Day Two Hundred and Four-Visiting the Light Shows “Lightscape” in Brooklyn and “The Jack O’Latern Blaze” in Croton-on-the-Hudson for the Holidays November 20th-21st, 2021

With the holidays now in full swing, I decided to usher out the Halloween holidays with its haunted houses and cemetery walks and usher in the Christmas holiday season with cheerful music and almost too much holiday decorating and shopping which gets more rushed earlier and earlier after midnight on Halloween. It gets to be over-whelming!

After a holiday of house decorating contests, visiting local farms to take pictures for my retail blog and the Halloween Parade in the City, the Midnight hour hit on Halloween night and I swear there was Christmas. I was even at one merchant’s store on Halloween morning and he was changing his Halloween window display to Christmas on the morning of the downtown merchants ‘Trick or Treating’ event. When I asked him why, he said, “This is the nature of the business right now.”

My weekend morning meant setting up for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree sale on Jefferson and Terrace in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. This annual rite is our biggest fundraising of the year and has become part of a tradition in many families as the whole family will come to the site even with baby carriages and dogs to buy a tree so that everyone gets a choice. It is nice to see the same faces every year and now I even hear from people that I sold them a tree when they were kids and now, they are buying one for their apartment in the City (thanks for making me feel ‘old’ everyone).

Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas tree set up

Day One Hundred & Twenty-Six: Christmas Tree Sales:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15853

We got there at 8:00am in the morning, cleaning the site of leaves and branches and setting up the Christmas shed and all the tree stands. We worked until noon and then finished with a pizza lunch as a group. Christmas trees will be arriving next Friday and then it’s off to the races in selling 400 trees, a new record for us.

I went home and then it was off to the City to watch the end of the Michigan State versus Ohio State football game. What a bloodbath! They walked all over us. By the time I made it up to Blondies, the bar on the Upper West Side that the Alumni meet at everyone was gone but a small handful of people who are the hangers on to the end. The final score was 56-7 and it was a disaster with many of our players hurt. So much for the playoffs.

Blondie’s Sports Bar at 212 West 79th Street

https://blondiessportsny.com/

The Michigan State versus Ohio State Blood Bath:

Since I got to the bar with only two minutes left in the game and getting there just in time to see Ohio State score again, I left after the game ended. There were not that many people left in the bar at that point and only two Ohio State alumni were in the bar singing their fight song. I was off to Brooklyn to go to the “Lightscape” show at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the “Andy Warhol” show at the Brooklyn Museum. Getting to Brooklyn was a labor in love as all the subways were rerouted for maintenance.

“Lightscape” is a new event at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

https://www.bbg.org/lightscape

I had to change subways twice before I finally got the Number 2 into Brooklyn. Then it was a quick run to the Brooklyn Museum. Once I got to the museum, it was no problem getting in once I passed the COVID protocols.

I went to see the “Andy Warhol: Revelation” which was combination of his later works, his movies and his personal life both in Pittsburgh and in New York.

I never realized first how religious he was in his personal life and how it affected his art later on. Also, I knew that he had a close relationship with his mother and she lived with him but never knew she had assisted him with his art and how talented she was as an artist.

Andy Warhol and his mother in portrait in the “Andy Warhol: Revelation” exhibition

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/andy_warhol

The exhibition featured some of his paintings from his “Last Supper” collection which he painted before he passed away. These interesting large pastel paintings again showed his religious side and portrayed Di Vinci’s “Last Supper” in a more exaggerated form. He kept the context but added color.

Warhol’s “Last Supper”

I finished my tour of the exhibition by watching part of “Chelsea Girls” one of his most famous films (I still have to admit I do not understand the movie and I watch it at the Museum of Modern Art for a couple of hours) and still did not get the point of the film. I have sat through a retrospect of his films and I have to admit, you really need to think about what he is saying because it can be challenging.

A clip from “Chelsea Girls”

After I left the Warhol exhibition, I walked around the American Galleries and then went down to see the rest of the museum. Several floors either were not open or you had to pay for the ‘Dior’ exhibition. I never remember the Brooklyn Museum charging people to see special exhibitions but I suspect COVID has changed it. Still, it was nice to see the Warhol exhibition before it opened to the public.

I got to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden right on time at 7:00pm to start the “Lightscape” tour of the garden. It was amazing!

