Category Archives: Exploring Historic Bergen County NJ

Day Two Hundred and Eleven: From the delivery of trees to the Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY and other Christmas activities that changed in the blink of an eye: Welcome to another crazy COVID Christmas! December 1st-31st, 2021

I cannot believe that another Christmas has come and gone and COVID is still raging around. Talk about having to adapt to a new world a lot wiser and more aware. I have just become more careful over the last year and kept my activities to a minimum (yeh right, I still run all over the place for work and keeping people informed about happenings all over the place). I just try to stay safe. I put my walk of the Garment District on hold for the Christmas holidays and all that came with it.

Christmas started right after I came home from Thanksgiving dinner in Lambertville when the next morning, I had to wake up at 6:00am to get ready to go to the Christmas tree lot for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Drop Off of the trees. We had 390 trees being delivered and it was all hands-on deck.

Setting up the Christmas trees

Who knew that the truck would arrive at 8:00am and we got caught off guard. No one expected it to come until at least 10:30am. So, at 9:00am, over thirty members and their children emptied all 390 Christmas trees off the truck (they shorted us ten trees), got them tagged and ready to sell. We had not even finished tagging the trees and our first tree sold at 10:30am.

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at Christmas tree set up 2021

I stayed on the site until 4:30pm and we had already sold the first twenty-one trees. I could not believe how fast the trees sold that day. The only reason why I left is that I had to help with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Annual Holiday Parade. God did it get cold that night.

The night after Thanksgiving, the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce holds the Annual Holiday Parade and the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department is always a participant from helping Santa enter town in the Parade to setting up the sound system for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I swear it got so cold that night by the time the town lit the tree it must have gone down to 35 degrees. Thank God we bundled up!

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade

After the tree was lit, I never saw a place empty out so fast. People were so cold! Even with all our layers, we were cold too.

I did an about face and the next morning left for Beach Haven, NJ to attend some of Long Beach Island’s Christmas activities. The day ended up being much nicer and was a bit warmer. It is a two-hour trip to the shore and you would think that a beach community is not the place to spend an early Christmas weekend but you would be amazed at the activities they had planned all over the island that day.

I left the house around 8:30am on what started out as a gloomy morning that turned sunny and clear by the time I reached Long Beach Island. I decided to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse first to see if it was decorated with lights like the lighthouse at Montauk Point. That was always impressive the years I went out to visit my friend, Lillian.

The lighthouse was not decorated for the holidays but was finally open to walk in and climb the stairs. It was over a hundred steps up and back down. What a view all the way up. There were small stops on the way up with views on each level landing. By the time I reached the top of the stairs there were only three of us up there and God was it windy. I only lasted at the top of the lighthouse a few minutes before I almost blew off. What views of the waves coming in!

The Barnegat Lighthouse at the tip of Long Beach Island

https://nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/barnegatlighthousestatepark.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d286497-Reviews-Barnegat_Lighthouse_State_Park-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5345

Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.

The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.

Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing

http://www.vikingvillageshows.com/village-info.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d2471201-Reviews-Viking_Village-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.

My next stop was the Long Beach Island Historical Society which sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.

The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society

https://lbihistoricalmuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d11444615-Reviews-Long_Beach_Island_Historical_Museum-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3311

The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.

The Christmas display at the front of the Long Beach Island Historical Society

After my visit to the Historical Society, I went down the road and revisited the NJ Maritime Museum 528 Dock Road right by the water. I had read so much at the shark attacks in New Jersey back in 1916 and wanted to see the exhibition again. I also wanted to see the exhibition on shipwrecks again so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum and then walking down to the harbor to watch the sun set. The sun sets on that island are amazing.

The NJ Maritime Museum at 528 Dock Road

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d1881647-Reviews-Museum_of_NJ_Maritime_History-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5338

For dinner that night, I went back to the Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in the Beach Haven downtown. The food and the selection here is just excellent and the perfect place for comfort foods on a cool night. My waiter could not have been nicer and recommended the White Clam Chowder, which was so thick and rich and you could taste the cream and fresh clams in every bite. God the seafood was so sweet.

The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ

https://www.facebook.com/chegg609/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d438676-Reviews-The_Chicken_or_the_Egg-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

For dinner, I started with the New England Clam Chowder and did it hit the spot. Loaded with clams and potatoes in a rich cream soup. It warmed me up inside. I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for the entree, which was delicious as well. Chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables in a flaky crust and a rich gravy. On a cool night by the shore, there is nothing like it to warm you up. Talk about making the perfect choices for dinner.

The Woo Hoo at 211 South Bay Avenue

https://thewoohoo.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d7646259-Reviews-The_WooHoo-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1244

After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The Woo Hoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.

Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021

https://www.facebook.com/events/kaplers-pharmacy/classis-christmas-soiree/284160150273064/

I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?

Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!

After a short trip down to my mom’s for her birthday and two Private Member Nights in New York City at The Met and the Museum of the City of New York (see blog below):

Day Two Hundred and Eight: Private Members Nights in NYC:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20227

it was back to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sinterklaas Parade and Celebration on Saturday, December 4th. I swear I was running from one place to another the whole week but was looking forward to the parade that had been cancelled last year because of COVID.

I travelled back up to Rhinebeck again for the festivities and got there by 10:00am in time to help unload the truck at the Starr Library. That brought back a lot of memories from parades past and it was so nice to walk around the cool air of Upstate New York. What started off as a very gloomy morning cleared up and it ended up being a clear, sunny and mild day in Rhinebeck.

We unpacked the familiar floats and puppets from years past and put together the bees, owls, geese, knights and dragons, horses that would lead Sinterklaas down his route and Children’s puppets that had children hoping for better times ahead. I always enjoy the comradery of the morning of putting the puppets together for the parade. Our theme this year was “Miss Mouse and Mr. Toad get married” so our events were based on the two characters getting hitched.

(I wanted to thank volunteer Jonathan Green for these pictures)

Me (in the jacket and khakis at the set up for the ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ in Rhinebeck, NY

Setting up the puppets for the parade is interesting

All the latest puppets ready to enter the parade

Mr. Toad preparing for his marriage to Miss Mouse

Miss Mouse preparing for her marriage to Mr. Toad in the Sinterklaas Parade

The Dragon is preparing for his duel with the knights of the parade

The puppets were set up in record time and we were finished by 11:45am

After we were done with the puppets, I drove down to Downtown Rhinebeck and parked a few blocks away and walked over to Main Street and joined in the opening festivities at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant was already packed with customers when I got there and the banquet room was full of visitors at the Opening Ceremony.

I had already checked in to my hotel, so I did not have to come back to the hotel until later that evening. This time I stayed at the Marriott Poughkeepsie which was much closer to Rhinebeck than staying at the one in Fishkill. I have to say that both hotels were wonderful when I was visiting the area.

The Marriott Poughkeepsie at 2641 South Road/Route 9

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pouch-courtyard-poughkeepsie/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48443-d93719-Reviews-Courtyard_Poughkeepsie-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html?m=19905

The Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms is always a lot of fun. All the costumed characters are introduced like the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee and the Snow King and Queen. They also introduced the Mayor of Rhinebeck and his wife, who portrayed Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse and reconfirmed their wedding vows in real life in front of the whole crowd. I thought that was very touching and I told her this later when I ran into her at another event.

After the marriage ceremony and the traditional Polar Bear Dance, Jonathan Kruk, a well-known storyteller, told the story of Sinterklaas. Mr. Kruk is a wonderful speaker and knows how to tell a story. He always captivates a crowd. Even though I have heard the same stories for years, I still enjoy listening to him speak.

No one is better at storytelling then Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas

Because I said that I would help with the checking in with the volunteers for the parade, I had to be back to the library by 4:00pm so that only gave me about a little over two and a half hours this time to enjoy the festivities.

What was nice was the policy blocked off the Downtown area so that everyone could walk in the streets and watch the performers do their thing. There were bands on stilts performing rag time music and holiday classics, the Polar Bear danced around and greeted visits with a quick spin on the street and I visited the Toad Stool where Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse greeted each visitor with a bundle of ribbons so that you could give them to strangers for good luck. I had never heard of that tradition before but it was interesting to walk through a giant toadstool.

I also walked around the businesses that were open and admired the store window displays. It was as if each store was trying to outdo the other for creativity and beauty of the Christmas season. My favorite was Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street in Downtown Rhinebeck.

Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street

https://www.facebook.com/samuelsofrhinebeck/

I watched the Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers do their traditional dance, singing groups entertain the outdoor crowds (Keeping COVID safe) and performers with sticks doing their routine. What I liked about Sinterklaas this year is that there were a lot of outdoor venues, so people were not cooped up inside wearing masks.

By 3:00pm I was starved and knowing that I would not be able to eat until way after the parade was over, I stopped at Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street. I love dining here and like their generous portions and the friendly service. I had my favorite Turkey Club sandwich with French Fries which is always good. They roast their own fresh turkey every day for their sandwiches.

Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street

https://www.petesfamous.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d823142-Reviews-Pete_s_Famous_Restaurant-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

The day started to fall into dusk and the whole town was being lit up. This is when Rhinebeck shows its true beauty as a Christmas village. All the trees in the Downtown are lit with white lights and adorned with paintings of the Sinterklaas Festival and ribbons. Also, all the stores light their windows and it makes the whole town look like a Currier & Ives woodprint.

Downtown Rhinebeck at dusk

Downtown Rhinebeck at night when its magic comes to life

I got back to the library at 4:00pm and assisted the staff in getting everyone ready for the parade, explaining how to work the puppets and hold them and making sure that everyone knew to listen to the marshals who were running the parade when it started.

It had been two years since we had a parade but it felt like time had not even passed by. I love to watch the parade come to life. As everyone lines up, the lights go on at each puppet and the bands get into high gear. Then there is the excitement of walking down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck to the adoring crowds of the parade.

The crowds have tripled in the decade that I have been volunteering for the parade. The first time that I volunteered it was in 2010 with my father on my first trip up to Rhinebeck since being at the Culinary Institute and then I started volunteering again in 2014 when I started working on the Halloween Parade in the City. Just like that parade, excitement builds as the parade starts.

Walking down that hill is an amazing thing as people get so excited to see the floats and hear the music especially at this time with COVID raging on. Things seemed more festive as this is an outdoor event and it was two weeks before the omicron outbreak raged the country. It was a night of revelry and welcoming in the holiday season.

Sinterklaas is a magically evening in Downtown Rhinebeck

Because the positions in the parade and the puppets were all filling myself and the other person, I worked with on checking people in took the “Follow the Banner in the Parade” banner down the hill to get everyone to the staging area for the conclusion of the parade. We were right behind the drumline of women who concluded the parade and whipped spectators into a dancing frenzy. I watched as people literally danced in the streets happy to be outside enjoying this evening. It was so nice to see families have such a good time.

This wonderful view of the parade that was posted online of ‘Sinterklaas 2021’

The parade ended in the community parking lot with all the characters are introduced and the well wishes to Sinterklaas and his entourage. There was music and the fire eaters showing their talents off to the large crowd who were looking towards a much happier holiday season. It was just nice to see everyone having a festive evening.

After the ceremony was over, I just walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, admiring the beautifully decorated windows and admiring the white lights adorning the trees. I love this downtown at Christmas. I stopped at Village Pizza for dinner and it was nice to just warm up. God is their pizza delicious.

Village Pizza at 19 East Market Street

https://www.facebook.com/RBKVP/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d818463-Reviews-Village_Pizza_of_Rhinebeck-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

After dinner, it was another quiet walk around downtown Rhinebeck to admire the lights and the window displays. I love walking around this town.

Downtown Rhinebeck before nightfall

Downtown Rhinebeck before dusk

The next morning, I was off early to join some of the other members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association for a modified Christmas hello to all our retired firefighters living in the NJ State Firemen’s Association.

Since our party was cancelled for the residents due to COVID, we gave our gift to the residents the week before (we got each resident a long-sleeved shirt that was monogramed with their name on it which I heard they all loved) and we also had a special Jersey Mike’s lunch for the residents the month before to ring in the holiday season.

Because of COVID regulations, we could only have a few members come but myself and the President of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association talked with our fellow firefighters during ‘Holiday Bingo’ or walked around to greet them and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’.

Santa greeting guests at the NJ Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ in 2019 in better times

It was just for a short time that we were allowed to stay but the members of the home appreciated it. We wanted to let our fellow firefighters know that we did not forget them during the holidays.

Members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home enjoying the Jersey Mike’s dinner we sponsored

Classes took up most of next week for me as we prepared for my Introduction to Business class to make their big presentation to me for their final grade. So, I was running around most of the week working with both my online class and my live class as we were getting ready for final exams.

