Category Archives: Exploring Rhinebeck NY

Downtown Red Hook, NY

Day One Hundred and Seventy: Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY-A local Journey July 26th, 2020

With the weather reaching now into the high 90’s and the humidity has become unbearable, it has been a chance to take a break from walking the streets of Manhattan with the uncomfortable heat (and the equally uncomfortable feel of the City) and head up to our version of “Upstate New York”. People from Ithaca, where I went to graduate school,  actually laugh when I say this is “Upstate New York”. “That’s like Westchester!” some will say to me because it is so close to the City instead of in the middle of New York State.

Still Dutchess County is beautiful at anytime of the year and a nice substitute when the weather just gets too hot. The cool breezes of the Hudson River, the foliage full of deep greens and the unique little downtown’s with their ‘mom and pop’ restaurants and stores (which we need to help desperately at this time) make a nice day or weekend visit. I have also gone to college in Hyde Park so I know the area quite well but still there were many towns I had never visited before. One of them being Red Hook, NY.

I had gotten to know Red Hook quite well since 2014 when I thought I was moving to the Hudson River Valley for work and needed to find a place to live. I got acquainted with Downtown Red Hook when meeting with realtors but it was when I came across an advertisement for “Little Pickles”, a children’s store that had just opened that I wanted to visit that I got to really visit the town.

The nice part of Downtown Red Hook is that it has not been “Manhattanized” the way Downtown Rhinebeck further south has been. Being further up Route 9, the restaurants and stores are not as expensive, the feel of the restaurants are more local and down to earth and a lot less expensive. The one thing about the stores are that they cater to locals and not tourists so much, they are reasonably priced and their merchants are extremely creative in merchandise purchased for their stores and the way their stores are displayed. The service I have found in the stores here is very personal and friendly and you are mostly dealing with the owner of the store.

What is also nice about Red Hook is that the parking is still on the street with no meters and you can park right near the stores. At the current time, the town is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as is the rest of the country, so a lot of the parking directly in the center of the town is for “Grab and Go”. Between the heat of this summer (it was 96 degrees that day) and the COVID-19 pandemic still keeping everything at bay, the town was quiet the afternoon I visited.

I started my day at the Staatsburgh Historical Site of the Mills Mansion in Staatsburgh, NY. The mansion was not open for tours yet under Phase 4 of Governor Cuomo’s plan as of yet so the park site opened programs that showcased the outside of the mansion. I started my day with a “Garden Tour” of the grounds of the Mill’s Mansion “Staatsburgh” located at 75 Mills Mansion Drive.

Mills Mansion

The Mills Mansion “Staatsburgh” (Staatsburgh State Historical Site)

https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/25/details.aspx

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

The 90 minute tour took us to the back lawn of the estate where we visited the former ice house, boat house, stables and storage areas and the location to where the greenhouses were located. The mansion was once a 25 room home that was a working farm but with Ruth Livingston Mills social standing the house was added and expanded to 79 rooms to the current home of today. The original farms became lawns and Ogden Mills, her husband and a financier himself, became a gentleman farmer and animals were grown and raised for competition and for food for the estate. The greenhouses were used for flowers and fruits and vegetables for the mansion.

Mills Mansion Summer

The back lawn of the Mills Mansion and the Hudson River in the distance

Most of the buildings have since been knocked down or in disrepair but you have to use your imagination to see how the estate once worked. The whole property was once pretty well self-sufficient.

Ruth Livingston Mills

Ruth Livingston Mills

Ogden Mills

Ogden Mills

By 10:30am, our small group of four was done for the morning and I decided to run up to Red Hook for lunch. I was in the mood for a Chicken Parmesan sandwich from Village Pizza III located in the downtown. Before I left for lunch I drove through Downtown Rhinebeck which had just closed off all their downtown parking for outdoor cafes and the place was really busy. All the restaurants were busy for the late brunch and early lunch crowds.

I drove further north on Route 9 which takes you right into Downtown Red Hook and turns into North and South Broadway which is cut at the intersection of East and West Market Street (which is Route 199). The downtown stretches from this intersection for a few blocks before leading to more homes and farms. The wooden store fronts are a combination of Victorian  and multi-level architecture and brick buildings which gives it the classic downtown appearance.

