<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Thu, 26 Nov 2015 14:44:00 -0500 Thu, 26 Nov 2015 14:44:00 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Learn How to Make Coquito Cocktails for the Holidays]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:06:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ENG_coquito_recipe_1200x675_574318147973.jpg Miami-based food writer Enriqueta Lemoine shows you her take on the Puerto Rican holiday drink coquito.]]> <![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gift Guide for Any Budget]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 07:35:56 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gift-thumb.jpg
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<![CDATA[History of Thanksgiving: How Much Do You Know About Turkey Day?]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:30:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_51734552621.jpg

Millions of Americans will travel to visit family and friends and stuff themselves with turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. But how much do you know about the holiday’s origins and why we celebrate? Test your knowledge of the history behind Turkey Day with this quiz.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CT Teen Needs Your Vote to be 'The Voice']]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 20:17:29 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/braiden+sunshine.JPG

Lyme resident Braiden Sunshine needs your help to become "The Voice" in Season 9 of the NBC singing competition.

Braiden, a sophomore at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, performed for Team Gwen in Monday night's live show and America's votes will determine if he moves forward.

Before the show, Sunshine recorded a video message for his fans that his mother sent to NBC Connecticut before his performance.

"I do need your help to get through the next round. If you could do me a huge favor and buy the iTunes song and go on nbc.com/thevoice and give me your vote, that would be absolutely amazing. I need all the help I can get. Thank you so much for watching and I'll see you later," Sunshine said.

Sunshine made it through the voice battle and knockout rounds on Team Gwen to advance to the live shows. Sunshine is only 15 years old, one of the youngest contestants on the show, and that has stood to impress the judges throughout the season.

His voice coach, Gwen Stefani, lead singer of No Doubt, chose an older song -- "Everything I Own" -- for him because she thought he could give it a fresh take.

In addition to gaining vocal experience on the show, "The Voice" team has also ben developing new looks for the teenager with the baby face, so one of the judges joked about how he looks different every time he performs. Sunshine emerged on stage in a leather jacket and his naturally curly hair was slicked down and straightened. He also performed without his glasses, quipping in his talk-back with Maroon 5's Adam Levine after his song that he couldn't see him, eventually putting his glasses back on.

Levine was very apologetic in delivering some criticism, telling Sunshine he thought he tried to do more than the song than was there in it. But Stefani said she's grown very protective of Sunshine and praised his voice and how broke away from being still at the mic stand toward the end and added more dynamic to the song as he move around the stage and worked the crowd. She even called him "cute," which prompted a smile from Sunshine.

Braiden has been singing since he was 5 years old and performing since he was 9. He says he wouldn’t be on "The Voice" if it wasn’t for his mom, Elizabeth Sunshine. She was the one who pushed him to audition in New Jersey.

"The Voice" polls stay open until noon eastern time Tuesday, so you still have time to vote.

You can watch "The Voice" on NBC Connecticut Wednesday night at 8 p.m. to see if Sunshine makes it to the next round.

His songs in the competition are available for purchase on iTunes.

Photo Credit: BraidenSunshine.com]]>
<![CDATA[Thanksgiving Turkey Do's and Don'ts]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:08:13 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/turkey_dos_donts_preparations.jpg #NBC5Responds' Deanna Dewberry offers a few surprising tips on how to make that Thanksgiving centerpiece perfect.]]> <![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Top 12 Holiday Toys]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:40:38 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Toys-SplitScreen.jpg Lightsabers, talking plush toys and robots make up this year's lineup of hot toys every kid would love to get for the holidays. Click through to see the top 12 toys dominating store shelves and kids' wish lists alike.

Photo Credit: Thinkway Toys/Hasbro]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide: 12 Hot Holiday Toys]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:36:37 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/toys-split.jpg

Lightsabers, talking plush toys and robots make up this year's lineup of hot toys every kid would love to get for the holidays. 

Hundreds of products, from puzzles to action figures based on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which is being released Dec. 18, will dominate store shelves and kids' wish lists alike.  

"'Star Wars' is a good monster for the industry," said Richard Gottlieb, principal and founder of Global Toy Group, a consultancy and resource for the industry. "That, of course, will bring an enormous number of shoppers."

Remote controlled cars, droids controlled by smartphones and robotic creatures with voice recognition features are also popular. 

Take a look at 12 hot toys this holiday season:

Star Wars Episode 7 BB-8 App-Enabled Droid

Kids can link this toy and then control it through their iPhone or iPad. The toy reacts to voice command and can patrol autonomously. Also, it can create holographic like recordings. "BB-8 has something unlike any other robot--an adaptive personality that changes as you play," according to the product's description." Based on your interactions, BB-8 will show a range of expressions and even perk up when you give voice commands."

Star Wars Bladebuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber

It's not just another "Star Wars" toy. It is an essential item to have for the series' enthusiasts. It lights up and creates sounds from the movie to simulate the thrill of sword-dueling between Jedi masters and Sith overlords.

Glider Board or 'Hoverboard'

The Glider Board allows you to travel over six miles an hour. It's controlled with your feet as you move around and can climb up 30-degree slopes. The "hoverboard" can go up to 12 miles in distance after every full charge. For security, an anti-theft key lock is included so it cannot be driven without your permission. If you live in New York City, you may have to limit your use of the "hoverboard" to indoor spaces. The NYC police department confirmed that it is illegal to use the 'hoverboards' in public areas because they are considered motor vehicles that cannot be registered with the department of motor vehicles. In California, legislation passed in Oct. allowing the boards to be used in the same places as bikes. Local California municipalities have the ability to ban their use.

Despicable Me 2 Jumbo Talking Minion - Dave

The Minions, both lovable and memorable, are exactly the kind of toy you want for your child. At 16" tall, Jumbo Talking Minion - Dave is a plush toy that with a squeeze on his tummy can say up to 15 sayings in the original voice from the movie. His eyes can also "pop-out" and light up with a press. This plush toy is not only the prefect gift for children, but also for adults who enjoyed the movie.

UDI RC U818A Quadcopter with HD Camera

You can record high definition video from your drone and perform 360-degree tricks at the touch of a button. It has a built-in fast and slow speed function along with a low-voltage alarm on the transmitter to optimize your experience. The manufacturer recommends that this toy be used by people ages 14 and up. It's also important to follow safety guidelines while flying your drone.

Disney "Descendants"

Your child's favorite Disney characters have families in the feature film "Descendants." Toys from the movie feature Maleficent's daughter, Mal and Evie who is the daughter of the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Carlos, son of Cruella de Vil is another character that you can buy. The figures can be stylized with two outfits, two pairs of shoes and three accessories.

NERF Rebelle Secrets & Spies Arrow Revolution Bow Blaster

This bow and arrow set will unleash your child's inner Katniss Everdeen. The character has spurred an interest in the bow and with the release of the final "Hunger Games" movie, this set will be a hot purchase. Using this bow, an arrow can be shot up to 90 feet away.

Zoomer Dino Jurassic World Indominus Rex Robot

The blockbuster hit "Jurassic World" rocked theaters this summer and toys from the movie will be heavily sought this holiday season. The Indominus Rex, the bio-engineered dinosaur from the movie, can respond to movement, make recorded sounds from the film and change eye color.

Peanuts Happy Dance Snoopy

The Snoopy plush toy is a great gift for fans of the new "Peanuts" movie, featuring Charlie Brown. This plush version of Snoopy dances to a popular tune from the "Peanuts" series and reacts to being kissed on the nose.

Easy Animation Studio

Crayola's animation studio pack allows all future animators and artists to digitally create scenes with characters included with the purchase. After downloading an application for iOS or Android devices, young animators will be able to create scenes with an included poseable mannequin. Position the mannequin into different poses to create a short stop-motion video.

Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit

The equipment for the four super smart girls from the "Project Mc2,"a children's web show, is available for home or on-the-go use. The kit comes with a working 4x microscope and all the equipment needed to conduct a science experiment with a petri dish, safety goggles, pipette dropper and 15 pH strips.