Highlights from the “Lightscape”:

This video gives just a short glimpse into what “Lightscape” showcased in the Gardens

https://www.bbg.org/lightscape

It was an hour long walk in the gardens following a path around the perimeter of the Gardens starting at the new Washington Street entrance. What an amazing way to walk the Gardens at night. The lightshow really showcased the beauty of the gardens and its layout. Visitors were guided on a path around the gardens that was cordoned off and then lit with colorful lights and music. Here and there props were added to open spots in the gardens for an experience of lights and sounds.

When you entered the Gardens, you were greeted by light jazz museum to colorful yellow and purple lights adorning the trees. As a group of us rounded the corner into the Japanese Gardens, we were greeted by a lightshow of multiple lights and spotlights enhancing both the garden’s trees and pond. It really lit up the water.

As you exited the Japanese Gardens, more lights lit the pathway to the Greenhouses and pools where interesting water sculptures that looked like floating Locuses lined the pools and kept lighting up to appear to be a flower opening.

The restaurants and cafes in this section of the Gardens were open that night but the lines were tremendous and the menu limited plus it was so cool out that I did not want to eat a meal outside but many people did not have a problem with this. The tables at the Yellow Magnolia Restaurant were packed with people eating.

I proceeded through the Gardens past light features of what looked like surrealist flowers lit in all sorts of colors with the sounds of Christmas jazz in the background. The flowers changed colors as the music played and I took my time to watch the flowers change from vibrant color to another.

These floral sculptures sway to light Christmas Jazz music

As I rounded the edge of the southern section of the Gardens, I walked past more trees that had been lit in green, purple and yellow showcasing trees that just a few months ago had been surrounded by crocuses, daffodils and tulips in all their beauty as Spring moved into Summer.

The path led to the Cherry Tree lawn where the best part of the lightshow took place. A light show awash with colors and sounds as the entire section of the lawn was lit and twinkled of lights and Christmas music and light jazz as all the trees and lawns created a spectacular display that entertained everyone who stopped. I was so taken by the display that I stayed for three entire shows of lights and sounds.

The Cherry Blossom trees were ablaze with lights and music

We exited up the hill that overlooked the Cherry Blossom Lawn so that you could see the lightshow again from another perspective. It was even more interesting as you walked up the sidewalks that line the hill and could sit in the benches watching the show from above the lawn. Amazing!

This video of the Gardens by Caty Exterior really captures the show (I credit the blogger on this amazing video):

I exited the Gardens from the original entrance on Eastern Parkway and like everyone else who was leaving that evening, totally mesmerized by the light show we had just experienced. I was glad that I had seen the show early as the reporters and bloggers who I had probably been touring with had seen the show as well and everyone reported on it the next week. Online reviews were extremely enthusiastic.

After the show was over, I walked down Washington Avenue to find a place to have a snack. I came across Gino’s Cucina Brick Oven Pizzeria at 723 Washington Avenue. for a slice of pizza. The pizza was excellent with such a crisp crust and bottom and the sauce really tasted of fresh tomatoes. The only problem with the restaurant was that there was no place to eat inside and I ended up eating at one of the small tables outside and it had gotten cold as the evening progressed. It was nice to eat outside but my pizza got cold fast.

Gino’s Cucina Brick Oven Pizzeria at 723 Washington Place

https://www.ginoscucinabrickoven.com/

The pizza at Gino’s Cucino was delicious

After my snack, I took another walk around the neighborhood to see the lights of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the distance. It really had been a wonderful evening and I was glad that I experienced the light show and the art opening before they reached the general public and tickets then became hard to get. Not even a week after I visited both shows, they had been heavily reviewed in all the New York City papers so try to get tickets now.

The next evening, I drove up to Croton-on-the-Hudson for the last night of the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Manor. I have been to the show for many years and I even renewed my membership again to see the show one more time. This was the last night of the show before it closed for the season. Seeing a Christmas light show the night before made this visit rather strange as Halloween was over three weeks earlier. Still, it was an amazing walk through the grounds and the best part was there were no crowds!

I started the evening with dinner with my favorite restaurant right near the Van Cortlandt Manor, Dong Happy Gardens at 440 South Riverside Avenue. This wonderful Chinese restaurant is tucked into the Shoprite Mall next to the supermarket. The three times I have eaten here the food has been excellent (See review on TripAdvisor.com) and the service very friendly. The rules have been relaxed at the restaurant so you can eat in the booths now.

