Open: When the fairgrounds are open Spring, Summer and Fall for events
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Century Museum Village inside the Dutchess County Fairgrounds
When the Dutchess County Fairgrounds are open for the season for big events in the Spring, Summer and Fall, the fairgrounds open their historical museums that are located on the property. These include the School House Museum and the Train Station Museum and the when the volunteers are there the Dutchess County Volunteer Firemen’s Museum. The main museum is the Century Museum Village, a look at rural life in Dutchess County at the turn of the last century.
The Schoolhouse Museum in the Century Museum Village
The Train Station Museum at the Century Museum Village
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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:
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.
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.
The Hyde Park Historical Society is going through a type of rebirth as it has reopened with a fresh approach towards not just the history of Hyde Park, NY but the area in general and life here over the last two hundred years. The society is taking a new direction and revamping their efforts on the displays and on the history and activities of the museum. The museum is housed in what was once the Hyde Park, NY Fire Department building.
The museum is broken down into sections by displays. When you enter the museum there is an display of bicycles and recreation items that would have been used over the years…
I love visiting the Hudson River Valley so any event or tour that I can go on is an excuse to come up here. I had visited all the sites that I wanted to see on a trip two weeks earlier but wanted to see them in more detail plus I wanted to take some pictures. The weather finally broke, and it was a much more pleasant 83 degrees as opposed to the 96 degrees the trip before. That makes the trip much nicer.
I asked my aunt along so that we could share in the experience, and I could use her phone to take pictures of the all the sites. It is a much nicer trip when you have someone along who enjoys these things. The one nice thing about traveling to the Fishkill, New York area is that it is only an hour away and a straight run up the New York Thruway to Route 84 and then to Route 9. Just a couple of quick back streets and you will be there.
On my first trip up, I got there so early that no one was at the first site, The Brinckerhoff Homestead Historical site, the home of the East Fishkill Historical Society at 68 North Kensington Drive in Hopewell Junction, NY. I double back and stopped for a quick snack at G & R Deli Cafe, a small deli at 2003 Route 52 in a strip mall near the old IBM campus. I needed a snack.
Since I already had dinner plans, I ordered a Sausage, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($5.95) which was a bit more expensive than in the City but it was delicious. The sausage had a nice taste of sage and gave it a lot of flavor. I just relaxed outside in the parking lot and ate breakfast. Another time that I visited, I had the same version with bacon and both times the sandwiches were excellent.
The breakfast sandwiches at G & R Deli are excellent
After my snack, I got back to the Brinckerhoff Homestead at 12:00pm when it was supposed to open but around 12:30pm there was still no one there and I kept knocking on the door. That’s when one of the county members let me know that they did not open until 1:00pm. Since I had a list of places to visit that day and the time had been posted all over the internet, I asked if we could please start early. He agreed and I got a personal tour of the house. When I came back two weeks later, I better timed it for the 1:00pm opening to take pictures.
The Brinckerhoff family is prominent in the Fishkill area and family members still visit the homestead so the house’s history is ongoing. The house is broken down into three sections as you can see by the picture. The original part of the home was built by John G. Brinckerhoff in 1755 and it consisted of the “Everything Room” on the lower floor with the hearth for cooking, a beehive oven and the large room upstairs for family living.
As John Brinckerhoff’s family grew, they moved out of the house and his brother, George G. Brinckerhoff moved into the home with his family. After the Revolutionary War was over and George G.’s assignment was over in the army, he returned to the house and in 1785 added the middle main addition of the house with four additional rooms. The larger rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence in that they could heat the home.
When George died in 1812, his brother John and his family moved back into the house. In 1814, the family sold the house to the Purdy family. They lived in the house for the next 60 years and added the final addition onto the house to the left with a summer kitchen and an outdoor oven. It remained in the family until 1875 when it was sold to the Palen family who used it again as a farm. It was then again sold to the Moore family in 1926 and lastly sold to East Fishkill Historical Society in 1974 by developer Gustav Fink who was a developer in the area (East Fishkill Historical Society).
The rooms are decorated in period furnishings and when we started the tour, you begin in the oldest section of the home with the original kitchen area.
