<![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 Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:36:45 -0400 Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:36:45 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA["American Idol" Winner Fradiani Performs for Fans at World Cup]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:13:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Nick+Fradiani+DD+6+1200.jpg

It was a beautiful life for the U.S. women's soccer team Sunday night as they defeated Japan 5-2 to claim their record third World Cup title at the close of Fourth of July weekend. But the players weren't the only American idols representing the United States in Vancouver.

American Idol winner and Guilford native Nick Fradiani is also living the beautiful life, known for his radio hit song by that name, most recently performing in the FIFA Fan Zone in Vancouver during the World Cup festivities on the Fourth of July, according to his Facebook page. His band, Beach Avenue, including percussionist Ryan Zipp, of Hamden, and guitarist/mandolin player/singer Nick Abraham, of Fairfield, backed him for the show. One of the songs they performed was "Beautiful Life," as seen in this YouTube video posted under the account, Elizabeth Rosalyn The.

Fradiani performed a free, three-song show for World Cup fans in the fan zone that was televised on FOX, the network that airs "American Idol." FOX Sports broadcasted the World Cup tournament.

His song, "Beautiful Life" was Fox Sports' official anthem for World Cup coverage, producing a music video featuring him singing and the U.S. women's soccer team as a promo for the World Cup.

Before Fradiani was crowned American Idol, he and his band gained national recognition for competing on "America's Got Talent," which airs on the NBC network. NBC Connecticut is an NBC-owned station.

Fradiani returned to Connecticut after his "American Idol" win to play some of his first concerts in Hartford at The Russian Lady for 96.5 TIC's Acoustic Cafe and Spotlight Theatres on Front Street, which hosted many watch parties during the run of the season.

Next, Fradiani will travel across the country to perform on the "American Idol" tour from July 7 to Aug. 28. The closest locations to Connecticut the tour stops at are in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Maine.



Photo Credit: Jessie Sawyer/NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Connecticut Vietnam Veterans to Be Honored at Two-Day Event]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 12:02:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0526115+american+flag+generic+usa.jpg

Members of the public are invited to honor New England Vietnam veterans and remember the fallen at a two-day event in East Granby next weekend.

Connecticut's Vietnam 50th Celebration Weekend is scheduled for Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12 at the Connecticut Air National Guard Base in East Granby from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“This event is designed to educate a new generation about the Vietnam War and the part it played in the lives of our friends, relatives and neighbors whose stories are the building blocks of American History,” Eileen Hurst, chair of the Vietnam 50th, said in a statement. “It is open to everyone – Vietnam veterans, veterans’ friends or families, and anyone who wants to come recognize the sacrifices made by our veterans.”

Veterans can mingle and reconnect with each other at a special Veterans' Gathering tend.

There will also be static air displays of a B-52, C-130 and other aircrafts like the CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Blackhawk and F-15 Fighter Jet in Windsor Locks at the New England Air Museum at 36 Perimeter Road, according to a news release about the event.

The public will also be able to view vehicle and aircraft displays, see hands-on demonstrations, look at war memorabilia, take rides on the UH-1D American Huey 369 helicopter, hear nationally renowned speakers and authors address the crowds and enjoy the music of the United States Coast Guard band. The 55-piece ensemble based at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New is the "premier band representing the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security" is on Saturday, July 11 at 1 p.m.

Anyone who signs up to become a member of American Huey 369 for $100 can get a complimentary ride on the helicopter. Huey helicopter rides will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days of the event. Otherwise, rides can be scheduled and paid for on-site at the cost of $100.

People can also view "Voices From Vietnam" and Gold Star Families exhibits, look at photos of veterans killed in action or listed as missing in action and attend programs honoring soldiers who gave "the last full measure of devotion," according to the news release.

Events and activities at the Connecticut Air National Guard base are free with the exception of the helicopter rides. The New England Air Museum offers free admission to veterans and costs $12 for everyone else. $2 from every ticket sold will benefit the Vietnam 50th event.

Shuttles will be available to transport people from UTAS (Hamilton Sundstrand) at 1 Hamilton Rd. South in Windsor Locks because there is no parking available at the Connecticut Air National Guard Base nor the New England Air Business. The public will go through a security checkpoint at the base. More information on parking and security are available on the event website.

Central Connecticut State University Veterans History Project's Vietnam War Commemoration Committee sponsors the event in collaboration with the Connecticut National Guard, Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs and the New England Air Museum.

You can contact Eileen Hurst at hursteim@ccsu.edu or call 860-832-2976 for more information, as well as visit the Facebook page for the CCSU Veterans History Project.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Things Deadheads Should Know Before Chicago Shows]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:39:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0626-2015-GratefulDead.jpg

If you’re planning to say “fare thee well” to the Grateful Dead at Soldier Field this weekend, there are some things you should know.

The band’s 50th anniversary performance, set to be members' “last-ever performance together,” kicks off Friday as thousands of fans make their way to Chicago during the July 4 holiday weekend.

The “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” performance will see Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir reunite at Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day of the full band’s final performance, which took place at the venue roughly one month before Jerry Garcia’s death in August 1995. The band will also be joined by Phish's Trey Anastasio on guitar, Jeff Chimenti on keyboard and Bruce Hornsby on piano.

The event has made Chicago one of the top destinations for the holiday weekend, so fans will likely need to plan ahead.

Here are some things Deadheads should know before the highly-anticipated event:

1. Tailgating

Tailgating will be allowed in the parking lots of Soldier Field during the weekend, even for fans who don’t have tickets to the fest. The special event parking lots open at 3 p.m. and the North Parking Garage opens at 6 a.m. Tailgating will end once the shows begin at 7 p.m. and there will be no tailgating allowed after the shows.

2. Transportation

The CTA announced Wednesday that it would provide extra buses to routes that serve Soldier field throughout the weekend. The no. 130 and no. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express buses will have extra service running until one hour after the concerts end. Fans can also travel to Soldier Field via Red, Orange and Green line trains. The Roosevelt station is located at Roosevelt and State streets, a few blocks west of the stadium.

Metra will also offer extra service on several lines over the weekend.

CTA buses, cabs and Uber rides can pick up riders on Columbus between Roosevelt and Balbo. A drop-off location will be set at the 18th Street turnaround just west off the 18th Street exit from Lake Shore Drive.

For more on how to get around Chicago during the holiday weekend, click here.

3. Tickets

Most tickets are commemorative tickets but a select amount of Ticketmaster tickets are not. Fans are encouraged to be very suspect of counterfeit tickets.

Those getting tickets at Will Call can pick them up across from Gate 10 on the Southeast corner. You will need a valid proof of purchase to enter the enclosed festival grounds.

Tickets are still available on third-party sites like Stubhub. Last month, ticket prices were reportedly dropping.

A three-day pass on StubHub, once priced as high as $116,000, could be purchased for less than $500. Single day passes were as low as $195. The lowest priced tickets won't give fans a full view of the show, and all of the cheaper seats are located behind the stage, however.

Click here for more.  

4. Parking

Special Event Parking lots open at 3 p.m. and parking will be first-come, first-served. The North Parking Garage opens at 6 a.m.
Shuttles will also from the Millennium and Grant Park garages from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Parking rates are $49 for cars and $121 for RVs.

Lots close one hour after the show. No overnight parking will be allowed.

5. General Admission

Those with field-level general-admission tickets can begin lining up at 7 a.m. in the Stadium Green outside the southeast corner of the stadium.

6. Soldier Field Security

All concert-goers will undergo electronic wand screening and have all approved bags checked. Soldier Field will not allow backpacks bigger than 12x12x12, glow sticks, food, selfie sticks, strollers, camelbacks or companion pets. For a complete list of prohibited items click here.

7. The Stadium

The festival area opens at 10 a.m. at Soldier Field. Only ticketed fans will be allowed on the grounds surrounding Soldier Field.

Fans can enter the stadium in three spots -- one on the North side along McFetridge Drive, and two entry points on the South. Sidewalk areas from parking lots are the designated entry points to the festival grounds.

Gates open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

8. Refunds

Partial refunds are available for those who ordered tickets via the band’s mail-order system.

More than 500,000 tickets were requested via mail order. Due to the overwhelming number of these requests, the promoters changed the seating plans to accommodate more guests. As a result, some fans were moved to seats with a lower ticket value than what they paid.

Fans who wanted a full refund needed to submit the request by June 22. But those who still want to go to the concert can receive partial refunds to make up for the difference in ticket prices. Those fans need to mail in a request by July 20.

Click here for more details. 

9. Streaming

There are several options for streaming the performances at home. A YouTube stream and webcast are available for purchase each night and the shows will also be streamed live on Pay-Per-View and satellite radio. Click here for more detail on ways to stream.

10. Other GD Events, Places to Watch in Chicago

For a complete list of Grateful Dead celebrations in the city offering a live stream of the shows, click here
 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Meghan Trainor Scraps 4th of July Performance at Mohegan Sun]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:44:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/455834846.jpg

Pop sensation Meghan Trainor has postponed her Fourth of July concert at Mohegan Sun, citing a vocal cord hemorrhage, according to the casino.

Mohegan Sun posted the announcement on its website Friday, along with a statement from Trainor herself.