Dong Happy Garden at 440 South Riverside Avenue

https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/croton-on-hudson/dong-happy-garden-/

I had the Chicken and String beans with a side of Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll and everything was excellent. They served me a large portion of Chicken with freshly cooked string beans in a soy and Hunan sauce with had a nice hot and tangy flavor to it. The egg roll was filled with lots of chopped roast pork and cabbage and was perfectly fried. The combination plate was a nice sized dinner portion and warmed me up on a cool night.

The Chicken and Broccoli is excellent here

With the Christmas holidays in full swing, the festivities of Halloween are long behind us and since I chose the last night of the show at the last entry time of 8:00pm I pretty much had the walk all to myself. There must have been about fifty other people walking through the same time as myself and I could take extra time to look at the displays and enjoy the music.

The Van Cortlandt Manor is memorizing with the site of hundreds of lit pumpkins

Being so close to Thanksgiving, the newest pumpkins that had been carved were in the shape of turkeys and horns of plenty. You were still greeted by the mysterious faces of Halloween but the last week of the event was themed to the upcoming holiday.

The “Tappan Scream Bridge” leads you into the displays

The show had not changed much since I had visited in late November last year. I entered through the Tappan Scream Bridge and saw all the carved pumpkins of fish swimming. I then passed the Ferris wheel of mysteries animals as they made their way around a circle.

The Headless Horseman Bridge was another bridge of wonder at the entrance of the grounds

Walking through the tunnel of lights is a fantastic sight

I made my way through the display passing the Headless Horseman Bridge and the Museum of Modern Art display which I thought was one of the most original parts of the show three years ago.

Their version of Van Gogh’s “The Scream”

Their version of Di Vinci’s “The Mona Lisa”

Their version of Andy Warhol’s “Soup Cans”

I continued my walk through the display looking that the Ghost Circus Train that lead the way through the next part of the display showcasing all the circus animals that followed.

The Ghost Circus Train ablaze with animals

Once past the Ghost Circus Train I walked past the Ferris Wheel of Animals going round and round as it played an eerie tiny music. The animals grinned as they went through the cycle over and over again.

This ghostly Ferris Wheel shocks and memorizes

The path led past the Ferry House that once greeted guests on the Old Albany Post Road and then led to a series of Zodiac signs. I search for Libra and found it right in the middle of the display showing the balance that our sign represetns.

The Pumpkin sign of Libra

The paths lead past creatures from the deep and the past as our crowd of visitors was greeted by the Lock Ness Monster and a series of dinosaurs that guarded the path on the way to the Van Cortlandt Manor House.

The Loch Ness Monster guards the paths to the deep

The dinosaurs roared and nodded as you walked past them showing their strength of character and lore.

The dinosaurs led the path to the next part of the display

As I got closer to the main house, there was a big display of the skyline of Manhattan with a display of the New York City skyline starting with the statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan skyline. I thought that was very creative.

The Statue of Liberty was very impressive as well was the skyline

I finally reached the Van Corlandt Manor lit to the hilt with colorful lights and a dazzling light show that was continuous. Before you entered the front of the manor, you are greeted by a mysterious clock that chimed and churned as it greeted you.

This grandfather clock chimes it way through the tour of the Van Cortlandt Manor

The manor house, which closes in September for the set up of the Blaze, was lit with a entertaining Light Show and music that greeted guests with a sinister undertone and greeting welcoming in the Halloween season. You have to wait to see the show twice not to miss anything.

Van Cortlandt Manor in all its dazzling glory for the Halloween holiday

Before leaving the last part of the Blaze, there is a well lit path of ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night as you pass the Van Cortlandt cemetery and things from the past that guard them. There are all sorts of creatively carved pumpkins all over the lawn in front of the manor.

The Van Cortlandt Cemetery is on display as you exit the family home

Ghosts and Ghouls and things that go bump in the night

Paying respects to the Van Cortlandt Family patriot Steven Van Cortlandt

Pay respects to Catherine Van Wyck and Pierre Van Cortlandt

Pay respects to Pierre Van Cortlandt

Exiting the Blaze, you will see all sorts of craved pumpkins and the rest of the Blaze in the distance. It will be another year to until the Blaze comes again but what a way to see it on its last glorious night. This is something you should not miss when coming to the Hudson River Valley during the Halloween season.

Me on the night of the Blaze. It was rather warm for this time of the year.

Happy Halloween and Merry Christmas!

