Category Archives: Exploring New York State

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Five Christmas Again? December 1st-31st, 2022

I do not know where time went. One day I am cutting the lawn in 70-degree weather and the next day it is 32 degrees, and everyone is freezing. The weather has been going up and down like a yoyo and everyone is getting sick right before the holidays. Every other day the weather was changing, and this is the way the temperature would be every day for the month of December. One day it is Spring or Fall and the next everyone is bundling up.

Don’t be fooled by all the pictures and activities. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of driving and a lot of arranging to pull the holidays off this year. Teaching three classes and taking four classes in Grad school on top of volunteer work that I was committed to and getting ready for the holidays and all its expectations I had a lot of nights where I did not go to bed until two in the morning. I would study on busses and in hotel rooms and I never worked like this before in my life. Still it was a Merry Christmas and I consider myself a lucky person to see all these wonderful things.

All I did was run in and out of New York City every week for classes and work. There were so many historical sites that I wanted to visit over the holidays to update previously blogs that every moment of my day was taken up with touring. Still, I enjoyed taking my time to walk to school through Greenwich Village. The residents and merchants here know how to celebrate the holidays.

Christmas in Greenwich Village. I saw this home after class and I knew Santa was on his way

Walking past the train station on the way back to Port Authority was even festive.

With Grad School taking up so much of my time and I just finished all my presentations at Bergen Community College where I work (please see all three Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. projects), it’s now the final project for Grad School and getting ready for the holidays that are taking up my time. It is only two more weeks.

Thanksgiving with my cousins and aunt at the Lambertville Inn

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g46551-d114479-Reviews-Lambertville_Station_Inn_and_Restaurant-Lambertville_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Christmas started for me right after Thanksgiving with my family when the next day we had Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. We had 390 Christmas Trees delivery and we emptied the truck in one hour. By 10:30am, we sold our first Christmas tree and by the end of the first weekend, we sold 134 trees and 8 stands. We just missed last year’s numbers. It had rained most of Sunday so we missed that afternoon and evening of that day.

Christmas Tree drop off is right after Thanksgiving at 8:00am the next morning

The guys on the Men’s Association after we finished tagging and unloading the trees

Friday was a busy day selling. It often amazes me how many trees sell that first weekend. Last year we sold out in 11 days and people were disappointed that they had to wait. Many said that this year, they arrived early to get the tree they wanted. Even with the rain on Sunday, we did very well and were anticipating another get year (we sold out by December 9th on the morning shift).

My blog on Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/27077

The next evening after Thanksgiving was the Annual Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. Since we were opening the tree stand and I was on leave from the fire department this year, I did not go. Instead I stayed at the tree stand that evening and sold trees on my first split shift. We sold 44 trees on the first day of sales.

The Christmas Tree at the Circle in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

The Gazebo at the Firemen’s Circle Memorial in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

I have to admit, Thanksgiving weekend and the subsequent week were all about grad school. We would be wrapping up classes in two weeks (classes ended on December 14th) and I had three major papers due, one for each class. With the exception of my Data Analytics class, I had one partner on each paper I really did not know if I could count on so there would be a lot of extra work to do. The next weekend was Sinterklaas weekend, and I knew I had to be in Rhinebeck and then Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that I committed to last month. When you’re on all the Executive Boards of these organizations, you have to be there.

Still on the way back and forth to classes starting from mid-November until classes ended, I enjoyed my walks from the Port Authority to the NYU campus in the Village to admire all the decorations, display windows and Christmas tree setups all over the Village. Even before Christmas started, this section of the City is very traditional ‘Old New York’ and when it is all ready for the holidays it puts you in the Christmas spirit.

Christmas in Greenwich Village really kept my spirits up between classes

Selling Christmas trees in New York City was not difference from us but in prices.

The window displays in the Greenwich Village stores and boutiques were really creative. I loved walking all the side streets to discover what shop owner did that was so different from the others and these are some of my favorites. They really cheered me up as the pressure of the assignments built up.

Window display in the Village after they changed from Halloween to Christmas

Window display in the Village

Window display in the Village

Christmas display inside and outside at Greenwich Village store

More Christmas trees for sale on lower Seventh Avenue

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree was so beautiful both during the day and night. It was so nice to pass every evening I was coming back from class. It really put me in the holiday spirit especially when I was stressed out on my last three research papers of the semester. I took the time to just walk around the park and enjoy the cool air.

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree by day

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree at night

In between classes and work, I had to decorate and get my own house ready for the holidays. I have never worked so hard trying to pull off the holidays with so much going on in my life. Still I thought the house looked very nice. I decorated both the living room and dining room and it looked really festive. It was too bad there was no time for entertaining. That and the fact that everyone else was so busy, it made it impossible to do anything.

I keep it simple but elegant in my house

For years, I used to have a Christmas dinner but with everyone’s schedules and COVID still around, I am finding more and more people don’t want to get together. Again my schedule was no better this December. Still I worked my own “Santa” magic with other things I did for friends, neighbors and family.

From December 1st to the 31st, my feet never touched the ground. From unloading trees for the Men’s Association to watching the ball drop to completing three major projects for my job at Bergen Community College to the three major papers at school, my laptop followed me everywhere and was prominent in each of my hotel rooms as a worked on every business trip for my work with this blog. Who says that life is boring? The fun began as it does every year with Sinterklaas weekend in Rhinebeck.

My blog on Sinterklaas/ The Snowflake Festival weekend in Rhinebeck Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/27313

I had to plan Sinterklaas weekend like D-Day. I had a major presentation on the Metaverse when I returned back on the next Monday night so I had to finish the framework for the paper the Friday night before the parade. I was visiting the Culinary Institute of American to interview one of my old chefs at the college but I was not able to get in touch with him.

Still I was able to leave a message for an appointment and then tour the campus. I forgot how beautiful the campus is and I never saw it during Christmas time. I had been on my Externship my first year at the CIA so I never experienced the holidays at the CIA.

Roth Hall decorated for Christmas

The Christmas tree in the outside courtyard

I did not have any plans that Friday evening and I looked at the papers and saw that there was a Snowflake Festival in Downtown Kingston, NY. So that evening after a nice nap at the hotel, I headed there for the evening. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was a cool but not cold evening full of activities and lots of Christmas decorations and a festive environment.

Downtown Kingston, NY the night of the Snowflake Festival

It was a nice evening of Christmas activities, horse drawn carriage rides, visiting the firehouse, beautifully decorated windows of the local merchants and people just having a good time amidst COVID problems and a bad economy. People ‘needed a little Christmas now’ (Please read the blog below on the Snowflake Festival and the Sinterklaas Parade).

The line to see Santa was impossibly long. I think everyone needed him this year.

The Christmas tree in Downtown Kingston, NY

My homebase for the weekend was the Quality Inn Hotel in Hyde Park, which is becoming a tradition with me. I love the location and the comfortable beds. If you get a room facing the field to the right, you can see the stonewall that lines the property. Plus, they have the best fresh waffle station every morning.

The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road

https://www.choicehotels.com/new-york/hyde-park/quality-inn-hotels/ny343

My review on TripAdvisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.com//Hotel_Review-g60801-d590312-Reviews-Quality_Inn_Hyde_Park_Poughkeepsie_North-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

Sinterklaas morning was a really gloomy day. Even if the weather outside that morning was gloomy, the spirit of Sinterklaas was in full swing inside the Beekman Arms Hotel for the Opening Ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony at Sinterklaas with Founder Jeanne Fleming and the Pocket Lady

The animal being celebrated this year was the porcupine and this was his home in the courtyard in Downtown Rhinebeck. This wise woman told us his tale.

The “Into the Light” show at the local church

The parade is the highlight of the evening and we lucked out that night as the weather broke by the afternoon. The sun started to come out and it was a much nicer evening with a cool but not cold feel and you could see the stars out on this clear evening. The parade is always exciting especially as we walk down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck.

The parade begins at the Starr Library

The serpents are always a big hit at the parade

The stars always lead the parade down the hill

I marched at the end of the parade so all I saw was everyone’s backs. The crowds were not the same because of the weather that morning but they were still pretty large once we got into the core of downtown. Because of the weather earlier in the day, I could tell we had a more local crowd which was nice because Downtown Rhinebeck can only handle so many people.

All the characters come together at the closing ceremony

I swear that this parade like selling Christmas trees goes by faster and faster every year. I come to Rhinebeck in the Spring and the Summer and it just seems like I am counting the weeks until it starts all over again. After the parade was over, I stopped at Village Pizza for a few slices with the last of the parade stragglers. There were maybe three families eating a late dinner. By the time I warmed up and finished my pizza I walked around the downtown one more time. It was so quiet and peaceful with the exception of the saxaphone player who plays downtown at night. You would have never known there was a parade that night.

My review on TripAdvisor on Village Pizza in Rhinebeck, NY:

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

After a very sound sleep, I ate breakfast and enjoyed the waffle bar. Then I headed down to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that we were hosting at the home. Again, the year seems to go by fast.

The Executive Board the day of the party (I’m third to the right)

Because of COVID, the party is more subdued and families are still not allowed back with any great crowds. Still we had a DJ and Jerry Naylis’s daughter and granddaughters entertained the residents of the home. We really had a nice afternoon.

The Naylis family entertaining the residents

After the party was over, a few of us went the Columbia Inn for dinner. There was only a small group of us this year because again many of the guys were worried about COVID and large crowds. Still we toasted in the holiday season and after dinner, it was right back home to do my homework for school and classwork for my students. It would be never ending for the next three weeks.

My review on the Columbia Inn in Montville, NJ:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46639-d639843-Reviews-Columbia_Inn_Restaurant-Montville_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Please read the blog I wrote on the event on “My Life as a Fireman”:

https://wordpress.com/post/tbcfha.wordpress.com/631

The week between Sinterklaas and the next weekend of the Mills Mansion Party and exploring the decorated mansions to update my blogs for work, classes in both schools took a frenzy of activity on. I had to finish papers on the Metaverse and complete my White Paper on the Travel Industry and we started our paper on Mapping the Rockaways. I don’t think I ever went to bed before 2:00am every night for the next three weeks.