"I don't want anyone worrying but I have had a haemorrage on my left vocal chord. The doctors wants me on complete vocal rest until they are healed so I have to postpone my first two shows in Atlantic City and Connecticut," the singer wrote. "I promise I will make it up to my Megatronz. I have never missed a tour date before so this is killing me. I love you all very much and want to get healed quickly so I can show you this amazing tour we've been working on. I'm so sorry to everyone who have bought tickets and made travel plans. I am truly sorry."

The performance will be rescheduled, although the casino has yet to announce a new date. Mohegan Sun will honor all tickets, but refunds are also available at the original place of purchase.

Trainor will still be featured on the "Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular" Saturday night on NBC since her performance was prerecorded, according to sources within the network.

You can watch the fireworks live on your phone or computer here.



Photo Credit: WireImage]]>
<![CDATA[Peas in Guacamole? Obama Weighs in on Twitter Debate ]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:15:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/guacamole-GettyImages-456804252.gif

President Barack Obama has a message for The New York Times: please don't pass the peas.

Into the guacamole, at least. 

The president joined the online masses piling on the newspaper on Wednesday afternoon following a much-retweeted story suggesting "adding fresh English peas" to the popular avocado dip.

The tweet sparked cries of culinary foul from users, gaining hundreds of retweets in the process. The Times' public editor even suggested that the backlash could rival the "Minnesota Grape Salad outcry" that hit after the paper listed the obscure recipe as a state favorite. 

When asked about the suggestion during an #ASKPotus Twitter chat Wednesday, the president suggested he'll stick to a more traditional recipe. 

First lady Michelle Obama, a vocal advocate of incorporating more green veggies into daily diets, has yet to weigh in. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Fireworks, Fourth of July Events in 2015]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 14:10:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/__TZ4A_vo_FIREWORKS_KNSD6PYV_1200x675_472963651872.jpg

Cities across Connecticut are gearing up for the 2015 Fourth of July Celebrations. Dates and times may change due to inclement weather.

Bridgeport
Date: July 4
Time: After the baseball game
Location: Bluefish Stadium

Bristol
Date: July 3
Time: After the Bristol Blues game
Location: Muzzy Field

Date: July 4
Location: Lake Compounce

Canaan
Date: July 18
Time: Dusk
Location: Lawrence Field

Danbury
Date: TBD

Darien
Date: July 3
Location: Darien High School

Derby
Date: July 2
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Downtown Derby and Downtown Shelton

East Haven
Independence Day Fireworks-Beach Party
Dates: June 29
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Cosey Beach Avenue

Enfield
Independence Day celebrations
Dates: July 10, 11, 12 
Time: 9:45 p.m. on Sunday
Location: Town Green

Fairfield
Firework Display
Date: July 3 (Rain Date: July 4)
Time: 9:15 p.m.
Location: Penfield or Jennings Beaches

Greenwich
Date: July 3
Time: 9:10 p.m. 
Location:  Binney Park 

Greenwich
Date: July 3
Time: 9:35 p.m. 
Location: Greenwich Point Park

Groton
Fort Griswold Celebration on the Thames
Date: July 11
Time: 9:20 p.m.
Location: Fort Griswold State Park

Groton
Annual Fourth of July Parade
Date: July 4
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Poquonnock Plains to Groton Shopping Plaza

Guilford
Community Picnic and Fireworks
Date: July 11
Time: Dusk
Location: Guilford Fairgrounds

Hartford/East Hartford
Firework Display
Date: July 11
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford, Great River Park in East Hartford

East Haven
Beach Party/Fireworks
Date: June 29
Time: Vendors at 4 p.m., fireworks at 9 p.m.
Location: Cosey Beach

Griswold
Date: Aug. 15
Time:
Location: Ashland Pond

Guilford
Date: July 11
Time: 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Guilford Fairgrounds

Killingly
Date: July 3
Time: 9:15 p.m.
Location: Owen Bell Park in Dayville

Madison
Date: July 3
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Madison Surf Club

Manchester
Date: July 3
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Manchester Community College

Meriden
Date: July 2
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Hubbard Park

Middlebury
Date: July 4
Time: 10 p.m.
Location: Quassy Amusement Park

Middletown
Date: July 3 (Rain date: July 5)
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Connecticut River/Harbor Drive Area

Naugatuck
Fireworks Display and Celebration
Date: July 2
Time: 6 p.m. (celebration), 9:15 p.m. (fireworks)
Location: Old Firehouse Road

New Britain
Date: July 4
Time: 9:15 p.m.
Location: Stanley Quarter Park

New Britain
Date: July 5
Time: After the Rock Cats Game
Location: Rock Cats Stadium

New Canaan
Date: July 4
Location: Waveny Park 

New Haven
Date: July 4
Rain Date: July 5
Time: 9:15 p.m.
Location: Wilbur Cross High School Field

New London
Sailfest
Date: July 11
Location: 24 Eugene O’Neill Drive

New London
Ocean Beach Park 75th Birthday
Date: July 24
Time: Event starts at 7:30 o,n,
Location: Ocean Beach Park

New Milford
Fireworks Display
Date: July 3
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Still Meadow on Fort Hill Road

Newington
Independence Day extravaganza
Date: Saturday, July 18
Time: Dusk
Location: Mill Pond Park

Norwalk
Fireworks Display
Date: July 3
Time: Dusk
Location: Calf Pasture Beach

Norwich
Norwich Harbor Fireworks
Date: July 2
Time: Dusk
Location: Howard T. Brown Memorial Park

Norwich
Norwich Harbor Fireworks
Date: July 2
Time: Dusk

Location: Howard T. Brown Memorial Park

Orange
Date: July 5
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Orange Fairgrounds, 525 Orange Center Road

Putnam
Date: July 11
Time: Sundown
Location: Rotary Park on Kennedy Drive

Rowayton
Date: July 4
Time: 9:15 p.m.
Location: Bayley Beach

Simsbury
Celebrate America
Date: July 3 (Rain date: July 4)
Time: After the 7:30 p.m. concert, around 9:30 p.m.
Location: Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows

Stafford Springs
Fireworks display
Date: July 3
Time: End of show
Location: Stafford Motor Speedway
Stamford
Fireworks display
Date: July 3
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Cummings Park

Stratford
Fireworks display, concert
Date: July 2 (Rain date: July 6)
Time: Concert at 7 p.m. Firework after sunset
Location: Short Beach Park

Unionville
Tunxis Hose Carnival
Date: July 10
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Unionville School

Vernon
July in the Sky
Date: July 2 (Other rain date: July 3)
Time: 9:40 p.m.; gates open at 6 p.m.
Location: Henry Park

Wallingford
Date: July 11
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Sheehan High School

Washington
Date: July 4
Time: After sunset
Location: Shepaug Valley School

Waterbury
Date: Postponed to Sunday, July 5
Time: 9:20 p.m.
Location: Holy Land USA

West Haven
Savin Rock Fireworks
Date: July 3
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Bradley Point

Weston
Date: July 4
Time: 9:20 p.m.
Location: Weston Middle School

Westport
Firework display
Date: July 3 (Rain date: July 6)
Time: 9 p.m.
Location: Compo Beach

Wilton
Fireworks display
Date: July 4
Time: 9:30 p.m. 
Location: Wilton High School Football Field/track

Windsor Locks
Fireworks display
Date: July 10
Time: 9:30 p.m.
Location: Veteran's Memorial Park

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<![CDATA[ Travelers Championship Brings in the Green for Charity]]> Sat, 27 Jun 2015 12:57:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Travelers+sunrise+1200.jpg

As golfers were hitting the greens at the Travelers Championship on Saturday, others took a swing at helping the next generation.

Since 1952, the Travelers Championship has given $32-million dollars back to charity.

One of the organizations that benefits is the First Tee of Connecticut, an organization devoted to helping kids learn the game of golf, no matter their family’s financial status.

“It’s just really fun to come out here and play on the course with all of my friends and just hang out and have fun,” said program participant James Mullarkey.

“Golf, to me, is a way to learn about life. So, he gets to learn about life in First Tee,” added his father Jay.

First Tee gets great exposure at the Travelers Championship. Its headquarters sit right next to the practice greens.

“It allows us to tell the world what we do, how we do it, and how important it is for us to get the support of the community to make these programs for our kids affordable and accessible,” said David Polk, the First Tee of Connecticut executive director.

First Tee received the $10,000 Pro-Am purse on Wednesday. Saturday, $30,000 in scholarships were handed out by the organization to kids who might not otherwise be able to afford the program.

From the beginning, the Travelers Championship has been about giving back, donating 100-percent of the net proceeds to 140 different charities each year.

“Last year was $1.5 million and we’re on pace to break that record this year,” said Tournament Director, Nathan Grube.

Travelers’ premier charity, Hole in the Wall Gang camp, which serves 25,000 seriously ill children in the region, was also picked by the PGA in 2014 to be its national charity of the year. The grant that comes along with title will send 12 kids to camp.

“Events like this and organizations that support us are super important. All of our services are provided free of charge to the children and families we service,” said Beth Starkin, a spokesperson for Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Grube says non-profit organizations use the tournament to thank their donors, fundraise for free, and gain new exposure for their cause.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Branford, Danbury Postpone Fireworks Again Due to Rain]]> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 12:30:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/230*120/fireworks-772x350.jpg

Danbury and Branford have once again canceled fireworks displays due to the weather.

Fireworks originally scheduled for Saturday in Branford and at Candlewood Town Park in Danbury were rescheduled for Sunday, but have been called off again because of the rain. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton tweeted that there is no word on when the Candlewood fireworks will be rescheduled to and the Branford Fire Department posted on its Facebook page that Branford fireworks will be held on a later date.

