFC Ltd.
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