Category Archives: Exploring Lodi, New Jersey

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.

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!!

My Life as a Fireman: The Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ November 26th, 2021

It has been one busy year for me at work with online classes and live work and very little time for volunteer work. I was lucky that we sold out of Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree sale in a record 11 days! My last shift we sold the final tree and I was able to attend the fire department’s room cleaning that night. Needless to say, I have not been that active as a fire fighter this year due to work.

Still, I managed to finish everything and was able to assist the Rescue Truck as we set up the sound system and lights for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting on November 26th, 2021. The parade takes place on the Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ the day after Thanksgiving and we draw a nice crowd for the Parade and then the Tree Lighting. It was really cold that evening and we had about 150 residents for the tree lighting.

The Christmas Tree at the Circle is always a welcome site at the holidays

We participated in the parade with all the equipment following Santa down the Boulevard, handled the sound system and the lights for the ceremony and kept the town safe that evening. It was a wonderful to usher in the holiday season.

The Brothers of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the 2021 Christmas Tree Lighting

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Giggles the Scarecrow

Day One Hundred and Eighty-One: The Legend of “Giggles the Scarecrow”-Halloween continued October 31st, 2020

Every October my neighbors decorate their home to the hilt on Halloween and every year they drag out this strange scarecrow out among their other decorations. I tease my neighbor that it looks like it wants to “rape and pillage the neighborhood”. I just think the thing looks mischiefest. She just laughs at me.

So over the years I have named this decoration “Giggles the Scarecrow” and created a story line for him:

“The Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”:

“When bad boys and girls come to our neighborhood on Halloween Night ready to perform more tricks then treats, Giggles will come to life and grab’em. He will then take’em away to his haunted home in the woods. Hee, Hee, Hee.”

Okay, I had a lot of time on my hands to think on Halloween Night. It is the era of COVID.

What do you think? Do you want to test the “Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”?

Giggles the Scarecrow

“Giggles the Scarecrow” on Halloween day in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Six: Here come the Christmas Trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ (HHMA) November 24th, 2018 (again in November 27th, 2019 & November 27th, 2020 & November 26th, 2021)

Let’s keep the momentum going in 2020! Let’s not let COVID wreck our holiday season! We have 375 trees to sell!

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at the Christmas tree drop off November 24th, 2020.

On the corner of Franklin and Terrace Avenues in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ just over the George Washington Bridge.

I am very proud to say that we SOLD OUT on Friday, December 11th, 2020!

I am again proud to say that we SOLD OUT again on Monday, December 6th, 2021.

This was a new record of less than a week and a half.

Thank you again to the Hasbrouck Heights and surrounding communities for all your support again this year! It will make a big difference in a lot of students lives in college.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

mywalkinmanhattan

I have put “MywalkinManhattan” project on hold to get ready for the holidays again! Here comes Christmas!

The holidays are always zipping by and Christmas is no different. We went right from Halloween night and the Halloween Parade to Christmas. The moment it was over, all the Christmas decorations went up. It seems that we no longer bother with worrying about Thanksgiving. I swear that Christmas starts with the July Christmas sale at all Hallmark stores and does not stop until Three Kings Day in January.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VIII

Myself and John at the old Christmas tree lot in 2002 when I returned home

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is when we set the lot up for business. We rake the entire property, put together our Christmas shed and then the stands to hold the trees. We have had a lot more help with new members over the past three years.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

Our trees just…

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Day One Hundred and Eighty: The Seventh Anniversary of Professor Angus Gillespie’s talk on the ‘Jersey Devil’ for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Halloween Events in 2013 November 13th, 2020

As part of our Halloween festivities for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library, we had a really special event on November 13th, 2013 for a new event we planned called “The Family Night Lecture” that we had just created. Our special guest that evening was Professor Angus Gillespie from the American Studies Department of Rutgers University. He is an expert and lecturer on folklore and myths including the ‘Jersey Devil’.

Professor Angus Gillespie with Professor and Chairman of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Justin Watrel

Professor Gillespie was a noted author and he had explained to me that when he originally wrote the book “The Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center” that it had a press of 2000 copies in 1999 bought mostly by his mother as gifts to her friends. When the Towers fell two year later, the book took off and became a Best Seller and he was flown all over the world as an expert on the history of the Towers. His book “Folklore in the Pine Barrens: A Study of the Pinelands Cultural Society of Waretown” was when the interest of the Jersey Devil began.

‘The Jersey Devil’

It has been a very interesting lecture that had everyone spellbound on the story of the Leeds family. The legend began with the story of Jane Leeds ( or in some historical cases Deborah Leeds) on a stormy night in 1735. Tired and frazzled from her 12 other children who over-worked her, she found that she was pregnant for the 13th time. She exclaimed ” I hope it’s not a child; I hope its the Devil”.

L

The Leeds former home in the Pine Barrens

On a dark and stormy night she gave birth to the child with friends gathered in the home to witness the birth. The child was born normal and then transformed into a monster of hoofs, a goat’s head, bat’s wings and a forked tail. It then attacked people in the room before it escaped up the chimney. It disappeared into the Pine Barrens and over the years people have claimed to have had encounters with it the latest being in 1909.

Chairman Justin Watrel with Professor Gillespie and members of the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library at the Junior Friends “Family Night Lecture”

It spellbound most of the crowd who were eager to ask questions. Professor Gillespie lead a discussion on the occurrences and accounts of the sightings over the years that got people thinking, was this thing still alive? The crowd had a wonderful time asking questions and getting a feel for the legend.

It was the last event of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library that year and a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. We had a small reception afterwards in Professor Gillespie’s honor.