CoventryFest at Patriots Park was moved from Saturday to Sunday, June 28 at 3 p.m. There will be live performances, a castle bounce and a balloon animal artist for the kids and fireworks at the end of the event. There is limiting parking at the site of the event for $10 and off-site parking is $15. More information is available on the CoventryFest website.

The East Haven 15th Anniversary Independence Day Fireworks-Beach Party was postponed to Monday due to rain and poor sea conditions.

Cosey Beach Avenue will close from Coe to 2nd avenues on Monday at 2 p.m. to make room for the food court. Any other road closures in the area will start at 6 p.m. on Monday.

Entertainment will begin on the beach at 2 p.m. and food vendors will start selling food after 4 p.m. The Sandpiper and Beach Head Restaurants will be open regular hours.

The Bronx Wanderers will start playing at 7:30 p.m. The fireworks will be at 9 p.m. on Monday.

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<![CDATA[Enjoy Connecticut Historic Garden Day on Sunday]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:02:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-flowers.jpg

Connecticut is home to many beautifbellamy-ferriul and unique gardens, both public and private, and 14 historic gardens across the state will be open on Sunday for Connecticut Historic Garden Day.

These delightful places offer visitors an opportunity to explore a variety of garden styles and time periods.

Member sites host special events and activities celebrating their historically significant garden. 

Following are the gardens you can visit during the event on Sunday.

For more information, visit Connecticut’s Historic Gardens.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Selfie Stick Ban Coming to Disney World, Disneyland]]> Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:19:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/94889901.jpg

Don't bring your selfie stick to Disney World.

Officials announced Friday that a ban takes effect Tuesday at all four Disney theme parks in Orlando as well as at Disney's water parks and Disney Quest, a gaming attraction at Downtown Disney.

Spokeswoman Kim Prunty told the Orlando Sentinel selfie-sticks have become a "growing safety concern for both our guests and cast."

Selfie sticks will also be banned at Disneyland Resort in California on Tuesday and at Disney's parks in Paris and Hong Kong starting July 1.

Officials say guests will have the option of turning in their selfie sticks for pick-up later, or returning them to their cars or hotel rooms.

The sticks have been banned at a growing list of museums, music festivals and sports venues.

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<![CDATA[McDonald's Tests New Pork Sandwich]]> Sat, 27 Jun 2015 20:51:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/happy+meal+new.jpg

McDonald’s has a new pork item on its menu.

The world’s largest hamburger chain has debuted a new pulled pork sandwich in at least one Midwest market.

The McDonald’s of Northern Indiana, which operates in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan, tweeted about the news Wednesday.

The new sandwich joins the McRib as another pork option on the Oak Brook-based chain’s menu.

It’s not clear how many restaurants will offer the new sandwich or how long it will be on the menu. McDonald’s could not immediately be reached for comment.  

Wendy's and Burger King also sell pulled pork sandwiches, CNBC notes.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am Competitors Include Lauer, Lopez and Colon at ]]> Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:16:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/George+Lopez+001.jpg

Sports, television and Hollywood celebrities will be at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Wednesday to compete in the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am.

Actor and comedian George Lopez, most known for his talk show "Lopez Tonight," five-time Emmy Award-winning TODAY show host Matt Lauer, former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler, NFL Hall of Famer and former New England Patriots player Andre Tippett, former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, who played for the Chicago Bears, the Patriots, the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers, ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman, known for "Sunday NFL Countdown, NBA All-Star Ray Allen, who won NBA titles on the Boston Celtics in 2008 and the Miami Heat in 2013, singer-songwriter/guitarist and winner NBC's "The Voice" Javier Colon, a University of Hartford graduate, New England Patriots placekicker Stephen Gostkowski and NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace are some of the celebrities who will be competing.

Major players in UConn's sports scene will be participating as well, including UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, former UConn men's coach Jim Calhoun, men's ice hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh, Athletic Director Warde Manuel and UConn women's basketball associate coach Chris Dailey.

"We're thrilled to have such diverse talent in this group of celebrities, along with several prominent members of the UConn athletic department, all of whom are volunteering their time to help raise funds and awareness for the tournament charities by playing in the Pro-Am," said Andy Bessette, Travelers Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. "This event is always a fan favorite, as they get to see celebrities and PGA TOUR pros team up for a great cause."

The Travelers Championship, the first event in the PGA Tour season for the Northeast, runs June 22 through 28. Tickets are available for purchase online on the Travelers Championship website. All the proceeds benefit various charities.

Click here to see the full list of teams for the Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am and the tee times.

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<![CDATA[50 Cent Heads to Bridgeport for Vodka Bottle Signing ]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:07:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP756088846853.jpg

When 50 Cent makes an appearance at a bottle signing for his vodka label, the crowds follow.

Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, made a name for himself as a singer and rapper, but he’s also an entrepreneur and the face of EFFEN Vodka, which will bring him to the Brookside Discount Wine in Bridgeport this afternoon.

So, expect scores of people at Brookside Discount Wine and Liquor between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Jackson invests in the company, according to Syracuse.com, and crowds have been buying in mass quantities when he travels to do bottle signings.

There are several varieties of EFFEN Vodka, including original, black cherry, cucumber, Dutch raspberry and salted caramel.

If you go, share your photos with us by including @NBCConnecticut in your Tweets  or emailing shareit@nbcconnecticut.com
 



Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
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<![CDATA[Groton Naval Lieutenant Competes on "America Ninja Warrior"]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 07:54:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/American+Ninja+Warrior+Natalie+1200.jpg

A local woman is using every ounce of strength she has to compete for the title of American Ninja Warrior. She is a Groton US Navy officer and one of the only women in New England who made the first cut.

Push-ups, pulls ups,you name it and Lt. Natalie Schibell has tried it all to compete for $1 million prize and the coveted title of American Ninja Warrior.

“I was sitting on the couch with my good high school friend and we’re watching the show and he challenged me to be a contestant and I couldn’t turn a challenge down,” Schibell said.

The environmental health officer created an audition tape back in January and trained nonstop until she finally got the call in April that she was chosen to compete in an “All Service Member” cast in June.

“June 5th were the qualifiers. They take the top 30 finishers, the ones who finished the course. If they don’t have enough finishers they take the next up to 30 who had the fastest time,” she said.

Preparing herself was a challenge in itself because the contestants don’t know which obstacles they’d be faced with. The former track runner and competitive swimmer tried everything: pull ups, climbs, kettlebells and one handed push-ups all to work on her upper body strength.

“You have no hands on experience on the obstacles. You see a tester run through the course and then when it’s your time to step on the stage that’s your shot,” said Schibell.
So did she make it to the next round?

“That’s all under wraps until it airs,” she said.

A binding contract kept her quiet but she did hint that this won’t be her last audition. If you want to see how she did, watch the American Ninja Warriors San Pedro Regionals episode which airs on July 6 on NBC.



Photo Credit: Jett McGurk]]>
<![CDATA[Tony Award-Winning Actor, Arts Patron Honored at Fairfield County Arts Benefit]]> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 21:00:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/James+Naughton+1200.jpg

Fairfield County resident and two-time Tony Award-winning actor and James Naughton and arts patron Elisabeth Morten were honored for their support of the arts in the region at the FCBuzz Gypsy JazzNight benefit June 5 for the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.

State Sen. Bob Duff presented Naughton, who won Tonys for his roles in "City of Angels" and "Chicago" and Morten, a former Cultural Alliance president, with a legislative citation acknowledging their arts advocacy in Fairfield County.

 Duff said it was his privilege "to honor two great people I've come to know who give so much back to our area and present them with these legislative citations."

"It is with deep respect and appreciation that I give thanks to Elisabeth Morten and Jim Naughton for all of their work to support arts and culture in Fairfield County through the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County," Duff said.

Morten was moved to receive the award and said that supporting the arts is important and is a way to "stimulate the economy, attract businesses as well as creative, educated and skilled employees."

"They also improve academic performance of young people and enhance our quality of life," she said.

Naughton cited writer George Bernard Shaw in his remarks with a quote that said, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

He said that the quote represents what keeps him interested in acting and supporting arts in Fairfield County.

Liz Fox hosted the event at her estate in Norwalk, which overlooks Long Island Sound, and cho-chaired the benefit with Ann Sheffer, of Westport. Corporate sponsors included Westport Resources, Cohen & Wolf, P.C., Berliner Law Offices, LLBH Private Wealth Management, The Tallman Building Company and Fairfeld County Bank.

Caravan of Thieves, a four-piece Gypsy-swing band that just toured nationally, performed for the guests.

The Cultural alliance supports more than 300 artists and cultural organizations that are members.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Where to Celebrate National Lobster Day in CT]]> Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:45:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Lobster+Getty.jpg

It might not be the ideal day to head to the beach and enjoy a lobster roll, but today is National Lobster Day, so you have an excuse to enjoy the tasty crustacean.

Whether you like your lobster with nothing on it, served with a side of melted butter, cut up and served in a lobster roll or turned into a bisque, today’s the day to indulge.

Here are just some places to enjoy lobster in Connecticut:

Abbott’s Lobster, on the Mystic River in Noank, has been serving lobster since 1947 and the web site has a countdown to when they will serve the last lobster.