On Thursday, December 9th, I took a break from all of my grading and went to see the production of “A Christmas Pudding” at Bergen Community College where I work. The students were putting on a Christmas retrospect of songs and readings which was a very nice performance.

The Theater students sang many traditional and contemporary songs from the American songbook with one student singing a very emotional version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Considering everything that was going on with COVID, I thought it was very touching. The students did a good job with the production and it really put me into the Christmas spirit.

The Play “A Christmas Pudding” at Ciccone Theater at Bergen Community College on December 9th

Another thing that put me into the Christmas spirit was all the new songs coming out this year. Did we need some Christmas cheer this year! I wanted to share two of my favorites that came to me via YouTube.

These two songs appeared on the Internet when I was writing this blog and I thought they were very symbolic of what is going on right now during the holidays as we try to resume to a new normal. I wanted to share them with all of you.

John Legend’s new Christmas song: “You Deserve it All”

Nora Jones new Christmas song: “Christmas Calling”

Kohmi Hirose did this great version of “Sleigh Ride” in English

On December 10th, my students presented their Class Group Project entitled “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” and the students did a terrific job with the project.

The students logo to “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”.

Here is the presentation with all the commercials:

Day Two Hundred and Nine on my “MywalkinManhattan.com” blog:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20566

This “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed project was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the film. I had the students watch the film for inspiration and ideas, then put the framework for the project together and they took it from there.

There is a message from me their CEO as well:

A welcome from CEO/Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

I could not have been prouder of my students both in my live class and in my online class who created the individual Class Project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, reopening a 100-year-old candy store with a modern twist.

Here is the project with all the graphics that the students created:

Day Two Hundred and Ten on “MywalkinManhattan.com”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20568

With the major class projects over with, I prepared the students final exams and emailed off my online students their exam first. While they came in, I was able to grade along the way. Taking a break from that over the weekend, I visited Hope, NJ for a Lantern Walking Tour of the town and then a Candlelight Church Service at the Methodist church.

The Hope Annual Moravian Christmas Tour and Church service in Hope, NJ

I discovered this tour when I was traveling out to the Delaware Water Gap when I was updating my blog on “Visiting Budd Lake” and I stopped in Hope before heading to Blairstown, where I had wanted to visit the Blairstown Museum at the end of the day (it had closed by then). I saw this flyer when one of the shopkeepers in town handed it to me and I thought it would be an interesting event. What an eye opener!

I never heard of the history of the Moravian religion before and how they founded the town. We toured all the former factories and homes that had been built around the turn of the last century and then heard actors talk about that time during Christmas. Life just seemed slower then.

This is also where the opening scenes of the cult film “Friday the 13th” were shot. The initial scene where Annie arrives in Crystal Lake for her journey to the camp. I included the clip from the opening scene and the what the current locations look like now.

“Friday the 13th” from 1980 filmed in Hope, NJ

The famous opening scene from the film “Friday the 13th”

Friday the 13th (1980) Filming Locations

This is where Annie entered the diner for the opening of “Friday the 13th”:

Hope Junction Antiques at 331 High Street (where the diner was located at the time of filming)

https://www.hopejunctionantiques.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HopeJunctionAntiques/

The inside of the Hope Junction Antiques with one of kind artwork and antiques.

This unique store carries an array of local and regional artists work, the owner’s personal art pieces and a selection of decorative items and antique pieces. It had an interesting selection of holiday items when I visited the town both on my journey through Budd Lake and Route 46 and when I took the walking tour on December 11th. The store was open still right before the tour.

Burgdorff Realty at 2 Walnut Street where Annie enters the truck

https://www.facebook.com/BurgdorffERA/

Burgdorff Realty is where Annie entered the truck in the scene.

The Moravian Cemetery on High Street just down the road from Downtown Hope, NJ

https://www.facebook.com/HopeMoravianCemetery/

The cemetery is the ‘crossroads’ but is actually right down the block from the antique store and the realty company. This is now part of the St. John’s Methodist Church. This is where the Candlelight Services were held.

But I was not there for a movie tour but a cheerful Christmas tour of Moravian history. I met my tour group at the Hope Community Center which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Before the tour started, the Hope Historical Society who was running the tour was selling food and Christmas items as a fundraiser. We started the Lantern Tour from this location.

The Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut Street decorated for Christmas

When we finished visiting some of the old factories, we visited ‘Trout Alley’, where people used to travel to get around the toll booth when they arrived in Hope. The path is now used to get to the antique store at the end of the path.

https://www.hopechristmascraftmarket.com/building-info

Trout Alley

Trout Alley is the path to avoid the toll booth in Hope, NJ.

The Hope Historical Society at 323 High Street

https://www.hopenjhistory.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/6341

The Hope Historical Society was the sponsor of this program and was open the evening of the tour. We got to walk inside and look at old pictures of the town, old maps and artifacts that have been donated over the years by local residents that are part of the history of the town. The small one room building also houses vintage furniture and household and dress items. Please look at my blog at VisitingaMuseum.com above.

Looking down the street from Downtown Hope, NJ to the Inn at Millrace Pond where the Festival of Trees was located.

The house on High Street where we heard about Moravian Christmas traditions

Costumed characters sat on the porch that evening and reminisced about life at the turn of the last century as they prepared for the Christmas holidays. They talked about the hours needed to prepare the decorations and food for the legions of relatives and friends that would be visiting.

It was more spectacular at dusk when it was lit for Christmas

The First Hope Bank and Moravian homes that are now private residences

The bank was called the Gemeinhaus, which was the church/community center of the village. It was built in 1781. The house next door which is part of the bank is the Caleb Swayze House that was built in 1832.

Moravian Residences by the bank

The Caleb Swayze is the house towards the right and it was built in 1832. It is now part of the bank.

The homes and the current bank at dusk lit for Christmas

The Toy Chest Toy Store at 335 High Street a former Moravian home

https://www.facebook.com/thehopetoychest/

I have been to the Toy Chest Toy Store many times on my journey to Hope, NJ and it has the most amazing selection of toys, games and collectibles in the area.

Moravian home where the Manger program was performed and after it was over, we visited many local homes of prominent residents from the area. To end the tour, we visited the back of someone’s garage where there was a live nativity scene performed that evening with actors reading from the Bible.

This interesting little barn/garage is across from the church and I thought looked quite festive

St. John’s Methodist Church at 354 High Street and the former Moravian Church where the Candlelight services were held. The service is posted on their Facebook page below.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Methodist-Church/St-Johns-United-Methodist-Church-1406394686297265/

I attended the Candlelight Christmas services at St. John’s Methodist Church which had once served as the Moravian Church and the service was followed as it would have been at the turn of the last century. The visiting priest had once been head of the church here and gave a very inspirational talk on the holidays that was followed by the lights being dimmed and caroling by candlelight which gave the whole church an interesting glow (you can see the whole service on the church’s Facebook page attached).

Afterwards I took one last walk around Hope to admire all the lights and decorations. After a quick slice of pizza at Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road, I was on my way home through the darkness. It really does get dark on these back roads until you hit Route 80. The little pizzeria is tucked into a small strip mall on the side of the road and has great pizza. It really was a festive and interesting evening.

Hope Pizza and Catering at 435 Hope Blairstown Road

https://www.hopepizzeria.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hopepizzeria/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46518-d19270906-Reviews-Hope_Pizzeria_Catering-Hope_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

For my Christmas present to myself every year, I go to Carnegie Hall for the NY Pops Christmas Concert but it ended up being on the night of my final exam and there was no way to cancel it, so I had to miss it again this year (COVID cancelled it last year).

When I visited the City the Sunday before for the “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I walked back to Port Authority through Lincoln Center and I wanted to see what was going on this Holiday season and I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was performing a one woman show to promote her new Christmas album that Monday night. I was on the Internet that night to see if there were tickets left for the show.

The “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West at 79th Street

https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/sharks

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d210108-Reviews-American_Museum_of_Natural_History-New_York_City_New_York.html

The next night I had tickets in hand and off I went to Lincoln Center which I had not been to in two years since I had seen “Whipped Cream” in December of 2019 for the holidays. It was so nice be dressed up and going to the Met again. The theater was packed with people with the same idea. The City was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights.

Lincoln Center in all its glory at Lincoln Center Plaza

http://www.lincolncenter.org/

What a concert! Talk about being in sync with the holidays and just what the doctor ordered after a long semester. I needed a good concert and this really put me into the holiday spirit. Ms. Chenoweth was really in great spirits that night and brought the house down with these two songs from her album plus playing from Broadway shows and the Great American Songbook. It was a great Christmas concert and I left humming down Eighth Avenue.

This song opened the show at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 13th, 2021

https://www.metopera.org/season/2021-22-gala/kristin-chenoweth-christmas-at-the-met/

This song brought down the house!

I was starved when I left for the theater since I was in a rush to get into the City that afternoon with enough time to make the concert and still grade quizzes that were coming in from my online class at the Cornell Club.

I had a sudden craving for Linguini in White Clam Sauce so off I went to Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street which I had visited over the summer. I ordered their Linguini in White Clam sauce which ended up being a piping hot almost pound of pasta with a quarter pound of clams on top ($10.95) with a Coke. Talk about excellent and the perfect dinner on a cool night. The sauce was so flavorful and the clams were so sweet and fresh. I ate contently and the manager was so happy when I told her the food was excellent. Talk about an end to a wonderful evening.

The Linguini with White Clam Sauce was just superb that night at Amore Pizza Cafe

https://amorepizzacafe.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23336838-Reviews-Amore_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

For the rest of the week, I had visited the Met and the Museum of the City of New York for private events and while seeing the new “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I went to see the “Origami Tree”, that has been a staple of the museum for years. All of these events really put me in the Christmas spirit and put the ghosts of last Christmas behind me. It was not too last.

The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

I wanted to visit the Hudson River Valley again before the holiday season was over and I saw on the Dutchess County Tourism site that Mount Gulian, a mansion near Beacon, NY was being decorated for the holidays and December 15th was the first day it would be open for touring.

I grabbed my aunt and we decided to spend the day visiting decorated homes and towns for the Christmas season. Our first stop was Beacon, NY to visit some of the stores on my website, LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com, Colorant and Flora a Good Time both located in the downtown area and then off to Mount Gulian, a decorated mansion up Route 9.

Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas

Mount Gulian was the home of the Verplanck’s for generations, the original house burned to the ground in 1938 and this house is a replica of the original sitting on the original home’s foundation. The house is decorated in many of the Verplanck’s family heirlooms donated by branches of the family over the years.

The main rooms on the first floor of the home including the former living room, dining room, sitting room and library were all decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays. The hallways and doorways were also adorned with garland and bows and lights giving a festive and warm appearance to the house.

The tour took about an hour (see my blog on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the history of the house was discussed at various times and how family members called it home. Our tour guide also gave us interesting facts on the family and their connection with the house today. It is so nice to hear that various members of the Verplanck family still take an interest in the home.

Mount Gulian at 145 Sterling Place in Beacon, NY

https://www.facebook.com/mountgulian/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47291-d10701912-Reviews-Mount_Gulian_Society-Beacon_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4103

Mount Gulian decorated in the foyer

Mount Gulian’s Dining Room decorated for Christmas Dinner

The sitting room at Mount Gulian

After the tour was over, the tour guide invited us to enjoy refreshments of hot cider and home baked goodies. Since there were only three of us on our tour, it gave us a chance to discuss the history of the families in the Hudson River Valley, the status of these famous homes and the future of historic sites of the region. It was really an engaging and interesting afternoon and the tour guide could not have been nicer. The whole event really represented what the Christmas experience is in the Hudson River Valley.

Between the Sinterklaas Parade in the beginning of the month, visiting the decorated homes of the region and walking the festive downtowns of the area giving them a “Currier & Ives” look about them. Dutchess, Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties really know how to convey the holiday spirit.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

Our next stop was visiting Rhinebeck, NY which we arrived before dusk. The town was just lighting the trees and all the storefront windows were beautifully decorated for the holidays as they were on the night of the Sinterklaas Parade. The only town I know that can compete with Rhinebeck for the title of ‘Christmas Village’ is Cape May, NJ.

Rhinebeck has a magical look at nightfall

Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street gets into that spirit every year

I love the way they merchandise the store for the holidays and their prices are very fair on their candies and desserts. You have to try their doughnuts.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d3641613-Reviews-Samuel_s-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/187

Our next stop after leaving Rhinebeck was downtown Red Hook, NY which to me represents the best in small towns in the Hudson River Valley with excellent reasonable restaurants, creative store owners and a blend of old and new in architecture. Plus, everyone is so friendly when you shop and dine there.