The “Everything Room” in the Brinckerhoff Homestead
This is where the family would cook, eat, do their work on farm affairs and socialize. There was also a small general store on the property as well. The upstairs was closed to the public.
You next moved into the main rooms of the 1785 addition which brought it the into then modern era with high ceilings and larger rooms so that the family had more living space and could entertain.
The Main Dining Room of the home which was set for Hot Chocolate service which again showed the family’s affluence as chocolate was very expensive then
We also toured the Living Room which was set for socializing and work women did for the home with needlepoint, weaving, and clothes making. There was still room for people to gather and entertain.
The Living Room of the 1785 addition to the home
Along the main corridor of the home in the addition was all sorts of artifacts from the Revolutionary War period and items from the time.
Our last part of the tour was the latest addition by the Purdy family when we toured the ‘Summer Kitchen”, which showed how the home had progressed over the years. Little by little each family brought it into the next ‘modern era’.
Both times I got to tour the grounds and the beautiful gardens that the volunteers maintained. Rock gardens and flower beds line the three acres of land around the house. Along with the flower beds, several historical buildings have been moved to the property including the one room schoolhouse from District 9 in East Fishkill that was built in 1826, the 1870 Icehouse which once supplied another home with its ice for the home to keep food fresh before the advent of refrigeration.
The Schoolhouse and the Icehouse and gardens
Another building that is still in use and is open when the house is open for touring is the John Hyatt Blacksmith shop from 1880. It still has some of the original tools and the blacksmith on duty still works the fire and performs tasks in the building.
The last building on the property is the Van Wyck Carriage Barn from 1845. It had been built by Judge Theodorus Van Wyck for his home that was built in East Fishkill that was torn down by the development of the IBM Campus in 1984. IBM paid to have the carriage house dismantled and moved to this property.
The East Fishkill Historical Society with the Brinckerhoff home in the center, the schoolhouse to the right and the blacksmith shop and the carriage house to the left
We took our time to tour the house and the grounds and on my initial visit I got to tour the schoolhouse, the ice house and the blacksmith shop to see the inner workings of these buildings and how they operated.
The docents had told me that they had recently held a ‘Strawberry Festival’ recently promoting the local fruit crops and serving complimentary strawberry shortcake that everyone enjoyed and was gone quickly. There are also Revolutionary War reenactments done on the property and for the holiday season the home will be decorated for the period Christmas holidays with an open house, so there will be things to do and see in the future.
Our next stop on the tour of homes was the Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9, the old Albany Post Road. The house had stood on the main transportation line during the Revolutionary War period and it had served as General George Washington’s northern supply depot during the war because of this location.
Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9 (the Old Albany Post Road)
In 1732, Cornelius Van Wyck bought 959 acres of land from the original Rombout Patent and built the smaller section of the home to the right in 1732. As the family gained affluence in farming and trade, the larger section of the home to the left was built in 1757 with larger rooms and higher ceilings again to show a family’s wealth.
Because of the location of the house in Fishkill on the main road of transportation and the strategic location near the mountains to the south, General George Washington requisitioned the home as the northern supply depot for the Continental Army in October of 1776. Here supplies were run through, army regiments passed and people were buried who died during the war. The house was also used as the headquarters and court marshals and punishments took place on the property (Van Wyck Homestead Museum pamphlet). After the war was over, the house and farm was returned to the family.
The historical marker of the original home
The way the house was furnished was slightly different from the Brinckerhoff Homestead that looked more like you were walking into someone’s actual home. The old Living Room of the Van Wyck Homestead is being used as a meeting room and a place to display items from the Revolutionary War.
The Living Room and Meeting Room at the Van Wyck Homestead
The Revolutionary War Collection at the Van Wyck Homestead
Towards the back of the home is a Library/Research area and we were able to see all the old books and records that are part of the home’s collection. This is where most people do their genealogy work and family research.
The Research Library at the Van Wyck Homestead
What both my aunt and I thought was interesting was when we entered the older part of the house and the old Dining Room area. Many of the artifacts were old Van Wyck family heirlooms that had been donated over the years.
The Dining Room of the Van Wyck Homestead
Some of the recent additions were the crib which had been in the family for five generations and had just been donated to the home as well as the painting over the fireplace had just been collected by the home. Like the Brinckerhoff Homestead, there are many members of the Van Wyck family who come back to visit and still live in the area.