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough is located at 117 Pearl Street in Noank: 860-536-7719.

If you’re in New London, head to Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, at 80 Hamilton St., in New London: 860-439-1741

The Guilford Lobster Pound sells freshly caught lobster and boasts the freshest lobster rolls around. It is located at 5054 Whitfield Street in Guilford. (203) 245-7208

The Lazy Lobster, located at 6 Broadway in Milford, also caters off-premise lobster bakes and barbecues all year long. Call them at 203-283-1864

Lenny and Joe’s serves lobster in several forms: lobster rolls, lobster casserole, lobster and crab casserole, lobster and shrimp casserole and the super lobster mac & cheese.

Lenny & Joe’s is located in Westbrook, Madison and New Haven.

If you’re near Branford, head to the Lobster Shack for a lobster roll.  It’s located at 7 Indian Neck Ave. in Branford. (203) 483-8414

The Place in Guilford is a one-of-a-kind place to enjoy lobster. Their motto is “Put Your Rump on a Stump,” and you sit outside on seats made of tree stumps. Choose from the 1-1/8-pound, 1-¼-pound or 1-1/2-pound lobster. We recommend the roasted corn with it.

The Place is located at 901 Boston Post Road in Guilford. 203-453-9276

If you live near Rocky Hill, head to Shad Row at Ferry Landing and enjoy a hot or cold lobster roll. Shad Row is located at 277 Meadow Road in Rock Hill: 860-571-0535

If you don’t have a favorite place for lobster rolls, Sally Lerman, of Hartford, can help you.

Her “Lobster Gal” blog gives a thorough review of lobster rolls around New England. She is also the author of “Lobster Rolls of New England.”

Comment below and let us know your favorite place for lobster in Connecticut.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images: Justin Sullivan / Staff]]>
<![CDATA[Toad's Place Named Best Small Music Venue]]> Tue, 16 Jun 2015 23:41:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/toads+place_722_406.jpg

A popular concert spot in New Haven has been named Best Small Music Venue by USA Today and 10best.com readers.

Toad's Place, celebrating its 40th anniversary, topped USA Today's 10 Best list, being featured as the top readers' choice in the country for a small venue to see concerts at, according to www.10best.com.

"We're honored and thrilled to be receiving this national award. It is especially important to us because it coincides with our 40 year Anniversary," Brian Phelps, owner of Toad's Place, said in a written statement. "The tons of folks that voted for us will always be cherished and a part of our Toad's Place family."

Toad's Place, located at 300 York Street in Downtown New Haven, advertises itself as the place "where the legends play."

"We try to stay well rounded by booking different genres of music and try to obtain the best acts that are available to us," Phelps said.

Toad's Place has drawn the likes of the Black Eyed Peas before they were as well known. In 1989, the Rolling Stones played there for a surprise concert before 700 people that lasted an hour, according to 10best.com. Then in 1990, Bob Dylan played his longest show in his career at Toad's place at the start of one of his tours, Phelps said. U2 also played there on its first world tour.

Other artists that have played there include Iggy Azalea, Third Eye Blind, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, David Cook, Hunter Hayes, Snoop Dogg, Ingrid Michaelson, Kanye West, Beck, Paramore, Hanson, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Matt & Kim, Tegan and Sara, Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg with Andrew WK on vocals,  Atmosphere, Wiz Kahlifa, LMFAO, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Many of the legends that have played there are listed on the backs of Toad's Place T-shirts.

Some upcoming shows include Connecticut's Hatebreed for a 20th anniversary show June 19, The Kooks June 20, Turquoise Jeep on June 23, Mighty Mighty Bosstones July 11, Jake Miller on July 14, Earl Sweatshirt Sept. 6, Reverend Horton Heat/The Addicts Sept. 18, SOJA on Oct. 8 and Julian Casablancas and The Voidz, who is known from playing with The Strokes, on Oct. 14. For a full list of concerts coming up at Toad's Place, visit www.toadsplace.com.



Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Police Step Up Enforcement for DMB Concert]]> Sat, 13 Jun 2015 00:15:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Dave+Matthews+Tailgating+1200.jpg

The concert before the Dave Matthews Band concert, the party before the party. But all that play means a lot of work for some, especially with the memories of a Dave Matthews visit just a couple years back.

"The area experienced about 70 medical transports per night, for a concert, to the area hospitals," Dr. Steven Wolf, of St. Francis Hospital, said.

Tailgaters began arriving in Hartford early morning Friday for the 8 p.m. Dave Matthews Band concert and traffic was heavy as tens of thousands of people were expected to head into the capital city for the weekend.

Between 20,000 and 23,000 people were expected on Friday night at Xfinity Theater alone -- which you might still call the Meadows if you’ve lived in Connecticut for awhile.

With cooperation from Xfinity Theater and various agencies, Hartford Police were taking no prisoners with those showing up drunk.

"If you are, they put you back out to the picnic tables out here, to either call home and get picked up, rather than make a mess of yourselves inside," Hartford Police Chief James Rovella said.

Or people risked being taken away by ambulance and missing the popular band.

"Pretty much, because they're not well enough to be inside," Rovella said.

The stepped-up strategies and enforcement were rather inconspicuous, even for this veteran of ten Dave Matthews shows in Hartford.

"It's been steady, they've been pretty good, actually," Sam Wynne, of North Salem, New York, said. "They just drove by earlier, and they were joking around with us and having a good time, so I think they've come to some reasonable standards."

Another concert-goer, Alex Santos, of Stamford, said "it stayed calm."

"I mean it's Dave Matthews. It's cool, calm, cool, collected. Everybody loves Dave," Santos said.

Police warned on Thursday that crowds could arrive as early as 4 p.m. to tailgate for the 8 p.m. concert, creating a mess of the Friday evening commute, but people were already tailgating as of 3:30 a.m.

In addition to the Dave Matthews Band concert, "Men Are From Mars - Women Are From Venus" is at the The Bushnell, "Kiss Me, Kate," is at Hartford Stage and "Mike Super" is at Xfinity Hall.

Expect heavy congestion and plan accordingly.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle Expands Benefits, Offers Tuition Reimbursement]]> Wed, 10 Jun 2015 07:18:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chipotle6.jpg

Chipotle will soon join the growing list of restaurants that offer expanded benefits to all employees, including tuition reimbursement for students.

The new benefits package will include paid sick days and paid vacation days, as well as a tuition reimbursement to part-time employees, the company said in a press release. The changes will be implemented July 1. 

“We are always working to attract and retain the very best employees we can, and to helping develop our people so they can achieve their full potential,” Chris Arnold, Chipotle’s communication director, said.

Chipotle is joining a small and growing group of fast food restaurants offering more benefits. Earlier this year, Starbucks announced it will pay for a full four years of Arizona State University's online degree program for its employees. Roughly 2,000 Starbucks employees have chosen to take the offer thus far, according to the company's website. 

McDonald’s unveiled a similar college reimbursement program in April. The fast food giant also announced an increase in pay and paid sick days for its employees. 

Chipotle officials hope the new package will encourage their target employee demographic of high school and college students to pursue a career within the restaurant field. 

“We have a lot of people who, if they realize they could make a career with Chipotle, would stick with us while they are in college and take advantage of our tuition-reimbursement program,” JD Cummings, recruitment strategy manager at Chipotle, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “They could find the path to restaurateur is an amazing path that they might not have thought of.” 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts Tries Out Delivery]]> Tue, 09 Jun 2015 07:16:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-454515268.jpg

Dunkin' Donuts may soon be on your doorstep.

The doughnut giant is testing delivery service, taking a page from rivals like Starbucks, McDonald's and Chipotle, all of which plan to test on-demand food delivery.

"Delivery is clearly a big opportunity," Dunkin's CEO Nigel Travis told CNBC's "On the Money" in an interview.

"The trend in this country is convenience. So I think delivery plays very strongly," Travis said. "I think the next few years you're going to see us get more and more into delivery."

Travis said the majority of his company’s sales, “about 60 percent,” comes from drinks like coffee and smoothies. But "donuts are still a significant part of our menu and growing. In fact, they've grown 17 consecutive quarters."

The move comes after Dunkin's parent company posted lackluster sales last year, amid stiff competition in the breakfast market and a struggling consumer economy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Dunkin' Donuts]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrate Trails Weekend in Connecticut]]> Fri, 05 Jun 2015 13:40:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Montgoermy_Avenue_Walking_Generic.jpg

The 22nd annual Trails Weekend in Connecticut is this weekend and there will be more than 200 free events statewide.

The trails celebration is the largest in the nation and you’re sure to find something the whole family can explore.

“Our mission is to connect people to the land so it’s getting people outdoors to explore,” said Eric Hammerling, of the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association, which hosts the trails weekend.

Connecticut’s terrain is diverse and so are the forest and park events.

Whether you’re looking for an education walk, bird watching tour, or something for new or experienced hikers, the guided tours are free and led by experts of the area.

To find exactly what you’re looking for, click here to get to the Connecticut Forest and Park Association’s website and see the list of events, locations, and a key to describe the events and the level of difficulty.

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<![CDATA[Where to Find Free Doughnuts on Friday]]> Fri, 05 Jun 2015 14:19:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-454515268.jpg

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. But what about dessert — or, let's be honest, breakfast?

The first Friday of June has come to be celebrated as National Doughnut Day, and to commemorate it, fried dough purveyors nationwide will hand out free sugary rings of goodness.