The “Dining on the Metaverse” paper required me to run around and interview chefs on the what their thoughts were on the Metaverse. I first went to the Ivy Inn in Hasbrouck Heights and talked with the Chef/Owner Jack. His thoughts on the Metaverse in dining were pretty strong and I needed a second interview so back to the Culinary Institute of America I went to talk to my former Chef at the college. He just happened to reach out to me that week so I stopped in to see him late on Friday.

The Ivy Inn at 268 Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ decorated for the holidays

https://www.instagram.com/ivy_inn_restaurant/?hl=en

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46497-d1368517-Reviews-Ivy_Inn-Hasbrouck_Heights_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I had an offer to revisit the Brinckerhoff Homestead the next afternoon before they ran a Afternoon Tea fundraiser to take pictures of the home decorated for Christmas for work and was able to get a last minute invitation acceptance for the Mills Mansion fundraiser, I decided to spend the night again at the Marriott in Fishkill, NY. It would be another long weekend of running around. So I booked a room at the Marriott Courtyard Fishkill, where I had stayed twice before and it would be close to all the sites and headed Upstate.

The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill at 17 Westage Drive & Route 9

https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/fhkny-courtyard-fishkill/rooms/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g47724-d99184-Reviews-Courtyard_by_Marriott_Fishkill-Fishkill_New_York.html?m=19905

I got up to the CIA before 4:30pm and walked around campus and enjoyed the Christmas lights again. The campus was starting to wind down for the holidays as the students would be leaving for break in a week and a half but the restaurants were busy with weekend reservations and by 4:30pm, I stated my interview on “Dining on the Metaverse” with the last chef I had before I graduated in 1998. I had not seen the guy in almost 25 years. Still he was just as nice as he was when I had him as an instructor and we had a good interview for almost two hours.

The campus was at twilight and it showed its true beauty next to the Hudson River.

The Culinary Institute of America at sunset

The Christmas tree lit at the Culinary Institute of America

We had our interview and it was nice talking with a Instructor that I had a lot of respect for years ago. It was nice of him to meet me after almost 25 years.

My TripAdvisor review on my lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60801-d1929618-Reviews-Apple_Pie_Bakery_Cafe-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

We bullshitted for the first hour and knowing that I had to be at the Mills Mansion by 6:30pm (the party was only going to 8:30pm), we had to get down to business. We spent the next hour talking about the effects of dining on the Metaverse and what it could do to the business in the future. His thoughts were pretty much the same as the Ivy Inn but it was an engaging conversation and I was able to take notes and write that section of the paper before I left for the weekend. Then it was off to the Mills Mansion for the Masquerade Cocktail Party fundraiser. That got my mind off a lot.

I had not been to a fundraiser here for the holidays since 2018 (COVID and work stopped me from going in the past) and it was a last minute thing I was able to attend. The President of the Friends of the Mills Mansion graciously let me come since it was sold out. I did not get there until almost 7:15pm by the time I left the CIA and got to Staatsburg and then had to park all the way down the hill.

The entrance to Staatsburgh, The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive the night of the party

The Mills Mansion

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/11366

I was not too keen on wearing a mask since I had to wear glasses but I still had a nice time. The band was excellent and the singer wore an outfit that looked like it was from the early 1920’s. The food was wonderful and they had nice passed appetizers and wine and champagne to drink. The mansion’s Dining Room was decked out with masks and everyone was dressed to the nines. I had not seen people so dressed up in years. It was so impressive to see how elegant the evening was like something out of the mid-1980’s. No one had dressed up this much in years and it made the whole event feel so festive and special.

The band with the singer with the 1920’s outfit

I was able to catch up to people I had not seen in two years (since the last Afternoon Tea lecture in February of 2020 right before the shutdown) and we had a nice time talking about what had been happening over the last two years. It was a nice evening to get my mind off school and work. I slept so soundly that night when I got back to the hotel.

It was a very elegant party that night

The Mill’s would have been proud of this party

The day after the interview and the party, off I went early in the morning to visit the decorated mansions and take the tours. The Brinckerhoff House was my first stop and I would not be there long because they had a fundraiser at 1:00pm and I promised to be there, take the pictures and leave because they would be busy for the rest of the afternoon. The house looked just as pleasant as it did when I visited it over the summer but the nice part was the fireplaces were going giving that house that winter smell of firewood and pine.

The Brinckerhoff House at 68 North Kensington Drive at Christmas

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057186982344

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47922-d24829233-Reviews-Brinckerhoff_House_Historical_Site-Hopewell_Junction_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/25933

My blog about visiting the Historical sites of Fishkill, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/25870

The house was set up and decorated for an Afternoon Tea fundraiser

The Christmas tree at the Brinckerhoff house

I only stayed for about an half hour as volunteers were showing up to assist with the event and then I was off to my next house which was the Vanderbilt Mansion. This was a big weekend for the decorated homes and I figured I should visit them since I would not have time in the future.

The Vanderbilt tour was booked solid as people had the same idea that I had. I got on the 1:00pm tour and off we went to tour the mansion. I had been there many times before but never to see the Christmas decorations. When I had visited back in 2019, they were taking the decorations down when I got there. By the time we left, most everything on one side of the house was gone. Today though, the mansion was in its full glory.

The Vanderbilt Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park

https://www.nps.gov/vama/index.htm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60801-d105845-Reviews-Vanderbilt_Mansion_National_Historic_Site-Hyde_Park_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/11410

The house was tastefully but not over-decorated as Fredrick Vanderbilt and his wife never used the home for Christmas. They were in Manhattan for the Christmas and the beginning of the social season that would last from Christmas to about Easter when everyone would head to their Spring homes in the country or in Florida.

The entrance hall to the Vanderbilt Mansion

The Dining Room set for a formal Christmas dinner

The Living Room with the family Christmas tree

The full tour of the mansion was very interesting and you got to hear the stories of Fredrick and the last years of his life. He simplified matters, sold all his other homes and moved here until he passed away. He wife had died and he stopped the social swirl and concentrated on his job with the railroad.

After the tour was over, the tour guide told me that FDR Estate was having a big Open House that day and that I should head over before they closed at 5:00pm. Myself and pretty much everyone on my tour headed over to Springwood, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Springwood Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY

https://www.nps.gov/places/springwood.htm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60801-d106611-Reviews-Home_of_Franklin_D_Roosevelt_National_Historic_Site-Hyde_Park_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2676

The first floor was decorated as it would have been for FDR and his family’s last Christmas when he was alive. The decorations were taken from old pictures of the house the year that he passed.

The entrance hall of Springwood decorated for Christmas

The library decorated for FDR’s last Christmas

The Dining Room was set for Christmas supper

The mansion again like the Vanderbilt Mansion was tastefully decorated but not overdone. The library had a tree with decorations and the many presents that the large extended family would have opened that day. The Dining Room was set for the family dinner with a children’s table in the back. It would have been a nice family affair.

We got to tour the rest of the house and head back to the Visitors Center for Hot Chocolate and cookies that they set up in the snack shop. That evening around 6:00pm, the Bard College music department was putting on a recital but I had to leave right after the tour as I had a tone of assignments and homework that I had to do for both colleges. At least I was finally able to see both mansions in their full glory at Christmas.

I got home early that night to finish my papers on the Metaverse and my White Page on the visitors we had to our Travel Trends class. It was an uphill battle that night and on Monday for both presentations. We got a “B+” on the Metaverse paper and an “A” on the White Page and in both classes I got an “A”. The Mapping project would go on until December 22nd. It would take five revisions and a lot of late nights. We were able to pull out a “B+” on the Mapping paper of the Rockaways right as my own classes were ending.

That last week of school Monday classes ended and after the Tuesday class my classmates wanted to go for an evening of Karaoke. I had papers to grade when I got home so I declined and took a walk up to see the tree and clear my head before heading home.

Christmas in New York City is always a pleasure and with the City opened back up to tourism, it made it exciting again. The anticipation of Christmas in Manhattan is something to experience if you have never done it before. It all started for me when I declined a karaoke night with my classmates and went to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I just needed a walk after my Data Analytics class. It had been a rough semester. Just seeing the tree put me in the Christmas spirit.

The Tree as we call it in Rockefeller Center December 2022

I walked around Midtown along Fifth Avenue, looking at Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows, admiring the lights and looking at the skyline. I forgot how beautiful this area of the City is at night. It was a mild Tuesday night when I was walking around and there were not too many people around. the tourists had not arrived in full swing yet. Being a Tuesday night, it was relaxing being able to walk around the Rockefeller Center area without the crowds.

The side streets were particularly elegant

West 58th Street in its glory

The Plaza Hotel in all its glory that night

I saw this playful sculpture along with others on Fifth Avenue but it was near my old haunt FAO Schwarz

This was the best display window at Bergdorf-Goodman on Fifth Avenue

Still what stood out to me on that glorious evening was the beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night. Even though it was still early in the evening, it might have well been 11:00pm because the streets were so quiet that evening. This is why I love Manhattan.

The beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night

The Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf-Goodman shined that evening

This little trip to Midtown after class really cheered me up. It had been a long semester and I needed this little Christmas break from school. It really put me into the holiday spirit. On my way back to Port Authority to head home, I passed the New York Public Library on my way through Bryant Park to see the Christmas Village

Outside the New York Public Library where the lions were decorated for the holidays.

As the school year ended at Bergen Community College and classes were wrapping up, I was getting tired of giving the traditional quizzes so for Quiz Four I gave all three classes from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. The students were asked by Corporate to arrange the company Christmas Party. They were asked to create the Invitation, the menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a signature drink.

Then were asked to create a Christmas Corporate message and two classes were asked to create an original Christmas song. It is amazing what a group of students can accomplish in an hour. Everyone in all three classes got an “A” and I did not have to drag home quizzes to grade. I will remember this quiz in the future.

Link to Quiz Four: The Corporate Christmas Party

One of the invitations to the party

One of the Christmas menus

The Paramus Business 101 Team’s idea for the Corporate Christmas Event

The Marketing 201 Team’s Ideas for the Corporate Christmas Event

The original Christmas song from the Marketing 201 Team for the Corporate Christmas Party

The ideas that the students came up with in ONE HOUR were just fantastic. This is why I love being a College Professor when you can get this type of creativity out of your students.