"Lego Dimensions"

"Lego Dimensions," a video game that can be played across most gaming platforms except PC, is the latest in the toy company's reach for the digital age. Figurines such as Lego Batman, Gandalf and Lucy from "The Lego Movie" are available to use in the game. To play the game, figurines are placed on a pad connected to the system and are then represented in the virtual world. More figurines can be bought to expand the character selection.

Photo Credit: NBC Universal]]>
<![CDATA[Don't Be a Turkey: Celebrate a Bird-Free Thanksgiving]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:03:50 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_554344590313.jpg

It’s that time of year again — to give thanks for all that we have.

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday, one that is deeply rooted in tradition. The first Thanksgiving goes all the way back to 1621 when the Pilgrims sat down with the Wampanoag to celebrate the harvest at Plymouth Colony, according to Smithsonian.com.

More than 150 years later, the Continental Congress issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1777. But it wasn’t until 1789 that President George Washington issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.

“I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States,” Washington said.

Since then, food and family have become synonymous with the holiday. Many of us will spend time prepping the turkey and pumpkin pie and decorating the table for family and friends before settling down to the feast. 

But if you think eating a turkey on Thanksgiving is overrated, why not change your holiday routine and break free from tradition? 

Go meatless! Sure, turkey is the go-to fare for Thanksgiving, but going meatless does have some benefit. Not only can you cater to the vegetarian guest, it will also eliminate the post-meal food coma. 

There are many different options out there, from vegetarian sides to main dishes like the mushroom and kale-stuffed squash. And, of course, you can still get the feeling of a turkey without the actual bird — products like soy-based Tofurky are a popular alternative to the real thing.

"We’re so proud to see that alternative holiday meal traditions, which were once a niche phenomenon, have become legitimately mainstream in the 20-plus years we’ve been making Tofurky Roasts," said Jaime Athos, CEO and president of Tofurky.

Whatever you decide to eat, why not ask your guests to wear an ugly Thanksgiving sweater? Since they’re not just for Christmas anymore, you can wear these delightfully tacky, non-traditional sweaters while you and your loved ones give thanks.

Staying active is a great way to help burn off the Turkey Day calories, to help alleviate the boredom and promote togetherness.

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition recommends 30 minutes of activity a day for adults and 60 minutes a day for children. Why not kick around the ball, try paintball or go bowling, too? 

Having Thanksgiving at a restaurant is also a non-traditional holiday option — especially if you can’t fathom the idea of spending all that time cooking.

More than 33 million Americans will visit restaurants during Thanksgiving this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. There are a number of national chains including Bob Evans, Sizzler, Morton’s and Cracker Barrel that will be offering holiday specials.

You might also consider giving back to the community while giving thanks. There are hundreds of organizations across the country that are looking for volunteers to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need.  

"We hope all Americans will consider making volunteer service a part of their holiday tradition and invite their friends and families to join them," said a spokeswoman for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

More than 25 percent of American adults volunteered 7.7 billion hours of time — including holiday time — in 2013, according to the organization.

Trying something new may just open you up to new holiday traditions. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gifts for Sports Lovers]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:17:55 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Jacket-Gloves.jpg If there's a fitness enthusiast or someone looking to get in shape on your holiday shopping list, look no further than this sports gift guide. Help your friends and loved ones reach their fitness goals with gadgets and gear that will inspire and motivate them all year round.

Photo Credit: JackRabbit/Underarmour]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Tech & Gadget Gifts Under $100]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:55:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Tech+Gifts+2015.jpg Shopping for a gadget-obsessed friend or family member? Discover the coolest gadgets and tech gifts in our 2015 holiday guide. ]]> <![CDATA[How to Carve a Turkey, Just in Time for the Holidays]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:22:05 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/thanksgiving-FINAL_1200x675_570319939834.jpg Chef Fitz Tallon from Eataly NYC shows you how to carve a turkey.]]> <![CDATA[Mark Twain House Decorated for the Holidays]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 11:26:01 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mark+twain+christmas_1200.jpg

The trees have been trimmed, garland has been strung, and the Mark Twain House is beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

"It's decorated as a Victorian house would have been decorated back in the day when Mark Twain lived here from 1874-1891," David Cash, publicist at the Mark Twain House and Museum said.

In those days, public areas of the house, mostly on the first floor, were more heavily decorated, while the upstairs rooms displayed the types of gifts family members might have exchanged.

The Clemens' preparation for the holidays wasn't just about the decorations.

"Livy would prepare gift baskets for the poor that would be delivered by her husband and daughters and the coachman by sleigh all over the countryside," Gary Jones, historic interpreter for the Mark Twain House said.

But when it came down to Christmas morning, the Clemens children would rush the the school room where they knew gifts would be waiting.

"They'd be in there by six in the morning and have their presents open and their thank you notes written most likely before their parents came in to join them," Jones said.

December 6, you can get a holiday tour of not only the Mark Twain House, but also six other area homes. Each house will feature holiday decorations and live music.

For more information, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gifts for a Fashionista]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:38:58 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fashionista2.jpg Don't know what to buy for the fashion-forward lady on your list. Click through our ultimate holiday gift guide for some of the most stylish items that will be sure to please even the most devout trendsetters. ]]> <![CDATA['Not as Exciting': Black Friday Deals Arrive Earlier Than Ever]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:36:28 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_583751221090.jpg

Black Friday is becoming a month-long deal.

Amazon's sales began Nov. 20 and continue through Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving and what was once the start of the holiday shopping season. Target and Walmart are offering holiday discounts throughout the month, while Best Buy is holding "pre-Black Friday" weekends.

What was traditionally a single day of shopping already stretches over the weekend and now retailers are trying to extend the extravaganza even further by discounting goods long before the holiday. What that will mean to Black Friday sales is something analysts will be watching for.

"It remains to be seen how significant the event itself is," said Traci Gregorski, vice president of marketing at the retail research firm Market Track.

Tis the season for holiday sales and strategies for capturing shoppers dollars.

Black Friday spending was down last year, the second drop in a row, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending though the weekend in stores and online dropped 11 percent from $57.4 billion in 2013 to $50.9 billion last year. The decline is partly the result of the earlier bargains, leaving Black Friday with less of a punch.

This year, the Credit Union National Association and the Consumer Federal of America are expecting a 3 percent growth in spending, down from an earlier prediction of up to 3.5 percent. The new prediction is based on a recent survey.

But for all the debate over store hours -- and at one end is Kmart, open on Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m., and at the other REI, the outdoor gear supplier that will stay closed on Black Friday itself --  for shoppers the season means deals. They are scouting for the best prices before ever stepping inside a store, Gregorski said. They are driving competition among retailers who know their potential customers are online comparing ads.

“They do have a lot of information at their disposal, much more than they’ve ever had in the past,” she said.

On Friday, Tanya Jackson, a hair stylist from New Jersey, will be on the hunt for a washing machine and dryer at Home Depot where she expects to save $800.

“Oh yes, I already checked,” said Jackson, 42, who lives in Orange and who was making her way through New York City's Herald Square on a recent weekday morning. She is prepared to pay about $2,800.

Thanksgiving Day hours continue to court controversy, with some shoppers vowing to stay home and labor and other groups protesting the disruption to workers' holiday.

"l'm always with my family," said Kendall Castillo, a 19-year-old student studying theater and fine arts in college in New York City. Even the lure of good deals will not interrupt his holiday.

And Naysika Oree, a health-care consultant from the Bronx, has never shopped on Black Friday, turned off by the crowds and reports of unruly shoppers. She will stay home this year too.

"I'd rather just spend the couple of extra dollars then have to go through the madness," she said.

This year, the federation's preliminary Thanksgiving Weekend Survey found that an estimated 135.8 millions shoppers, or 58.7 percent of those surveyed, said they might head to the stores at some point over the weekend. The findings were similar to the year before, when 133.7 million holiday shoppers were in stores and online over the weekend.