Donut varieties are many, from powdered and frosted to embellished and plain, and then there are their extensions — cinnamon twists, crullers, honey buns and cinnamon rolls.

But one donut has been crowned America’s favorite, beating out the ever-popular glazed. One recent Ipsos poll, ahead of this year’s holiday, found the cream-filled doughnuts were cream of the crop.

To help you prepare for an epic Homer Simpson-esque escapade of “Mmm, doughnuts” this Friday, here's a guide to participating vendors and locations nationwide.

Dunkin' Donuts
Get a free donut with the purchase of a drink at participating stores nationwide.

Krispy Kreme
Pick up one free doughnut of your choice, with no purchase necessary, at participating stores in the U.S. and Canada. The freebie is not available in Connecticut or Puerto Rico. 

Shipley Do-Nuts
Get one free glazed donut, with no purchase necessary, at the southern chain's participating locations from 5 a.m. to noon.

Entenmann's
Free fried dough classics, along with a complimentary cuppa joe, will be given to the first 40,000 people at New York City’s Madison Square Park starting at 7 a.m. ET.

Honey Dew Donuts
You can get one free Mocha Madness donut with the purchase of any medium drink at participating locations of the New England chain.

LaMar's Donuts
The midwestern chain is giving away one free doughnut "with a hole." No purchase is necessary. When: All day!

Fractured Prune Doughnuts
Deals vary per location. Visit Fracturedprune.com for your local deal.

Cumberland Farms
You can get one free doughnut with the purchase of a hot or iced coffee or Chill Zone beverage from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET at any newly remodeled store.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Dunkin' Donuts]]>
<![CDATA[Officers to Carry Special Olympics Torch Across CT]]> Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:14:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/184*120/torch+run.jpg

The Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run is the law enforcement community’s way to pay homage to our heroes.

More than 1,500 police officers from departments across the state will volunteer as torchbearers June 3 to 5, running the Special Olympics "Flame of Hope" through their towns to pass from department to department on different legs of the journey, ultimately ending in Hartford.

Special Olympics athletes will be running with them, as well. The run leads up to the start of the Special Olympic summer games.

The torch run starts Wednesday, passing through East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Stonington and Waterford for Leg 1 on Wednesday and Griswold, Killingly, Ledyard, Lisbon, Montville, Norwich, Plainfield, Preston and Putnam for Leg 2. It will end in Hartford on June 5 after passing through several other Connecticut towns.

The annual torch run is a way to raise awareness and money for Special Olympics and "inspire communities to accept and respect people of all abilities," according to a news release from Special Olympics Connecticut.

The Torch Run will take place from June 3-5. It will cover over 530 miles and pass through more than 100 cities and towns.

Click here to find when the flame of hope will be passing you!

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<![CDATA["American Idol" Winner Nick Fradiani Performs in Hartford]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 19:22:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/179*120/473224476.jpg

After traveling to Hollywood and winning "American Idol," Guilford native Nick Fradiani gave his first performance since his crowning moment on Wednesday night, playing at The Russian Lady in Hartford with his band, Beach Avenue.

It's undoubtedly the first of many concerts to come from the rising star, including another one in Hartford Thursday that you need to win tickets in order to attend.

He and Beach Avenue played acoustic versions of his new single, "Beautiful Life," the original song they played on "America's Got Talent" last year and a couple covers in a private Acoustic Cafe concert in Hartford, hosted by 96.5 TIC and sponsored by Miller Lite. You had to win tickets from the radio station to go, but all the fans had the chance to meet Fradiani afterward for professional photos, selfies and autographs.

"These are the ones I won't forget.This is what I was doing before I came out here. Playing at a bar back in Connecticut," he said, adding that he used to play every other Friday night at City Steam.

And he won't, as Beach Avenue drummer Ryan Zipp took a lot of photos and videos at the event to continue documenting the journey of Fradiani and the band.

Fradiani tweeted that it's his first acoustic show in his home state since winning "American Idol." He said it was very special and that it feels good to be back in his home state.

So how does it feel to be the new American Idol?

"It's funny because I always get asked that and I'm kind of like, I don't know. I don't think it's really set in yet," Fradiani said. "It's only been a few weeks, but it's a hard thing to kind of put into words. It's just been so amazing. Sometime a couple months down the road I think I'm going to be able to sit down and take it all in, but it's been amazing. It's kind of like living your dream."

It's been a good year for Fradiani and his band, which had been together for about two and a half years before they ever went on TV for a talent competition. Before "Idol," Fradiani and his Beach Avenue buddies, guitarist Nick Abraham and percussionist Zipp competed on NBC's "America's Got Talent." 

While Abraham said that it was hard for the band for a little while with Fradiani away, but they threw their full support behind him when he first talked about auditioning for "American Idol" the last year he could before the age cut-off of 28. After "Idol," they weren't sure when they'd be able to work with him again and they are happy it's been so soon as they travel a lot with him for radio spots.

"It was amazing seeing him progress through 'Idol' and to see his success," said Abraham, who also served as Fradiani's music mentor to help prep him for the final and was rewarded with a free Ford car.

He said that Fradiani has been loyal to the band and is a good friend and a natural talent. The band members, who live with Fradiani in West Haven, were featured on "Idol" when he returned home to visit his hometown of Guilford, where about 10,000 people attended a parade in his honor. Ford also sponsored a trip for Abraham and Zipp to fly to California to see Fradiani in the final round live.

"It was kind of an amazing experience being there live," Abraham said. "We got all choked up seeing him win, so it was incredible."

"American Idol" has built upon the band's success after "America's Got Talent" and given them more national exposure and concert opportunities, growing their national fan base on top of their home-state support.

While the Hollywood experienced and being on TV was different for them, when they got on stage and played, nothing changed and they felt like they were at home, Abraham said. "Idol" really helped Fradiani become more comfortable being in front of cameras, Zipp said. The musical ride has been "wild," he said.

As Fradiani works on promoting his single, they'll perform with him at radio spots and some concerts.

On Memorial Day, Fradiani sang the national anthem at the National Memorial Day services in Washington D.C.

After his appearances on two TV shows, Fradiani said he's looking forward to devoting his time to making music in the real world and focusing on his upcoming album and working with some "great co-writers."

"That's what I was born to do," he said. "That's what I love to do."

Now they will have another private performance at Spotlight Theatres in Hartford as part of the Dunkin' Donuts Music Lounge. The concert is Thursday at noon and the only way you can get into the concert, hosted by iHeart Radio and affiliated local radio stations, is by winning passes on radio stations like KISS 95.7, Country 92.5, The River 105.9 and KC 101.3.

Spotlight Theatres is located at 39 Front Street in Hartford.

How has winning "American Idol" changed his life? Well, Fradiani said Wednesday was the first day in awhile he has gotten to relax and sleep in. He is doing a lot of interviews and has some performances lined up.

"I almost cried when I found out I could sleep. I was so pumped," he quipped. "It's just been a lot of craziness. It'll be a lot of going city to city and I'm ready for it. I've been waiting to do this. I'm ready to go."

While he is the man with the talent, he said his Connecticut fans and his "insane hometown support" gave him the advantage and edge he needed to win the title of American Idol.

"Just thank you. Without all my Connecticut fans, I wouldn't have won," he said. "It feels great to be home."

Fradiani will spend all summer on his "American Idol" tour from July 7 to Aug. 28.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrate National Burger Day]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 10:33:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Burger_generic+722.jpg

It’s National Burger Day, like we need an excuse to indulge on ground beef, savory toppings and a perfect bun.

In Connecticut, we’re blessed with some of the best burgers in the entire country. There are so many places to go and get your fix. Here are just some of the places notable for their burgers.

Harry's Place in Colchester, a viewer favorite, has been featured in Roadfood for its incredibly juicy burgers. They also called Harry’s cheeseburger “fast food perfection.”

Harry’s holds the distinct honor of being on the National Register of Historic places.  

Harry's Place

104 Broadway in Colchester

Louis’ Lunch in New Haven: You cannot go wrong with the birthplace of the American hamburger. They have been making burgers since 1895 and the Crown Street location should hold a spot on anyone’s culinary bucket list. (Just don’t ask for ketchup!)

Louis’ Lunch
261-263 Crown Street in New Haven
(203) 562-5507

Max Burger in West Hartford serves up everything from a classic burger, to a gourmet chicken burger or a veggie burger. Trust us, your taste buds will be very, very happy  here. The Inside Out Burger is delicious, but check out the full menu, including the specials. 

Max Burger has two locations:

124 LaSalle Road, West Hartford

860-232-3300

684 Bliss Road, Longmeadow, Massachusetts

413-798-0101

Plan B Burger Bar is one of those places that you’ll keep going back to, time and time again. They pride themselves on the fresh beef burgers, but you can get just about any kind of burger imaginable. The New Englander is made with lobster, smoked gouda, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato and corn spread.

There are several locations in the state:

Plan B Burger Bar

120 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury
860-430-9737

1638 Boston Post Road, Milford
203-713-8700

4 Railroad St., Simsbury
860-658-4474

230 Tresser Boulevard, Stamford
203-964-8353

138 Park Road, West Hartford
860-231-1199

Prime 16 in New Haven and Orange. In the past, viewers have lauded these burgers. Build your own or pick one of the specialties. You won't find a honey truffle burger on too many menus.