The Colonial kitchen and hearth are in the oldest section of the home from 1732. This is where the “Everything Room” was located. Back when this was the only section of the home, this is where all the cooking, dining, family business and social activities were located. All sorts of kitchen equipment lined the walls and shelves to show life in colonial times. It was funny that much of it has not changed over the years, just modernized.
The original family kitchen in the 1732 section of the Van Wyck Homestead
Outside the home, the organization planted the outside gardens and there is a recreation of the old beehive oven aside the home. It gave you a glimpse of how food came about for these large families before supermarkets.
The Van Wyck Gardens showed how the house was self-sufficient at one time
After touring the grounds, we walked back to see the displays one more time. On my initial trip, the tour guide let me see the upstairs rooms. In the newer part of the home, they had been turned into storage and offices for the docents. In the older part of the home, the old loft area was used for storage, and it was pretty dusty.
After touring these two homes, we were off to Wappinger’s Falls further up Route 9 to visit the Mesier Homestead in Mesier Park just off the beginning of Downtown Wappinger’s Falls. There was a concert going on in the park and my aunt said she needed a break from visiting these old homes. Too many arrowheads and Revolutionary War furniture so she stayed and listened to the concert while I toured the home.
The Mesier Homestead is the home of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society, who maintains the home. The Mesier home is much like the other homes in that it had been added onto as the family grew and became more affluent. The original part of the home is currently going through a renovation and the President of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society explained that they just discovered the old hearth and oven and are currently restoring the historic windows.
The original part of the home is currently under renovation
Starting the tour at the front entrance of the home that leads to the formal Living Room that is decorated with Victorian decor. Again the large rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence by showing how they could afford to heat their home.
The Living Room at the Mesier Homestead
The copies of the Mesier family portraits in the Mesier Living Room
The Living Room leads to the back Library where many additions of older books are held and where visitors can do research on their family history in the Wappinger Falls. Many are trying to trace their family’s history.
The Mesier Homestead Library and Research Room
The back area of the house is closed for renovations, but you can climb the stairs to the old bedrooms on the second floor. Here is where both the family and the family slaves then servants lived on the same floor.
The Adult’s Bedroom set during Victorian times
A woman’s boudoir during Victorian times
The rooms also showed a child’s place in the family where during Victorian times were treated like ‘little adults’ being trained for their future lives. Toys not just sparked the imagination but also prepared children for domestic life
Children’s playthings during Victorian times spurred imagination
On top of the recreations of the family life in both Colonial and Victorian times that the family lived through, there was an extensive collection of Native American items showing the original settlers of the region when the Lenape Indians lived, fished and hunted in this area before the arrival of the Dutch in the late 1600’s.
The Native American collection on the second floor of the Mesier Homestead
The last part of the tour ended in the formal Dining Room where the entertainment was done and the family took their meals. When I asked why these homes seemed so much smaller than homes like the Vanderbilts and Mills families, it was explained that these families were older more established and did not have to show off their wealth. Since these were God fearing individuals, it was not acceptable to be ‘showy’. People knew they were affluent so they could show off but not flaunt it.
The formal Dining Room at the Mesier Homestead set for dinner
During the Christmas holiday season, the house is beautifully decorated for a Victorian Christmas with garlands and bows and period decorations. Most of these old homes are elegantly decorated as the families once had done during the holidays.
During Colonial times, Christmas meant church services in the morning or afternoon and then a formal dinner in the afternoon. You might have pine, garland and berries decorate the house whereas during Victorian times, it was a much more elaborate affair. There would be a Christmas tree, garland and pine all over the home and gift giving. Christmas cards would have also decorated the home as well.
The Mesier Homestead at Christmas time (Wappinger Falls Historical Society)
After the tour, I took a quick walk into downtown Wappinger Falls which has a great downtown with terrific restaurants and a great view of the river and falls.
Downtown Wappinger Falls has such a unique look to it.
Our last part of the tour was visiting the First Reformed Church of Fishkill at 717 Route 9 at the beginning of Downtown Fishkill, NY. This elegant old church with its historic cemetery was built in 1732 on land that had been set aside for the church.