Places to eat:

Blondies Sports Bar

212 West 79th Street

New York, NY 10024

(212) 362-3311

https://blondiessportsny.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Sports-Bar/Blondies-Sports-NYC-358153694062/

Open: Sunday12:00am-11:00pm/Monday-Wednesday 6:00pm-11:00pm/Friday 12:00pm-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d522509-Reviews-Blondies_Sports_Bar-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Dong Happy Garden

440 South Riverside Avenue

Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 271-7888

https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/croton-on-hudson/dong-happy-garden-/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-10:0pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g47560-d4616434-r819621756-Dong_Happy_Garden-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

Gino Cucino Brick Oven Pizza

790 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 857-7100

https://www.ginoscucina.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60827-d4275575-r819624674-Gino_s_Pizzeria-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday and Tuesday Closed/Wednesday and Thursday 11:00am-6:00pm/Friday and Saturday 11:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60827-d110213-r819625252-Brooklyn_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11225

(718) 623-7200

https://www.bbg.org/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-3:30pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-3:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60827-d103900-r819623657-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 South Riverside Avenue

Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 336-6900

Open: Please visit the website for dates that it is open seasonally

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g47560-d116391-r819622828-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3677

The Bergen Room Bistro- Bergen Community College 400 Paramus Road Paramus, NJ 07652

Don’t miss this interesting student dining experience from the Culinary students at Bergen Community College.

Don’t miss the student run dining room, “The Bergen Room Bistro” at Bergen Community College for a four-course meal priced at $12.00. It’s a great dining experience.

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

The Bergen Room Bistro-Bergen Community College

400 Paramus Road

Paramus, NJ  07652

Phone: (201) 447-7222

Open: Tuesday & Wednesday 11:00am-1:00pm (only when school is open)

https://bergen.edu/academics/academic-divisions-departments/culinary-arts-hospitality/the-bergen-room/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46712-d12308869-Reviews-The_Bergen_Room-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Bergen Room Bistro is the student run dining room that is part of the Hotel Management Program. The dining room is open depending on the semester. The restaurant is serves both lunch and dinner depending on the semester. The restaurant is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year.

The Bergen Room BCC III

The Hotel Management Program at Bergen Community College

For $10.00 you get a four course meal cooked and served by the students. You are served a soup or a salad to begin with freshly baked breads that are made by the Baking students.

The Bergen Room BCC

The Hotel & Restaurant Students

You are next served an appetizer, a choice of two entrees, one a meat and the other a fish dish…

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Museum of the American Revolution 101 South 3rd Street Philadelphia, PA 19106

Don’t miss this interesting museum in Old Town Philadelphia on the history of the American Revolution.

The artifacts of the famous “King George Statue” from Bowling Green Park at the Musuem of the American Revolution.

The Historic Statue being torn down

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

Museum of the American Revolution

101 South 3rd Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

(215) 253-6731

https://www.amrevmuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/AmRevMuseum/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60795-d12163505-Reviews-Museum_of_the_American_Revolution-Philadelphia_Pennsylvania.html

The Museum of the American Revolution

(From the Museum’s website)

On a recent trip to Philadelphia for the Cornell versus Penn Football Game (We won!), I had on my bucket list a series of small museums that I wanted to visit. One of them was the Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street in Old Town Philadelphia.

What was supposed to be a two-hour visit ended up being almost four hours of fascinating artifacts, paintings, murals, flags, ammunition and cold hard facts about the Revolutionary War and its beginnings, battles and finally peace.

My first stop in the museum was the exhibition “Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War” which showed the artists interpretations of the historical battles and occurrences that took…

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Hessel Museum of Art -Bard College Campus 33 Garden Road Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504

Don’t miss this rather thought-provoking museum on the Bard Campus.

Don’t miss “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985” for its approach to modern home design.

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

Hessel Museum of Art-Bard College Campus

33 Garden Road

Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504

https://ccs.bard.edu/museum

Open: Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29820-d1069234-Reviews-Hessel_Museum_of_Art_at_Bard_College-Annandale_on_Hudson_New_York.html

The Hessel Museum on the Bard Campus

When I was visiting Rhinebeck for the recent Sheep and Wool Festival (See day One Hundred and Forty-Nine on “MywalkinManhattan.com), I decided to visit Bard College and their contemporary art museum, the Hessel Museum. When approaching the museum, it almost appears to be a fortress with several large pieces of contemporary sculpture on the grounds outside the building.