This Christmas message won the competition from my Business 101 Lyndhurst Team

As we put the revisions to the Mapping paper for my Data Analytics class and I prepared the final exams for my students and graded my other classes work, I planned another trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the rest of the decorated mansions on my list and update all my blogs for work. This was a long and very productive weekend. It would be capped off with a last minute Historical Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society. I had not been to one of these in three years.

The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill is where the adventure began. I revisited Staatsburgh (The Mills Mansion) and Wilderstein and then on Saturday I went to the Meiser Homestead in Wappinger Falls for their Holiday Open House. I had to time everything perfectly because I had to be in Manhattan for a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall at 8:00pm. I timed everything perfectly.

The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill was decorated nicely for Christmas

The Marriott did a nice job decorating the hotel for the holidays

I started my trip on a snowy Friday afternoon (it was funny that the weather was just cloudy down by us) and I made it for my 11:00am appointment to see Staatsburgh. I had been to the Mills Mansion fundraiser the week before but the whole house was not open that evening and I had only been there for an hour. Now I was able to tour the house at my leisure. I was even interviewed for the local papers by a woman who was doing an article on the decorated mansions of the area.

I returned to Staatsburgh on snowy cold afternoon so the mansion was pretty quiet for touring. There were only two people on the walking tour of the mansion that afternoon. The roads up to Hyde Park were not the best.

Staatsburgh-The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive on that snowy afternoon

https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/staatsburgh

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

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

The foyer decorated for Christmas

The Christmas tree in the foyer

The Dining Room decorated with the masks

The Library decorated for the holidays

It was nice to tour the house in peace and quiet. The party the week before had been a lot of fun but you could not see the rest of the house. All the rooms were so beautifully decorated, and the Dining Room was decorated to the hilt with masks, the theme of the party the week before. Since there was only two of us touring around, I got interviewed by the local paper by a reporter doing the same thing I was doing, visiting these beautiful homes. Visit my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com to see all my stories on my visits to these beautiful mansions.

The article on The Mills Mansion:

Then it was off to Wilderstein

Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, NY on that snowy afternoon

https://dutchesstourism.com/event-view/34952_2022_12_17

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48486-d263984-Reviews-Wilderstein_Historic_Site-Rhinebeck_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1642

The outside of Wilderstein decorated for the holidays

The Dining Room at Wilderstein during the holidays

After the mansion tours, I headed up to Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Woodstock, NY to take pictures of the downtowns decorated at Christmas.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas time

The Christmas tree in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Then it was off to Downtown Red Hook, NY. This is such a beautiful, picturesque town at Christmas.

Downtown Red Hook, NY

Downtown Red Hook, NY at Christmas

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY on MywalkinManhattan.com:

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

The Christmas Tree in Downtown Red Hook, NY

My last stop that evening was to Woodstock, NY. I had planned to come this year for the parade but with my brother coming in for Christmas that changed my plans. I figured this was the last time I was going to be able to come up before the holidays. So I braved the slush and snow and drove the long roads up to Woodstock. It never disappoints me.

The Village Square at Woodstock, NY during the holidays

The Woodstock, NY Christmas tree is always interesting

After dinner, I slept so soundly at the hotel again. The Marriott Courtyard in Fishkill, NY is in the perfect location with Route 84 and the mountains right behind it. Easy to get to the highway home but still the best views when you wake up.

The amazing view from my hotel room at the back of the hotel facing the mountains

I had to rush to go on the 10:30am tour of Locust Grove, the former home of Samuel Morse, that I wanted to photograph before I left for the Meiser Homestead. There was not time to eat this morning. Thank God I had some baked goods in the hotel room.

The Locust Grove Mansion at Christmas time

https://www.lgny.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48443-d263920-Reviews-Locust_Grove_Estate-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1691

The Christmas tree in the formal Living Room in the Tower section of the home

The Dining Room at Locust Grove at Christmas

The Billiards Room at Locust Grove at Christmas

I toured the whole house in our private tour at 10:30am. There were so many people on the tour, they called a special docent in to run the tour and we had the house to ourselves. Ehtel lead the tour and we took time to enjoy each room. Then it was off the Meiser Homestead for their Open House.

The Mesier Homestead at 2 Spring Street in Wappingers Falls, NY

https://www.wappingershistoricalsociety.org/mesier-homestead

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48799-d16919924-Reviews-Mesier_Homestead_and_Museum-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4173

The Foyer at the Meiser Homestead decked out for the holidays

The Living Room with the Christmas tree

The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch

Downtown Wappingers Falls during Christmas

The Wappingers Falls Christmas tree in the downtown

After I returned home from the Meiser Homestead Open House, it was change clothes again and into the City I went. I did not have much time to do anything in the evenings when classes were going on at NYU so after the semester was over and my third class was finished for the semester at Bergen Community College, I got a last minute ticket to see NY Pops at Carnegie Hall with singer Ingrid Michaelson. What a concert!

I had not been to Carnegie Hall since 2019 in pre-COVID and this always is a tough concert to buy tickets for but I snagged a Saturday night ticket in Row H on the aisle (I have long legs) and it was fate.

The entrance to Carnegie Hall at 57th and Seventh Avenue on the night of the concert. Our concert is to the left.

https://www.carnegiehall.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d116237-Reviews-Carnegie_Hall-New_York_City_New_York.html

The inside of Carnegie Hall decorated for the holidays. The crowds were getting settled into the theater.

The stage at Carnegie Hall decorated for Christmas

The excitement built when I entered the hall and it was all decked out for Christmas. It was a site to see. The surprising part was how casual everyone was dressed for the evening. I was really thrown by this especially at the holidays. My seatmate was also dressed to the nines and she made the same comment. She introduced herself and I thought it was funny that a recently married woman would come to the show by herself but there we were acting like two single people.

The beauty of the stage that night just as the NY Pops members started to come on to the stage

Ingrid Michaelson and her fellow singers on stage

The whole concert was amazing and Ingrid Michaelson was fantastic that evening. What I thought was funny was the end of these concerts end with a sing along with Santa on stage and that did not happen this time. She ended the show with one of her signature songs. Maybe her Friday night concert had that. Even though, the concert was excellent and I shared the two songs below that were my favorite from the show.

This was my favorite song from the concert “Christmas Valentine” a new classic. This was written by both Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz who performed it that night on stage.

The other great song from the concert was “Christmas Time is Here”:

“Christmas Time is Here” by Ingrid Michaelson

Even though it was a almost a two hour concert, it just seemed to end very quickly. After the concert was over, I just exploring the area around Lincoln Center. What a beautiful evening it was right before Christmas. People were talking in the local parks, admiring the Christmas lights in trees all over the neighborhood. Christmas tree stands were running in full force as people were decorating their homes on top of the their busy schedules.

Christmas tree sales by Carnegie Hall

For both lunch and dinner I returned to Amore Pizza cafe at 370 West 59th Street, which is down the road from Carnegie Hall. I swear that their food is the best.

Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 59th Street

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2214

I stopped in for a slice of Meat Lovers Pizza which was more than enough before the show and after the show I was still hungry. I went back and had a Chicken Parmesan Hero, which was good but it had been made from chopped fried chicken breasts instead of a freshly fried breast. It was good but not as good as the pizza was that night. After dinner, I just walked around Midtown and down Fifth Avenue admiring the windows.

The Meat Lovers Pizza at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent

The weekend was not finished yet as I had an early morning walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow and then I had a Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge. Since I had to extend my leave with the fire department, I missed the first “Santa Around Town” in eighteen years. This on top of the fact that I was supposed to run it. With my work and college schedule, I had to ‘cry uncle’ and give it up which really disappointed me. I had some really good plans for it. In the end only thirteen guys showed up out of fifty and they had a fire call before the event ended. Thank God it was just a block chimney.

I left for the last day walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor before the house closed for the season. I was on the last walking tour of the house. Since the house was not insulated and the weather gets bad for the winter, the house will not open again until April. So I was hoping to get some picture taking in and see the decorations. The house was not decorated for the holidays but still the tour was interesting.

The Philipsburg Manor house 381 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, NY

https://www.facebook.com/philipsburgmanor/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48622-d299069-Reviews-Philipsburg_Manor-Sleepy_Hollow_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5782

The tour was about an hour and we had indoor and outdoor activities that we got involved with cooking hardtack, touring the house and grounds and helping in the barn beating out the wheat seed. When the actors who worked at the site (who must have been freezing their butts off because it was cold that morning) told us and demonstrated the work that had been done on the estate, this was hard work! This was a working farm and business transport spot, not where a family lived and entertained. When Mr. Philips was on property, he was here for business and nothing else. The staff ran this farm.

Us making Hardtack at the outdoor oven

Our visit to the barn where were loosening the wheat seeds. This poor woman was out there all morning in the cold!

The tour was about an hour and I thought that the house would have had some Dutch Christmas decorations but again the tour guides and historians said that the house for business and visiting not for the day in day out lives of the family. Still it was interesting. After our tour finished, I toured the gift shop and then headed home to get ready for the concert.

The Bergen County Historical Society at New Bridge Landing brought back their indoor concerts for Christmas including opening the Blackhorse Pub (The Campbell-Christie House) for dinner before and after the concerts. It was so nice to come to this again. The crowds were a little light at the second concert at 7:45pm on a Sunday night but it made it more fun that we could still socially distance from each other and there was plenty of space to spread out.

I started the evening early at the pub eating my dinner before the concert. The pub had a limited but very nice menu based on what foods that may have been served at the time period (with a modern twist of course). There was Shepard’s Pie, a Ploughman’s Plate, Onion Pie, Trifle and Dutch Cookies and desserts on the menu..

The Campbell-Christie House at 1209 Main Street in River Edge, NJ at the Bergen County Historical Society

https://www.bergencountyhistory.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46776-d7603554-Reviews-Historic_New_Bridge_Landing-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://visitingamuseum.com/tag/bergen-county-historical-society/

The Campbell-Christie House was used as the “Blackhorse Tavern” for the evening where pub food could be ordered for dinner. It was really beautiful that night with all the tables a glow from the candles and the room decorated with holly, garland and wreaths for the holidays.