Downtown Red Hook, NY

I have written about my many trips to Red Hook in my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com” and discussed visiting the downtown and its proprietors.

Exploring Red Hook, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14144

The Red Hook town Christmas tree is such a great addition to the downtown and it more amazing at night as is the rest of the town when it is lit. When it gets dark in town, Red Hook gets that classic Americana feel to it.

Downtown Red Hook’s Christmas Tree

Downtown Red Hook, NY at dusk is so beautiful

After the walk around Red Hook (most of the stores closed early that night), my aunt and I crossed the Kingston Bridge and visited the ‘Stockage District”, the historical and shopping district of Downtown Kingston, to see how the town prepared itself for the holidays. It really was beautiful even with the light rain.

Downtown Kingston, NY at Christmas

The businesses had garland and beautiful white lights adorning them and the windows were very festive as in the other towns. Large snowflakes decorated the main streets which were lit brillantly.

Downtown Kingston, NY Christmas tree

The Kingston, NY Christmas tree is right in the middle of the downtown shopping district and gives off such a holiday vibe. It is also so beautifully decorated. It really brightens up this stretch of the street.

Our last stop that evening was visiting Woodstock, NY, where I had spent three wonderful Christmases and is a place that I highly recommend spending the holidays. The Christmas Parade every year is so festive and well organized. The town is also so nicely decorated for Christmas and the square always has the most unconventional Christmas tree. They are usually oddly shaped and decorated and that’s their charm.

By the time we got to town that evening, all the stores were closed for the night and we dined for our early Christmas dinner at Shindig at 1 Tinker Street.

The love the Christmas tree in Downtown Woodstock, NY. It always looks so unusual.

Downtown Woodstock, NY square and Christmas tree

My visits to Woodstock, NY during Christmas meant a lot to me and I always loved going to the town’s Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve night. Santa always makes such interesting entrances.

Christmas in Woodstock in 2015:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/662

Christmas in Woodstock in 2016:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/3408

Shindig has the best hamburgers and some of the most delicious mac & cheese. Talk about great comfort food on a cool misty night in the Catskills. We were the last customers to dine there that night, so they did not rush us as they were cleaning up for the night. Don’t miss their Cowboy burger. I highly recommend it.

Shindig at 1 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY

http://www.woodstockshindig.com/

https://www.facebook.com/shindigwoodstock/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d7376319-Reviews-Shindig-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

We had such a wonderful time visiting all the towns with their Christmas decorations and beautiful window displays. The Hudson River Valley is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Who knew with all this Christmas cheer that all hell would break loose two days later.

Thank God I did all these events when I did because by Friday, December 17th, the night of my final exam, there was panic all over the country with the spread of a new variant of COVID, Omicron. All of a sudden, this new variant from South Africa started to move like wildfire all over the country and New York City was inundated by it.

I had to stay home all weekend and grade final exams because grades had to be posted by Tuesday. All I heard on the Internet and on TV was the rapid spread and the almost panic mode that everyone went into. I hauled up in the house and concentrated on school and getting the students emailed with their grades so that they could relax and enjoy their Christmas break.

I posted all my grades by Monday night and had to drop off all the paperwork on Tuesday at the college. I was just glad that they had not cancelled classes on Friday night when I was giving my exam. That would have been too much on me scrambling to get the exams done. Since I was the only one teaching on a Friday night, I was hoping they just forgot about me and the class would just happen which it did. Thank God!

Tuesday afternoon, we had a sparsely attended Faculty Party which I thought was very nice considering what was going on all over the country. We kept our masks on while we were walking around the room and enjoyed a lot of finger foods made by our Culinary Department and soft drinks. It was nice to just talk to people through our masks and catch up with people I had not seen all semester.

On the Sunday, December 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held its Annual “Santa Around Town”, one of the highlights of the holiday season for both the town and the department. Last year because of COVID rules, we could only drive down each street slowly waving at residents.

This year we were able to go back to making stops and greeting each resident and taking pictures with children and their families. Even a family dog decked out in its Christmas jacket joined in the fun. It was nice to see people outside and engaging with their neighbors.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s ‘Annual Santa Around Town’

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s “Santa Around Town” 2021

By Monday, December 20th, it seemed that the whole country was going crazy with the new COVID variant. Flights were being cancelled, people were putting get togethers on hold and families were abandoning their plans for the holidays. Our family seemed fine until one by one, things kept happening the whole week and everything was derailed by Christmas Eve.

First my brother’s flight was cancelled and he could not get another flight until late Christmas Day so he nixed coming to Delaware for Christmas. Then a family member got sick so my mother cancelled all Christmas plans including our family dinner. She did not want anyone at the house who was not vaccinated. This derailed the plans even more as family members and friends were not vaccinated so no one was going to visit her house that day.

So when my mother called me to tell me that everything was being cancelled, I immediately looked into going back to Woodstock, NY where I had spent many happy Christmases. These plans were abandoned when my other brother’s flight was fine and he was coming for Christmas and he did not want to spend it alone in Rehoboth Beach.

So, I changed my plans again and booked a room at the Chalfonte Hotel’s Southern Annex and Thank God was able to book the last room at the resort. The main hotel was closed for the season but the Southern Quarters is the small B & B concept they have next door, which serves guests all throughout the winter months (the main hotel will not reopen until May).

The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street

https://www.chalfonte.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g46341-d79381-Reviews-The_Chalfonte_Hotel-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

This was the weird part about the eve before Christmas Eve, it snowed overnight which it was not in the forecast and it looked like we would have a white Christmas. Since it was supposed to rain all day on Christmas, I looked at the weather and thought ‘great having to walk around with wet weather on Christmas’ but like the rest of the holiday season, Christmas Day brought its own surprises. After paying my respects at the cemeteries, it was off to Cape May to start the holidays.

My Christmas Eve was spent as it had three years earlier, going to dinner at the Boiler Room at The Congress Hotel for dinner. I love their coal-burning oven pizzas and their fresh salads. The dinner was really amazing and the restaurant was pretty busy all things considered. I guess some people were not going to be spooked by everything going on around us, myself included. I figured I was fully vaccinated and if I wore my mask every place, I needed to I would be fine.

The Boiler Room Pizzeria at The Congress Hotel in Cape May, NJ at 200 Congress Place

https://www.caperesorts.com/congress-hall/boiler-room

https://www.facebook.com/boileroom/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d10289837-Reviews-Boiler_Room-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I had the most wonderful dinner. I started with a Mixed Green salad with Balsamic dressing and chopped strawberries which had the most complex flavor with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off the Balsamic vinegar. The greens were so fresh that they crunched when I bit into them. For the entree, I had the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with fresh mozzarella. Talk about a crisp pizza and the sauce could not have been more delicious with the fresh tomatoes and olive oil.

After dinner was over, I walked all over The Congress Hotel which is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. The halls are lined with white lights and garlands and a fire roaring in the fireplace in the main hall. Outside on the lawn, there a colorfully decorated tree and decorated tables with pool heaters for people to sit under.

Seeing the casual and engaging conversations the other guests were having you would have never known that there was a major outbreak going on. Most people walking around the hotel were not even wearing masks.

The Congress Hall Hotel at Christmas

https://www.caperesorts.com/congress-hall

https://www.facebook.com/congresshall/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g46341-d92337-Reviews-Congress_Hall-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.

The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May

After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).

Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Cape May, NJ

http://ladystarofthesea.org/

My TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d16846237-Reviews-Our_Lady_Star_of_the_Sea_Church-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.

The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.

If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.

https://www.mystore411.com/store/view/24532701/Wawa-Convience-Store-North-Cape-May

My review on TripAdvisor:

WaWa really does have a good breakfast!

The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.

After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!

By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.

After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.

Dos Locos at 208 Rehoboth Avenue

https://www.doslocos.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Restaurant/DOS-LOCOS-78133849014/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34048-d396081-Reviews-Dos_Locos-Rehoboth_Beach_Delaware.html?m=19905

Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.

My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner

To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.

My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.

My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth

My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach

Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach

The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background

It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.

I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.

When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.

The Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street

https://www.facebook.com/uglymugcm/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d393818-Reviews-Ugly_Mug-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.

With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.

The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!

I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.

The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.

The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition

https://capemaystage.showare.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CapeMayStage/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d1582818-Reviews-Cape_May_Stage_Professional_Equity_Theater-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.

After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.

I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.

You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once

https://www.facebook.com/SunsetbeachNJ/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g3948623-d103992-Reviews-Sunset_Beach-Lower_Township_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2705

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.

The Cloisters at Christmas time

https://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/met-cloisters

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d106609-Reviews-The_Met_Cloisters-New_York_City_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/680

I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.

I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.

New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Chinese-Restaurant/New-Golden-Star-103332598081909/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10926156-Reviews-Golden_Star-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.

After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.

Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4416394-Reviews-5_Estrella_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.

I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.

Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway

https://www.nycgovparks.org/news/media-advisories?id=13217

Actress and Activist Ilka Tanya Payan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilka_Tanya_Pay%C3%A1n

New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!

This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.

The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:

Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping

I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:

I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.

Day Two Hundred and Ten: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents the creation of the case study: “Market Street Candy & Confections” December 16th, 2021

The Creation of the Case Study Project “Market Street Candy & Confections”:

I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down and reopening in a different business environment, I think some of my students thought it was an unusual time to open a business. This is when you need to test your entrepreneurship when times are tough.

In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of COVID and online learning, these projects become impossible to do as a group so each student got the opportunity to create their own store.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo

https://bcpccom.wordpress.com/contact/

In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations.

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Consultant Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

While my other class worked on their case study project, “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”, a full-blown Group project for my live class, I had my online class create their own business with the project “Market Place Candy & Confections”, a artisan candy and dessert shop that is a 100-year-old business they bought and are now reopening with a modern twist.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Presents: “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20566

The concept of the project was to reopen a traditional candy shop in a town or city that had recently closed and the furnishings and decorations were sold off for profit to pay bills, so the building and store were now gutted and had to be rebuilt and redesigned with a modern twist and concept. They had to now had to know their target market, stock the store with product and prepare it for opening by hiring staff and creating an ad for the “100th Anniversary Celebration” of the store.

The students now had the store and name of the store but little else to start with other than a past reputation. Here I had the students use their creativity to remake the store from the ground up. Our textbook for the class “Understanding Business” by Nickels & McHugh broke the way you start a business chapter by chapter and that is what I had the students do to open the store.

We start the project by Chapter Five in the book “How to form a Business” when talking about starting a business as a “Sole Proprietorship or Partnership” and then to Chapter Six “Entrepreneurship and Starting a Small Business” with logos and Brand Recognition. I challenge the students to show me what they want their store to represent and what type of imagine that they want to portray to the customers. I remind them that this is the first thing that the customers will see and remember them by.

The logos for “Market Street Candy & Confections”:

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo One

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Two

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Three

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Four

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Five

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Six

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Seven

We next covered Chapter Seven “Management and Leadership” where we worked on the goals and objectives of a business. This is where the students worked on their strategic planning of the business. When we talk about who we strive to be as a business, this is when we form the Mission Statement, which is an outline of the fundamental purposes of an organization.

The Mission Statements:

Mission Statement: One

Mission Statement: Two

We discussed in Chapter Eight “Structuring Organizations for Today’s Challenges”, where we talked about the hierarchy of a corporation and then Chapter Nine “Production and Operational Management”, where we learned about concepts of Facility Location, where we have to select the location for the company’s operations. When creating the concept, I also have them design what the inside of the store should look like to the customer.

The Market Street Candy & Confections Store Design:

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design One

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design Two

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design Three

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design Four

Chapter Thirteen “Marketing: Helping Buyers Buy” with selling concepts of merchants. We talked about target markets, geographic segmentation and consumer marketing. I was trying to get the students to how to reach out to customers.

We started by advertising the store for its “100th Anniversary Celebration” is a way to bring more customers into the store to let them see the new developments they would be making. We built this even further in Chapter Fourteen “Developing and Pricing Goods and Services”, when picking or creating product lines for a company.

The Market Street Candy & Confections Bundling & 100th Anniversary Ads:

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad One

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Two

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Three

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Four

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Five

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Six

When discussing Chapter Fourteen, I also had the students create a Bundling promotion of putting two or more items together and promoting them at one price but I have no artwork for that. With Chapter Sixteen “Using Effective Promotions”, I asked them how this anniversary event might promote new items at the store and what classic candies they might want to carry.