Chairman & Professor Justin Watrel with Professor Angus Gillespie and Library Director Mimi Hui

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Nine: Exploring Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey-A Local Journey July 15th, 2020 (and everyday)

Since my thirty-two mile walk around the Island of Manhattan, I have stayed clear of New York City for the time being while things calm down a bit. Since my walk and even on Father’s Day weekend there have been a rash of shootings and thirteen people murdered in various neighborhoods. The papers said they have not seen anything like this since the late 90’s before Rudy Giuliani became Mayor and started to clean things up in New York City. What really spooked me is that I walked through parts of Harlem that were affected the day of the shootings especially between East 145th to East 118th Streets before I got on the riverfront walkway. I still can’t believe that people would act this way at a time like this.

Still between work and the fire department keeping me busy, it has been hard to get back into the City. Phase Three is slowly being introduced in but indoor seating has been put on hold. Outdoor dining has been cautious and the museum and parks have been slow to open. I just got a email from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that they will be opening on August 25th and 26th for a ‘Members Private Night’. It will be interesting to see if that happens.

Upstate New York in Duchess County is slowly opening up with precautions and we are now entering the ‘new normal’ that I would not have even thought about when I was running around the City and Upstate during the holiday season. I glad I made the visits I made when I did. You can’t do that now.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have been pretty much limited on what we can do and needing exercise and to get out of the house, I have been walking to our downtown and around the blocks exploring my own town. The Hasbrouck Height Chamber of Commerce recently sponsored “A Stroll Downtown” for our residents for people to explore their downtown and visit the restaurants and stores that are open for limited business and outdoor dining. With the weather getting warmer, people are tired of getting cooped up in their homes and want to get outside and enjoy the weather (yes, we are all wearing masks when necessary).

So every evening, I walk the Boulevard, our business district in Hasbrouck Heights and over time I have really noticed a lot more of our downtown. There is an array of architecture that dates back to the late 1800’s and historical markers that I had never really noticed before.

There is also an array of nice stores (See https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/) and reasonable restaurants (See https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/) in our downtown to visit. The nice part of being family-owned businesses is that you can call in and make an appointment to see merchandise and pickup gifts. We have a lot of nice business owners who will work with their clients.

The song ‘Hasbrouck Heights’ by Burt Bacharach

I start my walk every evening with a turn around the corner from my home and I walk down Williams Avenue to the Boulevard which starts our small part of downtown on our side of town. What is interesting about Williams Avenue is that is was used as an escape route for George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War from the Battles in Hackensack and Paramus with the British.

Battle of Hackensack

The Battles in Hackensack and Paramus during the Revolutionary War

Our area of New Jersey has a very prominent place in Revolutionary War history with local battles with the British.

Washington Retreat Sign

Washington’s forces retreated down Williams Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights after the Battle in Hackensack NJ

Before rounding Williams Avenue onto the busy Boulevard, which is a County of Bergen Road, you will pass Corleone’s Pizza at 205 Williams Avenue, one of the newest pizzeria/restaurants in Hasbrouck Heights. Their pizza and sandwiches are really good anchored by their rich Marinara Sauce and well-priced lunch specials. Outdoor dining here is rather unusual on such a busy road but makes it almost seem like you are in the City. Don’t miss their lunch specials and interesting sandwich combinations.

Corleone's Pizza II

Corleone’s Pizza at 205 Williams Avenue

https://www.facebook.com/CorleonesPizzeriaNJ/

https://www.corleonespizzeriamenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d13447995-Reviews-Corleone_s_Pizzeria-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Walking to the downtown area is only a few blocks away passing many homes that have stood in town since the late 1800’s to the 1930’s. Hasbrouck Heights has a diversity of types of homes, so it makes walking around interesting especially if you are into historic homes and architecture.

Back in the early 2000’s, our former Mayor Rose Heck, started a beautification of the downtown area by cutting down the old trees and opening the buildings to more sun and creating a whole new landscape by bricking the new sidewalks and adding flowering cherry trees that bloom an abundance of colors in the Spring.

On the new wrought iron lampposts, we have pictures of the graduates of Hasbrouck Heights High School, who missed the last four months of school (but recently had their graduation socially distanced on the football field) and American flags that are placed for Memorial Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July. During Christmas time, wreaths and white lights adorn them.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is a very homey, tight knit town.

I always start on the right side of the Boulevard as you approach downtown. The downtown starts with the historic Corpus Christi Church at 215 Kipp Avenue. The complex with the historic parish house, which had once been a well-known doctor’s home in the late 1890’s sits between Washington Place, home to many historic Victorian homes and Kipp Avenue, the start of the business district.

Corpus Chrisit Church

Corpus Christi Catholic Church at 215 Kipp Avenue

http://www.corpuschristihh.org/

The original part of the Church that was built in 1896 was moved from across the street to its current location when the parish bought the Dunstan estate in 1914. The church has been added onto twice in 1934 and 1957.

Corpus Christi Church II

The parish house is the historic Dunstan mansion on the original estate grounds.

The business district runs from Kipp Avenue in town to the circle at Passaic Avenue. Since there are numerous businesses, I wanted to point out the ones that I have enjoyed and been a patron of for years.

Our newest Chinese restaurant, China House at 250 Boulevard, opened (ironically on March 13th when everything was shutting down) just off Kipp Avenue. This small take-out restaurant has a few small tables to dine in, which I did the first week it was open (now due to COVID-19 it is just take out). Their General Tso’s and Orange Chicken are really good. The family that runs the restaurant is really nice and has been offering opening discounts.

China House

China House at 250 Boulevard

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d20322076-Reviews-China_House-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The nice thing about our downtown is the diversity of stores and restaurants. One of the most unique shops is the Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard. One of the few stores in the State of New Jersey that specializes in Catholic gifts, it has an array of merchandise from crosses to crucifixes and at the holidays there is a selection of jewelry, books, figurines, statuary and selected gifts both religious and secular.