The Blackhorse Tavern for dinner

After dinner was over, I had plenty of time to explore the gift shop and wonder around the property to see the other decorations. The other buildings on the property were closed that evening but still decorated so I followed the lantern filled pathway and looked at the decorations.

Before the second concert that evening that I would be attending at 7:45pm I wondered around the museum part of the Steuben House where the concerts were taking place. The exhibits were set up with a holiday/Christmas theme in mind. One display was on a candy maker who once had a store in Downtown Hackensack.

Bogert’s Candy Shop in Downtown Hackensack closed in 1934

Decorating the house both during the Revolutionary War and during the Victorian Age was a very extensive affair of preparing the house for entertainment. Garland, holly and pine would have been important to decorate with but it was the Christmas ornaments of the Victorian age and trimming trees with ornaments that would have made the tree very festive.

There were also displays on entertaining during that time period and soldiers lives while the war was going on and what would be needed. It could be lonely at the holidays.

We started to settle in as the second concert was about to start. The room was decorated for the holidays with a combination of Victorian and Revolutionary decorations.

The ballroom at the Steuben House

We were then treated to a concert by the great Linda Russell whose interpretations of Revolutionary Christmas songs is well known. We had a hour long concert of favorite songs, talks about the times and a history of the music itself. She shared with us her insights towards the holidays of New Jersey versus New England and their Puritan ways. Thank God we knew how to party then too.

Linda Russell (to the far left) and her group entertained us for the evening with songs, talks, a few jokes and a wonderful night of excellent music.

“I saw Three Ships Sail In” my favorite song from Linda Russell

We were entertained for about an hour and got time during the intermission to talk with the musicians who shared their experiences with us and about the musical equipment that they were using that evening. It was an interesting talk and a wonderful concert. I highly recommend visiting the Bergen County Historical Society during this time of the year. They do a nice job with this concert and the site is so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday season.

Before my the last day of classes at Bergen Community College on December 22nd, I made one last trip into the City before I left for my mother’s. The house had to get cleaned and the laundry had to get done and I got all my errands done before I left. I just wanted to walk around and get my mind off both colleges. It had been a long semester and I was burnt out. The City could not have been more beautiful.

Christmas on Park Avenue

Park Avenue was lined with Christmas trees lighting up before it got dark

Homes on the Upper East Side were beautifully decorated for the holidays

Homes on the Upper East Side were decorated so nicely and some blocks there seemed to be a competition for whose house was nicer.

I went to Rockefeller Center one more time to see the tree and it was like a madhouse so I just looked at it from across the street and continued walking around the Upper East Side down to the Cornell Club where I relaxed for a bit before I went home. People would start taking their decorations down after the holidays and I wanted to take one more glimpse of the neighborhoods before that happened.

Christmas Eve morning, I visit the cemeteries and pay my respects to my family before I leave for my mother’s. I think it’s important to pay your respects. After fighting the crowds at Mills Bakery on Christmas Eve morning to get a Seven Layer Cake and breakfast cakes and doughnuts for the next day, I left for Rehoboth Beach. I swear the roads were really quiet and it was the first time that I got down to my mom’s in three and a half hours.

Mills Bakery at 275 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ had the most festive cakes, pies and cookies for the holidays

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46937-d4735011-Reviews-Mills_Bakery-Wood_Ridge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/1013

I had just seen my mother in September after the Firemen’s Convention but this was the first time since 2019 that we had spent Christmas together. COVID has really wreaked havoc on the holidays.

Christmas Eve and Day were spent at my mom’s which we have not done since the pandemic. It kept us away and it was strange not having a family get together for three years. It was nice to get together as a family again. On Christmas Eve, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and the place was a madhouse.

My review on TripAdvisor of Confucius Chinese Restaurant:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34048-d555742-Reviews-Confucius_Chinese_Cuisine-Rehoboth_Beach_Delaware.html?m=19905

Even with all the crowds, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the meal and not have to do anything. I slept so soundly that night knowing that I did not have to be anywhere for a month.

My mother really decorated the house beautifully.

The House at Christmas.

Jane set the table so elegantly.

Cooking this year like in 2019 is now a family affair. My Mom relinquish some control of the kitchen over the last couple of years as dinner was getting to be too much for her to do alone so we all help now. My brother and I coordinate the schedules and plan the menu with my mom and we each did part of the meal and cooked it. This is what the Team work produced:

The Appetizers and Desserts being prepped for dinner:

Mom should be hired by Nancy Meyers to do visuals for her films.

The Potato Croquettes that I prepared for dinner, the Broccoli Casserole and the homemade Apple Pie my mother prepared for dinner (my mom makes the best pies).

We were all getting ready to cook our portion of Christmas Dinner.

My mother preparing the Sauteed String Beans

Me preparing the Potato Croquettes (which by the way were a big hit I think I look like a French Chef).

My brother getting the Roast carved before the start of dinner.

My Mother with the final Christmas dinner that was the Team effort

Christmas Dinner 2022 and everyone loved it! The dinner was Roast Fresh Park, Potato Croquettes, Apple Sauce, Broccoli Souffle and Sauteed String Beans.

The Desserts were Homemade Apple Pie and a Seven Layer Cake that I brought from Mills Bakery. My brother also made all the Christmas cookies.

My family on Christmas Day after dinner (minus my younger brother and his kids).

We had such a nice time with my mother and her friends at dinner and it was a nice quiet and mellow Christmas. It was what I needed after a long school year.

The day after Christmas while my brother headed to New York City, I took the ferry from Lewes to Cape May to spend the night and admire all the decorations all over town. I only spent one night in Cape May but with how relaxing, beautiful and quiet it was that evening I felt like I had been there for a week. I always say in my blogs that the only town to rival Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas is Cape May, NJ.

I took the ferry the next day from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ and thank God the weather was nice. We had really light waves and the trip went by really quick. We got into Cape May in a little over an hour and a half. Since I did not have to check into my hotel and it was getting late, I decided to head over to Sunset Beach and watch the sun set. That really relaxed me. In any weather, I swear the beach is always full of people doing the same thing. It was relatively warm that day and when I got to the park, people were playing miniature golf at the little range they have there. I thought that was amusing.

The sunset was fantastic! The weather had really cleared that evening and the colors were so entrancing.

The sun preparing to set that night

The hues at Sunset Beach make this place very special

https://sunsetbeachnj.com/

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 VistingaMuseum.com:

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

I just stayed until it got a bit dark and then I headed to the hotel. I stay at the Chalfonte in the winter time in their Souther Quarters (the regular hotel is not insulted and closed until May) and I always enjoy the rooms with their cheery shabbiness and the way the place is always decorated for the holidays. You have to like these old hotels.

The Southern Quarters at the Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street

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

I have been coming to the hotel for Christmas for the last several years and last year when COVID again shut things down for Christmas, I stayed here while visiting my younger brother in Rehoboth Beach when he came for a visit. I love Cape May at Christmastime.

The hotel has that festive home away from home feeling with poinsettias around the hotel, Christmas candies and chocolates at the front door and Christmas lights around the building.

I like the shabby chic of the place

My room was really nice and the bed was so comfortable

The room has just been renovated but still had a water spot on the ceiling. That is the charm of the Chalfonte. It reminds you that it is an old hotel. I ventured out to the downtown and the Washington Mall that evening to see the true magic of what makes Cape May a Christmas town. All the lights, trees and decorations make sure that Santa does not miss this town.

The town square with it’s Christmas tree in the bandstand and white lights all over the little part are whimsical and magically as you walk through them. It always reminds me of “Whoville” in the “Grinch that stole Christmas”.

Cape May Town Square at Christmas

The bandstand and Christmas tree are amazing at night

The Cape May Christmas tree

I spent a good part of the my evening admiring the lights of downtown and of Washington Mall which is the downtown section of Cape May. The whole neighborhood was ablaze with lights, decorations and beautiful Christmas displays in the windows. Cape May knows how to decorate for the holidays.

The Washington Mall at night

The Washington Mall in Cape May decorated for the holidays

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

http://ladystarofthesea.org/olss/

My review on 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

After a long walk picture taking everything in the downtown from every angle (I have pictures that I ended up using for other sites), I went back to the room to relax. I just sunk into the pillows and went out like a light. I woke up two hours later and got to bed. I slept so soundly again.

The next morning was rested and ready to go. I had my usual post-Christmas game plan. I started with breakfast at the Mad Batter, a local well known restaurant in Cape May and the food is always excellent. I have eaten here several times and I highly recommend it.

The Mad Batter at 19 Jackson Street in Cape May

https://www.facebook.com/madbatterrestaurant/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d393838-Reviews-The_Mad_Batter-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The food and the service are always very good. That morning there seemed to be only one waitress on the floor and I swear that this woman handled the dining room like a pro. The service was flawless and she never panicked.

The Bacon and Cheese Omelet with home fries was outstanding

After breakfast was over, I gathered my things at the hotel and dropped off my keys and then spent the afternoon visiting historical sites. Most everything I was surprised were closed so I took exterior shots to update my blogs.

While walking downtown, I saw that Our Lady of the Star Sea, the Catholic Church in the Washington Mall was having service at 11:00am. Since I did not go to church services on Christmas Eve or Day, I went in for the post-Christmas services. I was surprised how crowded they were that morning. I found out that a young new priest has just come from the seminary and started that day. I found him very inspirational and very enthusiastic.

The church was so beautifully decorated for the holidays

Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Christmas holiday season

After church services were over, I toured around Cape May. I had a noon time appointment at the Physick Mansion to see their Christmas decorations so I stopped at a few of the museum around the downtown area but again all closed.

The Physick Mansion tour at the holidays I have taken many times and it is one of the nicest homes decorated for the holidays. Many people would not have decorated every nook and cranny of the house the way this is but like Locust Grove, it gives you an idea of how the Victorians celebrated the holidays.

The Emlen Physick Estate at

https://www.facebook.com/PhysickEstate/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d614851-Reviews-Emlen_Physick_Estate-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1756

The decorations were amazing and the house was decked to the hilt for the Christmas holidays. We got to tour the entire house and every room has such festive garland and Christmas trees. The family seemed to know how to celebrate the holidays.