Day One Hundred and Forty-Nine:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10723

Once upon entering the museum, you are greeted by many welcoming volunteers who will check your vaccination card and ID and your mask and then you can enter the museum for viewing. At the time I was there, NY State still had a lot of their mandates.

There were a couple of interesting exhibitions going on…

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Old Hook Farm 650 Old Hook Road Emerson, NJ 07630

Old Hook Farm

650 Old Hook Road

Emerson, NJ 07630

(201) 265-4835

http://www.oldhookfarm.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Farm/Old-Hook-Farm-254262633465/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g46418-d23048831-r815902376-Old_Hook_Farm-Emerson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

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Old Hook Farm Farmhouse Homestead at 650 Old Hook Road



One of the nice things about Bergen County, NJ is the small farms that remain in the area showcasing our Counties agricultural past. There are only about six left and located mostly up in the upper parts of Bergen County where the bulk of the farms were located up until the 1980’s. Land prices and development have made some disappear and with others a lack of an heir to continue the tradition on going forward.



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The entrance to Old Hook Farm

The Old Hook Farm is a throwback to a combination of the old-fashioned General Store and Farm Stand that used to dot small towns in Bergen County. The outside of the store has a greenhouse full of decorative plants for both the house and for the gardens. In the Holiday months, the greenhouse is filled with hot house flowers for the holidays and outside there are Christmas trees, wreaths and other holiday decorations for sale. When it snows, it looks like a picture out of Currier & Ives.

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The flowers and decorative products of the greenhouse

During the Fall months, the farm was ablaze with colors in the background while the front of the greenhouse was filled with gourds, pumpkins and corns of different colors. There were all sorts of Halloween related merchandise for decorating the inside and outside of the house.

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Blogger Justin Watrel in front of the Fall display of products at Old Hook Farm

The inside of the Farmers Market has all sorts of fresh produce with seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly baked pies, cakes and scones and loaves of bread from a local vendor.

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The fresh produce is beautifully displayed in the inside of the market



There are candies from Conrad’s in Westwood, NJ (see blog on that store on this site), milk from a local dairy farm with no artificial ingredients, gluten free products and a lot of non-GMO grocery products and all natural snacks. There is an array of grocery items that are good for you.

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The refrigerated cases are filled with all natural dairy products like ice cream, eggs and milk

There are natural cleaners for the home and cleaning supplies that are good for the environment. There is a small section of cosmetic and home products that are all natural.

The Old Hook Farm is a place of sights and smells and the beauty of the seasons in the trees and woods that surround the picturesque acreage. It is also a nice place to stock up on gifts and farm products for any social visit. It is special place especially during the holiday seasons.



History of the Old Hook Farm:

(From the Farm’s website)

The town of Emerson did not exist during the Native American origin. The name ‘Old Hook’ on the east side of the town came from the Dutch word ‘Hoek’ meaning ‘angle’ or ‘corner’. The angle of the land was created by the three connecting water ways, the Hackensack River, the Pascack Brook and the Musquapsink Brook. The first person to make their home here was William Rutan, who settled on a parcel of land just west of today’s ‘Old Hook Farm’ sometime around 1748 (Emerson Town History).

The current ‘Old Hook Farm’ was bought by current owner, Bruce Marek’s grandfather in 1925 as a weekend getaway. He rented the farm and the farm house to a local resident for 35 years and the family had a large garden on the property until about 1948. Then his father took over the land and cleared the fields and had Soil Conservation come in and do contours and started to grow in the greenhouse. When his father died in 1973, he took over the farm and within eight years, reopened the garden store and started to experiment and grow organic crops (Bruce Marek’s interview with ‘Bergen Save the Watershed Action Network’).

Hot Dog Johnny’s 333 Route 46 West Belvidere, NJ 07823

Hot Dog Johnny’s

333 Route 46 West

Belvidere, NJ 07823

(908) 453-2882

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-10:00pm

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46336-d833526-Reviews-Hot_Dog_Johnny_s-Buttzville_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I have been coming to Hot Dog Johnny’s since 1975 when I made my first trip to the Delaware Water Gap with my family. My father always enjoyed taking the back roads and he remembered this hot dog stand that sold buttermilk with their hot dogs.

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Hot Dog Johnny’s at 333 Route 46 West in Buttzville, NJ

Hot Dog Johnny’s has kept the same limited menu since it was founded in the 1940’s, hot dogs, fries and drinks. It has been CASH ONLY all this time as well so don’t come with the fancy credit cards and they post that they are cash only right when you order.