The Religious Shoppe

The Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard

https://thereligiousshopusa.com/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/119

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–the-religious-shoppe-unique-merchandise-in-a-welc9ecbf32558

Next to the Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard (the other side of the building) is Sophia’s Kitchen, a very popular Greek restaurant that opened several years ago and continues to grow in popularity. Their food and service are excellent and after many great reviews in both the local papers and on the internet has been a destination restaurant ever since. You need to wait for tables between Thursday and Saturday nights.

Sophia's Mediterranean Grill

The Religious Shoppe and Sofia’s Mediterranean Grill during the Summer months

Their gyro sandwiches are delicious with a side of their garlic fries and they have this shrimp appetizer, the Shrimp Sanganaki, that is cooked in a tomato sauce and topped with cheese that is out of this world. Their Baklava is sweet and buttery and soaked in honey in all layers. They also have a dessert called Galactoboureko, a sweet custard wrapped in phyllo dough, that is amazing.

Sofia's Kitchen II

Sofia’s Mediterranean Grill at 220 Boulevard

https://sofiasmediterraneangrill.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d3468322-Reviews-Sofia_s_Mediterranean_Grill-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–sofias-mediterranean-grill-the-cuisine-of-greece-fdb3d070f6

Crossing over Franklin Avenue to the next block, you will find a series of interesting shops with Young Fashions at 208 Boulevard, for beautiful children’s wear and Not Too Shabby at 206 Boulevard (both closed for business in June 2021) for custom made and vintage painted furniture.

Young Fashions Inc III

Young Fashions at 206 Boulevard (Closed June 2021)

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/53

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

Young Fashions Inc. II

Owner Addie Carrino greets all her customers personally (now retired)

Young Fashions (now closed June 2021) is a Lilliputian dream for the well-dressed child and a favorite for grandparents and aunts and uncles all over Bergen County. This delightful store still carries quality clothing for children from infant to age 12. Owner Addie Carrino still believes that there are children that still dress nicely and provides clothing from head to toe for them. She offers complimentary pressing of items when bought and free gift wrapping.

Not Too Shabby (now closed May 2020-online business orders) is run by Addie’s daughter, Liz Carrino, who brings to life her custom painted furniture and one-of-a-kind pieces. She loves vintage furniture from the Depression era and all sorts of decorative pieces for the home and office. Take time to walk around the aisles of furniture and Knick knacks.

Not too Shabby

Not Too Shabby at 206 Boulevard (now closed 2020-Online Business)

https://nottooshabbynj.com/

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/meet-liz-carrino-owner-of-not-too-shabby

Next to Not Too Shabby at 202 Boulevard, the new and much enlarged Dumpling Chinese Restaurant moved to from their old location at 220 Boulevard (now the home to China House). The restaurant is much bigger and brighter than their old restaurant and has lots of places to sit down. They made a wonderful Lemon Chicken and Moo Shu Pork and their dumplings are not bad too. Their Hot & Sour Soup is the best in town.

Dumpling Chinese Food

Dumpling Chinese Food at 202 Boulevard

http://www.dumplingchinesehasbrouckheights.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

Dumplings

Dumplings dumplings are really good!

Walking further down the Boulevard I always pass the Masonic Temple at 200 Boulevard, one of the oldest buildings in Hasbrouck Heights. The Euclid Masonic Lodge has been in existence for 145 years and its stately building has been part of the downtown since anyone can remember.

Masonic Lodge

The Euclid Masonic Lodge at 200 Boulevard

About Us

As you walk to the next two blocks you will reach the Circle which is the home to many a Christmas Celebration with the annual Tree Lighting after Thanksgiving. One little unique local landmark we have is the old ‘Neil Parrot Playhouse’ that sits on the Circle and is decorated for the holidays. In 2016 a group of concerned citizens got together to have the little dollhouse, which matched the home of the old Neil Parrot business office and home of Neil Parrot, a local realtor. He used the little house to amuse children while their parents did business with him.

Neil Parrot Playhouse

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Hasbrouck Heights Circle

The Circle at the corner of Boulevard and Passaic Avenue is the official end of the Business District and is where all holiday events take place with the Tree Lighting at the end of November and the Holiday Choir performing.

Hasbrouck Heights Christmas

The pine trees at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights add to a festive mood at the holidays

On the other side of the Circle from the old Neil Parrot Dollhouse is the Firemen’s Memorial where every Memorial Day and 9/11 Day, we on the fire department have our special ceremonies and events. It really is a place of reflection and a nice place to sit and think. I like to take time and look at the names of fire fighters from the past.

Firemen's Memorial Hasbrouck Heights

The Firemen’s Memorial in Hasbrouck Heights

http://www.hasbrouck-heights.com/hhfd/

I like to take a break here but move on I do very quickly and I start the walk on the other side of the Boulevard.

Another nice restaurant that I enjoy going to is Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard. The restaurant is now serving outdoor diners and has delivery and take out. Still the outdoor dining is really popular. When it is open, it is the local watering hole for customers all over Bergen County who enjoy a good mixed drink, their wonderful pub food and watching the games. Their pizza and burgers are really good and cooked and seasoned perfectly. They have a nice assortment of appetizers to order when having a drink.

Heights Bar & Grill

Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard

http://www.heightsbarandgrill.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4734828-Reviews-The_Heights_Bar_and_Grill-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-heights-bar-and-grill

Walking past the Heights Bar & Grill there is a bevy of small businesses and commercial banks housed in older and modern buildings. The architecture in our downtown is a combination of old and new and old becoming new again.

