NORWALK, Conn. – The past year was one with changes at the top for Norwalk, as the city elected a new mayor and hired a new schools superintendent. Here are some of Norwalk’s top stories from 2013:
Harry Rilling became Norwalk’s first new mayor in eight years after wining the November election. The former police chief topped a crowded four-man field for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the September primary. After that, he finished more than 15 percentage points ahead Richard Moccia to take over the city’s top elected post.
The Norwalk Fire Department also celebrated a new start in 2013. Construction was completed on the department’s new headquarters on Connecticut Avenue in early fall, and firefighters moved there from a temporary home in September.
Norwalk native Captain Peter Willcox spent much of the fall in Russia after he and 29 others aboard his ship, the Arctic Sunrise, were arrested on piracy charges while doing work for Greenpeace. Willcox’s charges were eventually reduced to hooliganism, and he was released on bail before he was finally received amnesty from the Russian parliament in December.
Norwalk saw no reported homicides in 2013. However, two men survived multiple gunshots in incidents over the year. One man was shot in the head in May, and the other survived multiple shots inflicted on Christmas Eve near a public housing project.
In October, Darien High football and lacrosse coach Christian Garnett was stopped by police officers in Norwalk when he was found driving on only three tires, police said. Garnett, 32, was Tasered after fighting with officers, police said, and arrested on charges of assault on a police officer, interfering with police, driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk also prepared for changes. Its leader Jennifer Herring announced she would step down next year after more than a decade as CEO. The aquarium also celebrated its 25th anniversary in South Norwalk and announced it was building a new $2.6 million research vessel.
Those attending the annual Oyster Festival were shocked when a swing ride malfunctioned, leaving 13 kids with injuries such as cuts and bruises. Experts found that an “internal component failure” in the transmission of the swing ride was to blame for the accident.