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The sign is famous on its own

You place your order at the take-out window and there are picnic tables just outside the building and down by the tributary of the Pequest River. The views of the river and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking and on a nice day, it is a pleasure to eat outside on the picnic tables by the water. You could not ask for better views in the Spring and Fall.

The food is really good and very reasonable. The hot dogs are deep fried and they are served on soft buns with a limited number of toppings: mustard, ketchup, pickles and onions ($2.25). There is no chili or items like that to top them. They have a nice snap to them when you bite into hot dog.

The French Fries I believe are freshly cut and deep fried to perfection. They are always hot, crisp and golden brown ($1.80). They are lightly salted and you can get packs of ketchup for them (due to COVID).

There is a limited number of beverages including Buttermilk, Birch Beer, Coke, Diet Coke, and Lemon/Lime Soda. The small drinks are $1.00 with larger sizes available.

The whole meal cost me $5.72 for a hot dog with mustard and a pickle, French Fries and a small ice-cold Birch Beer (the meal I have always ordered here). It is a good deal to me.

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I love the food here.

The History of Hot Dog Johnny’s:

(From their website)

Since 1944:

Across the nation the words “Hot Dog Johnny’s” trigger visions of a nostalgic roadside stand known as much for its food as for its atmosphere. With the Pequest River flowing in the background, Hot Dog Johnny’s is a landmark to anyone having traveled Route 46 through Buttzville, NJ.

Family owned and operated since 1944, John Kovalsky founded Hot Dog Johnny’s thus earning himself the new nickname. John and his wife, Louise, ran Hot Dog Johnny’s in its early days from a small modest stand to its current state as a sixties independent roadside stand.

Although both John and Louise have passed on, their legacy lives on. A very hard working man, who believed the only way to make an honest living was to work hard for it, stood behind his words as he worked in the Dover mines in the day and the Hot Dog stand at night. He strongly believed anything was possible with the right kind of support which he always credited his wife Louise with.

Hot Dog Johnny’s opened its doors on Palm Sunday, 1944 sharing space with a gas station at the intersection of Route 46 and 31 in Warren County, NJ. It was not long before John Kovalsky knew he outgrew the space he occupied thus leading him to buy land along the Pequest River on Route 46 not far from the original location. A man with great vision, he built a hot dog stand not only to provide the best food services possible but also to provide an atmosphere for families to meet and enjoy for years to come.

The testimonies of customers over the years prove Hot Dog Johnny’s visions were on target as they tell stories of coming to the stand as kids with their parents and now come as parents themselves with their own children. It’s a meeting place for family and friends, a fun place for kids to ride on the swings and whether you’re having your meal at the tables on the patio or on the grass by the river one thing is for sure, your experience at Hot Dog Johnny’s will be a memorable on for years to come.

The original stand is still displayed with pride on the grounds of the present Hot Dog Johnny’s property.

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Hot Dog Johnny’s original stand that is located to the back of the parking lot

The business is currently being operated by Hot Dog Johnny’s daughter, Patricia Fotopoulos, who has been involved with the business since it opened in 1944. At age 8, Pat stood on the crates handing out sodas. Today, she stands proudly handing out the best Hot Dog’s ever to the most loyal customers ever.

Hot Dog Johnny’s has been cited by the Travel Channel as being one of the most popular roadsides stands across the country and has also been featured in many major newspapers across the country.

Wonton Noodle Garden 56 Mott Street New York, NY 10013

Don’t miss the wonderful food and service in Manhattan’s Chinatown at the Wonton Noodle Garden. I haven’t since 1978!

Don’t miss these ‘cure all’ soups at the Wonton Noodle Garden in Chinatown

Little Shop on Main Street

Wonton Noodle Garden

56 Mott Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 966-4033

http://www.wontonnoodlegarden.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2370537-Reviews-Wonton_Noodle_Garden-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street

I have been coming to the Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street since it opened in 1978. I remember coming here when I was in high school several times with my parents. The food all these years have been consistent and in all the times I have eaten here, the meals have been terrific.

The one thing I have always liked about the restaurant is that you can see the soups and dumplings being made from the front window. The gentleman who makes the soups has been there for years and I have watched him over all this time day after day when I visited Chinatown make soups with noodles and dumplings for customers all over the world.

This was the…

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San Marzano 117 Second Avenue (at Seventh Street) New York, NY 10003

Don’t miss this reasonable little Italian restaurant tucked in the East Village. The food and service are excellent!

