This is an installment from contributing writer Tara Thompson, president of the Wilton Newcomers Club, providing news and information about WNC events and activities, as well as a look at life in Wilton life from the point of view of a newcomer.
Before I moved to Wilton, when I was still surrounded by half-packed cardboard boxes on Long Island, I would spend hours scouring the internet for the scoop on my future town. If it’s possible to obsessively stalk a town, Wilton should have definitely filed a restraining order on me.
For all of you Wilton Newcomers, here’s my top-10 list for making you and your family (I’m going to assume you have children because most people seem to gravitate here once they start worrying about Junior’s education) feel at home, even before you’ve finished unpacking–or maybe before you’ve even started!
1. Definitely sign up for the Wilton Newcomers Club through www.wiltonnewcomersclub.com. (Shameless plug, I know.) There is a fee to join, but we use it to subsidize many of our activities, like monthly morning coffees with babysitting available, pumpkin carving and other seasonal kids events, and an annual ice cream social. We also go out of our way to partner with many businesses in town, such as Rolling Hills Country Club, which generously organizes Tennis and Golf outings and elaborate parties for our members. This year the Lake Club will be hosting a winter Paddle Couples Social, and Hello Yoga is planning a wine, chocolate and yoga party for us. And these are just a few of the events we’ve added to our calendar. Register today–your new friends are waiting for you! If you have any questions, please email us–we’d be happy to help in any way.
2. “Join” Wilton CT 411 on Facebook. Immediately. It is a closed group, so if you haven’t listed Wilton as your hometown yet, send a message to one of the administrators explaining your situation. When I was moving here, Wilton CT 411 was just a fledgling facebook page, one I hadn’t even heard of yet. Now at more than 2,000 members and gaining more each day, it’s a Wilton powerhouse–one-stop-shopping for just about anything and everything you want to know about our fabulous slice of Fairfield County. Use it to post questions such as: What nearby restaurants deliver to Wilton? Has anyone found a set of keys? How are the roads? Or you can let fellow residents know about power outages, downed trees or traffic conditions. You can also post pictures of lost pets, interesting flora & fauna, and found items. And if you prefer not to post, the search function can generally help you find whatever information you’re looking for. It’s invaluable.
3. Have you visited the Wilton Library yet? We are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful resource in our town. Our Library offers a huge array of programs for tots, seniors and everyone in between. Log on to the Library’s website to discover which ones interest you and your family. And once you’re in town, take the kids to their play area and strike up a conversation with one of the other moms there. If you’ll be in Wilton on Thursday, Oct. 2, buy a ticket to the Ladies Soiree for a fabulous night out!
4. Find out who your child’s Class Parent is and make her your new best friend. (Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.) Maybe you can have a playdate at Merwin Meadows, or meet for coffee while the kids are in school. Make sure to ask for the class list, including email addresses.
5. Write a note introducing your family to the class (especially if you’re moving mid-year). I did this and the response was wonderful! Beyond receiving many welcoming emails, within a week I met another mom for a mani/pedi, enjoyed a fun playdate at Merwin Meadows, and was invited to a family’s home for dinner which turned into a party lasting well past dark after a few neighbors came over with their kids. My husband, Stephen, and I kept whispering to each other, “Is this real? Is everyone in Wilton so nice?” I promise, if you make even the slightest effort, you will be overwhelmed by the warm welcome you receive.
6. Don’t be afraid to strike up a genuine conversation with the people you speak with as you’re registering your child(ren) at school. They deal with nervous new families every day and are a fantastic resource.
7. Browse through Wilton’s Parks and Recreation website They offer programming for all ages and interests, including summer camps, fitness classes and sports leagues.
8. Check out the before- and after-school classes, including extended day options for working parents, offered through Wilton Continuing Education. Visit their website to see all the course offerings: sports instruction, jewelry making, public speaking, pottery, technology courses, and more. I am still amazed by how many options my kids have–the only problem is trying to squeeze it all in!
9. Consider a membership with the Wilton Family Y. As if Parks & Rec and Continuing Ed didn’t offer enough options, the Wilton YMCA offers yet still more. You can join as a family or just maintain a membership for your child. With after-school options, a popular summer camp program, a pre-school and year-round swim instruction offerings, the Wilton Y is a frequent family destination. And don’t forget the other local karate programs, dance studios, soccer/football-and-cheerleading/baseball/lacrosse/field hockey/etc. leagues. A quick Google search or question posted to Wilton CT 411 will easily lead you to the right place.
10. Bookmark GOODMorningWilton.com. Read about what’s going on in our town, and sign up for the daily newsletter. I usually browse through the site before even getting out of bed in the morning. It takes only a few minutes for me to feel like a well-informed member of our community and I know you will too.
I’m sure there are other great ideas. Why not post your favorite bit of advice for newcomers in the comments section below?