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Thursday, February 22 News

Westport wins! Voted state's favorite town in tourism contest

It's official. Westport has been voted the "Connecticut still revolutionary" Fan-Favorite Town of the Year in a program sponsored by the Connecticut Office of Tourism.

Compo Beach, the popular 29-acre shoreline park on Long Island Sound, was chosen as the top destination within the town.

"Westport, a coastal town that offers a blend of New England charm and tradition with a cosmopolitan twist, successfully harnessed the pride of residents and visitors and earned more votes than any other town, village, city or borough across the state," according to a statement from the state office of tourism.

"As all our citizens are well aware, Westport has so much to offer from our beaches and parks, historic landmarks, award-winning theaters and educational programs, the visual arts, shopping and restaurants," First Selectman Jim Marpe, reacting to the selection, said in a press release. He was presented the Fan-Favorite award Thursday morning.

A video created by three Westport fifth-graders -- Clara Holleman, Sydney Newman and Sutton Lindau -- and videotaped and edited by recent Staples High School graduate Claudine Brantley ignited momentum for the Westport campaign and helped drive votes and participation in the program, Marpe said.

"I'm so proud of Clara, Sydney, Sutton and Claudine in making this informative and lively video," Marpe said.

"These young women were instrumental in having Westport achieve this honor," he added. "We appreciate the amazing job they did in identifying all those aspects of Westport that make it a wonderful place to visit and live."

The video featured more than 42 businesses, destinations and attractions within the town, as well as an appearance by Marpe who actively encouraged people to cast their vote for the town.

The promotional program asked people to vote for the town that they think most embodies the spirit of the state's brand, "Connecticut still revolutionary -- a haven for original ideas and innovation that offers a dynamic blend of experiences, according to the tourism office." Participants also had the opportunity to vote for their favorite business, destination or attraction within that town.

Nearly 40,000 votes were cast over a six-week period, the tourism office said.

"Our 4,000 Facebook followers came out strong supporting Clara, Sydney and Sutton," said Selectman Avi Kaner, who, Marpe's press release said, used the town's social media to encourage and facilitate voting. "The excitement and town pride was palpable -- thank you to everyone who came together to vote. "

"It has been incredible to see the passion and creativity coming from all areas of the state to support this year's Fan-Favorite town program and we commend Westport and all of the towns and destinations that got involved," said Randy Fiveash, the tourism office's director of tourism. "By giving the public the opportunity to champion and spread the word about their favorite towns and destinations we tapped into the pride of those who are most passionate about Connecticut."

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that "through our investments in programs like Connecticut still revolutionary Fan-Favorite Town, we are promoting the wide array of communities and destinations across the state that exude a kind of classic New England charm that you can only find in Connecticut."

"We are also giving residents an opportunity to highlight all of the qualities that make their towns unique and demonstrating to potential visitors something we already know -- this is a great place to visit, live, work and play." Malloy said in a press release.

For capturing the most votes, the town will receive advertising support from the Connecticut Office of Tourism, national and in-state public relations support, an editorial feature in the 2015 official Connecticut Visitor's Guide, a week-long social media feature across the tourism office's social channels, which has an audience of more than 200,000 and the honorary plaque.

Rounding out the top 10 Fan-Favorite towns and the most favored destination in each of those communities are: 2. Putnam, Flying Carpet Studio; 3. Niantic, Inn at Harbor Hill Marina; 4. Mystic, Mystic Seaport; 5. New London, Ocean Beach Park; 6. Torrington, Warner Theatre; 7. Simsbury, Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge; 8. Clinton, Town Bridge; 9. Wethersfield, Old Wethersfield and 10. Willimantic, Willimantic Brewing Company.

The full video can be viewed at: www.westportct.gov/fanfavorite