Gilmore Girls party it up in Washington Depot
Cast members of the “Gilmore Girls”— Todd Lowe, John Cabrera, and Sean Gunn; Rini Bell and Keiko Agena—during the fan event in Washington Depot this past October.
Photo by Chela Crinnion
International news crews came to cover the Gilmore Girls Fan Festival that overtook Washington Depot one rainy weekend in late October. By day, they focused on 1,500 fans who were star struck by the town that inspired the show’s fictional hamlet, Stars Hollow, and the 15 cast members who ran workshops, drank copious coffee, and posed for pictures for the first-ever event of its kind. By night, the cast dispersed to places like Winvian in Morris or The Mayflower Grace in Washington, while eight of them stayed at a mansion overlooking Lake Waramaug.
The property, which is on the market with Sotheby’s International Realty for $4.8 million, was also the site where a top-security, invitation-only cast party was held October 22. Guests meandered around the 5,500-square-foot manor, ogled the infinity pool that was lit with a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colors, played pool and ping-pong in the sprawling game room, danced to Little Feat, Cold Play, and Pink in the study, and hovered around the granite kitchen island, sampling delicacies catered by Lucia in New Milford.
“It’s really such a lovely little town, not exactly Stars Hollow, but a lot of similarities,” says Keiko Agena, who plays Rory Gil-more’s best friend, Lane Kim, on the cult TV show that ran from 2000 to 2007 and was just brought back for a four-part revival on Netflix. “I never expected the festival would be so huge. And all of those sweet people standing out in the rain; they were so excited and so gracious,” she says, popping a tuna tartar-stuffed filo cup in her mouth.
Agena was among several Gil-more stars staged at the Hickory Stick Bookshop earlier that day, where she sold her artwork and giggled with guests. “It’s really amazing how they pulled this all together,” Agena adds, regarding the event’s creators, Jennie and Marcus Whitaker who own a PR firm in Austin.
“We’re just huge fans of the show, and we know we’re far from alone,” says Jennie Whitaker. She and her husband had been driving through Connecticut last July when the idea sprung for a Gilmore Girls festival. “There’s a magic to Washington Depot that inspired Amy to write the show,” she says of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who thought up the series after vacationing at The Mayflower Grace in the late ’90s.
Suddenly there was uproarious laughter coming from the corner where Dr. Andrew Bazos, who owns the house, was standing with former Major League Baseball player Joe Lahoud, who built the home in 2001 and lived there for 13 years with his wife, Pat Kennedy-Lahoud. Ted Rooney, who plays the role of Sally Struthers’ husband, Morey Dell, explained. “I thought he was the baseball player,” Rooney says, gesturing to Bazos, “and he was the doctor,” gesturing to Lahoud. This prompted Dr. Bazos to throw fist pumps in the air and exclaim, “See? I look more like the stud athlete, and you look more like the stodgy doctor,” which had Lahoud crying, he was laughing so hard.
“Wow, how cool, a real Red Sox player,” Rooney croons, adding that he fell in love with Boston in 1995 while filming Celtic Pride with Dan Aykroyd. The six-foot, seven-inch Rooney, who played semi-professional basketball in Germany, is a fulltime actor in Portland, Oregon. On Saturday, he volunteered for the Gilmore fest to teach an acting class at the Washington Primary School. “It was great fun to work with these folks,” he says. Rooney was especially impressed by the hospitality and kindness of people like Michael Keilty, co-owner of the Hickory Stick Bookshop, who took him and other Gilmore stars on a tour of his organic farm, Maple Spring Farm, in Morris, and Dr. Bazos who hosted the party. “Boy, talk about some good old genuine New England generosity,” he says.
Other cast members were dispersed around town for the three-day event: Jackson Douglas, who plays the produce man married to Melissa McCarthy’s character, Sookie, hung out with local farmers at The Smithy in New Preston; Sean Gunn, who plays Kirk, hosted a cat adoption with New Milford Animal Welfare; and three Gilmore actors performed acoustic songs from the steps of the stately Washington town hall. One of them, Todd Lowe, who plays band member Zack Van Gerbig, was smitten by the town and Lake Waramaug. “I can’t get over this place,” he says, swirling a cocktail. He turns to the listing agent Pat Kennedy-Lahoud and mentions the home’s asking price. “$4.8 million? If this were L.A., it would go for $10 million.”
Soon Liz Torres, who plays the spunky, hilarious dance instructor, Miss Patty, nudged her way in to sandwich herself between Bazos and Lahoud. “This is the first time I’ve been this close to two gorgeous males in a long time,” she quips, and says she must sadly decline the deluge of dance offers because she’s got a bad hip. Bazos gestures to the impressive knife collection built into a butcher-block counter and offers, “Well, I can operate right here.” Lahoud adds, “I can hold her down.” Torres throws her head back in laughter and says, “OK, give me a couple more drinks, and let’s do it.”
The Washington Supply Company, a longtime pillar of Washington Depot, transformed a corner of the hardware store into Luke’s Diner, a “Gilmore Girls” favorite hangout in Stars Hollow, and took photos of some of the 1,300 visitors and fans.