The last project that unfortunately I was not able to give them because of the Thanksgiving Break and the way it fell was from Chapter Eleven “Human Resource Management: Finding and keeping the Best Employees”, the Job Description project, where they would create an ad for hiring new employees. The deadlines for the project just got too close.

By the end of the semester, about a third of the class successfully opened their store for business with a location of the town where they bought the business, their created image, the product that they wanted to sell and the people they wanted to hire. They were then ready for opening day for the “100th Anniversary of the Store”.

It always amazes me what these students are thinking and where they want to take their businesses. Some of them look ready to open the store in real life. That is when this project gets to be interesting and fun.

This was an interesting project that I want to share with other College Professors who might want to rework and use the project if they teach an Introduction to Business class as well:

The Classwork for the Project:

The Class Participation Questions:

The Papers for the Project:

The Quizzes for the Project:

Good luck in your class as well!

The project was based on two local candy/ice cream stores we have here in Bergen County, NJ:

Conrad’s Confectionary at 107 Westwood Avenue in Westwood, NJ:

https://conrads1928.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Conrads1928/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/82

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46923-d4440175-Reviews-Conrad_s_Confectionery-Westwood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Bischoff’s Confectionary at 468 Cedar Lane in Teaneck, NJ:

https://www.bischoffsicecream.com/

https://www.facebook.com/bischoffsicecream/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/847

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46862-d2346537-Reviews-Bischoff_s_Ice_Cream_and_Candy-Teaneck_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My Life as a Fireman: HHFD Annual ‘Santa Around Town” December 19th, 2021

I still can’t believe that Christmas came so quickly this year. It was almost like the blink of an eye. With the start of the Christmas holidays, there are many cherished Christmas events in Hasbrouck Heights that have become tradition.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so beautifully decorated for the holidays (Heights Flower Shoppe)

Starting with the Christmas Parade the day after Thanksgiving, this annual event showcases our wonderful downtown in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and dazzles us at the end of the parade with the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling. It had been so cold that night that the crowds were more subdued than usual (remember COVID is still going on) but no less spirited.

The Neil Parrot Playhouse decorated for Christmas at the Hasbrouck Heights Circle

The Fire Department escorted Santa down the parade route to the Christmas tree and was greeted by the Hasbrouck Heights Community , who were ready for some Christmas cheer. When the switch turned on, we were dazzled by the lights of the trees and decorations that grace the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights.

The Christmas Tree at the Hasbrouck Heights Circle always dazzles at night

After the parade and carolling were over, it was back to the firehouse but not before the fire fighters got their own group shot at the Christmas tree.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Christmas Tree in 2021

By the end of the month, we were ready for our big community event, “Santa Around Town” where the fire department escorted Santa around the Hasbrouck Heights community to wish everyone Christmas cheer in a very difficult year.

We lucked out and the weather cooperated and it ended up being a sunny but cool day. Because of the COVID pandemic, we cut the number of stops and the crowds were a bit smaller but no less enthusiastic about seeing and talking to Santa.

Being socially distanced and wearing masks in some locations, residents of Hasbrouck Heights got to talk to Santa and give him their Christmas wishes. I have never seen so many families and especially children need a lot of Christmas cheer in these tough times and Santa really came through for families and even their pets, as many Christmas dogs greeted and licked Santa.

We toured all over town, greeting residents and every keeping as socially distanced and safe as we could as Santa greeted everyone who came and cheered up a community that really needed it.

Merry Christmas from the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department!

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s Annual “Santa Around Town” 2021

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

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 Shoestring in the New York City area

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…

View original post 782 more words

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’).

Dad and I

Day Two Hundred: The Sixth Anniversary of “MywalkinManhattan.com” June 20th and 21st, 2021

Here it is Father’s Day and the Summer Equinox again and I have reached Day Two Hundred. I have walked much more than half the Island of Manhattan, neighborhood’s in the surrounding boroughs, and historical towns and destinations in New Jersey, New York State, Pennsylvania and beyond. It is hard to believe that I have come this far and that I have been doing this for six years. It does take a lot of work to really see these neighborhoods in detail and research all the wonderful things to do and see. This is best part of the blog is sharing it with all of you!

I have recently completed another walk down the entire length of Broadway for the fifth time (Day One Hundred and Thirty Nine: Walking the Entire Length of Broadway) and a second walk around the perimeter of Manhattan (Day One Hundred and Sixty Seven: The Great Saunter Walk), the 32 mile walk that felt much better this time (being in better shape for walking by exploring Kips Bay, Rose Hill, NoMAD, Koreatown, Midtown South, Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen and Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton before this year’s walk. If you had read the blogs from last summer the City had just opened up on June 10th, 2020 but with the riots and security reasons, I did not enter the City again until June 15th, 2020). I wanted to update both blogs with new things to see and things that I might have missed, which was a lot.

I love walking through the new Riverside Park on my way uptown for “The Great Saunter Walk”. I started at West 23rd Street this year.

The Core of Manhattan and the Perimeter of Manhattan:

Day One Hundred and Thirty Nine: Walking the Length of Broadway from 242nd Street to the Bowling Green:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9069

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Seven: The Great Saunter Walk Walking the Entire Rim of Manhattan:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/13811

(I will be updating these in the next few weeks)

As I am finishing my walk of the streets of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton between 10th and 12th Avenues, I am also revisiting neighborhoods that I have walked before adding new restaurants, stores and artworks to the blogs. So much changes but then again you notice things you did not see on the first few trips to that section of Manhattan.

In all my time walking around Manhattan, I never realized that is was itself an ‘open-air museum’ with lots of artwork along all the streets and parks and with that, I have also credited all the artists with their bios and a little history of their careers as well. Even the ‘street tagging’ has gotten interesting again and you really have to look along the walls to admire the ‘taggers’ work.

Tom Otterness Playground

Don’t miss the Tom Otterness Playground on West 42nd Street. He gives new meaning to the word “Jungle Gym” in his park in Hell’s Kitchen

http://www.tomotterness.net/artworks/silver-towers-playground

With the COVID pandemic slowing (it is not over everyone and I still carry two masks and sanitizer with me just in case), the City is opening back up and with the last of the graduations behind us for this year, more people are wondering the streets of the five boroughs and it looks like people are moving back in with more restaurants and hotels reopening. By September, we will hopefully see the Theater District (one neighborhood I will not walk until it reopens for a fair view of it) reopen and the shows start again.

Since last June, most of the bigger museums have reopened but this time only with timed tickets and limits on the people who are attending the shows. This has made for a better experience. If you plan on visiting the museums more than a few times, I would suggest becoming a member and saving the money on the entrance fee. Plus a lot of the museums really need the membership income.

Look over my sister blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” for ideas of small museums and historical sites that I am revisiting:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

I have also been taking many trips up to the Hudson River Valley on outdoor walking tours, patio lectures and farmers market visits. Just driving through these small towns will give you a touch of nostalgia and a wanting for the past. Trust me, all that turn of the last century architecture and quaint storefronts are being brought back to life from the displaced ‘Brooklynites”, who have scattered all over the Tri-State area and are bringing their creativity to small towns in four states, New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Here and there tucked into these small downtowns, old Victorian homes and storefronts are being renovated and reviving communities that needed support to their downtown cores.

Downtown Catskill NY

Downtown Catskill, NY was interesting to visit recently

http://www.explore-hudson-valley.com/catskill-new-york.html

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/18057

So as I update my long walks around the Island of Manhattan and to the small towns in the Hudson River Valley, I hope everyone has a chance to read my older blogs starting with Day One in Marble Hill in June of 2015 and walk your way through Manhattan with me. COVID has changed so much all over the City but has not ruined the true hearts of New Yorkers and especially the Manhattanites I see everywhere.

Everyone is watching the City heal and will watch it go through a rebirth again. Trust me, it looks far better now then it did in the 1970’s and 80’s when I was growing up and the times I worked in Manhattan. You did not want to see West 34th Street in 1988 when I started at R.H. Macy.

I am also now on my sixth pair of sneakers since starting ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’.

Lastly to my father, Warren George Watrel, whom this blog is dedicated to I want to wish a very Happy Father’s Day! I miss our walks around Manhattan at this time of year but I always feel you in spirit!

I love you Dad and Happy Father’s Day!

Dad and I

Blogger Justin Watrel with his father, Warren Watrel in 2013

What a great Dad!

Bunny Around Town

My Life as a Fireman: Riding the Rescue for the “Annual Easter Bunny Around Town” April 3rd, 2021 (Again on April 3rd, 2022)

The era of COVID has spawned innovation in running events at the firehouse. Hasbrouck Heights had to cancel their Annual Easter Egg Hunt this year like last year because they could not bring all those kids to the football field to run around. Even though we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with COVID, and this too will pass soon we have to stay safe.

For the second year, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held it’s “Annual Easter Bunny Around Town” drive by event for the families and especially for the kids in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. This type of community outreach is what makes a good town better. About twenty five firefighters loaded up the two engines, the two ambulances and the rescue truck and donned their masks as we split the town east and west with the equipment covering every street in Hasbrouck Heights. Each team visited their side of town with two bunnies greeting all the residents.

Bunny Around Town

Happy Easter at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

We had a nice crowd of people waiting on their lawns, masks on, greeting us as our Easter Bunny waved at them. We rode behind the truck that was carrying our Easter representative, waving at residents as well. For a sunny afternoon in the beginning of April, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department spread a little Easter cheer to a community that know that better times are ahead.

Happy Easter in 2021!

In 2022:

In 2022, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department made another trip around Hasbrouck Heights on a gloomy day. Still the residents of the community enjoyed seeing the fire trucks and many families greeted us on their front lawns with pictures. It was a nice way to welcome in the Spring and the Easter holidays.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department escorting the Easter Bunny Around Hasbrouck Heights 2022

Happy Easter 2022

Demarest Farms 244 Werimus Road Hillsdale, NJ 07642

Don’t miss the seasonal experiences at Demarest Farms. It is a step back into the history of Bergen County’s farming past.

Demarest Farms at Christmas is really special

Don’t miss all the delicious treats at the farm store

Little Shop on Main Street

Demarest Farms

244 Werimus Road

Hillsdale, NJ 07642

(201) 666-0472

https://demarestfarms.com/

https://www.facebook.com/demarestfarm/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46512-d4985687-Reviews-Demarest_Farm-Hillsdale_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My Christmas Blog on Exploring the Farms in Bergen County, NJ:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16128

I love coming to Demarest Farms and visiting the farm store and the grounds. It is like a step back into time. When I was a young child, I used to come down to the old farm stand that was across the street and pick up corn and tomatoes with my aunt who lived around the corner from the stand. In the 1990’s, the family opened the farm store across the street which used to be the old cornfields right next to the Garden State Parkway and a new tradition was born.

In 1991, they build the big store across the street.

Demar

The Demarest Farm Store at 244 Werimus Road

The farm stand building is always a buzz…

View original post 899 more words

Bronx Zoo Light Show

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Eight: My Christmas during the era of COVID December 1st-January 10th, 2020-2021

Well, Christmas is finally officially over for me. It was one for the books. The holiday season just came and went without much fanfare or activities. Nothing like last year which was a lot of running around visiting decorated homes or running to the next cocktail party or dinner. Those things just did not exist this year. This season was all about the outside walking tours and small get togethers.

The whole holiday season became a blur and I started to attend a lot of outdoor activities that became available. Anything to get out of the house and see people or go do something out of the ordinary. I really had to search things out.

They started closest to home. I was trying to split my time between places that were just a drive away, going back and forth to the Hudson River Valley, which gave me a change of scenery and walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan, which gave me a sense of purpose as I felt I was supporting the City by being a cheerleader for all it had to offer even in the era of COVID.

My holiday journey started with the delivery of 375 Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a big undertaking for a major charity that supports graduating high school seniors with scholarship money for college. I sometimes wonder if these students know what we go through to get the funds.

Christmas Tree sales

The trees were really nice this year

I have never seen so many Christmas Trees fly off a lot so fast. The membership of the Men’s Association got there at 9:00am and the truck arrived at 10:15am. We sold our first tree at 11:30am as we were tagging them. I stayed the entire day from 9:00am to 10:00pm when we closed the lot down for the evening. In the three shifts that I was there with the other guys, we sold 45 trees which we have never done our first day of sales.

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at set-up 2020

We were completely sold out by December 11th which I have never seen before. It seemed in the era of COVID everyone reverted back to the 1970’s and wanted a fresh Christmas tree for their home. I thought this was wonderful and people could not have been more supportive to our organization.