The Living Room at the Physick Estate

The Dining Room

The Parlor with the ‘Tabletop’ Tree in the corner

We went room by room with the tour guide explaining how the family would prepare for Christmas and the preparations that would have to be done by the staff for guests and for the family dinner. There would be many trips to Philadelphia department stores for gifts for the family. You felt on the tour that the family had just left for the day.

After the tour, I headed over to West Cape May to see the Cape May Lighthouse and was surprised that it was open that day. With everything else being closed, it was a treat to be able to climb it again. The drive in was nice as people decorated their homes nicely and being a warm day around 50 degrees (Christmas just seems to be getting warmer), I drove around for a bit to admire them.

The entrance to the Borough of Cape May Point decked for the holidays

The outdoor Christmas display in West Cape May

The Cape May Lighthouse and grounds were really busy with visitors and being such a warm day many were walking on the beach or admiring the park. Several passed me as I climbed the lighthouse which I had not done in a few years. The view on this clear sunny day was great.

The Cape May Lighthouse at 215 Lighthouse Avenue

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d103993-Reviews-Cape_May_Lighthouse-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1763

The views from the top were so clear and beautiful and being so clear you could see the entire surrounding community.

The view from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse

After climbing up and back down, I passed more people who I could not believe were complaining on how hard it was to walk it. I got up in about ten minutes with a couple of stops and then was back down again once reaching the top. It is not that hard and is well worth the trip up.

Watching the time, I wanted to visit the farms in the area but Rea Farm was closed for the season so I headed to Beach Plum Farm, which has become quite the tourist stop since my first trip to Cape May. It is such a picturesque farm but it looks very planned. When I first started coming here is was a more local farm. Now it looks like a gourmet shop and it has gotten more expensive.

The entrance to Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1867426-d5866138-Reviews-Beach_Plum_Farm-West_Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

I toured around the gift shop and admired the beautiful displays of gourmet foods. The place was almost empty as I could see that they must have had a very good Christmas. There was some serious restocking that needed to be done.

The wonderful gourmet items at Beach Plum Farm

I ended my afternoon feeding the chickens before I left the farm. God they were so excited to see me. I just had a little feed and they ran all around me like groupies. I guess this is how the farm feeds them. It was the best quarter I spent on the trip.

The chickens were a very excited bunch that afternoon

Before I left Cape May that day for home, I visited Sunset Beach one more time to enjoy the weather. The beach was pretty crowded again as everyone waited to see the sun set again on Cape May. Like I said before, you can see this a hundred times but it is never boring.

Sunset Beach on a warmish sunny day attracts a lot of visitors

From Sunset Beach, I headed home. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza on the way and then I had to leave Cape May (until the next time). There was a lot to do and I had places that I wanted to visit before the holidays were over. I could not believe how much work I got done on this two day trip to Cape May. I got to see a lot.

My TripAdvisor review on Brothers Pizza II:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1867426-d393913-Reviews-Brother_s_Pizza_II-West_Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I made another trip around the City. Since I did not have to return to classes until the end of January, I was able to take my time and explore around campus and the Village. Christmas was still in full swing.

Christmas in Greenwich Village

Decorations in one of the pocket parks on Greenwich Street

Homes decked out for the holidays

Townhouses decked out for the holidays

I also made a special trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree and decorations before the museum took them down after the Epiphany. I love seeing them every year. It still is a big attraction at the museum and you have to visit it before that first weekend in January is over.

The Metropolitan Museum of at at 1000 Fifth Avenue:

https://www.metmuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105125-Reviews-The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art-New_York_City_New_York.html

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas tree

The display around the tree is amazing

My last holiday event before school started again was Epiphany services at the Reformed Church of Paramus and visiting my father for his birthday. It can be sobering but I try to still celebrate his life and going to this church puts me into the Christmas spirit.

The Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ

Christmas services at the Paramus Reformed Church

The Paramus Reformed Church’s decorations by Route 17 are always tasteful

After services were over, I stayed and joined the other parishioners for Tea and snacks after the service and talked with other parishioners. It was nice to sit back after a long holiday season and just relax. After services were over, I went to pay respects to my father for his birthday (which is the reason why I come here for church as its on the way home). The cemetery was filled to the brim with wreaths and grave blankets so even though it was a cemetery, there was still a festive feel to the fact that so many people paid their respects to their families.

My aunt took me out on the last day of the Epiphany weekend for my combination birthday/Christmas present dinner to the Ivy Inn. What a nice evening we had and it was the perfect way to end the holiday season. The Chef/ Owner was not there that day but we were able to discuss with the staff the paper I wrote on the Metaverse. They seemed amused by it all (see my review on dinner on my TripAdvisor review above by the Metaverse paper story).

The Ivy Inn decorated for Christmas

The beauty of the dining room decorated for the holidays

The delicious salad I started with

The delicious Penne with Sundried Tomatoes and Sweet Sausage that I had that evening

My aunt and I shared this wonderful Zeppoles with Chocolate and Raspberry sauces

It was a magical evening with good food and company in a festive environment. I really needed this with all the running around with school, work, blogging and research that I had done from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany. It was a lot for one person to pull off and somehow I managed it all. I am lucky that I have supportive friends and family.

I had the entire month of January to relax before the whole thing began again for Spring Semester and that is all I wanted to do. It didn’t quite happen that way but I finally got time to myself which I needed.

My work for my blogs took me all over New York and New Jersey, visiting small towns, admiring Christmas decorations and supporting many community events. Please visit my other blogs DiningonaShoeStringin NYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and VisitingaMuseum.com to see all the updates, more detailed stories on the mansions and events and all my updated pictures.

I got my final grades by the end of the semester and it was straight “A”‘s. This was the first time in my life I ever did that! Don’t even ask me how I pulled this all off!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six Attending the Kingston, NY ‘Snowflake Festival’ and participating in the Rhinebeck, NY ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ and the ‘Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party’ in Boonton, NJ December 2nd-4th, 2022

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time and something wonderful and fun happens. My weekend up in the Hudson River Valley was like that when I was on a recent business trip. It was restful and I got my mind off school and work. I had to go to the Culinary Institute of America to talk to one of my old chefs for a project I was working on for my Innovations in Tourism class at NYU.

Roth Hall during Christmas time 2022

It was a step back in time for me walking around campus and talking to students in their chef’s gear. It reminded me of when I was attending the CIA and visitors asking me what it was like to be a student there. Roth Hall where I took all my classes was decked out for Christmas which I never experienced when I was on campus because I left campus in October when it was still warm and worked in Hawaii during the holiday season.

The inside entrance of Roth Hall decorated for Christmas

The outside of Roth Hall decked out for Christmas

While on campus, I noticed in the paper that there was going to be a small Christmas celebration in Downtown Kingston, the “Snowflake Festival” from 6:00pm-8:00pm that evening so I thought I would just visit Kingston after I settled in the hotel.

My chef was not available that afternoon but it gave me a chance to walk around the campus and visit parts of campus that I had not visited since pre-COVID. It got to see some of the new buildings and renovations of the old ones. I forgot how beautiful the campus is on the Hudson River.

The campus was quiet because most of the students were in their night classes so the restaurants were preparing for evening dinner shift. Visitors were taking tours of campus so I took time to explore all the restaurants and see what they looked like. It was a step back in time to see that not too much had changed but the course levels and curriculum kept evolving.

The artwork on campus is interesting

After a long tour of the building, I walked around the grounds of the campus. I visited the new Student Center and the Recreation Building to see all the happenings. They now have more clubs than ever and a series of sports teams. We never had those things when I was on campus. I walked through the “Egg”, which is the big cafeteria for the students and then the path outside the building following the Hudson River.

I knew that it was going to be a long day so I stopped for some lunch at the Apple Pie Cafe, which had not opened until I graduated. The Apple Pie Cafe is a Panera type restaurant featuring soups, sandwiches, small entrees and desserts. It is really popular with all the tourists.

The Apple Pie Cafe on the first floor of Roth Hall

I got there near closing time so the menu was limited. I decided on the Mac & Cheese and an Apple Cider donut. Everything was delicious but then I would not have expected anything else. The Mac & Cheese was made of Cheddar, Asiana and Parmesan. It had been sitting so it was firm on the outside but still tender and cheesy on the inside and the flavor was excellent.

The Mac & Cheese is baked until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside

For dessert, I had one the Apple Cider Cake donuts and it was wonderful. The donut was freshly fried and then it was almost poached in a reduction of Apple Cider so the top was firm and the bottom was dipped in the reduction giving the bottom of the donut a sweeter taste.

The Apple Pie Cafe at 1946 Campus Drive on the Culinary Institute of America campus in Hyde Park, NY

https://www.applepiebakerycafe.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60801-d1929618-Reviews-Apple_Pie_Bakery_Cafe-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

The Apple Cider Donuts were excellent

The whole meal was delicious and they let us continue eating after the restaurant was closed. They were just cleaning up the kitchen around us. After I finished that wonderful lunch, I got back to Heinz Plaza as twilight was happening and the sun was receding along the Hudson River. The Christmas trees were lit in the plaza and it looked very festive.

The Christmas Tree in the Courtyard was lit for the evening and the site of the Tree was wonderful.

I went back outside to see the Christmas tree in the courtyard lit. The whole effect was very beautiful.

I left campus that day refreshed after a good lunch and a long walk and wanted to relax at the hotel before I left for Kingston. It was just nice to sink into the bed of the Quality Inn in Hyde Park. The rooms are so comfortable and the beds are soft and firm. I just relaxed in the room for about an hour and just took it easy. It had been a long week of classes at both colleges.

The Courtyard at night

The campus Christmas tree was fully lit when I returned to talk to Chef Zearfoss

I left for Kingston, NY across the river and got to the Stockade section of the City around 6:00pm when things were just starting up. The weather was perfect and it was around 50 degrees when I got there so the streets were really busy with people walking around to hear the bands.