The Fishkill First Reformed Dutch Church at 717 Route 9 with the DuBois House next door
The church was closed for the afternoon as services are at 10:00am on Sundays so I toured around the church and the cemetery. What was interesting about the cemetery is all the family plots and who was intermarried into whose families.
The cemetery behind the church is full of family plots including the Brinckerhoff and Van Wyck families
After touring the church and the cemetery grounds, I took my time and walked Downtown Fishkill which is lined with small but interesting restaurants and stores. The street had been lively the two times that I visited with people enjoying the outdoor dining and the perfect 80-degree weather.
While walking around Downtown Fishkill, I came across the Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street and needed a quick snack on a hot afternoon. The store was really busy with people eating outside on the benches and tables. I stopped in and had a scoop of Strawberry Cheesecake and a scoop of Birthday Cake ice cream. Did it hit the spot! The Strawberry Cheesecake was especially good with chunks of fresh strawberries in it.
The Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street in Downtown Fishkill
After the ice cream, it was time for dinner (I always believe in saving room for dessert). Both times I tried Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9 in Fishkill. You really have to search for the restaurant as it is located in the strip mall in the Shoprite Mall.
Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9
The food here is really good. When I came up on my own, I just wanted something small, and I ordered the Cheese Calzone ($8.95). The thing was huge! The Calzone was so large that it could have fed two people easily. It was loaded with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and they make a terrific marinara sauce that accompanied it. By the time I finished devouring the thing, I was stuffed. This after all that ice cream.
We returned to Antonella’s when my aunt and I returned to Fishkill for the touring since I was so impressed with the food and service. My aunt had the Sausage, Pepper & Onion Roll ($8.50) and I had the Stromboli Roll ($8.50) which had ham, salami, pepperoni, Ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses wrapped in a perfectly baked pizza dough. Both were served with their flavorful marinara sauce. After a long day of touring, it was just what we needed. We also took plenty of time to relax and digest on this trip.
The Cheese Calzone’s at Antonella’s are excellent
It was really a nice day and there is so much to see and do in this part of the Hudson River Valley. I had not really explored Fishkill, NY so it was fascinating to see all these old homes and historic sites and know their place in history. Take the time to tour these homes and hear the family stories. Remember to head back during the Christmas holiday season and explore these homes and the downtowns when they are decorated for the season. There is a special magic in the Hudson River Valley during the holiday season. Check their websites for more activities during the year.
(Please read the accompanying reviews on VisitingaMuseum.com to see a full description on these homes).
Places to Visit:
Brinckerhoff House Historic Site/East Fishkill Historical Society
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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”:
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”
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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’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
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.
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.
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)
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).
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
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.
After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.
The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May
After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Cape May, NJ
It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.
Christmas services at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church
The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.
If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.
The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.
After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!
By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.
After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.
Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.
My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner
To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.
My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.
My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth
My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach
Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach
The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background
It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.
I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.
When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.
Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.
With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.
The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!
I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.
The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.
The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition
It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.
After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.
I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.
You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.
I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.
I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.
New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway
The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.
After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.
I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.
I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.
Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway
New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!
This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.
The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:
Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here
The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:
I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.
With the holidays now in full swing, I decided to usher out the Halloween holidays with its haunted houses and cemetery walks and usher in the Christmas holiday season with cheerful music and almost too much holiday decorating and shopping which gets more rushed earlier and earlier after midnight on Halloween. It gets to be over-whelming!
After a holiday of house decorating contests, visiting local farms to take pictures for my retail blog and the Halloween Parade in the City, the Midnight hour hit on Halloween night and I swear there was Christmas. I was even at one merchant’s store on Halloween morning and he was changing his Halloween window display to Christmas on the morning of the downtown merchants ‘Trick or Treating’ event. When I asked him why, he said, “This is the nature of the business right now.”
My weekend morning meant setting up for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree sale on Jefferson and Terrace in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. This annual rite is our biggest fundraising of the year and has become part of a tradition in many families as the whole family will come to the site even with baby carriages and dogs to buy a tree so that everyone gets a choice. It is nice to see the same faces every year and now I even hear from people that I sold them a tree when they were kids and now, they are buying one for their apartment in the City (thanks for making me feel ‘old’ everyone).
Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas tree set up
Day One Hundred & Twenty-Six: Christmas Tree Sales:
We got there at 8:00am in the morning, cleaning the site of leaves and branches and setting up the Christmas shed and all the tree stands. We worked until noon and then finished with a pizza lunch as a group. Christmas trees will be arriving next Friday and then it’s off to the races in selling 400 trees, a new record for us.
I went home and then it was off to the City to watch the end of the Michigan State versus Ohio State football game. What a bloodbath! They walked all over us. By the time I made it up to Blondies, the bar on the Upper West Side that the Alumni meet at everyone was gone but a small handful of people who are the hangers on to the end. The final score was 56-7 and it was a disaster with many of our players hurt. So much for the playoffs.
Since I got to the bar with only two minutes left in the game and getting there just in time to see Ohio State score again, I left after the game ended. There were not that many people left in the bar at that point and only two Ohio State alumni were in the bar singing their fight song. I was off to Brooklyn to go to the “Lightscape” show at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the “Andy Warhol” show at the Brooklyn Museum. Getting to Brooklyn was a labor in love as all the subways were rerouted for maintenance.
“Lightscape” is a new event at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
I had to change subways twice before I finally got the Number 2 into Brooklyn. Then it was a quick run to the Brooklyn Museum. Once I got to the museum, it was no problem getting in once I passed the COVID protocols.
I went to see the “Andy Warhol: Revelation” which was combination of his later works, his movies and his personal life both in Pittsburgh and in New York.
I never realized first how religious he was in his personal life and how it affected his art later on. Also, I knew that he had a close relationship with his mother and she lived with him but never knew she had assisted him with his art and how talented she was as an artist.
Andy Warhol and his mother in portrait in the “Andy Warhol: Revelation” exhibition
The exhibition featured some of his paintings from his “Last Supper” collection which he painted before he passed away. These interesting large pastel paintings again showed his religious side and portrayed Di Vinci’s “Last Supper” in a more exaggerated form. He kept the context but added color.
Warhol’s “Last Supper”
I finished my tour of the exhibition by watching part of “Chelsea Girls” one of his most famous films (I still have to admit I do not understand the movie and I watch it at the Museum of Modern Art for a couple of hours) and still did not get the point of the film. I have sat through a retrospect of his films and I have to admit, you really need to think about what he is saying because it can be challenging.
A clip from “Chelsea Girls”
After I left the Warhol exhibition, I walked around the American Galleries and then went down to see the rest of the museum. Several floors either were not open or you had to pay for the ‘Dior’ exhibition. I never remember the Brooklyn Museum charging people to see special exhibitions but I suspect COVID has changed it. Still, it was nice to see the Warhol exhibition before it opened to the public.
I got to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden right on time at 7:00pm to start the “Lightscape” tour of the garden. It was amazing!
Highlights from the “Lightscape”:
This video gives just a short glimpse into what “Lightscape” showcased in the Gardens
It was an hour long walk in the gardens following a path around the perimeter of the Gardens starting at the new Washington Street entrance. What an amazing way to walk the Gardens at night. The lightshow really showcased the beauty of the gardens and its layout.
The colored lights by the Japanese Gardens
Visitors were guided on a path around the gardens that was cordoned off and then lit with colorful lights and music. Here and there props were added to open spots in the gardens for an experience of lights and sounds.
“Shunkashuto” in the Japanese Gardens
When you entered the Gardens, you were greeted by light jazz museum to colorful yellow and purple lights adorning the trees. As a group of us rounded the corner into the Japanese Gardens, we were greeted by a lightshow of multiple lights and spotlights enhancing both the garden’s trees and pond. It really lit up the water.
“Shunkashuto” in the Japanese Gardens
As you exited the Japanese Gardens, more lights lit the pathway to the Greenhouses and pools where interesting water sculptures that looked like floating Locusts lined the pools and kept lighting up to appear to be a flower opening.
The restaurants and cafes in this section of the Gardens were open that night but the lines were tremendous and the menu limited plus it was so cool out that I did not want to eat a meal outside but many people did not have a problem with this. The tables at the Yellow Magnolia Restaurant were packed with people eating.