Please read my blog on “Christmas tree sales in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ”:

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

Please watch the commercial I did in 2015 to sell our trees

The first week of December means “Open Houses” at some of our merchants in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. I look forward to seeing all the Christmas merchandise being offered, all the bouquets created for the event and the beautiful Christmas windows that our florists in town have done.

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gift at 231 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/151

Bill O’Shea’s Florist at 231 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ always has a nice gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year was like no other but it did not keep a nice crowd of residents from coming out and looking over ideas for floral displays, house decorating ideas and listening to festive holiday music all while nibbling on prepackaged treats and bottled drinks.

Bill O'Shea's Florist VIII

Bill O’Shea’s has some of the nicest displays at the holidays

In a normal year, it would be hot chocolate and coffee with freshly baked goods but COVID has changed the way these businesses are run. Everything had to be prepackaged and most people at it outside as juggling and shopping with a mask on was tough.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the same weekend we set up the Christmas Tree lot for the Men’s Association, Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ had their Open House and that was equally as nice.

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/130

Heights Flower Shoppe is housed in a turn of the last century home that dates back to the original founding of our downtown and has a very classic boutique look to it. The store was stocked with all sorts of Christmas decorations, homemade candies, decorative household gifts and beautiful floral displays as well as outside had decorated wreathes and grave blankets.

Heights Flowers V

The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store

Like Bill O’Shea’s, there was all sorts of packaged holiday treats to enjoy including Italian sodas, small bags of homemade Christmas cookies and candies. Last year they had a nice assortment of cookies and small sandwiches with coffee, tea and punch so there are always holiday treats to nibble on too here as well.

All of Downtown Hasbrouck Heights was beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths on all our lamp posts, Christmas lights on the trees, merchants display windows decorated to the hilt and Christmas music playing.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so nicely decorated for the holidays

This year because of COVID, the Annual Holiday Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting were cancelled in town but they did have a small get together at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights to light the town Christmas tree. It was lit from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany on January 6th. It is always a beautiful site when entering town from the west side of town.

The Circle at Hasbrouck Heights

The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Even the little Neil Parrot playhouse, a local landmark in Hasbrouck Heights, was decorated for the holidays and was lite up at night as well.

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights awaiting Santa

There were several nights of my aunt and I exploring the town and driving block by block to see all the decorated homes. Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns of Lodi and Wood Ridge always do a wonderful job decorating for the holidays but with everyone being home and COVID hitting the area hard, people wanted to really decorate and make this year even more festive. Between the merchants and home owners, they made this time of year in Hasbrouck Heights very festive.

Please read my blog on Visiting Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14025

I did not just celebrate Christmas in Hasbrouck Heights. I ventured into other parts of New Jersey, to New York City and my usual haunts in the Hudson River Valley but like New Jersey, New York State was on a lock down as well and all the decorated mansions and holiday gatherings were all cancelled as well. So everyone did their best to celebrate outdoors and have all sorts of tours and small get togethers. You had to move fast when reserving these events as they did fill up because everyone wanted to get out of the house and see things.

The Sinterklaas Parade that I have participated and volunteered at for so many years was cancelled because of COVID but like the Halloween Parade, the committee put together a video of the parade to share with the world. Still it did not compare to the excitement of walking down the hill with stars and music lighting up Downtown Rhinebeck, NY.

The noble Frog was to be our mascot for this year’s Sinterklaas Parade

It was not the same as the year before where the crowds kept getting larger and larger every year. The whole town came to life with activities, songs, lights and laughter but was silent that weekend except for people having dinner in town. I was able to sneak up during the week. The entire town was decorated with white lights and beautifully decorated store windows. Rhinebeck is one of those towns in the Hudson River Valley that looks straight out of a Currier & Ives woodcut.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

Since all the Christmas parties and get togethers were cancelled, it gave me more time to look into other outdoor events. I went to a special “Historical walking tour at the Holidays” at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge, NJ. The tour was lead by Historical singer and lecturer, Linda Russell, who explained the traditions of the Dutch Christmas all while singing Colonial Christmas songs in between the talks at each historical house on the property.

Steuben House BCHS

The Steuben House at Christmas

Actors dressed in costumes (and masks of course-COVID is still going on) danced in the Steuben House ballroom as colonialists celebrating the holiday, Dutch housewives putting their children to bed while awaiting Sinterklaas. There was a Dutch wooden shoe with carrots for his horse outside the door and mistletoe on the ceiling.

Linda Russell Lecturer

Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society

There was a discussion on the Pagan traditions of bringing ‘greens’ from outside inside to have a bit of ‘live nature’ into the home. So mistletoe, pine and holly adorned homes during the winter months as these things were green and brought a bit of life into the dead of winter.

The last part of the lecture was done in front of the Campbell-Christie House with a visit from Sinterklaas himself. We had a short talk about who Sinterklaas was and his part in the holiday season. Then all the members of the tour enjoyed refreshments and got a goody bag when we left with holiday sweets. The lecture and songs were a nice way to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.

Campbell-Christie House Xmas

Campbell-Christie House at the end of the tour:

My blog on The Bergen County Historical Society:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

My favorite song by Linda Russell “I saw Three Ships”

As I was finishing up the semester at the College, I was getting holiday preparations done at the house, having small gatherings of family and friends and trying to be COVID safe. I was also running in and out of the City finishing my blog on Kips Bay before the holidays started getting busier. I learned a lot of New York’s Colonial past from walking around this area of the City.

My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15954

The next weekend I made my last trip of the season to Long Beach Island to visit Beach Haven and the tour the rest of the island one last time before winter set in. It had really closed down since Halloween. I expected it to be much busier with more people moving down there on a permanent basis. Driving up to the lighthouse, I saw more dark homes then lite ones.

I wanted to take one more tour of Long Beach Island to see how they celebrate Christmas at the shore. They do things very quietly in Beach Haven. I went to the Surflight Theater to see the only play I had seen since I attended Carnegie Hall last Christmas to see the play “We need a little Christmas” which I had seen advertised at the theater over the summer.

“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, NJ

After the theater, it was surprisingly warm that afternoon hovering around 58 degrees so I walked to the beach one block away and walked on the Jersey shore for my only time that year and for the first time on Beach Haven beach since 1975. It has been a long journey since that time.

Beach Haven Beach

The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon

The town’s Christmas trees were across the street from the theater on the square just off the downtown. Even they had a subdued Christmas at the shore and the whole event welcoming in the season was done virtually.

Christmas in Beach Haven, NJ adapted like the rest of the world

My holiday dinner was spent at the Chicken or the Egg that evening and it was really good. The menu is so extensive and innovative. It was hard to make choices.

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg

Their fried chicken sandwiches are really good and their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream sandwich should not be missed.

Chicken or the Egg

The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven

https://www.facebook.com/chegg609/

I was able to tour the whole island that afternoon before it got dark and even at twilight here and there were signs of Christmas in small trees lit in the shopping areas and decorated homes. It is an interesting place at the holidays with the waves crashing in the background.

My blog on “Exploring Downtown Beach Haven and Long Beach Island, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15226

The next week was finals week at the College and I had to give my final exam. The students also finished work on their case study, “Bud N’ Mud”, a simulated flower/coffee shop I had the students develop. It was interesting to see how a group of student entrepreneurs would create a store with their own ideas on how to grow the business. This project ended the Fall semester.

Bud N' Mud logo

One of my favorite logo’s from the “Bud N’ Mud” project

My blog on the “Bud N’ Mud” project:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16124

With the Christmas trees selling out by December 11th, we held our annual Christmas party at the Christmas tree stand site for the Men’s Association. It was a cool not cold night and we all huddled around the fire taking alternate turns hitting the makeshift buffet table and enjoying good conversation. It was a great way to end the year successfully and there will lots of scholarships being given out at the end of the school year.

The last big event before Christmas came was the Sunday before Christmas with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department holding our Annual “Santa Around Town”. Because COVID was growing, the event was revamped from previous years and instead of stopping at sites all over town, we drove down each street in town slowly, having Santa wave and greet people who were on their lawns, driveways and porches. The residents of Hasbrouck Heights seemed touched by it and I could tell from the safety of the fire truck that the kids got a kick out of seeing Santa. People really needed the pick me up in holiday spirit at the time.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town” 2020:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16150

On the Tuesday before Christmas after I finished work with my other job I needed a break and wanted to go on a road trip to the Hudson River Valley again. I was nostalgic for Christmas’s past and decided to visit some of the towns Upstate.

I explored Downtown Woodstock first seeing their very unusual Christmas tree in the square. I have to say one thing about Woodstock, they do pick out the most interesting tree to sit in the square. It always looks more surreal than traditional. Their annual “Santa Parade” was cancelled this year as well and they did a drive by with Santa at the Woodstock Fire Department who runs the parade.

Downtown Kingston, NY was next on the list. Talk about a town in transition. In the almost three years since I have been visiting Kingston, I have never seen a downtown change so rapidly. The businesses there have gone from all this ‘hippie granola’ businesses to all these antique furniture stores and art galleries and some really expensive restaurants. One of the locals told me the new residents are “Brooklynizing” Kingston.

Still the downtown was nicely lit for the holidays and their Christmas Tree while small is nicely lit for the holidays on the edge of the downtown “Stockade” district. The Dutch Reformed Church on the other end of downtown was nicely lit with wreaths on the doors.

I crossed the river and drove to Red Hook, NY which I love. Their downtown looks like an old fashioned shopping district straight out of another Currier & Ives print. All the little stores were decorated with garland and white lights and the merchants decorated their windows to the hilt.

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14144

My last stop on my search for the perfect picturesque Hudson Valley River town was returning to Rhinebeck, NY for the day. Rhinebeck was quiet on this Tuesday evening as most of the restaurants were closed and the shops had closed for the evening. Still it was nice to walk around and admire the while lights on the trees and admire the display windows.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Even the way I celebrate Christmas changed this year. Instead of spending time with my family, I spent three days in Manhattan with my best friend, Maricel, at a hotel in Times Square. Neither of us had the time to travel and we both had to work in the City, her at her hotel and me working on my blogs so both of us needed the rest.

AC Hote

AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street

We stayed at the AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street. What the room lacked in size, it made up in the view and in the location. We were one block from Port Authority, two blocks from Times Square and within walking distance from all the Christmas attractions from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas windows and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

While Maricel worked on Christmas Eve, I walked around the City. I saw the tree at Rockefeller Center which was loaded with people not keeping socially distanced. I admired the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue which had a New York City theme with Christmas scenes from around the City “This is how we Celebrate”.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas Themed window “Over the East River and Through the Neighborhoods to Grandfather’s House We Go”

Rockefeller

Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree was even more special this year

I thought the windows at Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf-Goodman really lacked in creativity. Bloomingdale’s was having a bad year and Bergdorf’s had just gotten sold again (forth time since I worked there in 2004) so I did not expect much. With Lord & Taylor declaring bankruptcy earlier in the year and closing the main store on Fifth Avenue and B. Altman’s long gone and Macy’s going mechanical for the last few years, the excitement of seeing the windows has been less than enthusiastic.

Still it was nice to walk around Midtown after leaving the Rockefeller Center area and just walking around Third, Park and Madison Avenues. By 7:00pm, everything had shut down for the night and the streets were really quiet. What was eerie was when walking down Park Avenue and looking up and seeing so many dark buildings. The area looked abandoned with so many apartment lights out. I wondered where everyone went?

When Maricel got off work, I brought in dinner 9th Avenue Deli at 769 Ninth Avenue. I brought in a juicy cheeseburger and chicken fingers which we shared and then dug into. The perfect comfort food on a cool night. Christmas Eve was a mild 59 degrees and it was nice to walk around.

9th Avenue Deli

9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue

We just hung out the whole night and watched movies in the hotel room. I went to bed early and sunk into the wonderful Marriott hotel bed. Marriott had the best hotel beds and every time I stay at one of their hotels, I slept like a log.

Christmas Day we just relaxed in the room and I called many members of my family to wish them a Merry Christmas. While Maricel went to work, I decided to start touring neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD in preparation in my walks there. It started out being a cold, cloudy day and there was barely anyone on the street. I saw a few people walking their dogs and that was about it until about 3:00pm. It them cleared up and was a mild 55 degrees until it got dark and then cooled down.

What really shocked me about Times Square was how dirty it was on the streets. They had not picked up the garbage on Christmas Eve day and did not pick it up until after Christmas Day so between the theaters being boarded up and the ply boards filled with graffiti, hotels closed and restaurants shut, the whole Theater district looked like NYC circa 1975. It was creepy how the pandemic was affecting the business of this neighborhood.

Neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Rose Hill, NoMAD and the Flatiron District were really quiet that morning and early afternoon. All the restaurants and stores were dark, three hotels had closed in the district and I saw just a few people milling around. Things changed as I got closer to Macy’s Herald Square.

When walking around Koreatown, which runs between Sixth and Fifth Avenues between 35th to 32nd Streets, the side streets were teeming with Korean couples and groups of family members dining in the outdoor restaurants and cafes. This neighborhood was really jumping and full of life.

As the day wore on by 5:00pm, the rest of the City came back to life and more restaurants and stores opened up. Christmas morning and afternoon were now over and I could tell that people wanted to get out of the house (probably to get away from the family celebrations). When Maricel returned, I ordered in dinner from Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue, one of the few neighborhood restaurants open and we our dinner in the room. The food was okay. It was nice to just eat in the room and relax.

Christmas dinner was Lemon Chicken and Fried Rice from Golden City Chinese Restaurant

We checked out at noon on the 26th and she left for work that afternoon, I headed into Brooklyn to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. Both were really quiet that day. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden was mostly dormant for the winter and most of the garden was closed off because of COVID. The “Studio 54” exhibition had long closed at the Brooklyn Museum so I just wondered the halls and looked at some of the changes in the permanent exhibitions that they had. I left the City for home early that evening.

The last week of the holiday, I entertained family at a Lasagna and Champagne dinner I had a the house. Since I was not able to spend time at home during the holidays, my aunts came over to my house and we had a three course meal with champagne and wine. We spent the whole night laughing and enjoying the evening.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening at home alone talking with other friends who were staying home alone as well. Times Square was empty that evening with the exception of the 350 first responders who were invited to the ball drop. When I watched it on TV it was eerie to see it so quiet. There was no one for blocks except police guarding Times Square.

I headed back up to the Hudson River Valley again on New Year’s Day to go on two walking tours in Staatsburgh, NY at the Mills Mansion. It was the Annual “First of the Year” walking tours and it was a cool, crisp morning for a walking tour of the property. There were two tours that morning, one was on “Winter Activities in Victorian Times” with us learning about all the winter activities that the residents here enjoyed like skating , sledding, ice boating and horse drawn sleigh rides.

Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion in the winter

The other tour later that afternoon was on “Ice Harvesting in the Hudson River Valley” , where we learned about how the ice harvesting of the Hudson River was a big business before the advent of refrigeration. Large slabs of ice were cut from the river, floated down stream and then packed in straw awaiting sale over the metropolitan area for peoples ice boxes throughout the year. It just gave me anther excuse to visit the region I love so much.

My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

Another local event that was COVID safe was a driving tour through the “Holiday Lightshow” at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ. This was the first time that the farm opened the apple and peach orchard across the street from the farm stand. I saw this display the last week it was open and even after the holidays, it was a special treat as we awaited the Epiphany.

Driving through the display only took about forty minutes but was a delight in the senses and sounds. I played the classical music station as I drove through and admired all the colorful lights on the now dormant trees while Santa’s and Snowmen winked and waved and toy soldiers lit the way through the dark field. Even the Demarest homestead was ablaze with lights.

Demarest Farms Christmas

Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ

My blog on “Visiting the Farms of Bergen County, NJ at Christmas”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16128

Don’t miss this holiday lights ride through the orchard in 2021

The holiday event I visited was the Bronx Zoo for their “Holiday Lights” event at the zoo. It was the last night of the event and I arranged for the tickets that afternoon. The zoo gave me a 30% discount to go that evening and I was on the subway ride up to the Bronx.

The Bronx Zoo Light Show

I was really impressed by the display. The entire park was decorated with white lights, with different sections of the park decorated with different themes such as jungle animals, aquatic mammals and all sorts of assorted elephants, seals, penguins, lions, tigers and bears (oh my haha). There were costumed characters to take pictures with and they even had the Bug Carousel open that evening. I got a kick out of riding this since I had not done this since I was a little kid.

Bronx Zoo Christmas tree

The Bronx Zoo musical Christmas Tree in the old part of the zoo

In the older section of the park, they had zebras on stilts and a musical Christmas trees that had an interesting soundtrack of contemporary Christmas songs. Even though Christmas had been over now for almost two weeks, it me back into the Christmas spirit.

My blog on the Bronx Zoo:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

So there was the Christmas holidays in the era of COVID. Lots of outdoor activities in hot and cold weather. Many walking tours and more subdued events. Gone were the cocktail parties and big formal dinners and in their place were many more smaller outdoor events and communicating with nature.

Maybe we all needed to take a break from the more formal traditions and go back to the basics of family and friends. I think this was a reflective year and realizing what is important. It had not changed that much for me. I just adjusted to the times, wore a mask and got going. Staying safe and keeping others safe is what is all about.

The holidays were just different this year.

Places to Stay:

AC Hotel New York Times Square

260 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

(844) 631-0595

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycma-ac-hotel-new-york-times-square/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60763-d12695463-Reviews-AC_Hotel_New_York_Times_Square-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

9th Avenue Deli

769 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 258-2600

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4758581-Reviews-9th_Ave_Deli_Corp-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15162978-Reviews-AM_PM_Deli_Grocery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/762

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232/736-4004

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm/Monday-Friday 10:30am-11:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3930125-Reviews-Golden_City_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 594-3393

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15167472-Reviews-Hell_s_Kitchen_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:

https://static.tacdn.com/AttractionProductReview-g47369-d19708232-Bronx_Zoo_Holiday_Lights-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

Staatsburgh State Historic Site(The Mills Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive

Staatsburgh, NY  12580

http://www.facebook.com/staatsburghSHS

Open: Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

Hours: Open Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm (the last tour is at 4:00pm)/Open Monday Holidays from April 19th to October 28th. The mansion then closes to prepare for the holiday season. Closed on Thanksgiving and Easter. There are special programs from January to April so please see the website.

Admission: $8.00 for adults/$6.00 for groups and Seniors/Children under 12 are free. Special events have separate fees and can run from $8.00 to $10.00 and above.

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

The Bergen County Historical Society

1201 Main Street

River Edge, NJ 07661

(201) 343-9492

http://bergencountyhistory.org/

Open: Special Events and weekend hours check the website site

Fee: Depends on events/donations

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46776-d7603554-Reviews-Historic_New_Bridge_Landing-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Visit the Sister Entry on this blog of the Campbell-Christi House VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/872

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

Open:  Sunday and Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday  8:00am-6:00pm

Admission: Depending on the time of year/please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Demarest Farm at Christmas

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Six: Visiting the Farms in Bergen County, NJ during the Christmas & Halloween holidays and in the Spring-A Local Journey December 18th-31st, 2020 (Again in April & October 2021)

When you think of the words ‘rural’ and ‘farmland’ these are not terms you hear a lot in Bergen County, NJ, one of the heaviest populated counties to surround New York City. Yet the county has a rich history in farming and agriculture from the late 1600’s up into the 1970’s when development pressures got too strong and most of what was left of the farms of the area got plowed over for development.

Early in our county’s history, the Dutch and then the English supplied much of the fruits and vegetables for the New York City markets. Much did not change until the suburban expansion after WWII and many strawberry, celery and potato farms were plowed under for shopping malls and housing developments. Since that time and with the help of the Right to Farm Act, The Open Space Act and Farmland Preservation of the State of New Jersey, it is helping many small farmers in the state preserve their land for agriculture.

“From Revolution to Renewal” our Historical Bergen County project

NJ Agricultural Information:

https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/rtfprogram/

This is why in Bergen County we revere our farms and our agricultural past. Last semester when I taught Marketing at Bergen Community College, I had my students create an extensive project describing and promoting our Colonial Heritage and our agricultural past. This included promoting many of our remaining farms.

The Project “From Revolution to Renewal”:

https://bcpccom.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/from-the-revolution-to-renewal-exploring-historic-bergen-county/

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/13616

https://bergecooparc.wixsite.com/bergen

Our small farms in Bergen County do more than just provide fruits and vegetables for our tables. They are open air classrooms to our agricultural past, places to buy fresh produce and baked goods to support local family farm stores and for interesting special events and outings for families. During the holiday season, some of these farms have haunted hayrides, turkey pardons and visits from Santa all while selling Christmas trees and wreaths.

This lead me to explore many of the small farms that make up the fabric of Bergen County all while seeing how the owners are reinventing the way they do business with today’s consumer. How do we react with nature and the great outdoors? So I walked through farm stands and fields and across parking lots looking for our rural past in the year 2020.

I drove to Closter, NJ on my first stop to Old Schraalenburgh Farm and Farm Stand at 40 Old Hook Road and the Abram Demaree Homestead at 110 Schraalenburgh Road on the corner of Schraalenburgh Road. For years I had passed this farm and never gave it much thought until two summers ago I noticed the sign for the ‘farm burger’ and had to stop to see what it was all about. What a burger! (see my review on TripAdvisor).

Schraalenburgh Farm in the Spring

Old Schraalenburgh Farm in the warmer months of Spring

I have since have had lunch here many times mostly when the weather is warmer. What I love about the Old Schraalenburgh Farm is that it is under the radar from most of the commercial farms in the county like Abma and Demarest farms which have all the family activities like hayrides and pumpkin and apple picking events. Old Schraalenburgh has a smaller restaurant and bakery and in the summer months tables outside to eat breakfast and lunch while admiring the fields of flowers and the barns and chicken coops.

The wonderful selection of gourmet items at Old Schraalenburgh Farm

What I love about their restaurant is the quality of the food here. The ‘Farm Burger’ which they tout so much is much worth the ride here. This juicy burger loaded with cheese and fresh vegetables and a mayo type sauce and is a mouthful in each bite. Bring your appetite because this burger is large! (see review on TripAdvisor).

The Farm Burger

The “Farm Burger” at the Old Schraalenburgh Farm Stand restaurant

Their chicken pot pie is another lunch item I would recommend. They make them fresh here and bake them with a golden crust and when you let it cool is a mouthful of creamy sauce, hunks of chicken and fresh vegetables. You won’t need dinner after this entree.

I recently stopped at the Farm Cafe for breakfast after an appointment and their well known Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich ($5.95). It was amazing. The eggs used on the sandwich were fresh from their chicken coops and picked up daily. Topped with crisp bacon and American cheese on a toasted brioche bun it was heaven.

It was nice to just take my sandwich and eat it on one of the picnic tables overlooking the fields that were in the process of beginning to grow this seasons crops. On a sunny morning, there is nothing like this.

The Breakfast sandwich at the

The Bacon, Egg and Cheese here is excellent

For dessert though, even with the options of their fresh brownies and homemade ice cream, you have to try their freshly baked fruit pies and pie cookies. The chocolate and fruit filled pie cookies resemble small fruit filled deep dish pies and are a delight in every bite.

pie cookies

The blueberry pie cookies

The bakery also has something called “Burnt Cookies” (.50 cents) that are in jars near the register. I thought someone made a mistake and overcooked them. The woman at the counter said “Oh no. People like a crisper cookie.” I still say they were selling a mistake but they were really good! I had the sugar, chocolate chip and an oatmeal cookies and they were really crisp.

To tell you how popular they are I dropped a piece at the chicken pen and the chickens and roosters got all excited and ran out of their pen to eat the piece that had fallen on the ground. That’s an endorsement.

The chicken coops are busy when you feed the chickens

During the summer months, it is fun to walk through the fields and admire all the beautiful rows of flowers growing and visiting the barn and chicken coops. During the holiday months, the store and restaurant were decorated for Christmas and were stocked with handmade gifts and artwork. The bakery section had a selection of meat and fruit pies for the holidays.

Schraalenburg Farm pie case

The bakery case at the farm

Walking across the street to the Abram Demaree Homestead and Farm across the street from the farm stand, the main house and barn were also decorated for the holidays. All the tables, counters and shelves were stock with all sorts of decorative objects, antiques, furniture and artwork. These treasures can decorate any home contemporary or historical.

Christmas at Abram Demaree Homestead

The antiques and holiday decorations at the Abram Demaree Homestead

Off to the side of the main building, they were selling Christmas trees and holiday decorations for the home. The buildings with Christmas retro items and tree ornaments really put me into the holiday spirit. The homestead is fun to walk around in to see how our Colonial past played a part in the growth of Bergen County.

During Halloween, the farm was busy with visitors buying preserves and jellies, baked products for home and people eating lunch on a warm afternoon.