A new addition to our restaurant scene and adding a little ‘hipster’ to Hasbrouck Heights is the new KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge at 183 Boulevard that just opened last year. It had been an old convenience store for years and the new owners stripped it down to the bearings where is looks like a combination of Williamsburg meets Beacon, NY. The food is reasonable and they have nice sandwiches and wraps. The nice part is when the place was open pre-COVID-19, they had entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. It was nice to hear saxophonists and guitar players rather than the usual garage bands. It gives the downtown a little diversity from all the pizzerias and Chinese take-out places.

KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge

KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge at 183 Boulevard now has outdoor dining

https://www.ktbcoffeeshop.com/our-shop

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d17595045-Reviews-KTB_Coffee_Shop_Lounge-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The next few blocks is studded with service businesses, hair salons and banks and then you have a series of restaurants some opening in recent years. On the corner of Hamilton Avenue and the Boulevard replacing the long service Carroll’s Fashion which had been that location for about thirty years.  Bella Pizza opened at 193 Boulevard. The pizzeria has quickly established itself in town among the other six pizzerias we have and makes the most amazing calzones and Sicilian pies.

Bella Pizza

Bella Pizza at 193 Boulevard

https://www.bellapizzahh.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d13840427-Reviews-Bella_Pizza-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights, a branch of the popular Rutherford, NJ restaurant is at 203 Boulevard is one of the growing fine dining restaurants added to our downtown. It has always been busy at the holidays and in the COVID-19 era has a small outdoor dining area to sit and relax while you enjoy dishes like Shrimp Risotto and Veal Milanese.

Risotto House

The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights at 203 Boulevard

https://www.ourrisottohouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d3599716-Reviews-The_Risotto_House_Of_Hasbrouck_Heights-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Next to The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights is J. Maru Sushi at 205 Boulevard and is known for their Bento Box lunches and their Shrimp Tempura and Chicken Teriyaki are always delicious.

J. Maru Sushi

J. Maru Sushi at 205 Boulevard

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Sushi-Restaurant/J-Maru-Sushi-435694726465834/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4967381-Reviews-J_Maru_Sushi-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–j-maru-sushi-a-visit-to-japan-without-leaving-town

One of the nicest stores in Hasbrouck Heights especially at each of the holidays is Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard. Their window displays are some of the best in the downtown area and are especially nice at Christmas and Easter. I love their selection of gifts at the holidays and their owner always makes special arrangements for me when visiting the cemetery. The business is housed in an old home that has been in the downtown since the 1880’s and was renovated to its beauty by the owner.

Heights Flower Shoppe

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://www.heightsflowershoppe.com/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-guest-column-heights-florist-shoppes-vorisek-5b8b062f7d

Heights Flower Shoppe

Heights Flower Shoppe is always special at the Christmas holidays

The historic Lovey’s Pizzeria at 211 Boulevard and has been in town since the early 1960’s. There is a small dining room in the restaurant and I have been partial over the years to their fried calzones and their ravioli with red sauce. The current owner bought the pizzeria from her parents who had owned it all those years.

Lovey's Pizza

Lovey’s Pizzeria & Ristorante at 211 Boulevard with Summer dining

https://www.loveysristorantepizzeria.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4711933-Reviews-Lovey_s_Pizzeria_Ristorante-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/lovey-s-owner-corrine-seidel-knows-everything-about-p3ceadb12a9

One of my favorite Chinese take-out places in Hasbrouck Heights is Ho Mei Kitchen at 227 Boulevard. I enjoy many of the dishes here especially their Lemon Chicken, their House Fried Rice and their Lo Mein is the best is the best in town. Their lunch specials are really reasonable and you can order them until 4:00pm. They are like a dinner. The family who owns the place are really nice and have set up an interesting system of ordering in the COVID-19 era.

Ho Mei Kitchen

Ho Mei Kitchen at 227 Boulevard

http://www.homeikitchen.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d8605835-Reviews-Ho_Mei_Kitchen-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/673

Lemon Chicken

Their Lemon Chicken is the best!

Crossing the street at Jefferson Avenue are three of the oldest businesses in town along with Lovey’s Pizzeria, Height Floral Shoppe and Young Fashions is Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and the Boulevard at 231 Boulevard has been opened since the 1960’s as well.

Like Heights Flower Shoppe, Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts is always so nicely merchandised with the wonderful flower arrangements for a quick pickup, nice assortments of candy and stuffed animals and creative gift items for the home at the holidays. Their owners are really nice and accommodating. They also have a nice Open House at the opening of the holiday season.

Bill O'Sheas Florist

Bill O’Sheas Florist & Gifts at 227 Boulevard

https://osheasflowers.com/

My article on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-bill-osheas-florist

Bill OShea's

The owners of Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts, John and Linda Kosakowski, at their Food Drive.

Bill O'Shea's at Easter

Bill O’Shea’s Easter Open House 2021

The newest addition to Downtown Hasbrouck Heights is Ralph’s Ice Cream & Ices at 239 Boulevard that opened in the height of the COVID pandemic just in time to cheer a town up that really needed it. The store opened in the summer of 2020 to long lines and gave everyone an excuse to done a mask and meet their neighbors for a sweet treat. Check out their weekly posted specials.

Ralph's Ice Cream

Ralph’s Ice Cream at 239 Boulevard

Home

Fisher’s Café at 245 Boulevard is another restaurant that has been in town since the 1960’s and is a popular place for breakfast and lunch with a lot of the locals who make this their place to eat. Fisher’s is very popular for their breakfast dishes and platters and is a hang out after school for the junior high and high students for their burgers and grilled cheese.