Don’t miss the excellent food and wonderful service at San Marzano!

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

San Marzano

117 Second Avenue (at Seventh Street)

New York, NY 10003

(212) 777-3600

https://www.sanmarzanonyc.com/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 11:00am-11:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d7028366-Reviews-San_Marzano-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

San Marzano Restaurant at 117 Second Avenue in the East Village

There are some restaurants that develop over time and there are some restaurants that become popular immediately. When I had read a restaurant review on San Marzano a few years ago, it seemed that the restaurant opened and quickly became the ‘go-to’ neighborhood dining establishment for NYU students and residents of the East Village. This was due to the quality of the food and the extremely reasonable prices. Now you can rarely get a table any night of the week.

The main selling point of the restaurant is that all of the pastas are homemade and made inhouse on a daily basis. The prices are very reasonable for a restaurant in NYC. The…

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Day Two Hundred and Five Halloween Returns Part II: The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Halloween House Decorating Contest” & The NYC Halloween Parade October 31st, 2021

We held the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association First Annual ‘ Halloween House Decorating Contest’ on Halloween morning. I had come up with the idea last year but because there was not time to put it together, I brought the idea up to the Men’s Association at our October meeting. I had another volunteer help me out with the assistance of his daughter and in a three day period we canvased the town and came up with about ten houses each.

We then narrowed it down to five each, four of which we had picked the same houses. So on the Monday night before Halloween, we visited each of the five houses and chose the winner. We narrowed it down to three houses and then the three of us with the help of our President and his wife, picked the top house. It was a difficult decision until the final night when we visited 253 Henry Street last and saw all the ghosts and ghouls coming out of graves, vampire children playing on a swing and things that go bump in the night crawling around. This was the home of Scott and Logan Vicario.

When I knocked on his door later that evening, he was really excited about winning. Scott Vicario had told me that, “We love Halloween and we love decorating the house for the holidays.” Some of the pieces he had on the lawn looked like film set pieces and he said he ordered these items online and kept adding to his collection. What won it for him was all the ghouls trying to escape from the graves that actually moved around. It was creepy and fascinating at the same time.

Halloween Morning:

In the early morning, I met my aunt for breakfast in Wood Ridge, NJ and we planned the whole morning out. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast Halloween breakfast at Blue Café at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ.

Over a platter of French Toast and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a roll and her ordering an omelet (See my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), we plotted our day of picture taking and showcasing the winners homes for the contest. You have to try their French Toast. It is amazing with all the cinnamon.

Blue Café is the former “Lucky Larry’s” at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ

https://www.facebook.com/happyhealthycafe/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g46937-d23716548-r815895779-Blue_Cafe-Wood_Ridge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/615

Breakfast at Blue Café is delicious. After we ate, it was off to present the awards.

On Halloween morning, we presented all the Honorary awards to the runners up and then presented the main plaque to Scott and Logan at noon. They were very excited and turned on all the props so that we could see them one last time. It was pretty amazing.

The winners:

Scott and Logan Vicario of 253 Henry Street in front of their lawn of horror

Justin Watrel, Chairman of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Halloween House Decorating Contest”, Scott and Logan Vicario and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Member and Judge, Pat Fass. We presented the award at noon on Halloween afternoon.

253 Henry Street was place of Ghouls and Zombie’s and things that scare you!

The decorations on the Vicario’s front yard are quite terrifying

After I finished presenting the award to the winners, I had to revisit the runners up so that we could take their pictures as well. It amazed me that so many people were not up at 11:00am in the morning. I had some time before I had to leave for Manhattan to volunteer for the Halloween Parade and I presented these awards with my aunt who was helping me take pictures that morning.

The runners up were 510 Henry Street, 85 Woodside Avenue, 82 Burton Avenue and 257 Central Avenue. The homeowners at 82 Burton Avenue and 257 Central Avenue were not home that afternoon and I returned to drop off those awards another day.

510 Henry Street in Hasbrouck Heights

510 Henry Street is owned by Mary Rose and Henry Blunda who were thrilled when they were Honorary Runners-up in the contest. Their front lawn was covered with displays of phantom riders, zombie’s and ghosts covering their lawn. “We love the holiday,” Mary Rose said. “We do this for kids,” her husband Frank added.