Black Friday is expected to be the biggest shopping day for all age groups, but young adults in particular find Cyber Monday appealing, according to the survey's results. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 88.7 percent said yes or maybe when asked if they would should online on Monday. Among 25- to 34-year-old, the number was 90.9 percent.

Kate Winchester, a 23-year-old college student in New York City from Pennsylvania, will among those shopping online. She needs a new vacuum cleaner and a heavy blanket.

"You don't have to wait in the lines," she said.

Plus now that stores open on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday is "not as exciting anymore," she said. "No one wants to go out on Thursday."

To draw shoppers back into the stores, in the hopes that they will spend more money there, some retailers are offering special holiday events, Gregorski said. Wal-Mart for example is making the game Battlefront available to try out before its official launch.

"They’re introducing that experiential element into their promotions and events," she said. "It gives people a reason to come in."

As for what's hot this year, anything related to "Star Wars," game consoles and wearable technology, such as headphones and fitness trackers, she said. Drones are another top item.

Hoverboards, on the other hand, are not proving to be as popular as expected, likely because of their price, she said.

Other trends to watch for: exclusive partnerships between manufacturers and retailers and bundled offers, televisions and game consoles for example, which can make it difficult to determine how good a deal it is.

Milly Mladjenovic, 21, said she would definitely be out on Black Friday, shopping for work clothes and Christmas gifts.

"What am I not looking for?" she said.

The college student in New York City said deals could be found, but she thought bargains were better in years past.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gifts for Foodies]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 13:16:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kitchen-Items.jpg Get your favorite foodie inspired in the kitchen with these cool kitchen gadgets. From utensils to small appliances, here's a list of great gift ideas any food lover would appreciate.

Photo Credit: Amazon/Menu Design Shop]]>
<![CDATA[First Taco Bell Goes on the Road]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:41:38 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/IMG_4536tacobellwearethenext.JPG

While the region's movie industry has made a romance or two in its time, nearly every heart-tugger in the world weakens before one of Southern California's truly intense twosomes: food lovers and historic restaurants that may be in danger of demolishment.

Letters will be written, passionate rallies held, and, if everything works out, the structure will still stand, as was the case earlier this year at NORMS La Cienega, which had the words "wrecking ball" floating above its big-window'd facade for several weeks.

Sometimes, though, the structure ends up standing in a whole new place. Look to Downey, and the very first Taco Bell, the storied eatery that founder Glenn Bell opened in 1962. It's currently at 7186 Firestone Boulevard, but as of the weekend before Thanksgiving, it will be in Irvine, at the Taco Bell corporate offices.

Yep, "Taco Bell Numero Uno" is going on a epic overnight roll on the streets of SoCal. Date? Thursday night, Nov. 19 into the wee smalls of Friday, Nov. 20. Hours? 10-10:30 p.m. to just before 6 o'clock in the morning, or so.

You remember Space Shuttle Endeavour, and LACMA's Levitated Mass, and the other big things we so regularly move around in SoCal; it takes time to put a formerly unmovable thing on wheels and move it.

To call the structure beloved among Downey denizens is to traffic in understatement, and to say that its fans were worried when word of possible demolishment arrived at the start of the year is equally understated. 

For while it has housed a number of different eateries over the last three or so decades, it remained, to many local long-timers, the Taco Bell they grew up going to after games and before dances.

Organizations like We Are the Next of Long Beach and the Downey Conservancy sprung into action at the news of the building perhaps being razed, as did Taco Bell, which met with the civic-minded, past-preservation groups.

We Are the Next's Executive Director Katie Rispoli met with both the property's current owners, which alerted the groups to the building's vacancy and potential demolishment, and Rispoli began to meet with the company to see what the wee building's future might be.

Taco Bell went full hashtag – #savetacobell – which helped spread the early word. The company found funds to put the arch-laden landmark on wheels and transport it to its HQ, and the conservancy and We Are the Next provided guidance and input on the process.

Ms. Rispoli shares that the structure, which cannot be entered, will not be on view once it reaches Irvine. But her hope is that one day it may have a "beneficial public use" and perhaps even return to Downey, its forever home.

Like the romance between food people and historic restaurants, civic organizations and major companies can sometimes unite in a moving, and movable, cause. It's a slice of Downey delight, and regional whimsy, and its a restaurant that birthed thousands of others around the globe.

Want to see it? Catch a nap on Thursday, if you can, because this'll be an all-nighter. There's a live webcam of the roll -- of course there is -- and some true-blue burrito buffs may make for a curb on Firestone, to wave goodbye to a local legend.

Photo Credit: We Are the Next]]>
<![CDATA[Ultimate Guide to Winter Festivals and Events in Connecticut]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:24:48 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fantasy+of+lights_new+haven+.jpg

The cold, snowy days of a New England winter will be here before we know it, but there are several things to do this winter to celebrate the season.

Winterfest Hartford

  • When: Nov. 20 to Jan. 24
  • Where: Bushnell Park, Hartford
  • Hours: Skating hours vary Sunday to Saturday; click here for times
  • Admission: Skating, classes, and skate rentals free
  • What It’s About: Free ice skating and skate rentals return to Bushnell Park for another year, as families can enjoy free learn-to-skate classes, photos with Santa, and other special events.

NBC Connecticut and Comcast present: Fantasy of Lights in support of Easter Seals Goodwill

  • When: Nov. 21 to Jan. 6
  • Where: Lighthouse Point Park, 2 Lighthouse Road, New Haven
  • When: Sunday to Thursday, 5 p.m .to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Admission: $10 car, $25 mini bus, $50 full size bus
  • What It’s About: New Haven is celebrating its 21st annual Fantasy of Lights holiday display, to support Easter Seals Goodwill Industries. The drive-through holiday display features more than 60 attractions and over 100,000 lights. Share your experience on social media, with #fantasyoflights!

Holiday Light Fantasia

  • When: Nov. 26 to Jan. 1
  • Where: Goodwin Park, 1130 Maple Avenue, Hartford
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.
  • Admission: $15 car (up to 10 passengers), $25 limousine, $50 mini bus (up to 30 passengers), $100 full size bus (31+ passengers)
  • What It’s About: With over 1 million lights throughout the park, this 2-mile show has transformed Goodwin Park into a holiday destination the whole family for many years.

North Pole Express 

  • When: Nov. 13 to Dec. 29
  • Where: Essex Steam Train, 1 Railroad Ave., Essex
  • Hours: 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Admission: Call (800) 377-3987 for prices
  • What It’s About: Watch a live musical performance of the Night Before Christmas on the train, participate in sing-a-longs and enjoy hot chocolate and sugar cookies on the 90-minute ride.

New Haven Holiday Tree Lighting

  • When: Dec. 1
  • Where: New Haven Green
  • Hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the NBC Connecticut special at 7 p.m.
  • Admission: Free
  • What It’s About: NBC Connecticut is proud to present our Home for the Holiday special at the New Haven tree lighting! Come join us for one of the biggest holiday events on the shoreline as the tree lighting kicks off the holiday season including live music, carousel rides, holiday crafts, horse drawn carriage rides and so much more! Stop on by and say hi to the NBC Connecticut crew as well!

Holidays on Main

  • When: Dec. 3
  • Where: Main Street, Wethersfield
  • Hours: 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Admission: Skating, rentals, and classes free
  • What It’s About: The Wethersfield Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Wethersfield will hold their annual evening of family activities including visits with Santa, horse & wagon rides, the annual tree-lighting at 6:15 p.m., and a silent auction to benefit local organization

Santa’s Pancake Breakfast

  • When: Dec. 5
  • Where: Pitkin Community Center, 30 Greenfield Street, Wethersfield
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to noon
  • Admission: $6 per person
  • What It’s About: An annual event with all proceeds benefiting the Special Olympics – Wethersfield team, families can come and enjoy a pancake breakfast, visit with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more.