The Magnolia Tree garden lit for the Lightscape event
I proceeded through the Gardens past light features of what looked like surrealist flowers lit in all sorts of colors with the sounds of Christmas jazz in the background. The flowers changed colors as the music played and I took my time to watch the flowers change from vibrant color to another.
These floral sculptures sway to light Christmas Jazz music (2021)
As I walked through of the Gardens, I walked past more trees that had been lit in green, purple and yellow showcasing trees that just a few months ago had been surrounded by crocuses, daffodils and tulips in all their beauty as Spring moved into Summer. In 2023, the ‘Hanabi’ sculpture, just off Daffodil Hill, was playing Christmas song as the lights and movements swayed around.
‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023
‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023
‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023
‘Hanabi’ sculpture in January 2023
I felt like “Alice in Wonderland” walking under these stars
Just past the ‘Hanabi’ sculpture with the music still playing in the background, the brightly lit “Windseeds” were glowing in the distance. They looked like seeds that you would blow off a dandelion after it has dried out. These brightly lit stars lit the way to the Lilly Ponds.
Artist Norman Mooney created “Windseeds”
When I got to the Lily Ponds, the “Night Lilly” sculptures were out and did not light up even though the music was playing. The restaurant was pretty busy with people ordering hot drinks and sandwiches and pretzels. It was a cool night so I was a little thrown when people were eating outside.
When I left the restaurant and the Lily Ponds, I passed ‘A Magic of the Season’, a musically review sculpture that twisted and turned with the lights. It played the most wonderful seasonal music and its complexity changed with the colors.
‘A Magical Season’ in full color
From “A Magical Season” still playing in the distance, I could see and hear the song that made the “Light like Water” play and with each verse in the song, the pyramid changed colors and designs. I was so fascinated by it and by the song that sounded so post-COVID about recovery that I stayed three times to hear it all the way through and watch the colors. It was mesmerizing.
‘Light Like Water’ by artist Masha Tsimring
The glass pyramid “Light Like Water” at one of its various points of light and color in the song
The pyramid kept changing colors
They pyramid halfway through the song
Further down the path at the southernmost part of the park were the “Nightbirds” who soared across the trees in that part of the part near where the Herb and Rock Gardens were located.
‘Nightbirds’ were colorful as they soared above the gardens
Heading back towards the Main Lawn was the sculpture “What if?” as if it was questioning why we were in the gardens and what was our purpose.
“What if?” lights the way by the Rock Garden
On the way back and passing the Main Lawn where the water features are located was the interesting large flowers of the sculptures of “Bloom”. These colorful flowers were set to the background of trees that kept changing colors and were a blaze of brillant colors.
The beauty of “Bloom”
‘Bloom’ changing colors
The surrounding trees kept changing colors around “Bloom” adding to its complexity.
Next to ‘Bloom’, the ‘Neon Tree’ dazzling everyone with a variety of lights that showed the context of the tree it decorated. I wish the artist had done more than one tree as it would have made an interesting forest.
The ‘Neon Tree’
‘Neon Tree’ up close
Passing the ‘Neon Tree’, there was a shot of lights and music that created a outdoor ‘Disco’ dance floor in the middle of the path. “Dancing Lights” would have been fun if the weather had been warmer and people could have boogied on down. It got colder by eight o’clock and the lights were in full swing. At least we could enjoy them by walking through them.
“Paloma” was a series of birds that were placed all over the trees and looked like a pigeon attack from the distance. These well-light birds covered the branches of the trees on my way to the ‘Winter Cathedral’, which was the signature work of art of the this walking exhibition.
‘Paloma’ from the ‘Neon Tree’ path and its approach
‘Paloma’ from up close
The ‘Winter Cathedral’ from a distance
Entering the “Winter Cathedral”
Walking through the “Winter Cathedral” is amazing
The top of the lights of the “Winter Cathedral”
The “Ghosts” once you leave the “Winter Cathedral”
“The Ghosts” of birds on the sidewalks
The path led to the Cherry Tree lawn where the best part of the light show took place. A light show awash with colors and sounds as the entire section of the lawn was lit and twinkled of lights and Christmas music and light jazz as all the trees and lawns created a spectacular display that entertained everyone who stopped. I was so taken by the display that I stayed for three entire shows of lights and sounds.