Fisher's Cafe

Fisher’s Café at 245 Boulevard

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/American-Restaurant/Fishers-Cafe-Hasbrouck-Heights-190840294276558/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4953321-Reviews-Fisher_s_Cafe-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-fisher-s-cafe

Another long-time merchant in Hasbrouck Heights is Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard, which had reopened after a few years of being closed by the family. The bakery has been a Hasbrouck Heights institution since the 1950’s by the current owner’s grandparents.

Spindler's Bakery V

Ginny & Bob Spindler at their store as the next generation of bakers.

They are well-known for their butter cookies arrangements; their fresh rolls and their apple and lemon turnovers are melted in your mouth good!  Don’t miss their delicious Black & White cookies and their stuffed Chocolate Chip sandwiches. The staff is always friendly and the smells of the baked goods as you enter the store are sensational.

Spindler's Bakery III

Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard

https://twitter.com/spindlersbakery?lang=en

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d12898321-Reviews-Spindler_s_Bake_Shop-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1645

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/spindlers-bakery-a-hasbrouck-heights-tradition-returns-to-town

Spindler's Bakery VI

The baked goods are so good! Don’t miss their Lemon Turnovers!

Lemon Turnovers at Spindler's Bake Shop

Their Lemon Turnovers are excellent!

As you pass by Spindler’s Bake Shop, you will walk the next block over and pass Kipp Avenue again to the end of the official part of the Business District and start walking back to Williams Avenue past residential and commercial properties and Corpus Christi Church again until you reach our Municipal Building.

In a small strip of stores across from our new Town Hall that was built in 2004 are two very popular restaurants, Tom Young Koong, at 305 Boulevard and Heights Pizzeria at 313 Boulevard which have both adapted to the COVID-19 era of outdoor dining and take-out/delivery.

Tom Young Koong is a very well-known destination Thai restaurant that is very busy between Thursday and Saturday nights. Their assortment of appetizers that include Chicken Satay, Curry Puffs, Fried Dumplings and Shrimp Fried Noodle are excellent and they have the most delicious Pad Thai which is wonderful with Chicken and Shrimp. The food is cooked by the owner with recipes that came from his mother. The service is always friendly and the owners are really nice.

Tom Young Koong

Tom Young Koong at 305 Boulevard

https://www.menuism.com/restaurants/tom-yum-koong-thai-restaurant-medford-19871

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4632674-Reviews-Tom_Yum_Koong_Thai_Kitchen-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Hasbrouck Heights Pizza (Heights Pizza to locals) at 313 Boulevard has been popular since it opened its doors almost a decade ago. Their pizza is so popular that people order it from several towns away and even during the worst storms even Hurricane Sandy, it never closed and was as busy as ever. Everything here is delicious and it is known not just for its regular Cheese Pizza but their Grandma Pizza, their Pepperoni Calzones, Specialty pies and their entrees are excellent and restaurant quality. The place is always busy, so the staff and drivers run in and out of the place. The outdoor dining is even popular from early Spring until it gets cold in October.

Heights Pizza

Heights Pizzeria at 313 Boulevard

https://www.hasbrouckheightspizza.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d4789435-Reviews-Hasbrouck_Heights_Pizza-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/bp–friends-merchant-series-heights-pizzeria-serves-g2bd44b4fc5

Heights Pizza II

The owner of Heights Pizza, Celestino Gencarelli, welcomes guests to his restaurant.

Across the street from these restaurants sits the Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building that stands guard over the downtown and welcomes visitors and residents alike.

Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building

The Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building at 320 Boulevard

https://hasbrouck-heightsnj.org/

The last thing I always see on my way home is the Hasbrouck Heights Junior/Senior High School which has stood here since the 1940’s educating generations of Hasbrouck Heights residents.

Hasbrouck Heights High School

Hasbrouck Heights High School at 365 Boulevard

https://www.hhschools.org/

When arriving back at Williams Avenue, I cross the Boulevard again with Corleone’s Pizzeria in the distance and their well-lit tables. Two other businesses have been in town a long time in this series of stores.

Danson Jewelers at 201 Williams Avenue has been in Hasbrouck Heights since the 1980’s and does a nice job on repairs of watches and jewelry and has a nice selection of watches. The service is very friendly and the family that owns it gets to know their regulars.

Danson Jewelers

Danson Jewelers at 201 Williams Avenue

Jewelry

Further down the street a new bakery opened. Two Ladies Bakery at 446 Boulevard. They specialize in Lebanese, Russian and French pastries. The bakery just opened two weeks ago so it is nice to go in and support a new business in town.

Two Ladies Bakery

Two Ladies Bakery at 448 Boulevard

https://twoladiesbakerynorth.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TwoLadiesBakeryNorth/

My review on TripAdvisor:

The Cream Puff I had was a little pricey for our town at $5.00. It was well baked and had a rich creamy vanilla filling. It was good but average.

Cream Puffs

The cream puffs are good but expensive

Another long service merchant who has been assisting residents for years is Heights Specialty Pharmacy (the former BeJay Drug Store) at 450 Boulevard. The staff has been here for years and is helpful to many of our senior residents. The owner’s wife runs a small gift shop both in the store and a few doors down has a separate shop.

Heights Pharmacy

Heights Specialty Pharmacy at 450 Boulevard

http://heightsspecialty.com/

My article on Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchants-series-bejay-drugs-tradition-and-ole6071c843e

The last merchant I pass on my way home is Jerry’s Barber Shop at 406 Boulevard, which has been here since the 1920’s when Jerry’s father ran the business. Jerry has been cutting my hair since 1988 and is one of the only people I trust to do it correctly. I even waited for trips home from Hawaii, Guam and California when I lived in those places to get my hair cut. A haircut here is still $14.00 and he does an excellent job. I highly recommend him.