What is your favorite winter festival or event in Connecticut? Comment below. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Nordstrom Pulls Holiday Sweater]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 07:05:58 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/192*120/GettyImages-2751522.jpg

Just days after Target went under fire for a highly contested Christmas sweater and hours after Bloomingdale’s issued an apology for offending customers in a misleading catalog ad, Nordstrom is now the latest retail giant to get heat for a product they were offering shoppers this holiday season.

Earlier this week, talk about Nordstrom's Faux Real "Chai Maintenance" Hanukkah sweater started circulating on social media, with customers flooding to Nordstrom’s Facebook page to express their disgust in the item.

"I'm disappointed to see that Nordstrom is selling such an offensive item that perpetuates negative stereotypes of Jewish women," wrote one user. "I hope you remove it from your inventory."

The festive blue shirt, being sold in the retailer's "ugly holiday sweater" lineup, shows a large menorah across the front emblazed with the words "Chai Maintenance" at the top. Many Jewish women believed it to be distasteful towards their faith, as the Hebrew word chai – meaning life – is pronounced "high," alluding that Jewish woman are high maintenance.

Nordstrom responded by pulling it from shelves. By Thursday morning, the product was no longer able to be found on their website.

"I'm glad Nordstrom took it down," one Facebook user wrote. "Cute and kitschy is one thing but perpetuating negative stereotypes as supposedly cute or fun holiday wear is disgusting. I expect more of a large high end retailer such as Nordstrom. Especially when the version for men is just cute, why is the version for women derogatory?"

Some customers, on the other hand, were not offended by the ensemble.

"Hey Nordstrom, I'm Jewish and a huge fan of these sweaters, where can I get one from now you've stopped selling?" another shopper wrote.

But it was too late, with the company responding: "We appreciate your interest, however, the sweater is no longer available for purchase."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Top Food Trends for 2016 Revealed]]> Sun, 08 Nov 2015 20:32:36 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/199*120/PlantSlant2.jpg

Restaurant consultant group Baum + Whiteman has released its top food trends for 2016, and the number one spot didn’t go to one particular meal. Instead, the top trend revolves around how we get our meals.

Delivery services like uberEATS and Grub Hub will become the top food trend of 2016, according to Baum + Whiteman. One factor speeding up the delivery “revolution” is our smartphones.

Starbucks has started to rollout delivery service in New York City’s Empire State Building. Chipotle has also begun delivering in several cities, including Chicago, using the delivery service Postmates.

Coming in second on the top food trends in 2016, clean menus. The report cited a recent survey about concerns over the ingredients in foods. Thirty-six percent of participants said they worry about chemicals in their food, Baum + Whiteman found.

Several big name restaurants have changed their recipes to meet the demand for healthier options. McDonald’s announced earlier this year it would stop treating chickens with human antibiotics. Panera has also promised to end its use of 150 artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives by the end of next year, according to the report.

With the upcoming New Year, some of us may being saying “ciao” to pasta. The possible decline of pasta came in third place on the 2016 food trends list. The carb-o-licious dish has seen a drop in sales over the last five years, according to Baum + Whiteman. In the U.S., pasta sales have slumped 6 percent. The report associated the decrease to more Americans wanting pasta made from vegetables, like zucchini and asparagus.

Other top food trends picked by Baum + Whiteman include the demise of tipping, and the rise of acai bowls. Check out the full list below:

1. Food delivery services
2. Clean menus
3. Cutting down pasta intake
4. Vegetables
5. No tipping
6. Poke (pronounced poke-ay or poh-key), a Hawaiian dish
7. Modern take on Jewish cuisine
8. Acai bowls
9. Fried chicken
10. Spices

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[H&M's Balmain X Clothes Spark Shopping Frenzy]]> Thu, 05 Nov 2015 15:34:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Balmainhm.jpg

Demand for H&M's new collection of clothes by luxury Parisian fashion house Balmain prompted wild scenes at some stores, briefly crashed H&M's website, and had outfits going for up to triple the price on Ebay. 

The collection, Balmain X, was released Thursday as part of a new partnership between the businesses. Interest in the 109-piece collection quickly turned some H&M stores inside-out and left the store's website offline for two hours. The frenzy led some to question online whether H&M wasn't prepared for the large interest in the new clothes.

H&M spokesperson Hallie Ruben said in an email they expected the collection to sell out.

"Most of our customers appreciate the fact that the collections are limited," she said. "Within the collection there are different quantities of the various items and it is always a challenge to find the right amount for each item."

Balmain's collection is headed by creative director, Olivier Rousteing. Balmain's clothes were made famous by model Kendall Jenner. The "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star led the runway for Balmain during Paris Fashion Week in October, and starred in a commercial that has received millions of views on YouTube.

Videos and photographs on social media Thursday showed packed stores and shoppers rushing to grab the highly sought-after clothes. In one video, two customers tugged at a jacket.


H&M's website was unavailable from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., with shoppers greeted by a message saying the site had a lot of visitors due to the high level of interest in the latest collection. Customers were told to try loading the page again.

While searching for the collections online, some people spotted the same items being sold at much higher prices on the shopping and auction site Ebay.com.

A $199 Balmain "Green Sequin Embroidered Dress" was listed on Ebay for $550 or best offer. A sold-out pair of "Sandal Boots," originally listed at $199 on H&M's website, were going for almost $500 on Ebay.

Ruben, with H&M, said that while they prefer selling to take place at their stores or websites, there are no laws against people selling their secondhand clothes.

Photo Credit: Fidel Solano
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<![CDATA[Hungry? National Sandwich Day Deals, Freebies]]> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 23:15:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/subway+sandwich.jpg

If there's anything we love more than made-up holidays, it's sandwiches. Combine the two, and we know what we're having for lunch today.

Tuesday is National Sandwich Day, and to celebrate, several restaurants are giving away some sweet deals. 

Here are some of the best National Sandwich Day deals:

Head to your neighborhood Subway with a friend for a BOGO bargain. Buy one sandwich and get one free with the purchase of a 30 oz. drink.

Pull out your smartphone and download Capriotti's app to be automatically entered for free hand crafted sandwiches for life. That's like National Sandwich Day -- everyday!

You're going to have to do a little work if you want a free sandwich from Quiznos. The sandwich chain says the person who leaves the best comment on their Facebook page will get hooked up. 

All you have to do to get a free sandwich at McDonald's is download their app. 

<![CDATA[Study: What Makes Selfies Better]]> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 06:54:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/teaser.jpg

They're everywhere: modern self portraits shrunk down to fit the size of a mobile screen.

Better known as a selfie.

Stanford University Ph.D student Andrej Karpathy wanted to figure out what makes one selfie better than the rest with a visual recognition computer process, so he ran over 2 million photos tagged as selfies through the system.

The system, Convolutional Neural Network, or ConvNets for short, calculated how many people have seen and liked each photo, and Karpathy normalized the results based on the followers each user had.

After creating this rubric, Karpathy entered in another 50,000 new photos and had ConvNets order them from "best" to "worst" according to his algorithm. One key finding was that the style of the image is more important than the raw attractiveness of the person.

Wondering if your selfies pass the test? Karpathy created a Twitter account that rates your selfie for you.

Here are some of his most interesting findings, according to his blog:


Females: Women are consistently ranked higher than men. There were no men on the top 100 "best" photos produced by ConvNets

Face occupies about 1/3 of the frame: The top photos showed faces positioned in the center and occupying about 1/3 of the frame. In many photos, the head was slightly tilted.

Forehead cut-off: At least for women, cutting off the forehead seemed like a popular strategy. Especially with long hair strands running down the shoulders. 

Oversaturate the face: An over-saturated face makes the photo more uniform.

Filters and borders: Black and white photos did very well and most top images contained a filter that decreases the contrast. Horizontal or vertical white borders also made a frequent appearance on the top photos by ConvNet.


Low lighting: Darker photos which appear more grainy were ranked as the least appeal photos. 

Zoomed in face: Such a close up view was a turn off and resulted in some of the worst photos.