Shady Glen, in Manchester, is another viewer favorite. It's not uncommon for people who've had a Shady Glen cheeseburger to say it's the best -- ever. 

Ted’s Restaurant serves up the world-famous steamed cheeseburger. The main location is in Meriden, but there is another restaurant in Cromwell. It’s worth a trip just to see how they are made. Like cheese on your burger? You’ll never get more perfectly melted cheese than this.

Ted's Restaurant
1046 Broad Street, Meriden
203-237-6660

43 Berlin Road, or Route 372, Cromwell

860-635-8337

Corner Pug, West Hartford. At the Corner Pug in West Hartford, you can indulge on a blackened Cajun burger or knife and fork Irish nacho burger, but they also have salad, steak, mac and cheese, chicken and much, mucj more.

These are just some of the best places to go for burgers. There is no way to name them all. Let us know your picks by commenting below.

Harlan Social, in Stamford, is another viewer suggestion. The Harlan Burger sounds absolutely indulgent, served with cheddar ale sauce and bacon and onion jam.

The Lockworks, 121 Towne St. in Stamford

These are just some of the best places to go for burgers, but there is no way for us to name them all here. Let us know your picks by commenting below.

 

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<![CDATA[Merriam-Webster Adds 1,700 Words, Including "Jeggings," "NSFW"]]> Thu, 28 May 2015 06:46:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/27167011.jpg

The Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary has included new words that will have some people saying “WTF.”

The company announced Tuesday it has added 1,700 new terms, many of which are influenced by the internet and social media.

Such entries include meme, NSFW, emoji, clickbait, and photobomb.

Others refer to popular culture, such as jeggings, photobomb, twerk and vocal fry.

For a word to be included, it has to be “used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time,” according to Merriam-Webster. “Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.”

Here are some other new entries:

Net Neutrality (Noun)

Definition: the idea, principle or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source or destination.

Clickbait (Noun)

Definition: something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.

Sriracha (Noun)

Definition: a pungent sauce that is made from hot peppers pureed with usually garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar and that is typically used as a condiment.

Slendro (Noun)

Definition: a pentatonic tuning employed for Javanese gamelans that divides the octave into five roughly similar internals.

Dark Money (Noun)

Definition: money contributed to nonprofit organizations that is used to fund political campaigns without disclosure of the donors' identities.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Connecticut Beaches Expected to Be Packed Memorial Day Weekend]]> Sun, 24 May 2015 12:08:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Hammonasset+Sunrise+1200.jpg

It's expected to be a busy day at Connecticut's beaches as temperatures are on the climb Memorial Day weekend and the state's campgrounds are full too.

Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison was calm and quiet in the morning, with waters  cool at 51 degrees. But, with the campground full, the park is expected to be packed.

If you are planning to head there for the day, remember to plan for the holiday and weekend parking fees that start this weekend.

There is some construction going on, including new bathrooms and a 4,000-square-foot nature center, but park officials said it shouldn't impact your plans.

If you want to check out the activities going on at the different state parks or reserve a campsite for later this summer, you can download the state's official pocket ranger app and you'll have everything you need to know before you pitch your tent.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[CT Woman Is 5th Globally to Finish "Chipper" CrossFit Challenge]]> Sat, 23 May 2015 17:07:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kaleena+Ladeairous+1200.jpg

The CrossFit Regionals are underway as athletes from across the globe compete for the title of "Fittest on Earth" and one of the Connecticut participants is just became the fifth woman in the world to finish one of the challenges to put her on top of the female leaderboard for the regional event.

The XL Center was roaring when CrossFit Milford's Kaleena Ladeairous became the fifth woman globally to complete the third event at this weekend's competition, the "chipper." The grueling workout includes a one-mile run, followed by 50 overhead squats at 95 pounds, 100 GHD sit-ups, 150 double unders, 50 sumo deadlift high pulls at 95 pounds and 100 18-inch box jump-overs.

The workout has a time cap of 26 minutes. Most do not finish and are then scored based on how many reps they can do. Ladeairous finished in 25:32.

Danae Brown, of Melbourne, Australia holds the world record at 24:31:09, which she set in the Pacific regionals.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[George Takei Coming to ConnectiCon]]> Tue, 19 May 2015 11:14:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/takei_640x480.jpg

George Takei is coming back to Connecticut and will be one of the featured speakers at ConnectiCon this summer.

Takei, who best known for his role as Mr. Sulu in Star Trek, should be a big draw for the already-popular convention, which features a wide array of pop culture -- board games, cosplay, sci-fi, comics and more, and brings in people from all over the country.

ConnectiCon’s roots began to grow at the University of Hartford. In 2002, a group of friends involved in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Guild decided to start their own convention after taking several trips across the country to attend them.

It’s not yet clear when Takei will be speaking, but he is one of several featured guests.

Others guests include Sarah Lancaster, who played Ellie Bartowski in “Chuck,” Raven Moreau, in “Witches of the East End,” Rachel Meyers, in “Saved by the Bell: The New Class,” Madison Kellner in “Everwood.”

Several actor and actresses from the “Power Rangers” TV shows and films, including David Yost, Karan Ashley, Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy, will also be featured at the convention.

It event, held at the Connecticut Convention Center, as well as the Hartford Marriott Downtown Hartford Hilton, runs from July 9 through 12.
 


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<![CDATA[Nik Wallenda Makes 80-Foot-High Tightrope Walk at Foxwoods]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 18:02:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/nikwallendaorlandoeye.jpg

A month after walking the 400-foot Orlando Eye untethered, renowned daredevil acrobat and Guinness Book of World Records holder Nik Wallenda completed another dangerous feat in Connecticut.

Wallenda, of the Flying Wallenders, traversed a 711-foot long tightrope, 75 to 80 feet in the air, in 13- to 14-mile per hour winds on Friday afternoon, as a crowd watched from below.

The tightrope was suspended between the fifth floor of the Rainmaker garage and the roof of Tanger Outlets mall, and Wallender stopped in the middle to do a ribbon cutting for the new mall.

Later during the tightrope walk, Wallenda even got down onto the rope and laid down.

“We like to leave our guests breathless with anticipation when visiting the Northeast’s largest resort casino destination, and nobody in the world leaves them quite as mesmerized as Nik Wallenda,” Felix Rappaport, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. “He’s an amazing performer who has been leaving audiences astonished for decades. We’re thrilled to have him here during the grand opening weekend celebration for our new Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods. It will be thrilling as he walks high above the buildings of the 8.6 million square-feet of Foxwoods, North America’s largest resort.”

The stunt also benefits the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, with Foxwoods vowing to donate $7.11-worth of clothing from the Tanger Outlets to the organization for every foot Wallenda walked.

Wallenda is a seventh-generation Flying Wallenda's Family member, has multiple Guinness World Records and was the first person to walk over the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, according to a news release about the grand opening.

He set a Guinness World Record in 2010 for the longest and highest bike ride on a high wire in New Jersey and another one in 2011 for his "Wheel of Death" performance on on top of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which is 23 stories high, according to the news release. He recently set two more Guinness world records doing a two-part tightrope walk in Chicago between two skyscrapers. 

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<![CDATA[Connecticut Native Competes for Top Spot on "The Voice"]]> Tue, 19 May 2015 21:03:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sawyer-Fredericks-The-Voice-4-May.jpg

Tuesday night on NBC's "The Voice" will be the telling moment for Connecticut native Sawyer Fredericks, 16, who will find out on tonight's season finale whether he won the singing competition.

On Monday's episode, Fredericks sang an original single, "Please," written for him by Ray LaMontagne and teamed up with coach Pharrell to perform "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts.

Fredericks, an acoustic singer-songwriter, was born at Danbury Hospital and lived in Sandy Hook as a toddler before moving with his family to Roxbury, according to his grandparents in Connecticut. He now lives in upstate New York.

Fredericks first learned to play guitar in 2010 and has written more than three dozen songs since then, according to his website. He released his first full-length album in June of 2013 after recording a demo CD with six original songs the year before.

He's one of four contestants left in the competition and will go up against Koryn Hawthorne, who is also on Pharrell's team, Meghan Linsey with Team Blake Shelton and Joshua Davis on Team Adam Levine.

"They're all wonderful singers. It just feels, though, that Sawyer sings really from the heart. You can feel the tenderness, or the sorrow, or whatever it is he's expressing," said Fredericks' grandfather, Jan Larsen.

Larsen will be cheering him on from Monroe.

"I knew he was talented, but my daughter also put his stuff on YouTube and that was very fortunate, in a way, because 'The Voice' discovered him, asked him if he wanted to audition for 'The Voice,'" Larsen explained.

Residents of the area remember when Fredericks, who now lives in New York, took the microphone in Seymour for his CD release party in 2013. They hope tonight he'll make history.

"We've just continued to support Sawyer. This has kind of become the unofficial Seymour headquarters for Sawyer Fredericks fans," said Kimberly Dulka, who owns the All-American Valley General Store on Bank Street in Seymour.

Locals said Sawyer has been an inspiration to local musicians young and old, and his grandfather hopes he'll stay that way.

"The hope is he'll keep his personality and not stray from his humble beginnings," said Larsen.

Tune into the Season 8 finale of "The Voice" on NBC Connecticut tonight at 8 p.m. to find out if Fredericks' Monday performances were enough to win him the crown.