The “Fire Garden” in the Rose Garden Fountain
The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn
We exited up the hill that overlooked the Cherry Blossom Lawn so that you could see the lightshow again from another perspective. It was even more interesting as you walked up the sidewalks that line the hill and could sit in the benches watching the show from above the lawn. Amazing!
The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn
The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn
The “Neon Waves” in the Cherry Blossom lawn
The “World of Color” is between the Cherry Trees
The “Aurora” at the end of the walk through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The “Aurora” was the end of the show and the lights overlooked the Cherry Blossom lawn and with all the Cherry Trees lit to capacity, the whole show had two different perspectives from both sides of the lawn and as you walked down the promenade.
This video of the Gardens by Caty Exterior really captures the show (I credit the blogger on this amazing video):
The video on the walk through the gardens
I exited the Gardens from the original entrance on Eastern Parkway and like everyone else who was leaving that evening, totally mesmerized by the light show we had just experienced. I was glad that I had seen the show early as the reporters and bloggers who I had probably been touring with had seen the show as well and everyone reported on it the next week. Online reviews were extremely enthusiastic.
After the show was over in 2021, I walked down Washington Avenue to find a place to have a snack. I came across Gino’s Cucina Brick Oven Pizzeria at 723 Washington Avenue. for a slice of pizza. The pizza was excellent with such a crisp crust and bottom and the sauce really tasted of fresh tomatoes. The only problem with the restaurant was that there was no place to eat inside and I ended up eating at one of the small tables outside and it had gotten cold as the evening progressed. It was nice to eat outside but my pizza got cold fast.
Gino’s Cucina Brick Oven Pizzeria at 723 Washington Place
After my snack, I took another walk around the neighborhood to see the lights of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the distance. It really had been a wonderful evening and I was glad that I experienced the light show and the art opening before they reached the general public and tickets then became hard to get. Not even a week after I visited both shows, they had been heavily reviewed in all the New York City papers so try to get tickets now.
In 2022, it was really getting cold out and I needed some chicken soup and I remembered North Dumpling and King Dumpling in Chinatown and wanted to stop in Chinatown for a quick snack. Thank God I chose North Dumpling first because as I walked back through Chinatown, King Dumpling had closed for the evening.
China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street in Chinatown
I had to walk down many dark streets to the get to the restaurant which is on the other side of Chinatown. I ended up ordering the Steamed Wonton Noodle Soup ($6.95) and an order of Spring Rolls ($3.00). With a Coke the whole thing came to $11.00. That was my type of meal and talk about the soup warming you up.
The Spring Rolls at China North Dumping
The Steamed Wonton Noodle Soup I highly recommend at China North Dumpling in Chinatown
It was a nice end to a wonderful evening and even though it got cold, it was fun walking around Chinatown again. What really scared me is how rapidly the neighborhood is changing. It is getting very ‘hipster’. I am not sure if people are noticing.
The next evening, I drove up to Croton-on-the-Hudson for the last night of the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Manor. I have been to the show for many years and I even renewed my membership again to see the show one more time. This was the last night of the show before it closed for the season. Seeing a Christmas light show the night before made this visit rather strange as Halloween was over three weeks earlier. Still, it was an amazing walk through the grounds and the best part was there were no crowds!
I started the evening with dinner with my favorite restaurant right near the Van Cortlandt Manor, Dong Happy Gardens at 440 South Riverside Avenue. This wonderful Chinese restaurant is tucked into the Shoprite Mall next to the supermarket. The three times I have eaten here the food has been excellent (See review on TripAdvisor.com) and the service very friendly. The rules have been relaxed at the restaurant so you can eat in the booths now.
I had the Chicken and String beans with a side of Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll and everything was excellent. They served me a large portion of Chicken with freshly cooked string beans in a soy and Hunan sauce with had a nice hot and tangy flavor to it. The egg roll was filled with lots of chopped roast pork and cabbage and was perfectly fried. The combination plate was a nice sized dinner portion and warmed me up on a cool night.