Group selfies: While Ellen Degeneres and friends had one of the greatest selfies of all time at the Oscars in 2014, this practice is not commonly viewed as the best selfie practice. Karpathy suggests to "keep it simple and take up all the space yourself," presumably, with your head partially cut off. 

Photo Credit: Andrej Karpathy blog]]>
<![CDATA[Words to Keep Marriage Happy: Study]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 12:48:44 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-140228263.jpg

Want a happy marriage? Never stop telling your spouse, "thank you."

In a newly published study on personal relationships, researchers at the University of Georgia interviewed 468 married people to find the secret behind those who were still happy in their commitment to their spouse, according to Today.

They asked them to detail their financial well-being, ins and outs of communication with their partner and the ways they expressed gratitude. Results showed the happiest married people would consistently express their gratitude to their husband or wife, and also received it right back.

"We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last," said Ted Futris, associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences in a statement on the university’s website.

That didn't mean the happy couples didn't go through tough times, as all couples do, according to the study. Researchers said the couples who continued to tell each other how grateful they were to have one another during the difficult experiences wound up closer, and even happier in their marriage after the trauma.

And as many already know – nagging is a no-no.

"Demand/withdraw communication occurs when one partner tends to demand, nag or criticize, while the other responds by withdrawing or avoiding the confrontation," the study's lead author Allen Barton wrote on the study’s website. Barton is a former doctoral student in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Already in a negative communication cycle with your partner? That's not a problem, the study showed.

Researchers said gratitude can interrupt the cycle and help couples overcome their current stresses and reverse their toxic relationship patterns.

In a nasty argument? It's bound to happen, but once you move past it end it on the note of being thankful for your marriage and partnership, and ensuring that they know.

Gratitude was measured by appreciation that was seen and heard by spouses who truly felt valued by their spouse and were acknowledged when they did something nice for them.

"It goes to show the power of 'thank you,'" Barton said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File
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<![CDATA[Your Halloween Costume Photos]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 11:22:48 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*284/heidihalloween.jpg A look at cute, scary, creepy and inventive Halloween costumes from around Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Heidi Voight]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things to Know About Daylight Saving Time]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 09:09:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-458245984-daylight-savings-stock-generic.jpg

The end of daylight saving time this year means an an extra hour of Halloween festivities over the weekend or just some much needed sleep.

Whether you're going to bed at your regular time or still partying at your friend's spooky Halloween bash Saturday night or early Sunday, don't forget to move your clocks back one hour. The change happens at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Here are five things to know about daylight saving time before you adjust your watches, alarms and microwaves (most cell phones adjust on their own):

How It Affects Your Health:

The change can disturb your sleep pattern and taking advantage of the extra hour to stay up a bit longer over the Halloween weekend may add to the problem. 

According to David Earnest, a professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M University, the time change can have different effects on people, depending on their age, work schedule and their eating and sleeping routines. 

“Our internal clocks have to shift, be it only an hour, and the ability to do that varies from individual to individual,” Earnest told USA Today, adding that most people should adjust to the new time change within a day or two. 

When Was DST Implemented

Before President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which established a uniform daylight saving time, local governments could start and end daylight saving time as they desired. For five weeks a year Boston, New York and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington, D.C., Cleveland or Baltimore. Different daylight saving times also caused confusion for travelers going from the Midwest to Northeast. 

In 2005, President George W. Bush extended the daylight saving time for an extra four weeks through an energy bill. Since 2007, daylight saving time has begun on the second Sunday of March, ending on the first Sunday of November.

Not All States Observe DST

Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states that do not observe daylight saving time. Indiana did not observe the practice until 2005. The American territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also do not participate.

Some states have tried to get rid of daylight saving time but haven't been successful. In the last year alone, 14 state legislatures have debated bills aimed at revising how we keep time. In March, the Utah state legislature rejected a bill that would have ended daylight saving time. 

Founding Father Did Not Come Up with DST

According to the History Channel, Benjamin Franklin did not come up with the idea of daylight saving time; he only suggested a change in sleep schedules.

Englishman William Willett is the one who suggested in 1905 that the United Kingdom move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October, so people could enjoy the sunlight. He published "The Waste of Daylight" and spent much of his fortune and time promoting the idea.

DST is Singular Not Plural

By the way, it's "daylight saving time," not "daylight savings time."

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[#UberKittens Delivers Cuddly Felines On-Demand]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:18:26 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-89849246.jpg

Not sure if you’re a cat lover? Well, Thursday is the purr-fect day to test your cat tolerance.

In honor of National Cat Day, the app that pairs you with a driver will also deliver adorable kittens from local shelters on-demand.

For a “snuggle fee” of $30, Uber will bring you a fluffy feline to play with for 15 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. in over 50 cities nationwide. The fee will be donated to participating local shelters.

To arrange your midday playtime just open the Uber app and select the “kittens” option. An Uber driver and shelter chaperone will arrive at your home or office with a kitty to cuddle in no time.

If you aren’t ready to say goodbye at the end of your designated time and realize you really are a cat lover, then you’re in luck. Many of the kittens are available for adoption.

Is there a catch? No. Uber only asks that you have an enclosed space for playtime and that your boss or building is aware the kitten is coming. Also, make sure no coworkers in the area are allergic.

Find your participating UberKitten city and shelter at Uber.com and don't forget to share you #UberKittens play date on social media.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lyme Teen Survives 'The Voice' Knockout Round]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 06:22:16 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/braiden+sunshine.JPG

"The Voice" contestant Braiden Sunshine, a sophomore at Lyme- Old Lyme High School, has survived the Knockout Round of the competition, continuing on Team Gwen

Braiden, of Lyme, won his voice battle on Team Gwen last week to advance to Monday night's Knockout Round. Sunshine is a contestant on Season 9 of NBC’s “The Voice.” He’s 15 years old, one of the youngest contestants.

“I’d like to prove that I’m a contestant no matter what my age would be, that I would be able to do this at any point,” Sunshine previously said.

The judges joked that Sunshine had grown up before their eyes as he took to the stage with his hair slicked back and wearing a suit to sing "Feeling Good," recently made famous by Michael Bublé, but written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1960s musical, "The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of The Crowd."

No Doubt's Gwen Stefani chose him to advance on her team to the next level of the competition.

Stefani tweeted this message out after the voice battle aired.

"OMG Braiden Sunshine!!! (heart-eyed smiley face emoji) #ProudCoach #VoiceKnockouts."

Sunshine also tweeted after his performance aired.

"AAAH I WON THE #VoiceKnockouts !! Thank you so much @gwenstefani Foing to the #Voiceliveplayoffs !!!"

Sunshine also had the opportunity to sing for artist Rihanna in rehearsals to prepare for the voice Knockouts.

Braiden has been singing since he was 5 years old and performing since he was 9. So far he’s gotten through the blind auditions and "The Voice" battle and knockout rounds. He says he wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for his mom, Elizabeth Sunshine. She was the one who pushed him to audition in New Jersey.

Now Sunshine will compete in the live playoff round.

His songs in the competition are available for purchase on iTunes.

Photo Credit: BraidenSunshine.com]]>
<![CDATA[REO Speedwagon Plays at Reopening of Ovation Guitars in CT]]> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 17:20:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Ovation+Guitars+1200.jpg

Ovation Guitars is back in business in New Hartford and the grand reopening was headlined by the legendary band REO Speedwagon.

The band took the stage with lead singer Kevin Cronin strumming the first guitar produced off the new Ovation Guitars line.

Cronin has used Ovation guitars more than 30 years.

"Part of my live performance image is to have an acoustic guita. Well it's gonna be an Ovation, and now to have them reopened in New Hartford, it just feels right, it just feels good," Cronin said in an interview with NBC Connecticut before performing at the grand reopening.

Fender Musical Instruments closed the factory in June 2014, choosing instead to produce Ovations only overseas.