Downtown Red Hook NY

Looking down East Market Street

I parked on East Market Street and started to walk towards the intersection. I discovered that one of my favorite stores that I just featured a few months ago, Pause at 10 East Market Street had closed. It now has an online store that is available in both Red Hook and Rhinebeck. I talked with another store owner who told me the business slow down of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the brick and mortar store to close. It will hopefully reopen when things get back to normal in the future.

Pause

Pause was a great store of handmade food products and whimsical toys for pets.

Pause II

Pause was at 30 East Market Street and is now online

https://www.pausedogboutique.com/

https://www.facebook.com/PauseDogBoutique/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/598

Crossing the street at the intersection of Market and Broadway, I like to head north to my favorite restaurant in Red Hook, Village Pizza III at 7514 North Broadway. I can not tell you how good the food is here in a few sentences. For a small pizzeria, the food is excellent, the service is friendly and the prices are amazingly fair. For a family on a budget, the restaurant is the perfect place to dine. It was unfortunately closed on Sunday.

Village Pizza III

The food and service at Village Pizza III is excellent!

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/2019/09/22/village-pizza-iii-7514-north-broadway-red-hook-ny-12571/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d819096-Reviews-Village_Pizza_III-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/886

The many times I have eaten here over the holiday season and on my visits to the area for functions, I really love coming here for lunch and dinner. The red sauce here is just delicious and has a rich tomato flavor that makes every dish wonderful. The Chicken Parmesan dinner with spaghetti could feed two people easily. It is loaded with gooey mozzarella cheese. The calzones are overstuffed with ingredients  and the pizza has the most amazing combination of spices and cheeses. Each bite is like heaven.

Village Pizza III I

The pizza here is fantastic!

Village Pizza III

The prices here are extremely fair.

During the times I eat in Red Hook, one of my favorite places for dessert is Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop at 7501 North Broadway. They make the best cinnamon rolls and cookies.

Red Hook NY

Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop is a nice place to sit and relax (post COVID-19)

https://www.facebook.com/AnnabellesVillageBakeShop/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d14051169-Reviews-Annabelle_s_Village_Bake_Shop-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

The last visit I made to Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop, I had one of her Fruit Loop Doughnuts that was an over-sized cake doughnut topped with a thick vanilla icing and finished with lots of colorful fruit loops. Their over-sized Cinnamon Rolls on another visit were layered in sweet cinnamon in a buttery dough. The baker herself has waited on me and is extremely engaging and when it is okay to eat inside again, it is a relaxing experience to just sit and talk. For now, there is a tent outside for dining and enjoying your dessert.

Annabelle's Village Bake Shop

The excellent doughnuts and cinnamon rolls

Next door to Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop is one of the most creative, imaginary and interesting toy stores I have ever seen. Little Pickles Children’s General Store at 7505 North Broadway. This colorful little store caters to the Lilliputian crowd and has all the things you need for a small child or creative tween.

Little Pickles II

Little Pickles Children’s General Store at 7505 North Broadway is out of a fairy tale book.

Homepage

https://www.facebook.com/littlepicklesgeneralstore/

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48473-d7954016-Reviews-Little_Pickles-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/169

Little Pickles is one of those stores I wish was around when I was a kid. Even the big kid in me loves visiting the store when I am in Red Hook. One of the store is dedicated to clothing, shoes and accessories for the small child in need of everyday items. In the room is a castle to explore and wooden trains to play with while your siblings shop (these things are currently not available because of COVID-19).

The outside of the store has an whimsical candy and ice cream shop and lots of little ‘stocking stuffers’ for a quick gift. There are balloons, magnets, small games and puzzles that are perfect for the creative child’s birthday party.

Little Pickles III

This is where children come for that special gift

The back of the store has a assortment of games, puzzles, magic tricks, science experiments and board games. During these tough times with all of us having to stay in it has the perfect collection of items for family game night.

Little Pickles IV

The back of Little Pickles is perfect for family game night.

Walking down North Broadway and turning the corner to West Market Street another store stands out for its interesting gift items and fascinating artwork Equis Gallery at 15 West Market Street where all things are equestrian.

