The Best of the Best in Connecticut

The Best of the Best in Connecticut

WTNH Anchors Share Their Favorite Spots

December 6, 2021
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In their line of work, television journalists get to see every part of the state, from the Litchfield Hills to the Long Island Sound, the Metacomet Ridge to the river valleys, and the nearly-New-York-City to the Quiet Corner. And at WTNH, in particular, many of the news staff are also Connecticut natives who already knew their state intimately and have life-long memories here.
So could WTNH’s news anchors, if forced, choose one favorite place in Connecticut? As it turns out ,they can! (And readily so in most cases.) Here’s where some people who know our state inside and out really love to be.

Darren Kramer

Anchor

“My favorite place is a tiny little beach near my home we walk to every day,” says Kramer. By “we” he means himself, his wife Jill, and his Havanese dogs Jack, 13, and Lucy, 12.

They walk to the town of Madison’s East Wharf Beach every day, with Jack in a stroller because the half-mile walk has gotten to be too much for him.

“We always dreamed of living someplace in Connecticut where we could walk to the water,” Kramer says. They rarely miss a day, walking there to see sunrise or sunset, or sometimes to kayak. Besides the beauty, it’s a community. “It’s nice – you see the same faces, people having coffee, or chatting on a bench. We’ve been here for four years, and it still feels very new and special.”


Stephanie Simoni

Anchor/Reporter

“One particular spot, in spring, holds a special place in my heart: New Haven’s Wooster Square during the Cherry Blossom Festival,” says Simoni. “Nothing says spring in Connecticut like seeing those full blossoms and seeing everyone together to welcome spring.”

The park is near WTNH, so Simoni enjoys it year round. But come April, the festival has a special meaning. “I went before I was married, then with my fiancé, then with my husband, and then with our daughter.” The festival was cancelled the past two years, so she and husband Roger Susanin’s 1-year-old son hasn’t been. “But we still made it over to look at the blossoms. It wouldn’t be spring without the cherry blossoms!”

Simoni thinks that COVID has taught us to enjoy our green spaces more and that Connecticut residents are especially lucky: “You don’t have to go far to see a beautiful spot in our state.”


Lisa Carberg

Anchor/Medical Reporter

“My favorite place is anywhere along the Connecticut shoreline. For the past 20 years, I have lived in places where I can drive to a local beach and hear the sound of Amtrak trains whizzing along the shoreline. Part of why that makes an impression on me is because I think of all of those big city residents heading back and forth with their lives or visits to Boston and New York City while I enjoy my small-town life,” says Carberg.

“My career took me to Manhattan where I lived for a year. While I absolutely loved it, when I met my husband, we decided to move back to a small, quaint shoreline town to build a home and start a family. My heart has always been on the shoreline. I commuted 65 miles each way daily for 17 years to be able to live on the shoreline during my career. Now, I still feel fortunate to be able to live in a great little town and work at News 8 in New Haven.”


Erik Dobratz

Sports Anchor/Reporter

“The beach!” Dobratz says with no hesitation. Specifically, Old Saybrook’s Town Beach. He’s been going there since his family moved to town when he was in 4th grade. He rode his bike there then; now his kids do.

“It’s arguably the best sand in the state – powdery and soft,” he says. “Another thing that’s great about it is when the tide goes out, it’s loaded with sandbars, so you can walk out for hundreds and hundreds of yards.”

Dobratz and his wife Denise go there at least three times a week. “It’s a popular place in town. Everyone goes there to watch the sunset.” They and their daughter, 14, and son, 12, live 14 houses away from where Dobratz grew up, just a few-mile drive (or bike ride) to the Sound.


Rich Coppola

Anchor

New Haven: nowhere tops it for Coppola. “I’m very sentimental about New Haven,” he says. He grew up in East Haven back when parents let kids take the bus into the city. He’d tag along with his older brother, or go with friends to get pizza, go to hockey games, or see shows.
The New Haven Arena was “the place” to go, he says. Famous as the site of Jim Morrison’s arrest for public indecency, the Arena closed in 1972 and was demolished three years later.

Coppola’s grandfather owned the Empire Sign Painting Company in a building still on East Street. His grandparents lived on Townsend Avenue, and Coppola would sleep overnight there when his parents went out on Saturday nights. “On Sunday, we’d go to church, take my grandmother home, go to the bakery to buy rolls, then check on the store.”

Every day that Coppola goes to work, he’s reminded of his firefighter father, who worked at the firehouse across the street from WTNH. And now, he and his wife Sue’s daughter, Gianna, 23, works as a registered nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital. “I meet her outside and bring her and her fellow nurses cookies or pizza.”


Ann Nyberg

Anchor

“Madison, the whole town. We raised our three daughters here. I call it Mayberry-by-the-Sea. I find it to be very kind,” says Nyberg.

There’s the beach. “I love going down there, having coffee, and watching sunsets. Our daughters grew up playing on the beach, and two of them married on the beach. I now get to see my two grandbabies playing on the same beach my daughters did!” Nyberg’s husband Mark walks their Golden Retrievers, Sherman and Trip, on the beach every night. At the town-owned Surf Club, “for $40 a year you get to go and barbecue all you want!”

There’s the whole town. “I love everything about it. I would do anything for the town. It’s given my kids a wonderful life.”

And there’s Nyberg’s boutique, Annie Mame, that with a clothing shop, jeweler, and Nyberg’s daughter Lindsay’s hair salon, comprise The Dressing Room. “You can get a gift, an outfit, get your hair done and walk out the door – it’s like an old-fashioned department store.”


Laura Hutchinson

Anchor

Until 2 years ago, Hutchinson’s favorite place was the top of Sleeping Giant Mountain. She grew up in Hamden and always loved the climb for the exercise and the view. But times change! “My favorite place is wherever my son is now, because he’s exploring life and I’m doing it again through him.”

Hutchinson and her husband Dan live in West Hartford with their son Jack, who will be 2 in January, and are expecting their second child in March. The local playground is their most-frequented place. Golden Retriever Benjamin Franklin joins them in walking there.

Other recent favorites of Jack, and therefore, his mom are: the Wolcott Country Fair, holding baby chicks at Flamig Farm in Simsbury, and every playscape they find.


Keith Kountz

Anchor

The Farmington Canal Trail in Hamden: “My wife and I spend a lot of time walking along there.” He and his wife Dawn normally walk “a good hour, or hour and 15 minutes” toward New Haven, enjoying the beautiful scenery while discussing family matters from mundane to major.

The couple has discussed the many issues that come up when raising kids (their daughters are now grown) and made decisions about family and work while walking this section of the trail, Simmons says. Their youngest daughter Amber, 28, is an athlete and multiple marathoner, and “did a tremendous amount of running on the trail” when she lived at home.

To Simmons, the trail has sentimental importance. “There are a lot of good memories of the walks my wife and I’ve had over the years, talking about life.”


Gil Simmons

Chief Meteorologist

There’s just no narrowing it down for Simmons. “It’s tough to choose a specific area, with so much Connecticut offers,” he says. Therefore, the entire state is his favorite.

“From the beautiful Litchfield and Windham County hills to Connecticut’s sprawling shoreline what’s not to love? The views and recreation areas associated with the Connecticut River slicing through the middle of the state pique my interest, too! Amazing for a roughly 100-mile by 50-mile rectangle. Perhaps my love is also driven by how different the weather can be, too!” he says.

Simmons and his wife love getting outside together. “We love the views and vertical challenge of getting to the summit of Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. As bird geeks, we also enjoy what Hammonasset State Park in Madison contains for such a variety of feathered friends.”

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