The Skeletons guard the farm at Halloween at Old Schraalenburgh Farm

History of the Old Schraalenburgh Farm and the Abram Demaree Homestead:

In 1677, David Des Marest, a French Huguenot, purchased a large tract of land from the Tappan Native American tribe. This land passed from Dutch control to British rule and through the American Revolution, which produced an uncertain concept that became the United States.

In 1769, Abram Demaree, David Des Marest’s grandson, bought the house and ran it as a General Store and Tavern at the crossroads of one of the busiest intersections of colonial roads in Bergen County. His son, David, added to the house in 1809. The conjoined Demaree house along with a colonial Dutch-style barn, servants house and blacksmith shop form the original Abram Demaree Homestead (Farm History website).

Abram Demaree Homestead

The Abram Demaree Homestead in the Summer months

In the 1970’s, the house and property was falling apart and a group of citizens fought to get the homestead on the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, the home and farm have been part of a non-profit, The Demaree Homestead & Farm, with all the proceeds going to restoring and maintaining the home and farm. The farm and farm stand cafe are open to the public and the profits go to maintenance of the property. The Farm Stand Cafe features in season items grown right on the farm (Farm History website).

Across Old Hook Road from the Demaree Homestead is their working farm, The Old Schraalenburg Farm, which has been continuously farmed since the 18th Century. Every Spring, the farm plants corn, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, apples, blueberries and pumpkins, among other fruits, vegetables and flowers (Farm History website).

Leaving the Old Schraalenburgh Farm, I headed down Old Hook Road on my way back to Westwood and stopped at the Old Hook Farm Stand for a look at their Christmas trees. The Old Hook Farm Stand is at 650 Old Hook Road in Emerson.

Old Hook Farm

The Old Hook Farm at 650 Old Hook Road in the summer months

Old Hook Farm in the Fall

What I like about the Old Hook Farm is the selection of grocery products in their General store. They have an assortment of organic meats, dairy products, vegetables and baked goods that include delicious looking freshly baked pies, breads and cider doughnuts.

The Fall bounty is on sale at Old Hook Farm

Their shelves are stocked with all sorts of jellies, jams and condiments along with dry and snack goods that are accented by antiques and farm paraphernalia. This gives the store a feel of a turn of the last century General store that used to dot the towns of rural Bergen County.

Old Hook Farm

The Old Hook Farm grocery section of the General store

In the Spring and Summer, the greenhouse stocks all sorts of decorative plants, flowers and garden supplies and I am sure is better stocked in the summer months for lawn care and landscaping. In the Spring, the tables are stocked with all sorts of seedlings for gardens, decorative plants for the home and gardening supplies and landscaping decorations including stones and layerings.

All sorts of decorative plants available in the Fall

In the Fall, the farm is awash with pumpkins, gourds and decorative plants for designing the house in a festive mood. There are all sorts of items for the Halloween holidays.

Blogger Justin Watrel at Old Hook Farm for the Halloween season

During the holiday season, there were all sorts of wreaths, cemetery blankets and Christmas trees to choose from. The perfect assortment to ‘deck the halls’ for the holidays.

Like everyone else in the County, when I got there, there was only a few trees to choose from. They had sold out early in a year when everyone wanted a fresh tree. Still the atmosphere with the atmosphere of fresh pine and snow gave the farm that old fashioned ‘1970’s feel’ when I used to visit the farms in Bridgewater, NJ growing up. Things seemed a lot slower then and you could just relax and enjoy the sites and smells of a farm.

Christmas tree sales

The Christmas trees were pretty much sold out when I visited

From a distance behind the greenhouse, you could see under the snow that had just fallen, the fields where the crops are grown in the warmer months. The old farmhouse on the property was decorated for Christmas as well and looked like a home out of a Currier & Ives print.

History of the Old Hook Farm:

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’).

The old farm house at Old Hook Farm

I next ventured to Hillsdale, NJ, two towns away to visit one of the most beloved farms in Bergen County, Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Road, right off the Garden State Parkway. I have been visiting the farm since the early 1970’s when I used to visit my family who lived just two blocks away. Back then it was just a small farm stand just outside the family homestead. In 1991, they build the big store across the street.

Demar

The Demarest Farm Store at 244 Werimus Road

The farm stand building is always a buzz with people coming and going. People buying sandwiches, soups, hot entree items and baked goods for lunch and dinner. There is a large selection of in season produce (which is a little pricer than most supermarkets) as well as jams and jellies. Where the market really shines is their bakery filled with cookies, brownies, freshly baked pies and their well-known cider doughnuts. They also have great potato pancakes that taste good hot or cold (in the era of COVID the food has been toned back a little from the past).

Demarest Farms

Demarest Farm store carries an array of fruits and vegetables at all times of the year

Demarest Farms in October 2021

The stand also has a nice garden section during the Spring and Summer seasons with everything you need for lawn care and for landscaping your home or decorating inside. During the Fall, there is all sorts of decorative items for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.

Demarest Farms right before Halloween

During every season, Demarest Farms is always full of activities. During the Summer months (Pre-COVID), there was the big barbecues that the farm sponsored that got so popular that they had to have the police direct traffic into the complex. These ‘All You Can Eat” affairs were so much fun. It was like a throw back to the 1970’s when families used to dine out together in the Summer months. You could listen to a local band play while chomping on endless hot dogs, barbecue chicken, fresh corn on the cob, baked beans, salad and watermelon for dessert. There were also be chests of ice full of Coke, Sprite and Bottled waters (see reviews on TripAdvisor).

During the Fall months, there would be Hayrides through the orchards, Pumpkin and Apple Picking that are so popular you need a reservation and Haunted Halloween events that have people driving from all over Northern New Jersey to attend.

Getting ready for Halloween at Demarest Farms

This Christmas, in the era of COVID, the farm really outdid itself ringing in the holiday season. The farm stand sold an array of Christmas trees, wreaths and cemetery blankets, all sorts of holiday treats in the store including cookies, pies and jams and jellies. There was also a nice selection of holiday decorations. By the last week before Christmas, most everything was sold out.

What I thought was fun and it was the first time the farm had done this was the “Holiday Light Show” through the Demarest Farm orchard which is across the street from the farm stand. This show was sold out every night for almost three weeks ending on January 3rd.

Demarest Farm at Christmas

Demarest Farm Store decorated for Christmas

The tour started at the farm stand where you could buy S’ mores to roast at the fire pit next to the nursery ($6.50). I thought it was a little expensive for two graham crackers, two marshmellows and a small bar of chocolate but people scooped them up and were roasting away. There were also cut outs from the holidays to take pictures and there was a small light show of singing reindeer performing all the classic Christmas songs.

Then it was time to take the drive through the orchard. We started the tour at farm stand and then drove across the street to the family homestead which was ablaze with colorful lights on the house and the surrounding trees. I took a slow drive through the orchard carefully following the cars in front of me to keep pace.

The apple and pear trees were decorated with multi color lights, Santa’s and Snowmen winked and greeted you at every turn. The barns were decorated with white lights and there was a tunnel of flashing lights to greet you and exit from. All along the way I listened to the Classical music channel to enhance the mood of the trip. It may have only been a half an hour but it was mesmerizing trip through a fantasy land of lights that put me back into the Christmas spirit. Demarest farms seems to have that effect at the holidays.

The History of Demarest Farms:

The Demarest family has been present in the New York area since David DeMarest arrived to New Amsterdam in 1663. The current farm has been in the Demarest family from Bergen County since 1886. In the 1970’s, Peter Demarest and his wife, Marsha introduced the pick your own apples and pumpkin business and eventually added peaches to the mix.

The Demarest Family history at the farm

In 1991, the family opened the current farm store on what had once been corn fields. The store today has evolved into a selection of fresh produce, prepared foods, baked goods, apple cider, jams and jellies and homemade crafts (Demarest Farm website).

The flowers at Demarest Farm are colorful

In 2014, Peter Demarest decided to retire and the sold the farm stand and farm to longtime employees Jason DeGise and Jim Spollen. The farmland had been preserved under the Farmland Preservation Fund and by the Open Space Trust Fund. The 27 acres are to be preserved as farmland and can only be used for agriculture (NJ.com).

Demarest Farms put out this wonderful promotional video on the event

Leaving Demarest Farms, I headed north taking the turns on Route 17 and Route 208 and headed up to Wyckoff. My first stop was the Goffle Road Poultry Farm at 549 Goffle Road. The farm which once must have taken up much more area has been reduced down to a few acres with chicken coops and hatcheries and the farm store.

The parking lot was a mob scene of people trying to get in and out of the driveway and being directed by one man in a mask. When I finally was able to get out of my car and park, I asked him if they were giving money away. He just laughed and said, “I wish”. He quickly said to me it was busier at Thanksgiving and they had lines going down Goffle Road.

Goffle Road Poutry Farm

Goffle Road Poultry Farm at 549 Goffle Road

I just walked in the store to look around passing all the people in line who were waiting to pick up their pre-orders. The store is stocked with all things poultry with fresh eggs. whole roasters and butchered chicken parts. In the freezer there were crab cakes, chicken nuggets and chicken and turkey pot pies, all of which they are known for and sought out.

The stand at Goffle Road Poultry Farm

Here there are no hayrides or special events although they told me Santa had already visited the farm. Just high quality food and excellent service done by a staff that looked very over-whelmed at the holidays.

When I returned recently to the Goffle Road Poultry Farm, I was able to buy some of their brown jumbo eggs ($2.95) and one of their frozen Chicken Pot Pies to bring home with me. There really is a difference in the fresh eggs versus the commercial ones. There is a richer flavor to the taste when you have them scrambled and in a omelet.

The Brown eggs at Goffle Farms have a richer flavor

The Chicken Pot Pie tasted more like a chicken pie, which has less chicken gravy in it, but it pretty much follows the same Bisquick recipe that I have at home with a mixture of vegetables and canned cream of chicken soup as its base. Still, it cooked up nicely and a flaky golden crust. It is worth it to stop and do some shopping here.

The Goffle Farm Pot Pie is more like a Chicken Pie

History of Goffle Road Poultry Farm:

The Goffle Road Poultry Farm has been a family owned and operated business for four generations. Joseph and Rose Silvestri came over from Italy in 1920 and started Belmont Poultry in Paterson, NJ in the 1930’s. In 1948, Joseph and Rose’s son, Dominic, started Goffle Road Poultry Farm of Wyckoff, NJ. To this day, the Goffle Road Poultry Farm is operated as a family owned business by the current owner and grandson, Joseph Silvestri and great grandson, Brian Silvestri. The family has found it hard to keep up with demand on such a small plot and is now partnering with Amish farmers in Pennsylvania who share the same standards of raising animals (Goffle Road Poultry Farm website).

Goffle Road Poultry Farm at the Halloween Holidays

My last stop on this journey was the largest farm of them all, Abma’s Farm at 700 Lawlins Road in Wyckoff, NJ. Abma’s is an impressive working farm with many greenhouses, large fields, a gift shop, nursery, and a farm store. They also have a large petting zoo to amuse children and adults alike.

The Abma

The Abma Farm at 700 Lawlins Road in Wyckoff

I have to admit that I have only visited the farm in the cooler months and with COVID going on, the petting zoo was closed the day I was there and it looked like you needed a reservation to get in. The price is $3.00 unless you join their Barnyard Loyalty Program by accumulating 30 points from their farm store and nursery.

The greenhouses were pretty empty the afternoon I visited. What was left of wreaths and Christmas trees dotted the the nursery area. I am sure it was totally stocked with all sorts of items to decorate the house. There was still a nice assortment of wreaths to choose from and garland to decorate the banisters and hallways with for Christmas. The Christmas tree selection was down to about ten trees and they were very sad looking. Being right before Christmas, the selection was limited.

In the Summer months, the greenhouses were full of flowers and decorative plants and the fields are ablaze with colors. It will be about four months before we see that again but Spring is not that far away.

The farm store was buzzing with people and it was hard to find a parking spot after the snow storm we had just had. Some of the drifts made parking tough but there was someone in the lot who made it easy to park.

Abma’s Farm Market & Garden Center in the Fall of 2021

The farm store at Abma Farm is full of fresh vegetables and fruits, a whole selection of bakery products including cookies, brownies, freshly baked pies and cider doughnuts. The prepared food section has all sorts of salads and sandwiches available and there is a selection of soups. There are also crafts available for sale.

Amba

The Abma Farm Store stocked with delicious foods

Though some of the special events on the farm have been cancelled because of COVID, they did have a socially distanced “Story with Santa” program and “You Pick” events for strawberries, potatoes, pumpkins and tomatoes during the different seasons. Events like pony rides and Easter themed events have been put on hold for the time.