Equis Art Gallery

The Equis Gallery at 15 West Market Street where its all things horses.

Equis Art Gallery

https://www.facebook.com/equisartgallery/

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48473-d7180984-Reviews-Equis_Art_Gallery-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/372

The gallery is so unique with the theme  with all the artists carried in the store is all things horses. Paintings large and small line the walls and the tables are ladened with jewelry, statuary, small sculptures and gifts for the perfect host present. The store carries the work of many local and distant artists and is all unique to the store. It is always nice talking to the gallery owner, Juliet Harrison, who always greets you with a smile and makes you feel welcome.

Equis Art Gallery II

The work here is revolving so there are always new artists to see.

Equis Art Gallery III

Equis Gallery owner Juliet R. Harrison

Walking back down West Market Street and heading down South Broadway, I headed to Golden Wok Chinese Restaurant at 7479 South Broadway but the place had no dining area and it looked closed too so I headed back to Rhinebeck for lunch. This restaurant is still on my bucket list for the next visit.

Golden Wok in Red Hook NY

Golden Wok at 7479 South Broadway

http://us.chinesemenu.com/us/red-hook-ny-12571/golden-wok/

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

When I was here last Summer (Pre-COVID-19), there was a enjoyable concert in the parking lot next to Village Hall that was free for the evening with local musicians. That was a nice night and people really had a nice time listening to the music and talking with their neighbors. It must be a nice place to grow up.

The Memorial Day Parade in Red Hook NY from 2008

 

After my walk around Downtown Red Hook, it was back to Rhinebeck for lunch. There is another branch of Village Pizza in Downtown Rhinebeck as well but I now wanted something different as it was getting even hotter outside and I wanted something light.

So I headed to Pete’s Famous Restaurant at 34 East Market Street, a restaurant I have eaten at many times over the last twenty years of visiting Rhinebeck. The food is always consistent here and the service very friendly. Like the rest of downtown’s all over the nation, the sidewalks and streets of the Main Street have been changed to an outdoor cafes. Pete’s Famous has good amount of tables and umbrellas on the sidewalk under the trees and street which made for a nice experience.

Pete's Famous Restaurant

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

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/American-Restaurant/Petes-Famous-Restaurant-115462331809675/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

I had a sudden craving for a Turkey Club sandwich and the restaurant did not disappoint. The sandwich was layered with freshly roasted turkey, juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce and crisp bacon lathered with mayo on toasted white bread. It was a nice combination of flavors and tastes and the fries just came out of the fryer.

The Turkey Club Sandwich at Pete's Famous

The turkey club with fries here is excellent.

It was nice to sit outside on a sunny afternoon and watch people walk by. It made it almost seem like there wasn’t a global pandemic going on. I am not too sure how long all of this will last but for that afternoon everything felt okay.

I didn’t want to stay for dessert because I has passed an ice cream stand on the way back from Red Hook that I have wanted to try for years but it is closed during the times I usually come up to Rhinebeck, Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Route 9 North in Rhinebeck. Do not miss coming here during the warmer months! It’s worth the whole trip.

Del's Dairy Creme in Rhinebeck, NY

Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Route 9 North is amazing!!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Drive-In-Restaurant/Dels-Dairy-Creme-343317432733279/

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d830017-Reviews-Del_s_Dairy_Creme-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

This little ice cream shop right near the Dutchess County Fairgrounds looks like it had just been renovated and landscaped. The back part of the building has a nice sized lawn with chairs and tables (socially distanced perfectly) that is the perfect place to enjoy your ice cream or lunch items on their listing.

Del's Lunch Menu

Del’s lunch menu

The ice cream here is so thick and creamy and has the most unique flavors. On the recommendation of the young lady working there I tried the Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Swirl and the Honey Lavender ice creams. I do not say this much but after biting into the Honey Lavender ice cream I thought I saw God. The ice cream was amazing!

It was just the right combination of flavors of sweetness and tartness. The Blueberry ice cream is made from fresh fruit from the farm and you could taste the flavors sweetness and creaminess from the fresh milk and cream from the farm.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

The Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream here is excellent!