Jerry's Barber Shop

Jerry’s Barber Shop at 460 Boulevard

https://www.bestprosintown.com/nj/hasbrouck-heights/jerrys-barber-shop-/

Then I round the corner and am on my way home again. For such a small town, Hasbrouck Heights has the most interesting and historic downtown that few residents appreciate when you look at the history and longevity of our merchants. A few long-time merchants have closed their doors as they have either retired or COVID-19 has affected the business.

During the holiday season, the town really rolls out the welcome mat. People in town love to decorate and entertain. In this COVID era, some things have been toned down such as large parties and parades. All the Christmas concerts have been cancelled as school has been put into both virtual and life classes.

Still the spirit of the town can be felt from Halloween to the New Years as people decorate their homes and businesses welcome people to open houses and will cater to small parties of people.

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ in 2019

In 2021, the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association started the first Annual “Halloween House Decorating Contest” to promote all the residents who decorate their homes for the Halloween holidays. We presented the award on Halloween morning to the winners at 257 Henry Street.

253 Henry Street HHMA Winners

The first Annual “HHMA Halloween House Decorating Contest” winners with Chairman Justin Watrel

My blog on Halloween at the Parade and running the Halloween House Decorating Contest in 2021:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/19756

253 Henry Street HHMA Winner II

The winning house on Henry Street

Every year I look forward to the Downtown Merchants Open Houses with their bright creative display windows and small indoor entertainments as people come to shop and converse with their neighbors.

Heights Floral Shop II

Heights Flower Shop at Halloween

Heights Floral Shop Halloween

Hasbrouck Heights merchants know how to decorate for Halloween-Heights Flower Shop

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Bill O’Shea Flowers had their annual Open House with Christmas music and lots of pre-wrapped goodies to enjoy and take home. The store was beautifully decorated with all sorts of treasures that customers could buy, I love just walking around and grabbing a snack while shopping every year.

Bill O'Shea's Florist V

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts is a delight at the Christmas holidays

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gifts welcomes you at Christmas

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Heights Flower Shoppe had their Annual Open House and it was just as spectacular. One tries to outdo the other in a friendly rivalry.

Heights Flowers V

Heights Flower Shoppe has the most interesting merchandise

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe pulls out all stops to welcome you at the holidays

My twenty-one years on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association has done a lot to my back after years at Macy’s selling rugs as well. The Annual Christmas Tree Sale was a HUGE success this year. We sold out in less than two weeks, ending the sale on Friday night, December 11th selling a record 375 trees. We want to thank the residents of Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns for their support on our Scholarship Fund event.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VI

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at the set-up being COVID safe in 2020

HHMA Christmas Tree Sale 2021 I

Things calmed down a bit in 2021. We sold out 390 trees in 11 days!

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

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

The trees were gorgeous this year

As we ready for Christmas 2020 next week and the coming of a new and hopefully better New Year, the town has done its job to cheer us up. The Annual Christmas Tree lighting was not advertised but happened anyway and welcomes people at our western border of town.

Hasbrouck Heights Christmas VI

Our town Christmas tree at the Circle

Neil Parrot Playhouse

The Neil Parrot playhouse is even decorated at the Circle

Bill O'Shea's Florist VII

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights welcomes you at Christmas

Heights Flower Shop Christmas 2021 V

Heights Flower Shop in Hasbrouck Heights at Christmas in 2021

Bill O'Shea's Christmas 2021 IV

Bill O’Shea’s in Hasbrouck Heights at Christmas time

Even though the Annual Holiday Parade was cancelled, we will still be welcoming Santa at Santa Around Town the last Sunday of December before Christmas. This Annual tradition on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department has the whole town in the Christmas spirit as Santa visits them in their own neighborhoods.

Santa Around Town HHFD

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2019

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14847

Christmas Parade in HH

We visit every neighborhood in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Nothing can stop the holiday spirit in our town even in the era of COVID. This is a time when neighbors and friends need to stick together for holiday cheer!

HHFD Santa Around Town 2020

HHFD at Santa Around Town 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town 2020”:

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

The Brothers of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020!

Santa Around Town 2021

Santa Around Town in 2021 when we could stop and talk to people again

My blog on “Santa Around Town” in 2021:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20547

As the State of the New Jersey slowly opens again, I can still walk my entire downtown in the evenings and appreciate the fact that sometimes small-town living is not so bad and it is still only twenty minutes and twelve miles to Midtown Manhattan.

This is what walking is all about. Discovering things close to home.

Watch this video on our town and try to locate some of the older homes still standing.

And be a tourist in your own town!

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Christmas Tree Stand

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Six: Here come the Christmas Trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ (HHMA) November 24th, 2018 (again in November 27th, 2019 & November 27th,2020& November 26th, 2021)

I have put “MywalkinManhattan” project on hold to get ready for the holidays again! Here comes Christmas!

The holidays are always zipping by and Christmas is no different. We went right from Halloween night and the Halloween Parade to Christmas. The moment it was over, all the Christmas decorations went up. It seems that we no longer bother with worrying about Thanksgiving. I swear that Christmas starts with the July Christmas sale at all Hallmark stores and does not stop until Three Kings Day in January.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VIII

Myself and John at the old Christmas tree lot in 2002 when I returned home

The Saturday before Thanksgiving is when we set the lot up for business. We rake the entire property, put together our Christmas shed and then the stands to hold the trees. We have had a lot more help with new members over the past three years.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

Our trees just keep getting better

The Saturday after Thanksgiving for me means Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association, which I have been a member of for twenty-one years. I can’t believe that time has gone that fast. It seems like ten life times ago that I returned home from Guam.