In December 2014, the California-based Drum Workshop bought the Ovation brand and launched plans to build guitars again in New Hartford.

"For us, it's just a very, very significant time. It's also a time where people want to see things brought back to America. That's what we're doing," said Bill Xavier, who serves as the brand manager for Drum Workshop.

In reopening this factory, the company brought back some of the highly skilled workers who lost their jobs when the previous owners closed up.

"As a guitar builder I want to build guitars and so we just did our best not to give up hope and kept pushing and pushing," said Darren Wallace, who's worked with the company for 22 years and now serves as the factory's operations manager.

Ovation plans to produce 300 limited edition guitars through January. The company will resume normal production after that.

"Obviously, the guys here at the Ovation factory know how to build guitars and for them to have been out of work is unfortunate and now for them to be back to work and the factory to be reopened in its original place, this is where it belongs," said Cronin.

The company celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Today, CT Residents Travel 'Back to the Future']]> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 17:40:48 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Back-to-the-Future-Part-II-jpg.jpg

"On Wednesday, October 21st, 2015," Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) tells Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in "Back to the Future Part II" as he pilots a flying DeLorean into the future.

"2015? That's the future!" gasps Marty McFly.

It's not the future any more, and people who loved "Back to the Future Part II" as kids know it.

Miles Ortmeyer was happy to remember his impression watching the film back in 1989.

"I thought it was exciting. I was always kind of a sci-fi kid so seeing a glimpse into the future was just awesome and now living in it, it's crazy how much they got right," Ortmeyer said.

Some businesses are running promotions. Ford, for example, is offering the flux capacitor as an option, online, for $1.21 million.

There's a lower-priced version available at a local restaurant chain in the form of a libation. All seven Wood-n-Taps are offering $4 Flux Capacitor martinis. The bartender said they taste like Blue Hawaiians.

"It's a concoction of Malibu, blue curaçao, vanilla vodka, and we make it look a little bit "Back to the Future" for you," said bar tender Carolyn Ciarrochi, as she dropped a cube of dry ice into a martini glass.

"Back to the Future Part II"  was big on hover boards, flying skateboards Martine Wiecek remembers well from the movie.

"Yeah that be nice, huh? I don't think, not yet, that's gonna be the future more," she said.

<![CDATA[Local Restaurants Sell Flux Capacitor Martini]]> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 14:54:07 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Wood+n+tap+Flux+capacitor+martini+1200.jpg

Where we’re going, we still need roads, so you might need a designed driver if you indulge in flux capacitor martinis.

The Internet is buzzing today with “Back to the Future” references because it’s a day fans of the 1980s trilogy have been waiting decades for and at least one local establishment is celebrating.

The Wood N Tap will be selling a $4 Flux Capacitor Martini, calling it a “futuristic cocktail at a 1985 price.”

The Flux Capacitor Martini is made with Malibu rum, vanilla vodka, pineapple juice and blue Curaçao and a little dry ice added to it gives it some pop and the appearance of a scientific experiment.

There are Wood-n-Tap locations in Hartford, Farmington, Southington, Rocky Hill, Vernon, Orange and Wallingford.

Photo Credit: Nicole Steneri, Go-Media]]>
<![CDATA[Lyme Teen Wins Team Gwen 'The Voice' Battle]]> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 21:36:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/braiden+sunshine+watch+party+the+voice+1200.jpg

When "The Voice" contestant Braiden Sunshine isn’t having a jam session, he’s at school at Lyme- Old Lyme High School, where he is a sophomore.

“I’m just a normal kid I go to the same school, I do the same work, I’m out of school a bit more,” said Braiden Sunshine, who lives in Lyme. He's originally from New London.

Braiden won his voice battle on Team Gwen, which aired Monday night, advancing to the next stage of the competition. He watched the episodes with a crowd of his fans at Lyme-Old-Lyme High School Monday night.

"When we were in there and then they said that I won then everybody freaked out, I freaked out with them like it was somebody else and I'm just like 'oh wait that's me!' That was so cool," Braiden told NBC Connecticut

Sunshine is a contestant on Season 9 of NBC’s “The Voice.” He’s 15 years old, one of the youngest contestants.

“I’d like to prove that I’m a contestant no matter what my age would be, that I would be able to do this at any point,” said Sunshine.

His coach in the competition, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani had a tough time choosing between him and Lyndsey Elm, of Vacaville, California. She said on the show it was a good experience working with an artist so young and said Braiden was the riskier choice as she toiled over who to pick. After one last plea from Braiden, who reminded her that risk is what the competition is all about, Stefani said she was going to go with what her heart was telling her at the moment. She chose Braiden and teared up after making what she said was a difficult decision.

Stefani tweeted this message out after the voice battle aired.

When asked after his voice battle if he had anything to add, he mentioned a particular note he noticed he was sharp on and Maroon 5's Adam Levine marveled over his technical attention to detail.

Sunshine had the opportunity to sing for artist Selena Gomez in rehearsals to prepare for the voice battle.

Braiden has been singing since he was 5 years old and performing since he was 9. So far he’s gotten through the blind auditions. He says he wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for his mom, Elizabeth Sunshine. She was the one who pushed him to audition in New Jersey.

“Your eyes will just water, you get goose bumps when you hear him sing certain songs and it happens and it’s not just me,” said Elizabeth Sunshine, his mother.

When the chairs turned, he thought the chairs had broken.

“But then I looked down and saw the little lights and I kind of freaked out and I had to bite my hand to keep myself from freaking out,” said Braiden Sunshine.

Lyme-Old-Lyme High School held a viewing party in the auditorium at 8 p.m. on Monday and Braiden was there. Many people came to watch with him and cheer him on.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Cosby's Face Covered on D.C. Mural]]> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 05:43:24 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bill+Cosby+Mural+Defaced.jpg

Someone defaced a famous D.C. mural of Bill Cosby, replacing the comedian’s face with that of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- but the defacement didn't last long.

The mural at Ben’s Chili Bowl's flagship location on U Street NW shows Cosby and President Barack Obama, two people permitted to eat there for free, the restaurant boasts, as well as other D.C. legends musician Chuck Brown and radio host Donnie Simpson. The news that Kim's face was placed over Cosby's was first reported by the news website Borderstan.

Street artist Smearleader took credit for the defacement on Instagram, writing, "Instead of looking at a sexual predator, people can celebrate in jubilation that the great leader is now on the their Wall."

"What I would like for people to take away from this particular event is that it is an embarrassment to residents of D.C. old and new that [Cosby's] face is still up on the wall mural," Smearleader told News4.

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Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Kevin Irvine, who said he was friends with the mural artist went to the scene and removed the label of Kim's face, restoring the mural to display Cosby again, News4's Shomari Stone reported.

When asked what he would tell someone who'd say that Cosby doesn't belong on the mural, the man responded, "Oh, that's impossible. Anybody who would say that is just insane. Regardless of Bill's -- I'm not sure what he did -- but he's a very respected man."

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Ben's had declined to take the mural down after dozens of women came forward with accusations Cosby drugged them and sexually assaulted them.

The comedian, who has never been charged with a crime, is a longtime supporter of the restaurant and appeared at the opening of its Arlington location in March 2014. 

"You've seen Bill Cosby wherever we stood," owner Vida Ali told News4 last year. "He's been a big supporter of us for a long time. He's been a family friend, and that's still the case."

Asked what the biggest issue with Cosby is, Smearleader told News4, "'The Cosby Show' is debatable, but definitely the drugging and sexually taking advantage of women."

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Smearleader is known for putting stickers of the North Korean leader on street signs. The street artist told News4 that he ate at Ben's about 10 years ago.

"Employees were nice and courteous, so this isn't a knock on them," Smearleader told News4. "They're just trying to do their job."

Photo Credit: Tom Sherwood, NBCWashington
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<![CDATA[Politically Inspired Costumes for Babies]]> Fri, 16 Oct 2015 13:59:59 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Bernie-Baby-Screenshot.jpg

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With Halloween approaching, dressing the kids up as one of the 2016 presidential candidates might be a popular option among politically minded parents.

viral campaign of #BabiesForBernie has already drawn countless adorable photos of little ones dressed up like the Vermont senator.