Del’s is Americana during the summer months. It is the place that people look like they have been coming to since the 1960’s and with a new owner and a modernized building brings it into the twenty-first century. It is the perfect place to stop with the family.

After the long and relaxing lunch, I headed back to the Mills Mansion for the “Lecture on the Portico” for a talk on the servants role at the mansion when the family was in house for the late Summer and Fall months. I have to admit with such a large lunch and dessert inside me and the weather being so warm (it was about 92 degrees at this point), I was getting sleepy and started to nod off  during the lecture.

Mills Mansion Tour

Mills Mansion “Servants Talk”

It was an interesting lecture on household items that the servants would have used to maintain the mansion during the summer months. They explained how the servants used the hand-cranked ice cream machine to make the summer treat and showed us their ice cream scoop for the perfect serving of the frozen treat.

Other items that were explained to us to run the household were a meat press for creating juices for broths, a bottle closer for opened beverages and a mop wringer for cleanups. It is interesting the amount of time it took to keep the mansion clean and the items needed to do the work at a time when electrical cleaning items did not exist. It took an army of servants to keep the mansion running.

It was so nice to relax and enjoy the breezes on the portico ( the front porch) while listening to the lecture. I think this is the reason why on top of digesting a big lunch why I kept falling asleep. The heat did not help either. Still it was a nice way to see the mansion in a different light by seeing it from the outside looking in. The grounds have so much to offer and the lecture topics are very interesting.

Mills Mansion Summer II

The portico of the mansion is a nice place for meetings.

It was just nice to be back up in the Hudson River Valley again. I had not been up here since February for the last Tea Lecture (see my review on the mansion above) and since the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an interesting way to still visit the mansion and tour the grounds and have a new sense of scenery.

It is such a pleasure to visit the Hudson River Valley.

The Hudson River Valley

 

 

Downtown Cold Spring at Christmas

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Seven Christmas Again in the blink of an eye November 23rd, 2019-January 10th, 2020

 

I have never seen a holiday come and go so fast that it zoomed by. We had one less weekend this year in the month of December before Christmas and it seemed to set everyone in a panic. I have seen holidays fly by but this one was for the records. It seemed that everyone crammed in as much as they could the first two weekends of December and did not come up for breath.

I was no different as work took up everything leading to Halloween and then boom, five weeks later there was Thanksgiving and Sinterklaas. As I wrote in earlier blogs, we went from 71 degrees on Halloween Parade to 25 degrees five weeks later for the Sinterklaas Parade. You just can’t predict the weather.

Halloween Parade Puppet Rehearsals 2019.jpg

The Puppet Rehearsals started my Holiday Season in early October

Visit the blog “Day One Hundred and Fifty Three: “Halloween Again”:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/2019/11/19/day-one-hundred-and-fifty-one-heres-halloween-again-october-31st-2019/

After my class’s presentation in Paterson, I left the next day for Florida to visit friends and family. There were some concerns with my friends and I wanted to be sure that they were okay and then I wanted to spend time with my brother and niece. After that I traveled to visit my mother for her birthday so it was a nice visit.

It was also a good working vacation too as I added on new stores to my LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com site and new museums on my VisitingaMuseum.com site:

See the new Museums I explored:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

Cummer Museum.jpg

The Cummer Museum in Jacksonville, Fl was recently added to my blog among  others were updated.

https://www.cummermuseum.org/

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3810

MOCA Jacksonville, FL

The MOCA-Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, FL was interesting

https://mocajacksonville.unf.edu/

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3836

 

See the new shops that I added:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

bark-iii.jpg

The innovative pet store, “Bark” in Jacksonville, Fl was added to my retail site as well as some sites were revisited.

https://www.thebarkboutique.com/

It was also a good vacation because after the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presentation in Paterson, NJ was behind me, it was a big sigh of relief. As I said in that blog (Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight), it was a lot of work and stress for all of us right before Thanksgiving but it was the best time to present it because the students could relax over the holidays and be proud of what they accomplished.

