Day Two Hundred and Six-Visiting the Light Shows “Lightscape” in Brooklyn and “The Jack O’Lantern Blaze” in Croton-on-the-Hudson for the Holidays November 20th-21st, 2021 (and again on November 5th and January 7th, 2022)

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”:

Lightscape 2021

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

https://www.bbg.org/lightscape

Lightscape 2022:

The Map of ‘Lightscape” in 2023:

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.

The colored lights by the Japanese Gardens

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.

“Shunkashuto” in the Japanese Gardens

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.

“Shunkashuto” in the Japanese Gardens

As you exited the Japanese Gardens, more lights lit the pathway to the Greenhouses and pools where interesting water sculptures that looked like floating Locusts 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.

The Magnolia Tree garden lit for the Lightscape event

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 (2021)

As I walked through 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. In 2023, the ‘Hanabi’ sculpture, just off Daffodil Hill, was playing Christmas song as the lights and movements swayed around.

‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023

‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023

‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023

‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023

I felt like “Alice in Wonderland” walking under these stars

Just past the ‘Hanabi’ sculpture with the music still playing in the background, the brightly lit “Windseeds” were glowing in the distance. They looked like seeds that you would blow off a dandelion after it has dried out. These brightly lit stars lit the way to the Lilly Ponds.

Artist Norman Mooney created “Windseeds”

The “Windseeds”

The ‘Windseeds’

When I got to the Lily Ponds, the “Night Lilly” sculptures were out and did not light up even though the music was playing. The restaurant was pretty busy with people ordering hot drinks and sandwiches and pretzels. It was a cool night so I was a little thrown when people were eating outside.

When I left the restaurant and the Lily Ponds, I passed ‘A Magic of the Season’, a musically review sculpture that twisted and turned with the lights. It played the most wonderful seasonal music and its complexity changed with the colors.

‘A Magical Season’ in full color

From “A Magical Season” still playing in the distance, I could see and hear the song that made the “Light like Water” play and with each verse in the song, the pyramid changed colors and designs. I was so fascinated by it and by the song that sounded so post-COVID about recovery that I stayed three times to hear it all the way through and watch the colors. It was mesmerizing.

‘Light Like Water’ by artist Masha Tsimring

The glass pyramid “Light Like Water” at one of its various points of light and color in the song

The pyramid kept changing colors

They pyramid halfway through the song

Further down the path at the southernmost part of the park were the “Nightbirds” who soared across the trees in that part of the part near where the Herb and Rock Gardens were located.

‘Nightbirds’ were colorful as they soared above the gardens

Heading back towards the Main Lawn was the sculpture “What if?” as if it was questioning why we were in the gardens and what was our purpose.

“What if?” lights the way by the Rock Garden

On the way back and passing the Main Lawn where the water features are located was the interesting large flowers of the sculptures of “Bloom”. These colorful flowers were set to the background of trees that kept changing colors and were a blaze of brillant colors.

The beauty of “Bloom”

‘Bloom’ changing colors

The surrounding trees kept changing colors around “Bloom” adding to its complexity.

Next to ‘Bloom’, the ‘Neon Tree’ dazzling everyone with a variety of lights that showed the context of the tree it decorated. I wish the artist had done more than one tree as it would have made an interesting forest.

The ‘Neon Tree’

‘Neon Tree’ up close

Passing the ‘Neon Tree’, there was a shot of lights and music that created a outdoor ‘Disco’ dance floor in the middle of the path. “Dancing Lights” would have been fun if the weather had been warmer and people could have boogied on down. It got colder by eight o’clock and the lights were in full swing. At least we could enjoy them by walking through them.

“Paloma” was a series of birds that were placed all over the trees and looked like a pigeon attack from the distance. These well-light birds covered the branches of the trees on my way to the ‘Winter Cathedral’, which was the signature work of art of the this walking exhibition.

‘Paloma’ from the ‘Neon Tree’ path and its approach

‘Paloma’ from up close

The ‘Winter Cathedral’ from a distance

Entering the “Winter Cathedral”

Walking through the “Winter Cathedral” is amazing

The top of the lights of the “Winter Cathedral”

The “Ghosts” once you leave the “Winter Cathedral”

“The Ghosts” of birds on the sidewalks

The path led to the Cherry Tree lawn where the best part of the light show 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 “Fire Garden” in the Rose Garden Fountain

The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn

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!

The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn

The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn

The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn

The “World of Color” is between the Cherry Trees

The “Aurora” at the end of the walk through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

The “Aurora” was the end of the show and the lights overlooked the Cherry Blossom lawn and with all the Cherry Trees lit to capacity, the whole show had two different perspectives from both sides of the lawn and as you walked down the promenade.

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

The video on the walk through the gardens

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 in 2021, 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.

In 2022, it was really getting cold out and I needed some chicken soup and I remembered North Dumpling and King Dumpling in Chinatown and wanted to stop in Chinatown for a quick snack. Thank God I chose North Dumpling first because as I walked back through Chinatown, King Dumpling had closed for the evening.

China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street in Chinatown

http://www.china-north-dumpling.com/

I had to walk down many dark streets to the get to the restaurant which is on the other side of Chinatown. I ended up ordering the Steamed Wonton Noodle Soup ($6.95) and an order of Spring Rolls ($3.00). With a Coke the whole thing came to $11.00. That was my type of meal and talk about the soup warming you up.

The Spring Rolls at China North Dumping

The Steamed Wonton Noodle Soup I highly recommend at China North Dumpling in Chinatown

It was a nice end to a wonderful evening and even though it got cold, it was fun walking around Chinatown again. What really scared me is how rapidly the neighborhood is changing. It is getting very ‘hipster’. I am not sure if people are noticing.

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.

Welcome to the Blaze in 2022

Pumpkins with their own ideas in 2022

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.

The Art Show:

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”

Keith Haring in a pumpkin

Alexander Calder in 2022

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.

The Pumpkin Blacksmith in 2022

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 represents.

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

The Flower garden on the way out.

The Ghouls as you exit the Pumpkin Blaze

Exiting the Blaze, you will see all sorts of carved 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

China North Dumpling

27A Essex Street

New York, NY 10002

(646) 421-8823

http://www.china-north-dumpling.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d7608410-Reviews-China_North_Dumpling-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2981

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

1 thought on “Day Two Hundred and Six-Visiting the Light Shows “Lightscape” in Brooklyn and “The Jack O’Lantern Blaze” in Croton-on-the-Hudson for the Holidays November 20th-21st, 2021 (and again on November 5th and January 7th, 2022)

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