The hashtag may become inspiration for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders-inspired Halloween costumes. It’s as easy as adding a white wig, some glasses, and a Bernie pin.

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However, there’s more options than just Sanders for parents who aren’t feeling the Bern.

Last year, Buzzfeed included Hillary Clinton on a list of “Awesome Feminist Costume Ideas for Little Grrrrrls.”

Their costume featured a black turtleneck, sunglasses, smartphone and large brooch reminiscent of the ones the former secretary of state was known for wearing.

Purchasing a simple suit might be enough to do the trick to give off the vibe of the Democratic frontrunner. Clinton often makes fun of her signature pantsuit look, calling herself a “pantsuit aficionado” in her Twitter description.

There’s no shortage of options for those looking to emulate Republican candidate Donald Trump in their kid's costume.

Bustle compiled a list of options for children which evoke Trump’s most iconic looks.

A pre-made Baby Trump costume can make any baby look like they have an alleged net worth of $10 billion for substantially less money. BrandsOnSale.com’s $34.99 costume features a pinstripe suit, briefcase, red tie and a wad of cash sticking out of the pocket.

For the crafty, creating a do-it-yourself Trump costume is easy. All that’s needed is a suit, tie, wig and maybe a red baseball cap to complete the look.

Not a fan of any of the political candidates? Another current-event inspired costume is the Baby Pope.

This costume was worn by a baby in Philadelphia during the pope’s parade through the city. While the original wearer of the costume was actually blessed by Pope Francis, this outfit unfortunately isn't guaranteed to do the same for every child.

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Adults looking to get in on the fun can take inspiration from real life fans of candidates, like one Trump supporter who showed up at a rally last month in a homemade dress which was covered in photos of the Donald.

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A supporter of Clinton arrived at the candidate's Latinos for Hillary Rally in San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday with an image of Clinton shaved into her head.

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If these options are too extreme, there’s the painting a Trumpkin alternative, like one Illinois man has become famous for.

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Photo Credit: Today.com
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<![CDATA[Marshmallow-Only Lucky Charms For Lucky Winners]]> Fri, 16 Oct 2015 10:18:39 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/lucky-charms.jpg

After years of endless calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts about fanatics longing for a box of Lucky Charms with only the "magically-delicious" marshmallows, General Mills is giving in.

"Share a photo of yourself holding an imaginary box of Lucky Charms on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram between October 14 and 18 using #Lucky10Sweepstakes,” the brand's blogger wrote.

Biz Markie helped promote the marshmallow madness by rapping the sweepstakes' instructions in a remix of his song "Just a Friend."

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"Marshmallow only," Markie raps in the video. "The best part of the cereal. In your heart you know it's really oh."

Fans can share a photo of themselves on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram until Oct. 18 with the hashtag #Lucky10Sweepstakes. 

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This isn't the first time big business turned to social media to promote exclusive items. In September, Starbucks pumpkin spice latte lovers were able to use a "fan pass" with a secret password to obtain the autumnal drink before its release date. 

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Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Burning Off McDonald's All-Day Breakfast Items]]> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:23:34 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-481668528.jpg

McDonald’s officially rolled out its long-awaited all-day breakfast menu last week, and some calorie conscious consumers have figured out just how hard it is to burn off those fast food calories.

The fitness, nutrition and wearable technology company Matchup wanted to “put things in perspective,” so they calculated the most popular menu items and drilled down exactly what you’ll need to do after indulging before the meal makes its way to your belly or backside.

This is what they found:

Egg McMuffin
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 17g protein, 12g fat, 29g carbohydrates, 730mg sodium
How Long it Will Take You to Walk Off: 3.75 miles (7,520 steps)

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Hotcakes and Sausage
Nutrition Facts: 510 calories, 15g protein, 25g fat, 55g carbohydrates, 830mg sodium
How Long it Will Take You to Walk Off: 6.4 miles (12,800 steps)

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Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
Nutrition Facts: 450 calories, 19g protein, 26g fat, 36g carbohydrates, 1260mg sodium
How Long it Will Take You to Walk Off: 5.6 miles (11,200 steps)

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Hash Browns
Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 1g protein, 9g fat, 15g carbohydrates, 310mg sodium
How Long it Will Take You to Walk Off: Less than 2 miles (3,800 steps) 

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See an entire list of nutrition information for all of McDonald's menu items here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Spooky, Scary, Funny: Haunted House Reactions]]> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 06:05:04 -0500 Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Canada, have captured the scared poor souls who dared venture through their halls. Click to see more hilarious scared faces. ]]> Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Canada, have captured the scared poor souls who dared venture through their halls. Click to see more hilarious scared faces. ]]> http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/nightmares-fear-factory-2015-01.jpg Celebrate the season! For the past five years, Nightmares Fear Factory has been scaring these poor souls, much to our delight! Hidden cameras capture the visitors freaking out.

Photo Credit: Nightmares Fear Factory]]>
<![CDATA[Price of 50 Cent’s Farmington Mansion Drops Again]]> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 12:00:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/50+cent+house+11+1200.jpg

If you’ve ever wanted to live like a rapper (and can afford to), you can buy 50 Cent’s house in Farmington, Connecticut which is on sale at a deep discount.

If you can't afford it, take a look at our slideshow.

50 Cent, whose given name is Curtis Jackson III, has been trying to sell his 50,000-square-foot mansion on Poplar Hill Drive for several years, and the price is going down again. Over the summer, the rapper was ordered to pay $2 million in a sex-tape lawsuit and declared bankruptcy shortly after.

He bought the 21-bedroom house once owned by Mike Tyson for $4.1 million, saying it has a "Miami Vice" feel, then spent $6 million on renovations and repairs.

The house has 25 bathrooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, a nightclub, several game rooms and a full gym, a recording studio, a home theater, a pool, a grotto, a basketball court, guesthouses and an approved helicopter landing.

The house was initially listed for $18.5 million, then the price dropped to $14.5 million in 2009 as 50 Cent said he was tired of the two-hour commute to New York City and wanted to downsize.

In 2011, the price of the listing fell again to $9.9 million.

Last month, the rapper was in bankruptcy court, and court filings say he pays $72,000 per month to maintain the house.

Photo Credit: Alan Barry Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands Expected at Hartford Marathon]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:01:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Hartford+Marathon+finish+line+1200.jpg

Thousands of people will be heading to Bushnell Park in Hartford on Saturday morning for the Eversource Hartford Marathon and half marathon and plans are in place to reroute traffic.

More than 17,000 runners are expected, including Jodi Palerma, who will be running the race for the fifth time.

She said the spectators make this race special.

“It's really tough out there, especially after mile 15, so it's really encouraging to see crowds out there. Helps get all the runners through it," she said.

Hartford Police have spent months on the security plan, which includes eyes on the ground and from above as uniformed officers work each corner and police use a real-time crime center.

"It's all our technologies into one,” Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said. “There's a video mesh of the entire area downtown where the marathon is."

Police are asking people to be aware of their surroundings and let authorities know if they see anything suspicious.

Officers will also help to direct traffic along the course, which goes through Hartford, West Hartford, East Hartford and South Windsor.

Several roads will temporarily close. See the list here.

More than 100 tents will be set up Bushnell Park, offering an expo, athlete services, a beer garden and more.

Thousands of volunteers also help make this event a success by taking on tasks including the filling of 12,000 water bottles.

The marathon has an economic impact of an economic impact of more than $13 million and marathon staff encourage everyone to come out.

"Weather is looking beautiful for tomorrow, so we're looking good, we're excited," Josh Miller said.

The race starts at 8 a.m., with a wheelchair start at 7:55 a.m.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chuck E. Cheese's: Beer, No Lattes]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 06:04:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chuck-e-cheese-GettyImages-463023705.jpg

Chuck E. Cheese's is expanding its food and beverage options in an effort to win over millennial parents, but the new offerings may be a little different than you thought.