Here are some links to the project:

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc Film Team Project

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Paterson Project

My Business 101 class at City Hall for their presentation “Take me Back to Paterson,NJ”

Visit the site: “Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Presents:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/2020/01/12/day-one-hundred-and-fifty-five-bergecco-parc-consulting-inc-presents-take-me-back-to-paterson-new-jersey-introduction-to-business-101-bergen-community-college-november/

When I returned home from Florida on my business/vacation trip, it was full steam ahead with the holidays. I promised myself this year that I would cut back on a lot of the get togethers and events to attend and I stuck by it. Still there was a lot to see and do and things I wanted my readers to know on my blogs.

The holiday season this year though started without me.  I was not home for the Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association, the Annual Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights and our Department Party for the Fire Department and the Holiday Party for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association. I was away that first weekend visiting friends and family and work on this blog. I got into the spirit and the holiday rush when I returned.

The holiday season started for me the first Saturday of December with marching in the Annual Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck. I am now going on my seventh year participating in the parade and almost a decade of being up in Rhinebeck, NY.

Rhinebeck, NY like the rest of the Hudson River Valley is just magical at the holidays from Halloween to New Year’s. Downtown Rhinebeck is picturesque like a modern Currier & Ives print with the twinkling white lights, the Sinterklaas paintings attached to the trees and the beautifully decorated retail windows which showcase their goods and the parade stars.

Rhinebeck at Christmas II.jpg

Rhinebeck, NY is magical at Christmas

I was so busy working in the morning with my Introduction to Business class on the wrap up of their project and preparing them for their final exam that I did not get up to Rhinebeck until 2:30pm so I missed the whole puppet set-up.

It was really cold the day of the parade and must have been around 38 degrees even with the sun. I did not see as many people as the last two years and you could actually walk the streets. The police closed off the main street so you could finally walk around Downtown Rhinebeck with no problems.

All along the streets and alleyways were entertainers, bands, costumed characters and people on stilts talking to people and engaging the crowds. The one thing I have to say is that it was getting colder and colder as the day went on. I felt for the people in costume who had to deal with this weather.

I wrote more about my afternoon at the parade on Day One Hundred and Fifty Six: The Sinterklaas Parade:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/11227

You can see me in the corner of the Sinterklaas Parade near Mother Earth in the Cornell Hat in the 2018 parade and the 2019 parade

Home

That Saturday evening it went down to almost 24 degrees and it got cold! Even with four layers, I could see my breath right in front of me. That didn’t stop the crowds. They were five deep for the parade which like every year it magical. Between all the colors, lights, floats and stars hanging from poles along the parade route it adds to the excitement of Sinterklaas coming to town.

I was working in the star forest by the Mother Earth float so I was toward the back of the parade so I could see most everything from the hill overlooking Downtown Rhinebeck. It is something to see the parade from the parade itself up on the hill. The whole town is ablaze with energy as each band and dance team performs.

I loved the looks on the kids faces as all the puppets lean into the crowds. Then right behind us the crowd follows the parade into the parking lot to enjoy the show. This is when the crowd dispersed.

I have never seen a crowd clear up as we rounded the corner and dropped off our puppets. The other people I worked with went home and after the show and the fire performers finished the last of the crowd dispersed. I just wanted to walk around the town one more time before I left town.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018.jpg

The parade is magical when the puppets enter Downtown Rhinebeck

By the time finished my walk around town, it must have dropped to 22 degrees and everyone was off the streets. It got so quiet in Rhinebeck. The restaurants were still dealing with the crowds but not as busy as I remembered the last two years. When I had a slice of pizza at Village Pizza at 119 East Market Street (see review on TripAdvisor), the place was quiet which not normal that night. You could still get a seat. It was worth it though as their pizza is delicious.

I got home late that night and I will tell you that it got colder that night. The windows of the car really froze up. Normally I would spend the night but I had to visit a series of decorated mansions to visit, a few holiday events at museums and an Afternoon Tea at the Ballantine Mansion at the Newark Museum.

The next day was a whirlwind of activity as I ran from one activity to another. Because of having one less weekend before Christmas all the organizations were having their events the first Saturday and Sunday of December so I had to plan my visits like D-Day. I wanted to be able to update my VisitingaMuseum.com blog with visits to all the holiday events. It was too much in one day but I did it.