The Chicken and Broccoli is excellent here
With the Christmas holidays in full swing, the festivities of Halloween are long behind us and since I chose the last night of the show at the last entry time of 8:00pm I pretty much had the walk all to myself. There must have been about fifty other people walking through the same time as myself and I could take extra time to look at the displays and enjoy the music.
The Van Cortlandt Manor is memorizing with the site of hundreds of lit pumpkins
Being so close to Thanksgiving, the newest pumpkins that had been carved were in the shape of turkeys and horns of plenty.
Welcome to the Blaze in 2022
Pumpkins with their own ideas in 2022
You were still greeted by the mysterious faces of Halloween but the last week of the event was themed to the upcoming holiday.
The “Tappan Scream Bridge” leads you into the displays
The show had not changed much since I had visited in late November last year. I entered through the Tappan Scream Bridge and saw all the carved pumpkins of fish swimming. I then passed the Ferris wheel of mysteries animals as they made their way around a circle.
The Headless Horseman Bridge was another bridge of wonder at the entrance of the grounds
Walking through the tunnel of lights is a fantastic sight
I made my way through the display passing the Headless Horseman Bridge and the Museum of Modern Art display which I thought was one of the most original parts of the show three years ago.
The Art Show:
Their version of Van Gogh’s “The Scream”
Their version of Di Vinci’s “The Mona Lisa”
Their version of Andy Warhol’s “Soup Cans”
Keith Haring in a pumpkin
Alexander Calder in 2022
I continued my walk through the display looking that the Ghost Circus Train that lead the way through the next part of the display showcasing all the circus animals that followed.
The Ghost Circus Train ablaze with animals
Once past the Ghost Circus Train I walked past the Ferris Wheel of Animals going round and round as it played an eerie tiny music. The animals grinned as they went through the cycle over and over again.
This ghostly Ferris Wheel shocks and memorizes
The path led past the Ferry House that once greeted guests on the Old Albany Post Road.
The Pumpkin Blacksmith in 2022
Then led to a series of Zodiac signs. I search for Libra and found it right in the middle of the display showing the balance that our sign represents.
The Pumpkin sign of Libra
The paths lead past creatures from the deep and the past as our crowd of visitors was greeted by the Lock Ness Monster and a series of dinosaurs that guarded the path on the way to the Van Cortlandt Manor House.
The Loch Ness Monster guards the paths to the deep
The dinosaurs roared and nodded as you walked past them showing their strength of character and lore.
The dinosaurs led the path to the next part of the display
As I got closer to the main house, there was a big display of the skyline of Manhattan with a display of the New York City skyline starting with the statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan skyline. I thought that was very creative.
The Statue of Liberty was very impressive as well was the skyline
I finally reached the Van Corlandt Manor lit to the hilt with colorful lights and a dazzling light show that was continuous. Before you entered the front of the manor, you are greeted by a mysterious clock that chimed and churned as it greeted you.
This grandfather clock chimes it way through the tour of the Van Cortlandt Manor
The manor house, which closes in September for the set up of the Blaze, was lit with a entertaining Light Show and music that greeted guests with a sinister undertone and greeting welcoming in the Halloween season. You have to wait to see the show twice not to miss anything.
Van Cortlandt Manor in all its dazzling glory for the Halloween holiday
Before leaving the last part of the Blaze, there is a well lit path of ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night as you pass the Van Cortlandt cemetery and things from the past that guard them. There are all sorts of creatively carved pumpkins all over the lawn in front of the manor.
The Van Cortlandt Cemetery is on display as you exit the family home
Ghosts and Ghouls and things that go bump in the night
Paying respects to the Van Cortlandt Family patriot Steven Van Cortlandt
Pay respects to Catherine Van Wyck and Pierre Van Cortlandt
Pay respects to Pierre Van Cortlandt
The Flower garden on the way out.
The Ghouls as you exit the Pumpkin Blaze
Exiting the Blaze, you will see all sorts of carved pumpkins and the rest of the Blaze in the distance. It will be another year to until the Blaze comes again but what a way to see it on its last glorious night. This is something you should not miss when coming to the Hudson River Valley during the Halloween season.
Me on the night of the Blaze. It was rather warm for this time of the year.