The organization has been building on the success of the sale over the past five years and this year we extended the amount of trees we bought to 340 over the 315 last year. I thought we ordered an even 350 but we must have readjusted it. Still that is the most amount of trees we have sold since I have been in the organization.

Last year we were sold out by the second week of December and had our annual party at the lot with three trees left. I had never seen so many trees sell out so fast. Our word of mouth has been very good. I have also tried to get the Upper West Side customer from Manhattan to cross the bridge to buy their trees here.

I swear that I was pricing trees while I was finishing my walk of the Upper West Side in 2018 for my ‘MywalkinManhattan’ project and trees that we were selling for $45-$55 vendors were selling for $100. It was just nuts.

We also bulked up on the fraizers this year. They are the pine trees that look the most typical ‘Christmasy’. They as of this weekend have almost all sold out. People tend to decorate early because of work schedules and I swear, we had not even emptied the truck on Saturday and we sold two trees. We sold eight by the end of my shift at 6:00pm that night.

For all of you readers and bloggers who need a Christmas tree, we are located on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and our prices go from $45.00 for a small Frazier to $100.00 for a ten foot tall Balsam. We are open as long as the supply lasts.

Hurry up as I was on the lot last night and there were forty-one trees left! By the night of our annual tree stand party we sold out! 340 trees in less than three weeks! A new Men’s Association record!

Men's Association Dinner 2016

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in 2017

HHMA Dinner 2018

Myself and Kyle Kasper and his wife at the 2018 HHMA Dinner

2018 was another great year for Christmas tree sales. We are hoping for another repeat in 2019. We sold all 375 Christmas trees in three weeks!

 

HHMA 2019

The members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at our 2019 Annual Dinner

In November & December of 2020:

With the success of the sale in 2018, we bumped the amount of Christmas Trees to 375 in 2019 and we sold out again by December 16th so our goal for 2020 was going to be 400 trees. We as a organization knew that we could do this but when COVID hit we were unsure of what would happen. So our President decided that we would keep it at 375 trees again for 2020.

We really lucked out as the week of set-up before Thanksgiving and the drop off the weekend after as the weather was sunny and in the 60’s. This is unusual for this time of the year. I worked all three days after the drop off working from 9:00am to 10:00pm on Friday, from 2:00pm to 7:30pm on Saturday and then from 10:00am to 6:30pm on Sunday.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales III

Christmas Tree set up is a lot of work

All three days were spectacular with sunny weather in the low 60’s. I was amazed at the early crowds that we had and we sold 35 trees and two stands on Friday. This was the most we had ever sold on a first day of selling. The first full weekend of selling we sold 152 trees and 6 stands. That was our best so far.

I want to thank the residents of Hasbrouck Heights and our surrounding communities for support of our sale every year. Now it is time to sell the rest of those trees!

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VI

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in 2020 in the era of COVID

An update from 2020, we sold all the trees out, all 375 of them, by Friday night, December 11th. A new record for us!! 

Christmas 2021:

HHMA Christmas Tree Sale 2021

Our new sign on the corner of Terrace Avenue and Franklin Avenue

This was out most amazing year! We sold 390 trees (we were shorted 10 trees by the vendor) and sold them out in a record week and half (11 days) plus all the branches were gone. When I went in for my Monday night shift that next Monday, the last two trees were gone and I got the last eight branches that someone had not stolen. The site was wiped clean.

Our best year yet!

HHMA Christmas Tree Sale 2021 I

The Men of the HHMA Christmas 2021-Thank God the masks are gone!

Thank you to the Hasbrouck Heights and surrounding communities for your support! You will be helping a lot of students with their time in college. We always appreciate your support.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who bought a tree and to all your families, please stay safe during the holidays!!

 

Watch my successful commercial for YouTube below and watch the trailers for my two favorite contemporary Christmas movies. They really show a different side of the holidays.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales

Me selling Christmas trees on the lot with member John Horem.

Merry Christmas!

 

My Christmas tree sales video on YouTube.

Update:

In 2018, all in all 339 trees were sold and one was stolen from the lot. We raised over $8000 for student scholarships and want to thank all of customers for their support!

In 2019, we sold all 374 trees that we had on the lot and raised over $10,000 for the student scholarship fund. Thank you again everyone!

In 2020, we sold 152 trees the first weekend. Let’s keep that momentum going everyone!!

In 2021, our best year yet, we sold 390 trees in a record 11 days! New Record!!

 

My two new favorite contemporary Christmas movies, “Christmas Again” and “White Reindeer” sad but optimistic views on the holiday. Try to get your hands on these two great indie films.

‘Christmas Again’

 

‘White Reindeer’

Merry Christmas Everyone and Stay Safe!

Author Justin Watral

Day Ninety One: New Blog Sites: VisitingaMuseum.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@WordPress.com by Blogger Justin Watrel.

To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.

I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.

Gallery Bergen II.jpg

Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College

There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.

‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.

Dumplings II.jpg

Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street

These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

Beekman Place.jpg

Beekman Place

So I hope you enjoy ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com when coming to Manhattan. Please check all of this places out online for a change of hours and exhibits and menus.

Check out the newest site, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” for small boutiques and specialty shops that are unique and quirky.

Cute Downtown.jpg

Little Shop on Main Street:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.

New Jersey Firemen's Home Museum

The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of  Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.

Brother's of Engine One with their bell

The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/tag/engine-one-hhfd/

The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.

BCFHA Barbecue 2019 V

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association

I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.

Happy Reading!

My Blogs:

MywalkinManhattan.com

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

BergenCountyCaregiver.com

https://wwwbergencountycaregiver.com/

VisitingaMuseum.com

https://visitingamuseum.com/

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

TheBrothersofEngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartment@Wordpress.com

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/

TBCFMA@Wordpress.com

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

Also visit my past blog on Patch.com: The Merchant Series

https://patch.com/users/justin-watrel

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

I did this for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library from 2009-2014.

