June 28, 2022

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Do parents drink at youth sports games? Officials in one CT town say it’s been a problem for years

WESTON — Local officials say concerns about parents drinking in public during youth sports games has gone on for years, but it may now be leading to more alcohol use among their children.

In a letter last week to the school community, Weston Superintendent of Schools Lisa Wolak said, “it has come to our attention that adults are encouraging happy hours during youth sporting events and posting these events on social media.”

Wolak’s letter called the behavior “completely unacceptable.”

Wolak also pointed to a recent survey that showed alcohol use among Weston seventh- and eighth-graders appears to be on the rise.

However, police in the nearby towns of Fairfield and Westport said they have not received complaints about parents drinking at games. Bethel schools Superintendent Christine Carver said she also didn’t have any evidence of that type of behavior.

But in Weston, the issue of parents drinking at youth sports games has become a common occurrence.

“This is not new, I guess the reaction is new, the boldness is new,” Weston First Selectwoman Samantha Nestor said.

Weston Police Chief Ed Henion said he spoke with Wolak before the letter was sent to the school community, and described the measure as proactive.

“We haven’t had any DUIs or crashes because of drinking on the property,” he said.

Henion said he didn’t know of any particular incidents that Wolak referred to in her letter, but pointed out that alcohol is prohibited on school property.

“Certainly, no drinking on school property is something we support,” he said, adding that parents should set a good example for their children and should never drive after drinking.

Years ago, Nestor said the Board of Education was concerned with people coming onto school property with alcohol during the annual Memorial Day Fair.

When asked whether cannabis use is also a concern, Nestor, a former school board member who sat on the policy committee, noted the ban on alcohol also extends to smoking or vaping on school property.

Nestor and Wolak also pointed to the school survey data that showed alcohol use among seventh- and eighth-graders had increased in 2021 since the last time the survey was conducted in 2017. The 2021 survey showed 10 percent of these students admitted consuming alcohol compared with 3 percent in 2017.

“Weston is an amazing place, we are a beautiful place with 2-acre zoning. There is plenty of places to go party with your friends other than a parking lot and other than a school,” Nestor said. “There’s a very small sliver where it’s kind of a ‘no’ — everywhere else is open for business.”