The “Snowflake Festival” in Downtown Kingston, NY

The town had a lot of activities going on that night

I was greeted by this festive sign welcoming people to the festival

Downtown Kingston’s Stockard section was beautifully decorated for the holidays

I got the Stockade neighborhood in the oldest part of Kingston by 6:30pm so people were just starting to arrive when I got there to join in the festivities. The crowds were starting to grow as the evening progressed as it was a crisp but pleasant December evening. It was not too hot and not too cold. It was the perfect 48 degree evening.

People arriving in the Stockage section of the City of Kingston, NY

Snowflakes decorated the whole downtown area

The crowds kept growing through the evening

It was really a fun evening. The City of Kingston had a lot of activities planned all over the downtown and people were walking all over the decorated downtown. All the lights were on all over the streets and the main streets were lined with Christmas lights and snowflakes. The display windows of the business were decorated to the hilt for the holiday season.

Downtown merchant window display

Downtown merchant window display

My favorite window display was a home furnishing store on the main street

The merchants of Kingston really went all out for the holidays

The merchants in Kingston really got into the spirit of it all

I first wondered around the downtown on where to start first and just walked all the streets of the downtown area to see what was going on. My first stop was the Dutch Reformed Church were they were going to have a series of concerts. I had been there many times for Sinterklaas fundraisers in the past but had not been there for this event.

The church was all decked out with garlands and lights for the Christmas holiday season. I love these old churches when they are decorated for the holidays. There is such a beauty to them and so many traditions that they are a part of in the community. This church is in the center of old Kingston and always has such interesting events.

The outside of the Dutch Reformed Church of Kingston at 272 Wall Street was very festive with garland and lights

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d7232701-Reviews-Old_Dutch_Church-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

The Christmas Tree looked unusual but elegant

I had been in the church before for Sinterklaas fundraisers but never in the main part of the church where services took place. It is one of those old 19th century churches with the wooden pews, the elaborate stained glass windows and the high pulpit above the congregation.

The church was decorated with lights, bows, holly and garland all over the pews and aisles. It is amazing how secular these churches are getting for the holidays. The concert was a lot of fun and very festive. They not only performed classic hits, contemporary music but also some traditional Christmas songs. It really got everyone in the mood for the holidays.

The concerts were very lively

After visiting the church, I walked around the grounds. It is amazing how short the distance is between Halloween and Christmas but the lines are getting more blurred every year. It seems that time is flying by between the two holidays. I even see some of the Halloween merchandise still sitting on the shelves in stores.

I followed the carolers around the downtown area and took several pictures by the Kingston Christmas tree. Their tree was very impressive this year and beautifully lit for the holidays. Downtown Kingston was very beautiful that evening as I admired all the buildings that were being renovated and all the new stores opening up.

The Downtown Kingston Christmas Tree on Main Street

I walked around the streets and I came to the Kingston Volunteer Firefighters Museum that was open and decorated for the holidays. They even had an antique fire engine in the front of the museum decorated with lights.

The Volunteer Firemen’s Hall and Museum at 265 Fair Street

https://kingstonvolunteerfiremensmuseum.weebly.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d3367598-Reviews-Volunteer_Fireman_s_Hall_Museum_of_Kingston-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

The retired firefighters from the former volunteer companies really did a great job dressing the museum up for the event. In the upstairs Chief’s office, there was garland and a Christmas tree.

All the equipment was shined up for the open house and all the firemen were swapping stories with those of us in the fire service who understood what we were talking about. They had some pretty good stories to tell. What I like about visiting this museum is all the antique equipment they have on display.

I love the parade hose beds that the museum has on display. These elaborate pieces are the pride of these fire companies and were out for every parade.

Before I left though, I had the worst (I mean worst) cup of hot chocolate that I ever drank. It tasted like it was cooked in a burnt pot. I had to throw that out and find something else to drink.

After the fire museum, I turned the corner to see the horse drawn carriage rides that were available. I loved the look of the carriage with the horses decked out for the holidays and the driver in a top hat. The only problem was there was one driver and the line even towards the end of the event was fifty deep. I did not know how they were going to get through all those people before it was time to go.

My last visit for the evening was to the Senate House in the historic area of downtown. The lawn and all the trees were lit with Christmas lights and the buildings covered in garland.

The Senate House Complex at 295 Fair Street was beautifully decorated that night

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d3225491-Reviews-Senate_House_State_Historic_Site-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

The festive lights on the Senate lawn

The Senate House Museum decorated for Christmas

Here a performer was singing Christmas songs and leading sing a longs while Santa wished everyone well and listened to what everyone wanted for Christmas.

Singer Mark Rust at the Senate House lawn for the Snowflake Festival

The lines to see Santa were also fifty deep as everyone was trying to see Santa before the event ended. I just was a casual observer.

Santa was really busy that night. I don’t know how he handled the crowds

The event winded down rather quickly at 8:00pm and when I started to turn the corners of the downtown again especially on main street, they were starting to pack things up. 8:00pm meant 8:00pm! The strange part was that it looked like all the restaurants were closing at 8:00pm as well. It was as if the whole downtown was rolling up its sleeves. By 8:30pm. the downtown looked like a ghost town.

The Snowflake decorations in Downtown Kingston, NY

Street art in Downtown Kingston, NY by the Christmas tree

I tried to find a place to eat that evening but literally most every place was closed and the only Chinese restaurant that was open did not have a place to sit down so I left Kingston to cross the river again. I knew that Golden Wok in Red Hook was open late so I decided to head to Red Hook, NY for dinner.

Red Hook like the other towns in the Hudson River Valley is so picturesque during the holidays and is one town that is not geared towards tourists as opposed to the local citizens. Their restaurants are reasonable and the town is not overloaded with expensive gift shops like Rhinebeck and Woodstock are in their downtowns. It is also so beautifully decorated with garland and white lights all over the buildings downtown.

Downtown Red Hook, NY was decked out for the holidays

Downtown Red Hook, NY decked out for the holidays

Downtown Red Hook, NY

Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop really decorated to the hilt for Christmas

It was also quiet in Red Hook as well and I was the only one walking around the downtown. I walked around for a bit, admiring the lights and looking over their town Christmas tree which just a few weeks earlier had been a Fall display for Halloween.

Downtown Red Hook, NY Christmas tree

Things move fast in these towns.

I was Golden Wok’s only customer at that time so I ate in at the front table and just watched the traffic go by. The food at the restaurant is just amazing. For a small take out place, they do a wonderful job with their dishes.

Golden Wok at 7479 South Broadway in Red Hook, NY

https://goldenwokredhook.uorder.io/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d821529-Reviews-Golden_Wok-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

I had the most delicious Roast Pork Lo Mein with Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll for dinner. Not only was the food good but the portion sizes were very generous. I just sat back and relaxed and ate realizing that I did not have to be anywhere or race to do anything. That was a nice feeling. It was just nice to eat and admire all the Christmas decorations. The restaurant got a little busier as people saw me eating in the front of the restaurant and I guess figured that it was open and started to come in. They got a bit of a rush after that

.

The Roast Pork Lo Mein and Fried Rice are delicious at Golden Wok

I headed back to my hotel to get some rest. I had to be up the next morning to help with the Sinterklaas Parade. During the Sinterklaas weekend, I always stay at the Quality Inn in Hyde Park, NY which is near the Culinary Institute of America campus. It is the halfway point between all the towns that I visit and not that far from Rhinebeck so it is a quick trip for set up the next morning.

The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road

https://www.choicehotels.com/new-york/hyde-park/quality-inn-hotels/ny343

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60801-d590312-Reviews-Quality_Inn_Hyde_Park_Poughkeepsie_North-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

Since we had the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association party for the residents on Sunday morning and afternoon in Boonton, NJ, I arranged to stay for two nights. One top of the loads of homework I had for graduate school, I also was taking pictures for my blogs as well and trying to catch up the visuals on my VisitingaMuseum.com site. I had to get settled into the hotel and ended up staying up until almost one in the morning getting work done for school.

The next morning could not have been more miserable. It was cold and rainy when I got up for the Sinterklaas parade. They said it was going to rain all day and that did not make me happy. I had walked in the Sinterklaas Parade in the past in the rain and it is no fun!

I made a big mistake and got up really early and ate my breakfast early and got to the Starlight Library in Rhinebeck by 8:30am thinking I would be late. I forgot that this is when I used to leave home to get to Rhinebeck. The set up was usually at 10:00am and I forgot. So I sat there making phone calls until 10:30am wondering where everyone was that morning. I was not the only one as another volunteer did the same thing. We both ended up back downtown in Rhinebeck asking what was going on.

I ended up that the parade organizers decided to wait until 11:00am to start setting up. By that point, I was starved again and went to Peter’s Famous for an early lunch and decided to go to opening ceremonies before heading back to the library. It was there I heard that they were setting up at the library by 11:00am. I decided to stay and head up after.

I have been participating and/or attending the Sinterklaas Parade since 2010 when my dad and I went up to Rhinebeck, NY when I was interviewing Jeanne Fleming for an article I was working on for the Soup Kitchen. We loved it so much that we continued to go for years even after my father got sick. We made the best of the whole experience.

Since I was not too sure what was going on, I decided I wanted to see the opening ceremony first so I had a quick lunch at Pete’s Famous in Rhinebeck at 34 East Market Street #1. I was in the mood for one of their club sandwiches and ended up indulging in their homemade Chicken Salad Club Sandwiches ($11.99) with French Fries and a Coke.

Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY

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

Did that sandwich hit the spot and kept me going for the rest of the afternoon. The chicken salad was delicious and the sandwich was so filling. The French Fries really warmed me up on this cool gloomy morning and the service is always so friendly.

The Chicken Salad Club at Pete’s Famous is a ‘must try’ when dining here

After lunch was over, I headed over to the Beekman Arms where in the banquet room they had the opening ceremony for Sinterklaas.