The Second Annual Teens Tots & Toys at the Lodi Memorial

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event with Best-Selling Author and Caldecott Medal Winner Christopher Raschka with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library December 10, 2016

This is the second time I have hosted the “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event at the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library created “Teens, Tots & Toys” as an alternative to many libraries having a “Story Time with Santa” event that can  leave  out some children who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Our mascot for the event, “Tinker Street” was created by myself to set the tone for the event and can be seen on YouTube in the video from last year’s event with special invited guest, US & World Figure Skater Elaine Zayak and with this year’s event with Best Selling and Caldecott Medal Winner, Christopher Raschka. We were so happy that two such prominent people wanted to join us for this event.

Raschka Visit II

Chris and I at “Teens, Tots & Toys”

The premise for “Teens, Tots & Tots” is as a holiday event that caters to all children and their families.  The Friends wanted to build the event on having a toy drive, a celebrity visit and showing a holiday movie. Last year, we donated toys and books to the Emmanuel Cancer Center in Midland Park, NJ. This is in partnership with the library when they run their Annual Gingerbread House Making event.

This holiday season we were very excited when Best-Selling Children’s Author and Caldecott Medal, Christopher Raschka, decided to join us. I have to admit, we had a lot of communication between each other for over a year and there were a lot of emails going back and forth and time commitments we both had and I was glad that he could join us for our holiday event. I was very excited that he was coming to our library. As the expression says. “Good things come to those who wait” and the visit went beyond my expectations. Everyone had a such a good time.

I had first become acquainted with Chris’s work  when a few years earlier I had done another event at my old library with Giant’s player and fellow Cornell University Alumni, Kevin Boothe. Kevin had read from the inspirational book that Chris wrote and illustrated, “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle”. I thought the illustrations were very unique and creative and that is when I thought it would be interesting to have the author come out to the library. It took almost a year and a half of planning.

Kevin Boothe at the HHL II

Giants Player Kevin Boothe reading “Everyone Can Learn to Ride A Bicycle”.

Chris Raschka is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota who graduated with a degree in Biology. He also has a love for music as he was a member of both the Ann Arbor and Flint Symphony Orchestra’s. While working as an intern at a children’s orthopedic clinic in Germany, he experienced an interest in working with children.

He has received many awards and recognition’s for his work. In 1992, he won the Best Books of the Year citation, the Publisher’s Weekly, the Notable Children’s Book citation, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Pick of the Lists citation, the American Booksellers Association, all for ‘Charlie Parker Played Be Bop’. In 1994, he received the Caldecott Honor Book Award and he was the ALA and US winner of the UNICEF-Ezra Jack Keats award, both for ‘Yo! Yes?’. In 2005, he received the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award nomination for ‘The Hello, Goodbye Window’.

Chris Raschka was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2006 for his illustrations in the ‘Hello, Goodbye Window’, written by Norton Juster (one of my hands down favorite authors since I was a kid and the author of the ‘Phantom Tollbooth’), a story about a child’s visit to her grandparents. In 2012, he won his second Caldecott Medal for his wordless children’s book, ‘A Ball for Daisy’, that chronicles a little dogs loss of his most prized possession and is a tale of loss, recovery and friendship. We were very lucky that he read from both of these books and from’ Yo! Yes?’

This was no ordinary author visit in that the author sat down, read the books and then led a discussion.  Chris got up and engaged the audience with storytelling, acting and illustrations. I have seen many book signings but none like this.

Chris could not have been more personable with both the adults and the children in the audience and had the younger set completely engaged in his books. We first started off with a introduction of his work and a little about himself. Chris started his program with a drawing of his two cats. These two amusing drawings of the little cats made quite an impression on the kids, many of whom had pets at home.

What impressed me the most is when he got the children from the audience to get up and act out his books in character. You don’t see many authors doing that. Chris had children who volunteered from the audience act out the books ‘Yo! Yes?’ , ‘Goosey Goose’ and ‘Buggy Bug’ in a series of short plays. The kids were really excited to get up and act. He also got the audience to participate as well .

Then he did a series of drawings creating pictures using people’s names. He took kids from the audience and asked them to write out their names and then developed a figure of the letters of the names.  The best part was each of the children were able to take the picture home. I have the most unusual picture of a person using the my name “Justin” (Yes, I did have it framed).

Raschka XII

Chris engaging with the children of Lodi, NJ

Chris followed this with a book discussion of the Caldecott Medal Winning book ‘A Ball for Daisy”, the all picture book. He went through all the frames of the book and then got a group of the children to get up and act out the book using some balloons as props for the ball. He really got the kids to use their emotions in the play and it made the rest of the program very personal because the children could relate to him as another kid. Chris knew how to enter their world.

During the question and answer session, the children had some very interesting questions on how he published his books, where he got his ideas and he put his books together. He even explained how he came up with the idea for ‘A Ball for Daisy’ on an incident that happened with son when he ball was damaged by a neighbors dog. He also discussed how long a book took to develop and where some of his inspirations came from. It really was nice participation from the audience.

To honor Chris’s visit, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library presented him with an ‘Honorary Membership’ to ‘The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library’ and our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Emil Carafa,  presented Chris with a Medal of Honor from the Borough of Lodi.

Raschka Visit XV

Chris receiving an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

It was a fun and engaging afternoon and we were very honored to have Christopher Raschka be our guest for the Second Annual ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ holiday celebration. We will see everyone next December for the Third Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” celebration.

Raschka Visit

Chris with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!

Articles on the Event:

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/1342/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/