What I really enjoy about visiting Abma Farm is just walking around the farm itself. I was able to walk through some of the greenhouses and see the trees and decorative items, look at the vast field and can’t wait to return in the Spring when we can see the fields of growing produce and greenhouses full of flowers and plants.

The History of Abma Farm:

First generation of the family, Barney Abma, was born on April 25th, 1901. He came to America for the first time in 1917 when he was 17 years old searching for a new beginning. After spending a few years out west, then a short stay in Pennsylvania, he went back to Holland to marry. Barney and his new wife, Anna, settled in Wyckoff at the present location of Abma’s Farm in the late 1920’s (Abma Farm History website).

The couple began working for the ‘Yeoman Farm’ and rented out part of the original farmhouse from owner, Daniel Yeoman. The farm was next passed on to Mr. and Mrs. George Fox (nee Yeoman). Barney Abma bought the farm from the couple in 1932 for $6,000. Part of the 50 acre farm was sold off and it is now the current 32 acre farm that it is today (Abma Farm History website).

The farm is now under the ownership of the forth and fifth generations of the Abma family under Barney and Anna’s son, James and his family.

I love this video on the family and about the farm.

There are also a few smaller farms in the County I was not able to visit before they closed for the season. Also most farm stands have closed for the Winter so there will be a lot to visit in the warmer months.

Still the holidays at the farms in Bergen County, NJ have a special place in our lives and have become part of the traditions of many families.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to updates in the Spring!

Spring and Summer of 2021:

As the weather has gotten warmer, I have been revisiting the farms that were closed right after the holidays . As the warmer months have come upon us, April has ushered in warmer weather and the bounty of Spring has arrived. The greenhouses are starting to fill with plants and shrubs and the farm stands.

The entrance to Stokes Farm at 23 DeWolf Road

I made my first trip to Stokes Farm at 23 DeWolf Road in Old Tappan, NJ. The farm stand has just opened since it has closed up shop right after Christmas. The shelves of the farm were starting to fill with fresh produce from the warmer states and there were all sorts of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Stokes Farm from the road

The farm stand also has a bakery that has pies, cookies and cider doughnuts. The problem is that because of COVID all the items were prepackaged in large packages and you could not buy individual pieces. The woman at the counter said things will go back to normal business once all of this passes.

Stokes Farm

The Stokes Farm Stand in Old Tappan, NJ

Still the refrigerator cases are lined with fresh eggs, Amish butter, honey and cheese from the Amish Country in Pennsylvania and the shelves are full of jellies, jams, salsas and pickles that are made for the farm. The farmstand is just opening and there will be more to come as we move into the warmer months.

I made my way out to the greenhouse in the back where plants are being grown for planting and for decorating the house. Most of the plants are still so small but as May and June arrive, these greenhouses will burst of all sorts of plants.

Though the part of the farm that you can visit is small, you can see that the farm is lined with greenhouses going back many acres and next to the stand is a farmhouse that was built in 1890. It is nice to just walk around and enjoy the fresh air at the farm.

The History of Stokes Farm:

In 1873, Isaiah Stokes headed out on a ship to America from his home in England. When he arrived, he purchased 40 acres of land in Old Tappan, NJ where he started a farm. He thought this would be a good location for selling produce, as Old Tappan is very close to New York City, as well as many established towns along the Hudson River.

Stokes Farm

His products included chickens, eggs, milk, hay, asparagus, beets and other assorted vegetables. As time went on, his son, Joseph Stokes took over the farming. The Stokes family continued sowing and growing into the early 1900’s. Joseph Stokes and his wife, Anna, worked very hard and soon developed a produce route through Piermont, Nyack and points further north along the river. They were one of the first farms to have a truck in the area when farms were still powered by men and horses.

Joseph Stokes had one child, Madeline, who married Ernie Binaghi in 1927. Madeline ran the farm and Ernie was a carpenter. The farm carried on through WWII. Madeline and Ernie had one child, Ronald, who after dropping out of NYU Music School in the early 1950’s , came home to help out with the chores. Ron married Jean and she moved into the farmhouse to become a farmer too.

In 1955, they opened a roadside farm stand, which was a four post open air shed. The stand did well, selling from the five acres of strawberries, five acres of tomatoes, in addition to peppers, eggplant and asparagus. As the years went on, Ron and Jean started selling produce at the Paterson Farmers Market. It was here that a farmer could sell his produce directly to the consumer or to wholesalers. The farm stand was rebuilt in 1966.

In the early 1970’s, the energy crunch started and the farm stand began to flounder. It was then that Bob Lewis came to visit Ron and Jean with a proposal. He asked them to participate in the first NYC Greenmarket at 59th and Second Avenue. So in 1976, Ron and his sixteen year old son, Ron Jr. ventured into the big city. Their lives changed that day. After the people bought everything on the truck, Ron Sr. was heard to say, “Is there a famine in this City?” Ron Jr., then sixteen started selling produce at the now famous Union Square market on 17th Street and it seemed that this type of market suited the farm quite well. Greenhouses were built in the 1980’s and the bedding plant business started to thrive.

High tech growing coupled with practical family values, helped the farm to grow steadily into the 1990’s. Ron Jr. and his wife, Jeanine, took over the day to day operations of the farm and the Greenmarket stands, while Ron Sr. and Jean continued to run the farm stand.

In 2000, Ron Jr. was named “Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year” for the State of New Jersey. This award is given to a farmer who has made his farm better over the years and also is active in his community. Ron went to Indiana to the national competition, where he placed fifth in the nation.

Ron Binaghi Jr. at Stokes Farm

Ron Binaghi Jr. at Stokes Farm in Old Tappan, NJ

Today the farm is seventeen acres with 40,000 square feet of greenhouses. It is the goal of the farm to grow the best possible product to keep the customers healthy and happy and to keep the land as a farm for future generations.

(Stokes Farm website)

Another farm that I missed during the holiday season was Depiero’s Farm at 156 Summit Avenue in Montvale, NJ. I have been coming to Depiero’s Farm for years at the old farmstand where the current Wegmans Supermarket and mall now stands. Here used to be the large farm stand building that had everything from produce and baked goods to arts and crafts items and gardening equipment. That was torn down in the early 2000’s. I thought that they had closed for business until I rediscovered it again.

Depiero's Farmstand

Depiero’s Farm Stand at 156 Summit Avenue

When I visited recently, I asked the woman who was working the counter about the history of the farm. She said that she had worked for the Depiero family for years and told me that this was the original farm stand until the family built the larger one down the road. When that was torn down to make way for the market strip mall, they moved the operations back to the original stand on the original farmland. I thought that was interesting.

The original farmstand building is currently being renovated and expanded. The tables around the store are ladened currently with fresh produce from the Hunts Market (until the summer when local produce will be offered), there is a small bakery area with fresh pies ($18.00-$20.00), fresh pickles and peanut butter from the Amish Country. The shelves are lined with honey and fresh jellies that are made for the farm.

Outside the farmstand, there is a large greenhouse with rows of tables lined with all sorts of flowering plants and small vegetable plants growing. The larger greenhouse is surrounded by smaller greenhouses growing more plants. It is a large operation.

What amazes me is how the farm has survived with all the suburban sprawl surrounding it. On land that was once the farm, all sorts of new condos are going up, the second farmstand is now a mall and office buildings surround the whole small patch of farm.

The History of DePiero’s Farm:

The DePiero Farm has been an owned and operated farm since 1924. The original farm was about 250 acres that stretched from Montvale, NY to New Paltz, NY. In 1987, the opened the original farm store that was popular for years. That facility closed in 2015 and has since been replaced with a new shopping complex anchored by a Wegmans.

The family has since reopened the original farmstand which is farmed on limited basis where they sell farm products, baked goods and Christmas items like wreaths and Christmas trees.

(NJ.com-Myles Mia 2015-“Longtime Montvale Farm closes its doors”)

My last farm that I did not have a chance to visit during the Christmas holidays but had opened on April 1st was Secor Farms at 85 Airmont Avenue in Mahwah, NJ. I would consider Secor Farms more like a giant nursery. Both on the outside and inside the greenhouses, you can walk around rows of flowers, decorative plants and seedlings for the vegetable gardens. The greenhouses are fun to walk in as you can see plantings at different stages of growth. It will be interesting to come back towards the summer to see how many of these plants progress to full form.

Secor Farms greenhouse

Secor Farms greenhouse is laden with flowers and plants

There is also a small shop to make your purchases. Here they sell gardening supplies, decorative objects for the home, hand creams and soaps, honey and candies and their homemade cider doughnuts that are unfortunately only packaged in bags of six ($5.95). Still they smell so good and the girl working the counter said that they are made fresh daily. I could see by the signs when the fresh produce starts to come in during the summer and fall that they sell this in the gift shop as well.

The Cider Doughnuts and other treats on sale at Secor farms in the Fall

Outside the gift shop, the parking lot is laden with bags of mulch and soil for garden beds awaiting their Spring cleaning. The lot is well stocked as we are just starting the gardening season.

Secor Farms

Secor Farms in Mahwah, NJ

Ready for Halloween at Secor Farms in Fall 2021

The spooky entrance to Secor Farms at Halloween 2021

In the Fall especially around Halloween, the whole farm looks like Disneyland with Haunted Hay Rides, Pumpkin Picking, Fall decorative items for sale and the general atmosphere that welcomes in Halloween with a bang. The whole place was filled to the brim with cars ready for a long day at the farm.

Pumpkin picking at Secor Farms in Fall 2021

All of these farms in Bergen County, NJ have their own attributes so try to visit them all when you are visiting the area.

The History of Secor Farms:

Begun by Darryl Secor’s great grandfather when he moved to the area from Paterson nearly 80 years ago, the farm originally consisted of 50 acres in Upper Saddle River. In 1973, the family expanded into Mahwah.

The Secor Farm at the Fall Holidays

Secor Farms not only has been a famous landmark passed down through three generations: The Secors themselves have been extremely active in supporting the town (Mahwah-Ramsey Daily Voice 2017).

Fall at Secor Farms in Mahwah, NJ

The Fall produce at Secor Farms during the Halloween 2021 holiday weekend

Farms to Visit:

Old Schraalenburgh Farm Stand and Abram Demaree Homestead

177 Schraalenburgh Road

Closter, NJ  07624

(201) 289-3627

Open:  Farm Stand Cafe: Wednesday-Friday 11:00am-5:00pm/Saturday and Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm

Homestead: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

https://www.abramdemareehomestead.org/

http://palisadesny.com/history/abram-demaree-homestead/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46367-d5269898-Reviews-The_Farm_Stand-Closter_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/717

Old Hook Farm Stand & General Store

650 Old Hook Road

Emerson, NJ 07630

(201) 265-4835

http://www.oldhookfarm.com/

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/1404

Demarest Farm

244 Werimus Road

Hillsdale, NJ 07642

(201) 666-0472

https://demarestfarms.com/

https://www.facebook.com/demarestfarm/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46512-d4985687-Reviews-Demarest_Farm-Hillsdale_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/942

Goffle Road Poultry Farm

549 Goffle Road

Wyckoff, NJ 07481

(201) 444-3238

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Saturday 9:00am-5:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46945-d10135907-Reviews-Goffle_Road_Poultry_Farm-Wyckoff_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Abma Farm

700 Lawlins Road

Wyckoff, NJ 07481

(201) 891-0278

https://www.facebook.com/abmasfarm/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/381236933/united-states/bedford-hills-new-york/amba-farms/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Saturday 9:00am-5:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46945-d9806090-Reviews-Abma_s_Farm-Wyckoff_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Stokes Farm

23 Dewolf Road

Old Tappan, NJ 07675

(201) 768-3931

https://www.facebook.com/StokesFarmNJ/

Open: Sunday-Monday Closed/Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00am-5:00pm/Thursday Closed/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm (In season)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46704-d21328526-Reviews-Stokes_Farm-Old_Tappan_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Secor Farms

85 Airmont Avenue

Mahwah, NJ 07430

(201) 529-2595

http://www.secorfarms.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Secor-Farms-118514558210743/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm (In season)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46590-d17373422-Reviews-Secor_Farms-Mahwah_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Depiero’s Farm Stand

156 Summit Avenue

Montvale, NJ 07645

(201) 930-8678

https://depieros-farm-stand-and-greenhouses.business.site/

https://www.facebook.com/depierosfarm/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46638-d23326434-Reviews-Depiero_s_Farm-Montvale_New_Jersey.html?m=19905