Sinterklaas Director and founder Jeanne Fleming at the opening ceremony

The Mayor of Rhinebeck, NY welcoming everyone to the event

Jeanne Fleming welcoming the Pocket Lady to the event

Jeanne Fleming welcoming Mother Holly and her story book to the event

Jeanne Fleming welcoming the evil “Gadfly” to the event

The Grove of Trees of the magic forest

The musical polar bear enters the room to bring cheer to the crowd

The meddlesome Gadfly jealous of the polar bear

Hansel and Gretel close the ceremony with a song

The Opening Ceremony was about an hour long and we got to meet all the characters of Sinterklaas. There was the Pocket Lady who shares a gift with all the good little children from her series of pockets, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee (Oh!), the Dancing Musical Polar Bear and the evil Gadfly. The Mayor of Rhinebeck, NY welcomed everyone to the annual event and wished everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

The Polar Bear danced down the aisle high fiving everyone much to the Gadfly’s dismay and he started to kvetch about it. Only when he was shushed by the crowd did he calm down. Then the dancing trees took their place on stage to be followed by a song by Hansel and Gretel, who closed the ceremony with a lively song. Everyone was wished a Happy Sinterklaas and some people stayed to listen to storyteller Jonathan Kruk tell the story of Sinterklaas while I went out to enjoy the festivities.

When I got outside the Beekman Arms, I saw the first musical group performing on the lawn of the Beekman Arms. I stopped for a bit to watch them perform and then I rushed to the library to see if there was anything left to do for the parade. When I got there, the last touches were being put on the puppets for the parade and there was not much left to do. The weather started to clear so it looked like the parade was on for later that evening.

The first group was performing on the lawn of the Beekman Arms

I looked over all the puppets like they were close friends seeing these puppets over the years and watching them being created by our puppet masters, Alex and Sophia, who have been running this part of the parade for years. Their ingenuity is what creates these masterpieces every year. Everything was wrapped in plastic waiting to see if the rain would clear for the evening (it did and was a clear and starry night).

Mother Holly welcoming children to her story house

With the parade set up wrapped up, I did not have to be back to help until 4:00pm, I decided to head back down the hill and join everyone else in all the celebrations around Rhinebeck. The weather was slowly clearing and I could see some blue peeking out of the clouds.

The Parade under wraps

The Owls awaiting for their parade

Getting ready for the parade

The bees are buzzing for the parade

The Dragon awaits opening

The stars are kept under wraps

When I left the library, the weather report said it was going to clear and when I reached downtown, the blue of the sky was there. More people started to show up for the activities. Not like last year but people were crowding the sidewalks and enjoying the festivities.

I decided to head to the ‘Porcupine Grove’ where a mysterious woman was doing the reading of the porcupine. It was an unusual home and place to visit but the creativity of the person who designed it was immense. We were told the story of the Porcupine, the representative of this year’s parade.

The Porcupine Grove ceiling to his home

The porcupine’s mushrooms were our seats for the talk

Here we heard the tail of “The Porcupine” by a wise woman

I was lucky that I got to the porcupines home first because as soon as I exited the line to get in was twenty deep and counting. It looked like I was the first one there with my group of visitors.

After the talk in the porcupine’s home, I walked all over Downtown Rhinebeck as the festivities were starting and decided my next stop would be at the Reformed Church to see the “Into the Light” show that I had not seen in years. The church location had changed and it was now in the Reformed Church Sanctuary. This is where I met up with my ‘cousin’ Marc Schuyler, who was working the door to control crowds. We got to catch up on the Halloween Parade that I was not able to attend because of classes that night at NYU.

Myself and Marc at the Halloween Parade a couple years ago

I had not seen the show in a couple of years and stared at the girl who was performing the lead role. She a little too developed to play the role of a young girl in the play. Come to find out this was the same girl I had seen in the show ten years earlier and she was still playing it.

The Reformed Church on Route 9

“Into the Light” is the story of a young girl’s journey throughout the world searching for the light. It features giant puppets and music. The kids did a nice job on the show.

The “Into the Light” show

The “Into the Light” show at the Reformed Church

The “Into the Light” show

The cast taking their bows

After the “Into the Light” show, I said my goodbyes to Marc and told him I would see him (if I do not have class that night) on October 31st, 2023 for the next Halloween Parade. I was off walking to my next stop, the United Methodist Church to hear the brass bands play. What was ironic was that most of these groups had been at the Dutch Reformed Church the night before in Kingston so I got to hear them perform again.

People were dancing in the aisles at the United Methodist Church to the brass bands

There were also musical groups outside the church as well

As the weather cleared during the afternoon, outside the church got lively.

I was only able to stay for two shows and then I had to head back up to the Starlight Library to help with the set up of the parade route and help get volunteers to where they needed to go. The streets got more lively as the weather got sunnier and clear. There were all sorts of musicians walking around, the Gumpuses were performing before the crowd (many of these guys I have seen over the years), angels on stilts dancing to the bands, our friend, the Polar Bear, was dancing around everyone. It really lively on the Main Street.

The Gumpuses dancing around town

The Polar Bear dances to the musical beat

The Angel’s on stilts lead the magical forest around town

Musical bands played all over the main street

Different bands were playing all over the downtown area as the weather cleared

I walked up to the library after watching all the bands perform and every one was having such a nice time. As the weather got better, the crowds really started to arrive and I guest people figured with the weather getting better and the parade night clearing up, it is a perfect time to come out and see it.

I loved how decorated the town was for the event. Downtown Rhinebeck is one of the most beautiful downtown’s during the Christmas holidays. All the merchants and home owners decorate to the hilt and the whole town is covered in garland, bows, white lights and Christmas decorations that give it a festive appearance and put you in the holiday spirit.

The homes and businesses were beautifully decorated

I always admire this house on my walk back up to the Starlight Library

When I got to the Starlight Library, all the volunteers were preparing for the rest of the parade volunteers to arrive. We got to eat some dinner provided by the Parade committee and then we had to get to work making sure everyone was where they needed to be. People wanted to test out their puppets and walk around. I have never seen an evening zoom by so fast and soon it was time to start the parade and get lined up and ready to go. It is always exciting to take that trip down the hill.

The Angels on stilts were exciting about leading the parade

As darkness came, it was time to light up the puppets and get the parade started. It is the most exciting time of the night as the puppet prepare for the lineup.

The Star Puppets lead the way each year and light the path of the parade

The Christmas Dove in the parade

The serpents leading the way both at the Halloween and Sinterklaas Parades

The Dragon lighting the way

The Bees have been lighting the way for years

The wise old owls enter the parade route

Miss Mouse enters the parade

The Star puppets lead the way down the hill to Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The Start of the Parade at the Starlight Library. You can see me holding the banner at the end of the parade.

Because of the weather earlier in the morning, we did not have the crowds we had last year and in 2019 but still everyone lined the Main Street on the way to the community parking lot on our way to the Closing Ceremonies. People were so excited when the parade came down the hill. It is quite a event with all the lights and music and puppets dancing around the streets.

I was behind the stars and the dove and had the drummers behind me. I could not hear for most of the parade.

The parade moving down the hill towards downtown

The parade in the heart of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY is really exciting!

The parade slowed down as we entered the Community Parking lot as the puppets were being dropped off and the Closing Ceremony started. By the time I got to the parking lot, everyone had pretty much dropped off their puppets but the Stars and Bees who lingered a bit longer.

Than we started the Closing Ceremonies where all the main characters are introduced one more time before they make their exit from the parade awaiting next year. Everyone was so excited and the stage really breemed with artists having a good time.

The closing ceremony with Sinterklaas and his court of people helping him that day.

The Grumpuses perform their last dance of the day on stage.

The Polar Bear was leading the dance at the end of the parade

Hansel and Gretel singing and dancing at the parade.

The band plays on at the closing ceremonies

The flame throwers performed at the end of the Closing Ceremonies.

The stage after the performances were over. It was really creatively done.

After the Closing ceremonies, I walked around the downtown area and spent time admiring the window displays at the stores and admiring the artwork around the trees. It got very quiet in Downtown Rhinebeck. Within an hour of the parade, you would have never known there was a parade.

The merchants in Downtown Rhinebeck really decorated their stores to the hilt for the holidays

The display windows in Downtown Rhinebeck were amazing

Merchant’s window at Christmas

Merchant’s windows at Christmas

Merchant’s windows at Christmas

The night had cooled down but you could see all the beautiful stars in the sky when the weather cleared and in the background I could hear the saxophonist who always plays at night. The Christmas songs he was playing really put me in the Christmas spirit.

I ended the evening with a couple of slices of pizza at Village Pizza. I can’t tell you how good that pizza tasted at the end of the evening. I was talking with the staff there and they said they were consistent that day but not like the two previous years when they did not sit still. The rain at the beginning of the day put a damper on everything.

Village Pizza at 19 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY during Sinterklaas

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

The pizza is excellent at Village Pizza

After dinner, I walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, which to me outside of Cape May, NJ is one of the beautiful town’s to spend Christmas in. The whole downtown was beautifully decorated and the Christmas tree was amazing.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY after the Sinterklaas Parade

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas time

The Christmas tree in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The angels in the alleyway

The angel in the alleyway

I got back to the hotel and went right to bed. I slept so soundly that evening. Between the heat of the room and how comfortable the bed was I got one of the best night’s sleep in a long time. With all the stress of school and having to bring work with me, I just needed this evening to relax.

The view from my room the next day. It was sunny and warmer.

After breakfast the next day, it was off to Boonton, NJ to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home to volunteer for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Christmas Party. It was the first time in three years we had had the full party with entertainment and dropping off presents. The members had time before the party to socialize with each other and I even got better acquainted with the Firemen’s Home resident dog, Wells.

Our article on the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association website:

https://wordpress.com/post/tbcfha.wordpress.com/631

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Executive Board, Tom Simpson, George Heflich, Justin Watrel, John Kinner.

Vice-President Justin Watrel with resident dog, Wells.

Member Jerry Naylis’s daughter and grandchildren were part of the entertainment again this year and really charmed the residents.

The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association gathered together for our annual membership picture after the party was over.

After the entertainment was over, we handed out our presents to the residents which was a beautiful red fleece jacket with the residents name on it. I could tell that all the residents were touched by the gift and it really meant something to all of them to be remembered at the holidays.

Our Christmas present to the residents

While the entertainment carried on for the next 45 minutes, some of the members stopped for dinner at the Columbia Inn in Montville, NJ and just relaxed. It had been a long day for everyone and a good meal was a nice way to end the day. I had the most wonderful Chicken Rollatini special that really warmed me up on this cool early evening. It was nice to catch up with the other members before the holidays went into full force.