Photo Credit: NBC Universal
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<![CDATA[New Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s Burger Includes Hot Dog, Chips]]> Fri, 15 May 2015 10:25:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Carl%27s-Jr.jpg

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are cramming a summer cookout into one burger.

The upcoming menu item is made with a beef patty that is topped with a split hot dog. The meaty duo sits on a layer of Lay’s potato chips between hamburger buns. Ketchup, mustard, tomato, red onion, pickles and American cheese will be thrown in, too. The burger will have 1,030 calories and 64 grams of fat.

“The hot dog is like a smoked meat product, so it’s not unlike bacon,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of CKE Restaurants, the owner of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

Fast food chains have been trying to outdo each other with outrageous menu items to stand out. Wendy’s, for example, offered a cheeseburger topped with pulled pork last year.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are calling their new burger the "Most American Thickburger." It goes on sale at both locations on May 20.

“We’ve had this idea, believe it or not, for a long time,” Haley said.

The Most American Thickburger will use kettle-cooked Lay’s chips, which are thicker than regular chips, to prevent them from getting soggy.

The burger will cost $5.79 alone or $8.29 for a combo, which comes with fries and a drink.

CKE Restaurants has experimented with meat-on-meat burgers before. It previously sold a burger topped with pastrami at Carl’s Jr., and sold a burger smothered with thinly sliced steak, called the Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger, at Hardee’s.

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<![CDATA[McDonald's to Expand All-Day Breakfast Test]]> Wed, 13 May 2015 19:54:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MCDonalds-Breakfast-SanDiego.jpg

McDonald’s will reportedly expand its test of an all-day breakfast menu.

The breakfast test will expand to Nashville this summer, the company announced during a webcast with franchisees, the Wall Street Journal reports. They also revealed plans to shorten drive-through menus and release new, mid-priced menu options.

McDonald’s had been testing the all-day breakfast option at select restaurants in its San Diego market, the company confirmed to NBCChicago in March

"We know our customers love McDonald’s breakfast and they tell us they’d like to enjoy it beyond the morning hours," the company said in an earlier statement. "We look forward to learning from this test, and it’s premature to speculate on any outcomes. We’re excited to serve our customers in this area some of McDonald’s great-tasting breakfast sandwiches, hash browns and other favorites all day long."

McDonald’s breakfast currently ends at 10:30 a.m. in most markets.

The reported move comes as CEO Steve Easterbrook revealed plans to turnaround the fast food chain’s struggling business. It also comes as the company works to maintain its slot at the top of the fast food breakfast chain.

McDonald's has long been the fast-food leader in the mornings, with its popular Sausage Biscuits, Hotcakes and other items pulling in roughly 20 percent of the company's U.S. sales. But the chain has faced stiffer competition in recent years, with competitors such as Starbucks and Subway rolling out breakfast sandwiches as well.

McDonald's, which has more than 14,000 U.S. locations, has also said it plans to step up its marketing of breakfast as it faces intensifying competition.

As for extending its breakfast hours, the world's largest hamburger chain is known for treading extremely carefully when discussing any tests or potential changes. Such matters are considered sensitive in large part because they would require the support of the company's network of franchisees.

McDonald's did not immediately return NBCChicago's request for comment. 
 

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<![CDATA[Bret Michaels, Dennis DeYoung to Headline Travelers Concerts]]> Tue, 12 May 2015 14:33:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bret+Michaels+Dennis+DeYoung+1200.jpg

Multi-platinum former Poison front man Bret Michaels and STYX founding member and lead singer Dennis DeYoung will headline the Powerstation Events Concert Series at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell in June.

"The Powerstation Events Concert Series is an annual highlight of our tournament, bringing top musicians to Connecticut for our fans to enjoy as part of their admission," Travelers Championship Tournament Director Nathan Grube said in a statement. "Our goal is to make the Travelers Championship an experience that the whole family can enjoy, and we are excited to have Bret Michaels and Dennis DeYoung perform this year."

DeYoung will take to the stage on Friday, June 26, playing rock songs made famous by STYX like "Lady," "Babe," "Come Sail Away," "Mr. Roboto," "Renegade" and many others from the '70s, '80s and '90s, according to the news release. Michael performs Saturday, June 27 on Overstock.com's True Grit Tour, sponsored by PetSmart, playing the metal songs of Poison.

Poison has sold more than 45 million records across the globe, with 10 of its singles landing in the top 40 on the Billboard charts, known for songs like "Nothin' but a Good Time," Fallen Angel," "Your Mamma Don't Dance" and "Something to Believe In," according to the release.

DeYoung was lead singer and songwriter in eight of STYX's top 10 hits, according to the news release. Four STYX albums in a row were named multi-platinum between 1977 and 1981 and about 2 million copies of each one were sold, the news release said.

The concerts start after the golfing is over for the day at about 7 p.m. at the MetroHartford Alliance Fan Zone in the middle of the course, according to the release.

Fans can purchase "Any One Day" tickets to attend the tournament and entertainment. Powerstation Events is the Connecticut entertainment and production company running the concert series.

"We're thrilled to present the Powerstation Events Concert Series at the Travelers Championship for the fourth consecutive year," Al Vagnini, president of Powerstation Events, said. "Working with the Travelers Championship offers us an opportunity to support dozens of charities impacted by the tournament, as well as bring Connecticut fans top national acts. We're proud of how this partnership has grown."

More information is available at travelerschampionship.com/2015-schedule-of-events.



Photo Credit: Submitted by Travelers Championship]]>
<![CDATA[50 Cent Heads to Hamden for Vodka Bottle Signing ]]> Fri, 08 May 2015 09:44:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/50-cent1.jpg

50 Cent made a name for himself as a singer and rapper, but he’s also an entrepreneur and the face of EFFEN Vodka.

Yes, that's the name, and 50 Cent, or Curtis Jackson, will be making an appearance is Hamden next week to promote it.

He invests in the product, according to Syracuse.com, and crowds have been buying when he travels to do bottle signings.

According to comments on the EFFEN Vodka Facebook page, Jackson has also taken time to take photos with everyone who makes the trip to see him.

The rapper, who has a sprawling estate in Farmington, will be at Wine Merchants, at 2300 Dixwell Ave., in Hamden, on Thursday, May 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a bottle signing.

There are several varieties of EFFEN Vodka, including original, black cherry, cucumber, Dutch raspberry and salted caramel.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Film Released About CT Man Who Played Big Bird ]]> Wed, 06 May 2015 12:09:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/162*120/92919835_10.jpg

A documentary about the Woodstock, Connecticut puppeteer behind the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" became available on iTunes and OnDemand on Cinco de Mayo and was released in New York theaters on Wednesday, Tribecca Film and production company Copper Pot Pictures announced.

Caroll Spinney, 81, has brought the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life since the show launched 45 years ago. The documentary, "I Am Big Bird" tells his story and highlights his career and characters.

The Today Show aired an interview with Spinney on Wednesday, a day after the movie's digital release date, addressing his 46-year career and the story of how he almost went on the Challenger spaceshuttle that exploded.

"'I Am Big Bird' captures how the love radiating from Caroll has created a worldwide cultural icon and answers why he can't say goodbye to the characters he cherishes," Copper Pot Pictures said in a news release.

He "handpicked a successor," Matt Vogel, "who has waited, quite literally, in the wings, as his understudy for almost 20 years," but Spinney has held on with no intention of retiring," according to the news release.

"Yielding the Bird would mean saying goodbye to characters that are a true expression of his
soul, characters that he loves and cherishes like his own children," Copper Pot Pictures said.

The production company describes Spinney as a man who has "pure love" filling his life, from his relationship with his mother, who "handcrafted his first puppets" and "sacrificed her own body to protect Caroll from a savage beating from his father" to finding his true love, Debra after his first wife divorced him because she was "embarrassed" by his puppetry career.

He was also very close friends with his boss, Jim Henson. A YouTube video shows him singing Kermit the Frog's "Bein' Green" as Big Bird at Henson's memorial.

"The unconditional love that envelops Caroll’s life—and which is captured in the hours of home video culled for I AM BIG BIRD — is the true secret to Big Bird’s popularity," Copper Pot Pictures said.

Spinney was also originally supposed to be on the Challenger space shuttle in 1986, but NASA ultimately decided not to go forward with that plan, according to the production company.

"Instead of boarding the shuttle, he watched from the studio as the astronauts, including his
replacement, Christa McAuliffe, perished in the disaster," Copper Pot Pictures said.

Big Bird's popularity has faded as new writers explored other characters like Elmo, but Spinney's legacy as the yellow bird is historical in American pop culture, according to the production company.

"He’s dined with heads of state, won Emmys and been named a living legend by the Library of Congress," Copper Pot Pictures said.

The documentary explores Spinney's creative process and what inspired him. It shows Spinney today and videos from his personal library "to illustrate how he became the man that became the Bird," according to the production company. The film also includes footage of Jim Henson with Kermit the Frog and interviews with Jane Henson, Vogel, Frank Oz (Cookie Monster, Bert) and Jerry Nelson (The Count).

And, as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the Muppet, who will teach us the greatest lesson of all: how to love unconditionally," Copper Pot Pictures said.

Other nationwide will start showing the documentary May 15, according to Tribecca Film.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mother's Day DIY Gift Ideas]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 16:29:32 -0400 A Pumpkin and a Princess has an easy-to-follow guide on how to make Lavender Chamomile Tea Soaps.]]> A Pumpkin and a Princess has an easy-to-follow guide on how to make Lavender Chamomile Tea Soaps.]]> http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DIY-Lavender-Chamomile-Tea-Soap1.jpg Your mom will appreciate these creative, easy-to-make gifts.