The Irving, Texas-based chain became privately owned last year and brought in a chef with a fine-dining background, according to Chuck E. Cheese's spokesperson Alexis Linn.

As a result, the kitchen began serving up limited-time offers, including a "Mac-Cheesy" pizza available from Sept. 28 through the end of the year. The chain has already revamped its menu by adding gluten-free pizza and thin crust to help lure in young parents with their children.

Chuck E. Cheese's is now also offering up seasonal beers and local or craft brews, which will vary by location based on guest feedback, Linn said. Several wine options are also available.

Linn said some stores have sold beer and wine since Chuck E. Cheese's conception about 40 years ago.

Stores in the Dallas area tested cappuccinos and lattes, but Linn said the specialty coffee beverages did not sell as well as the company had hoped and will be scrapped. Most locations have Keurig machines that offer five varieties of coffee.

According to the company, the average child wants to visit Chuck E. Cheese once a month, but parents are only interested in taking them there about three times a year, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Spooky Halloween Bash]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 06:31:15 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-458092794.jpg

Planning a haunted Halloween bash could be overwhelming, but there are plenty of DIY tips out there for decorations that will spook your guests and fun party treats that will satisfy hungry kids and adults. 

Martha Stewart's tips will help you transform your home into a haunted house. Stewart shows how to make ghostly figures for your table, decorate your windows with silhouettes and create a glowing "mad scientist lab." She even has ideas on how to make specimen jars that are sure to freak out your guests. 

Some new tech gadgets can make your Halloween party much more thrilling. Steve Greenberg, author of "Gadget Nation," says adding "chomping skulls," scary animations to run on your TV and portable MP3 devices to play bone-chilling music will leave your guests trembling.

No costume? No problem! "Today" style editor Bobbie Thomas shows makeup-based costume ideas that are timeless and easy enough to do at the last minute. Thomas shows how to achieve a "doll-like" look inspired by Margaret Keane's large-eyed painting subjects. She also demonstrates how to paint an elaborate skeleton face using white face paint, black eyeshadow or pencil liner.

There will be plenty of Halloween store-bought candy around, but don't forget to prepare some homemade treats for your guests, too. Chef Giada de Laurentiis' Halloween spice cake with cinnamon and ginger notes is a perfect treat for adults.

Candy apples are a classic Halloween treat. De Laurentiis also shows how to make gooey caramel apples  decorated with streaks of chocolate and topped with tiny pumpkins, ghosts and bats.

For scary and whimsical Halloween treats, check out these YouTube videos, including how to make vampire teeth with pieces of apples and marshmallows.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Connecticut Students Sing With Josh Groban]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 12:21:07 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/josh+groban+with+eastern+chamber+singers+1200.jpg

Singer/songwriter Josh Groban wasn't walking alone when he took to the stage at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford last week. He had a choir of Connecticut college students performing a couple songs from his new album with him.

"You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Anthem" from Groban's new "Stages" album now have special meaning to Eastern Connecticut State University's Eastern Chamber Singers.

The chorus accompanied Groban with back-up vocals for both the songs live at the concert on Sept. 26.

“It feels absolutely unreal to have been part of this experience,” said Tiara Lussier, an English major at Eastern in the class of 2019. “It's amazing coming in as a new student at Eastern, becoming part of such a welcoming group, and only a few weeks into the semester, getting an email saying ‘change of plans, we’re singing with Josh Groban!’ It was a very enlightening experience; it made me realize that music really is what I want to do in life.”

They were recruited to perform because they were the "top recommended ensemble in the area," according to a news release from the university.

“I am elated that Eastern Chamber Singers' reputation in the music community has reached such heights that we were sought out for this concert,” said David Belles, conductor of the Eastern Chamber Singers. “It is a reminder that hard work, focus and dedication to excellence pays off in the most unexpected ways.”

Photo Credit: Eastern Connecticut State University ]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Busts Some Moves in Epic Dance Battle]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 08:31:13 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/dancing+cop+1200.jpg

The police officer who challenged a New Britain, Connecticut, man to a dance battle Saturday says he's out to change lives.

New Britain Police Officer Matt Sulek was on duty at the Car Show downtown when Tyler Robert Johnson's dance moves inspired him to ask to join in.

"He came over and he's like wanna have a dance battle and I was, yeah no problem," said Johnson. "You know he was really nonchalant about it. Very chill guy."

Sulek stunned Johnson with what he could do.

"Was he stunned?" asked Sulek. "I was stunned too by his moves. What he did was phenomenal too. I had to show him some type of move to show him what I was capable of."

Sulek wants to show young people that it's OK not to be afraid of police officers.

"By doing stuff like this this is how you can change a life," he said. "This is how you can get into their lives and maybe make them better, show them what they're capable of."

Johnson teaches dance when he's not on duty with the National Guard. He thinks the dancing cop shows how policing should be done, "getting more in touch with the community like how he did with me," he said.

This dance battle does have a winner, police community relations in New Britain, and the mayor of New Britain knows it.

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with having a little fun," New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said, "and cops are people too and I think this is a real great way to show that to the community."

Johnson says he has another video that's drawn 300,000 views on the Internet. Thousands of people are bound to see this video, and Sulek hopes they do.

Photo Credit: Tyler Robert Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Bushnell Park Carousel Reopens]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 16:37:32 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP694834966533.jpg

Hartford's Bushnell Park Carousel is up and running again after a yearlong closure, according to the New England Carousel Museum.

The carousel opened at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25 and will be open every Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was closed for a year while construction was underway on a new wing of the Carousel pavilion, which will open up to the public within the next month.

The carousel, located in downtown Hartford, is one of fewer than 200 antique wooden carousels in the U.S. It turns 101 years old in 2015.

"We want to encourage people to come enjoy this treasure and learn about its unique history and art. If people begin caring and supporting Hartford’s carousel today, then it can be still be around for their great-grandchildren to enjoy in the future," Louise DeMars, executive director of the New England Carousel Museum of Bristol, said in a statement Friday.

The carousel features 36 jumper horses that move up and down, 12 stationary horses, two chariots, and a Wurlitzer 153 band organ.

Carousel fans can become part of the Friends of the Bushnell Park Carousel, the New England Carousel Museum, or both, which provides unlimited access to both facilities. More information is available online or by calling 860-585-5411.

You can book the carousel for personal gatherings before 11 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fireball Run Comes to Hartford]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 15:22:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Road-Generic-Resized.jpg

The Fireball Run, a traveling 2,000-mile life-size trivia game, is coming to Hartford and police are warning that this will lead to road closures in the capital city.

Four astronauts from all over the world, four celebrities, and 40 rally teams will compete in the eight-day Fireball Run, solving clues that lead to the next adventure.

The live event raises awareness for missing children and the driving teams are assigned a missing child from their area and are asked to distribute 1,000 missing child flyers. To date, the campaign has helped find 44 missing children, according to the web site for Fireball Run.

The four astronauts competing include the USA’s own Capt. Jon McBride, Brazil’s Col. Marcos Pontes, India’s CDR. Rakesh Sharma, and France’s Gen. Jean-Loup Chretien. There is also a Team Hartford. Learn about the members here.

The event begins in Hartford, then moves to Queen Anne’s County, Maryland; Williamsburg, Virginia; Topsail Island, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Liberty County, Georgia; and finally finishes in Cocoa Beach, Florida on Oct. 3.

Some roads in Hartford will be closed for the two days the race is here.

On Saturday, vehicles will be on display on Trinity Street and Elm Street will be closed from Pulaski Circle/West Street to Trinity Street, and Trinity Street will be closed from Capitol Avenue to the Arch from 9 a.m. to 6p.m.

On Sunday, Main Street will be closed from Pearl Street to Capitol Avenue from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. The HPD Traffic Division will assist Fireball Teams travel from the rally area to I- 84 West.