The Columbia Inn at 29 Main Road in Montville, NJ

https://www.thecolumbiainn.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46639-d639843-Reviews-Columbia_Inn_Restaurant-Montville_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

It had been a long weekend and when I got home, it was getting ready for classes again, finishing my White Page for my Trends in Tourism class, my Metaverse paper for Innovations in Tourism class and our Mapping project for my Data Analytics class. This on top of all the work I had to finish in my own classes at Bergen Community College. It was going to be a long next three weeks before Christmas and both colleges would keep me busy.

Places to stay:

Quality Inn Hyde Park

4142 Albany Post Road

Hyde Park, NY 12538

(845) 407-0936

https://www.choicehotels.com/new-york/hyde-park/quality-inn-hotels/ny343

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60801-d590312-Reviews-Quality_Inn_Hyde_Park_Poughkeepsie_North-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Historic Old Dutch Church

272 Wall Street

Kingston, New York  12401

(845) 338-6759

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d7232701-Reviews-Old_Dutch_Church-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1710

The Senate House

296 Fair Street

Kingston, NY  12401

(845) 338-2786

http://www.palisadeparksconservancy.org

Home

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm/Wednesday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm (April 15-October 31). Open by Appointment only (November 1-April 14)

Fee: Adults $4.00/Seniors (62+) $3.00/Children under 12 and under Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d3225491-Reviews-Senate_House_State_Historic_Site-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3634

Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum of Kingston

265 Fair Street

Kingston, NY  12402

(831) 331-0866

https://kingstonvolunteerfiremensmuseum.weebly.com/

Open:  The hours vary by the season so please look to the website for the openings. School groups please call for an appointment.

Fee: Free but donations accepted

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d3367598-Reviews-Volunteer_Fireman_s_Hall_Museum_of_Kingston-Kingston_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3627

Places to Eat:

Apple Pie Bakery Cafe

1946 Campus Drive

Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park, NY 12538

(845) 908-4500

https://www.applepiebakerycafe.com/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Tuesday 8:00am-4:00pm/Wednesday-Thursday Closed/Friday 8:00am-4:00pm/Saturday Closed

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60801-d1929618-Reviews-Apple_Pie_Bakery_Cafe-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

Golden Wok

7479 South Broadway

Red Hook, NY 12571

(845) 758-6868

https://goldenwokredhook.uorder.io/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Monday 11:00am-9:30pm/Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Thursday 11:30am-9:30pm/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d821529-Reviews-Golden_Wok-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

Pete’s Famous Restaurant

34 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 876-7271

https://www.petesfamous.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Village Pizza of Rhinebeck

19 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 876-9676

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

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-9:00pm/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Columbia Inn Restaurant

29 Main Road

Montville, NJ 07045

(973) 263-1300

https://www.thecolumbiainn.com/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-8:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-9:00pm/Friday 11:30am-10:00pm/Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46639-d639843-Reviews-Columbia_Inn_Restaurant-Montville_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Day Two Hundred and Forty-Three Visiting the Ulster County Fair in Ulster County New York August 5th, 2022

I really enjoy my trips to the Hudson River Valley to attend weekend events. When I read about the series of County Fairs that will be held during August upstate, I wanted to start visiting them. I have been to the Dutchess County Fair for many years, but I never ventured outside that fair. I have never really explored Ulster County, so I decided to head upstate and visit the Uster County Fair for the afternoon. It was an eye opener.

https://www.facebook.com/ulstercountyfair/

I found that the Ulster County Fair was about half the size of the Dutchess County Fair across the river. The fairgrounds are smaller than Dutchess County’s so you could tour the fair much quicker. There were lots to do at the fairgrounds and I explored the whole fair over the next three hours.

I first visited the Volunteer Fire Museum and the Police Museum that are only open when the fair is open. The Police Museum was stocked with equipment that law enforcement has used over the last hundred years that includes batons, handcuffs and how a police station works. They even had a small jail display. The Volunteer Fire Museum was stocked with equipment that volunteer fire departments had donated, pictures and patches of local departments and like The Police Museum staffed by volunteers from the departments who could describe the objects in the museum and what their position was in their departments.

It was a nice to talk to other volunteer fire fighters who face the issues we all face, changing ranks in the volunteers with a generation gap and trying to recruit new fire fighters. All of us still have the pride of being a fire fighter but the role seems to be changing. The museum reflected that with new ways of firefighting are being practiced but keeping the traditions alive. Both museums should be a bit more updated.

After I left the museums, I toured the 4H displays. There were barn pens filled with cows, horses, rabbits, pigs and chickens. The 4H members were taking care of their animals, washing them and feeding them and the animals seemed to know that they were on display. Some of them looked like they were showing off by the way they moved around in their pens. The kids showed their pride by the way they cared for them. The way they cleaned and brushed them and cared for their pens.

What I liked about the 4H stand was their food station. They had the most reasonable food at the fair. Their hot dogs were $2.00, their sodas were $1.00, and their milkshakes were $5.00 as opposed to the higher prices of the food vendors. I had a vanilla shake that the kids made, and I will tell you that there is nothing better than a fresh vanilla shake made with fresh milk and fresh ice cream made from their cows. I really enjoyed it.

I looked around at the food vendors and I could not believe the prices. Everything was so expensive. The hamburgers pulled pork sandwiches and cheesesteaks were between $12.00 to $15.00 and I thought that was too high. The zeppole and fried dough not only were $8.00 for six small zeppole but all the fried foods were sitting under heat lamps. If there were seventy or eighty people at the fair that afternoon, it was a lot. There was no reason for them to cook so much food in advance. I stopped at one pizza stand and had a slice of pizza for $6.00 and a Coke for $3.00 and it was a lot for a slice of pizza with no flavor.

I walked around all the booths that were selling local wares and there were people selling arts and crafts and food items. There were some interesting food stuffs like local honey, jellies, syrups and baked items but again they priced them so high that it was cheaper to buy them in a grocery store. Maple syrup should not be $14.00 for a small jar. I think these vendors priced out the customers that were coming to the fair.

I walked around the amusement area of the fair and that got busier by the end of the afternoon as families started to arrive during the early evening. As I walked around the rides, more and more kids were on the rides. Most of the rides were geared towards small children and I could see the teenagers watching their younger siblings enjoying themselves. They would go off with their friends as soon as the parents returned.

The Ulster County Fair Amusement area

After I had visited all the attractions, amusement areas and walked around the fair about four times, I ventured out of the fair to get dinner. The options were just too expensive, and the selection was not very good. I decided to head into downtown New Platz for dinner.

As I was leaving at 6:00pm, the crowds really started to come in as the entertainment was going to start at 8:00pm. Singer Allie Colleen was headlining that night and it looked like she was going to have a big crowd. What I did not realize until later is that she is Garth Brook’s daughter and a noted Country music singer.

Singer Allie Colleen

https://www.alliecolleenmusic.com/

Trying to leave the fair was an experience as the traffic started to increase and you had to leave the way you came in. I could not believe that the entrance was the exit as well.

The funny part of the Ulster County Fair Grounds is that it is in the middle of farmland as opposed to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds that are on the edge of Rhinebeck. Two different fairs with two different vibes. I really felt that I was among the locals at this fair whereas the Dutchess County Fair gets people from the City and from New Jersey as well. I really did feel like a visitor.

I parked up in Downtown New Platz and have to admit that it has not changed much since my first visit during Christmas of 2014. Parts of the downtown have attracted more expensive restaurants and there are some newer stores but the downtown still has that college vibe to it with a ‘New Age’ feel. It’s like a bigger version of Woodstock.

Downtown New Paltz, NY

https://www.townofnewpaltz.org/

https://www.iloveny.com/places-to-go/hudson-valley/spotlight-new-paltz/

I walked all around the downtown area to see all the new places to eat and shop. I got into the downtown just before things started to close. Like many other towns, New Paltz has taken a hit in their businesses when the SUNY Campus closed but it looks like new businesses are starting to open in their place. What surprised me was the prices for meals. These restaurants were not catering to the artists or the college students but more to out-of-town visitors. I have this thing about $34.00 entrees in a college town.

I went to McGillicuddy’s restaurant at 84 Main Street for dinner that night. I had been there many times before when visiting New Paltz and I love the college vibe of the place. Plus, you can watch the games on the big screen TVs.

McGillicuddy’s at 84 Main Street

https://cuddysny.com/

I ordered one of their Original Hamburgers with a side of Waffle fries and I have to tell you it was one of the best burgers that I had had in a long time. Their burgers are large and juicy and have a wonderful beefy taste (order it medium well to get a well-done burger) and it was accompanied by a large portion of waffle fries ($12.95). Everything was delicious and the service was great.

The burger and fries were delicious

What is nice about New Paltz is that it is on the opposite side of the river from all the places I normally visit like Rhinebeck and Red Hook and once out of town, you immediately get to the New York Thruway, and I was home in just over an hour.

It was a nice experience and fun visiting the fair. Now off to visit the Dutchess County Fair in two weeks!

My day at the Dutchess County Fair:

Day One Hundred and Nineteen-Visiting the Dutchess County Fair:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7786

Places to Visit:

The Ulster County Fair (Every August)

Ulster County Fairgrounds

249 Libertyville Road

New Paltz, NY 12561

(845) 255-1380

https://ulstercountyfair.com/

Open: The Fair is every August but check their website for other events

Places to Eat:

McGillicuddy’s

84 Main Street

New Paltz, NY 12561

(845) 256-9289

https://cuddysny.com/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-12:00am/Monday-Thursday 3:00pm-12:00pm/Friday 3:00pm-4:00am/Saturday 12:00pm-4:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48245-d2192041-Reviews-McGillicuddy_s-New_Paltz_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

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

Opening Ceremonies at The Beekman Arms

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.

The Downtown Rhinebeck Christmas Tree near the Community parking lot.

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 dusk

Downtown Rhinebeck’s merchants go all out for the holidays

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.

The delicious candies and baked goods at Samuel’s Sweet Shop

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 at Christmas

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 ‘Stockade 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 brilliantly.

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 (Closed June 2022)

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 Quarters 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-Ca