Photo Credit: A Pumpkin and a Princess]]>
<![CDATA[Fast-Food Cinco de Mayo: Free Biscuit Tacos, DIY Guac]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 07:45:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/biscuit-taco-bell.jpg

Free breakfast tacos and a coveted guacamole recipe could bode for a festive Cinco de Mayo.

Taco Bell is giving away free biscuit tacos from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday in honor of the holiday celebrating Mexican cultural pride.

They'll give one sausage or bacon biscuit taco to each person between those hours, as the fast-food chain tries to boost its new breakfast menu.

But if it's something closer to authentic Mexican you're craving, and if you want to get DIY about making it, Chipotle has you covered.

The chain has shared its recipe for its beloved guacamole, adapted for normal home cooks. What you'll need: avocados, a lime, some cilantro, a red onion, a jalapeno and some salt — that's it.

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<![CDATA[Cinco de Mayo: 10 Authentic Mexican Spots Across U.S.]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 19:06:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/472092370_Dancers.jpg

If you live in a major city, chances are you can find a little taste of Mexico for Cinco de Mayo this year, whether you're looking for tampiqueña, mariachi music, or cultural murals. Here are a few of the most authentic Mexican corners across the country.

1. Chicago’s Pilsen Neighborhood: Known for its Mexican cultural murals, musical history and religious imagery, the Pilsen neighborhood is located in the southwest corner of Chicago. If you are looking for a place to spend time wit the family over some amazing Mexican food, this is the place.

2. New York’s Spanish Harlem: There’s a thriving Puerto Rican community inside Manhattan’s 103rd street to the south and Lexington Avenue to the west, where you’ll find street art, small eateries, ethnic stores and holistic shops. In the last few years, a strong Mexican presence has been taking hold in the neighborhood as well.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth's El Ranchito Restaurant: One of the most emblematic Mexican restaurants in the DFW area is El Ranchito. If you want to enjoy a mouthwatering Tampico club style steak (known as a tampiqueña), green enchiladas, or a variety of Mexican style grilled meats (parillada), you’ll want to go here. You can also enjoy some handmade tortillas. Don’t be surprised to see mariachis playing here.

4. San Antonio’s Alamo Street: Alamo Street, which runs between Hemisfair Plaza to the convention center, is one of San Antonio’s most touristy spots in the center of the city. Here, you’ll find authentic Mexican stores, restaurants and bars.

5. San Antonio’s Market Square: This market is in a commercial area that represents Mexican culture. From Alameda Museum to the Pico de Gallo restaurant, Market Square offers a little piece of Mexico.

6. Talavera Restaurant: Talavera Restaurant is one of the most representative restaurants of Mexican cuisine in the Miami area, decorated with large vases made in the traditional Puebla ceramic style that were popular during colonial times. Here, you can find traditional and modern interpretations of Mexican food, plus dishes from different regions of Mexico.

7. Houston Casa Ramírez: At this Mexican artisanal store in Houston, you’ll find regional folklore pieces, from Mexican-style skulls to religious candles. Every season is on display here, including elaborate altars for the Day of the Dead and piñatas for Christmas.

8. Old Town San Diego: Old Town is an area that seems to have been stuck in time when San Diego was still a part of Mexico. You’ll find details from a different period, with dirt roads and people dressed in the style of that era. The historic park and the surrounding areas are very popular with tourists because of its Mexican restaurants.

9. Plaza del Mariachi: Located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East LA is Plaza del Mariachi, the equivalent of Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City. Since the 1930s, mariachis would congregate on this corner to offer their services to whoever needed them, a well-known tradition in Plaza Garibaldi. Today, you’ll only find mariachis on weekend.

10. Placita Olvera: Situated right in the heart of LA and known as the birthplace of the city is La Placita Olvera, which was made in the style of the plazuelas of Sonora. Within Olvera Street there are 27 historic buildings. In 1930s the street was closed and converted into an outdoor market. Today, the plaza is used by the city and the Hispanic community for celebrations, musical events and dancing, including Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Where will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?



Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Free Cone Day at Carvel]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 12:33:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Carvel+free+cone+day+1200.jpg

Spring is here and you can get ice cream for free today. What’s better than that?

Today is “Free Cone Day” at Carvel. Between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., you can get a free junior soft serve cup or cone at participating Carvel locations.

If you live in Connecticut, you probably do not have to go far to get to a shop because there are 21 across the state:

Here’s the full list, or go to the online map.

  • 401 West Main Street in Avon: 860-409-0582
  • Carvel Express, I-95 Southbound at Mile Marker 54 in Branford: 516-458-8020
  • 1668 Park Ave. Bridgeport: 203-333-7200
  • 1 Padanaram Road in Danbury: 203-792-3428
  • Carvel Express, 1 Connecticut West in Darien: 203-309-5455
  • 2864-A Main St. in Glastonbury: 860-633-2881
  • Carvel Express, I-95 Southbound at Exit 39 in Milford
  • 1081 Bridgeport Ave., Milford: 203-874-1427
  • 778 New Haven Road, Naugatuck: 203-723-7770
  • 1018 Main St., Newington: 860-667-1467
  • 14 Danbury Road, New Milford: 860-354-3554
  • 324 Connecticut Ave. in Norwalk: 203-831-0300
  • 456 Main St. in Norwalk: 203-846-3002
  • 113 Danbury Road in Ridgefield: 203-438-7424
  • 1980 West Main St. in Stamford: 203-569-7910
  • 1575 Barnum Ave. in Stratford: 203-380-0033
  • 650 S Main St. in Torrington: 860-489-8405
  • 243 Hartford Turnpike in Vernon: 860-75-2278
  • 700 Watertown Ave. in Waterbury: 203-754-5518
  • 1300 Main St. in Watertown: 860-274-1462
  • 1025 Post Road East in Westport: 203-227-6070
     



Photo Credit: Carvel.com]]>
<![CDATA[What's Behind the Kentucky Derby's Trademark Hats?]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 08:48:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kd488034839.jpg

The Kentucky Derby may be the greatest two minutes in sports, but at Churchill Downs on Saturday, the competition parading in the stands could give the thoroughbreds a run for their money.

From towering hat designs festooned with ribbons to delicate fascinators, the modern taste for the Derby's trademark accessory has spawned contests at parties, and given business a boost for milliners.

Although the annual battle for the Derby's most eye-catching hat has taken on a life of its own in recent decades, the tradition of wearing one to the race traces back to day one, says Kentucky Derby Museum curator Chris Goodlett.

When Meriweather Lewis Clark Jr., the grandson of legendary explorer William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, founded the Kentucky Derby, he wanted to bring elegance and class to American horse racing, inspired by the grand races of London and Paris.

Defying social norms that excluded women from places men were gambling, he marketed his race to the fashionable upper crust. That meant women appeared front and center at the races, dressed in stylish clothes, shoes and — the centerpiece of the wardrobe — a dashing hat.

"The presence of ladies in the grandstand added great splendor to the racing scene," Goodlett said. "News articles in 1875 make reference to the dress of the ladies, with specific mention of hats."

Eventually, in the 1960s, women began wearing larger and more extravagant hats, the better to be seen in the stands on television. What began as an elite custom morphed into a grand show of symbolic reverence, as the Derby played host to some of the most diverse displays of head wear worldwide.

Today, the annual Run for the Roses can be the backbone of many milliners', or women's hatmakers, shops every year, with business booming in the April run-up to the big event. 

"When I first opened the boutique, I made one or two hats for the Derby," said milliner Linda Pagan, who owns The Hat Shop in New York and has been creating one-of-a-kind Derby hats for close to 20 years. "Now, it is the biggest month of our year."

The process of custom-making a hat is labor-intensive, and a Derby hat can take weeks to create. Many of Pagan’s clients start shopping for the perfect Derby hat as early as January, especially those who plan on wearing a grandiose wide-brim headpiece.

Celebrating the Derby in style doesn't have to mean an enormous hat, though. There's also the fascinator, a sort of cross between a miniature hat and a hair accessory, embellished with feathers, flowers, beads or lace and perched on the side of a woman's head, in a style that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has made unmistakable.

Philip Treacy, the famed Irish milliner who designed 36 hats for the royal wedding (including the infamous "Teletubby" one) and almost single-handedly revived the fascinator, has pronounced the style dead, to his delight, but it still has its fans at races stateside. The Louisville Courier-Journal's fashion editor Christine Fellingham estimates that a third of Derby-goers now wear fascinators.

They're stylish, sure, but Pagan points out that they're also easy to wear, and transport.

"Once upon a time, airlines use to have special sections on-board for storing hat boxes," Pagan notes. Now, due to ever-tougher luggage restrictions, "wild horse" shoppers who wait until the last stretch to score a hat may have to settle for a humble cocktail hat or fascinator.

That modern-day practical consideration could keep fascinators a popular choice for the Derby's hat-donning ladies, just as wide-brimmed hats once were for Derby-goers hoping not to burn their fair skin in the blazing sun of the grandstands.

Whatever hat a Derby fan chooses — whether it's off the rack or custom-made, awe-inspiringly elegant or gruesomely garish — Pagan says there's a key to finding the perfect one: "Confidence."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>