Mary Rose and Frank Blunda in front of 510 Henry Street in Hasbrouck Heights

Over at 85 Woodside Avenue, there was a large display of the undead walking all over the front lawn and crawling up the sides of the house. This fascinating display was creating by Lisa and Matt Fiduccia who were thrilled to be Honorary Runners-up in the contest well. Them and their two children who were preparing for an afternoon of Trick or Treating when they found out about the award.

85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The family very proudly took a picture in front of their creation. “We have a lot of fun with this on Halloween,” the couple said. The lawn seemed to come alive on Halloween morning as the sun shined on zombies and other undead walking the property.

Lisa and Matt Fiduccia and their family outside 85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The two Honorary winners were 257 Central Avenue with its interesting display of skeletons and undead crawling out of graves. The most interesting part of the display was the skeleton lemonade stand.

257 Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The home is owned by Barbara Donaigo, who we were able to give her award a few days after Halloween when she was home. “I love Halloween and decorating for it,” she told me when I presented her the award for her home.

The macabre skeletons in front of 257 Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights

The last home in Hasbrouck Heights to be awarded for its creative design was 82 Burton Avenue. Although the house was not decorated from head to toe, it was the displays that it did showcase plus the way the house was lit in the evening. The house had side windows similar to the “Amityville Horror” house with red lights shining through them.

82 Burton Avenue pays homage to the “Amityville Horror”. Notice the side windows

82 Burton Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights during the day

The witches outside 82 Burton Avenue guard the door and bubble, bubble

The family who owned the house were never home in the three tries so I left their award at the door. During the day, you would not have noticed it but at night the house had a mysteries glow to it.

After we finished handed out the awards with a little ceremony for each, I left for New York City to work at the Halloween Parade which I have been doing since 2014. I have been Marshalling the Performers Gate with my ‘cousin’ Mark (our families both have Colonial roots and our families had married into each others about four times 150 years ago so I tease him and call us ‘cousins’) for six years (we did not have the parade last year because of COVID-See Halloween Night 2020 on this blog).

‘Cousin’ Mark and I (the ‘Aristocrats’ at the gate of the Halloween Parade at Dominick Street) in the West Village

The weather could have not been nicer that day as it was about 68 degrees when I arrived at the parade route at 4:00pm. It started out very quiet as the volunteers arrived to check in but progressively got busier as the performers arrived for band and float assignments.

The Halloween Parade was a lot of fun this year. It was so nice to see the City come back to life for at least a day. People really came out for the parade since it was a beautiful day in the high 60’s. I was wearing a short sleeved polo until about 8:00pm. It ended up being 68 degrees that night, Not quite the 71 degrees of two years ago but still a warm night to be outside enjoying a parade.

We did not have any real problems at the gate and were finished with our assignment by 8:00pm. As we closed the gate and left the police in charge, I walked into the staging area and watched the last of the floats head uptown. It is so exciting to watch as the parade comes to life at this location. It is always so chaotic.

The beginning of the Halloween Parade is the best with the Skeleton puppets

What made this Halloween really special is that everyone was so happy to have a good time. All over New York City and the island of Manhattan, people felt they were allowed to go outside and enjoy the day.

People flooded cafes, restaurants and bars all over Lower Manhattan and Midtown and everything was so busy with people enjoying outdoor dining even at 9:00pm and mobbed every fast food restaurant and pizzeria. I have never seen so many smiles and so much joy in people’s faces as they enjoyed the warm weather and comradery on Halloween night.

Isn’t this what Halloween should be about even in the era of COVID? Still have safe fun?

The full Halloween Parade in 2021 in Greenwich Village

Day Two Hundred and Three: Walking the Borders of the Garment District from Fifth to Ninth Avenues from West 42nd to West 34th Streets September 6th, 2021

Walking through the Garment District has less to do with manufacturing these days.

mywalkinmanhattan

I finally felt well enough to continue my walk around Manhattan. I had not been into New York City in six weeks and had really missed my walking around the island. I had finished exploring the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood before I pulled my back and decided to keep my adventures closer to home (Exploring Downtown Boonton-Day One Hundred and Two). I just was not up to coming into the City.

The Garment District once home to many designers and manufacturers in the New York Fashion Industry is not what it was when my Grandfather was an officer in the Ladies Garment Union back in the 1950’s and 60’s. It is not what it once was with the showrooms that were located there when I worked for Macy’s in the 1990’s. Cost of real estate, rezoning for commercial and residential during the Bloomberg Administration and cost of doing business in the…

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