I started that Sunday at the Lodi, NJ VFW for the Knights of Columbus monthly breakfast. For $6.00, I had to load up on the carbs because I would not be eating until 4:00pm. The Knights of Columbus know how to make breakfast and I loaded up on scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and French Toast and potatoes before my long day of running around. The discussion amongst all of us was how we were all tired of Christmas and it had not even arrived yet. It just seemed that everyone else like me was running from one thing to another.

My first stop that morning was the the Boonton Historical Society at 210 Main Street in Boonton, NJ (see reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had visited earlier in October after a Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association meeting and they had mentioned this get together. It was a very nice event.

boonton-historical-society.jpg

The Boonton Historical Society at 210 Main Street

https://www.boonton.org/268/Boonton-Historical-Society

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3595

The Historical Society had a few local musicians and entertainers playing to the crowd and a nice assortment of small appetizers and cookies to nibble on while you walked around the displays. It is a nice place to get insights on the development of the iron industry in New Jersey plus the growth of business in the State. They also had a nice exhibition on the Trolley system in New Jersey.

The next stop was the Holiday Festival at the Hopper-Goetschius House at 245 Lake Street in Upper Saddle River, NJ. The Historical Society of Upper Saddle River ran this engaging little festival which was a lot of fun. The weather had broke and it was sunny and a pleasant 48 degrees out.

Hopper-Goetschius Museum Christmas.jpg

Santa in the Dutch Barn at the Hooper-Goetschius House

You could visit Santa in the Dutch barn, participate in historical games in the schoolhouse, watch a demonstration of blacksmith work, eat fresh popcorn and chestnuts that were cooked over an open fire the outdoor kitchen and tour the house itself which was decorated for a Victorian Christmas.

There were tours of the house, story telling in the dining room, classical music being played in the palour and fresh Christmas cookies and hot apple cider in the Colonial kitchen which dates back to the late 1700’s. they really did a nice job but then it was off to the next site, the Newark Museum for Afternoon Tea at the Ballantine House.

Ballantine House Christmas.jpg

The Ballantine House at the Newark Museum was decorated for Christmas as “Mrs. Ballantine’s Christmas Eve Open House”

https://www.newarkmuseumart.org/ballantine-house-newark-museum-art

If you ever drove from Boonton to Upper Saddle River to Newark in one afternoon, it is a lot of running around and a lot of driving through traffic during the holidays. Thank God all of these events were on a Sunday when the malls are closed (Bergen County, NJ has strict Blue Laws).

I got there just as they started serving tea and the room was packed with people. The event was held on the top floor of the old Ballatine Mansion which is part of the Newark Museum. It had once been the attic of the house which Mrs. Ballatine converted into an apartment for her married daughter and her family. It now serves as the Trustees Room.

Newark Museum

The Newark Museum at 49 Washington Street in Newark, NJ. The Ballantine House is to the right.

That was a very nice afternoon of nice conversation with other guests, wonderful food (the sandwiches and pastries were plentiful on the table) and an interesting talk on the history of the Ballantine Mansion and the family. After the tea was over, we were lead on a special out of the mansion which was decorated for the Christmas holidays circa 1890. It must have been a pleasant affair for the family as the day started with church services and then a Christmas luncheon.

After the talk, it was back to the house again and changing clothes and selling Christmas trees from six to ten that evening. We only sold five trees that night and I was so happy that after 8:00pm we had no customers and I could just sit by the fire and relax. I was all ‘Christmased’ out that day. It was just nice to sit and smell the pine trees. I was happy when the day was over. Fun yes but I was tired from all the driving. That was just the first weekend.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V.jpg

Selling Christmas trees is part of the our fundraising for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. I have been doing this for twenty years.

Here’s me promoting the event:

 

The second week was just as busy. I ran two holidays parties at work. One group not many people attended so it was just the four of us. Still it was nice. The other group I had twenty people in wheelchairs who we ‘wined and dined’. Each one of us baked something, we arranged to have gifts for all the residents of the facility I work with and then I made a big batch of stuffed shells and made a dessert tray as a gift so that the residents had something from me to take back to their rooms. I have never seen a group of people light up and be their old selves. Living in a nursing facility is hard but I think we did bring ‘Santa’ back in their lives that afternoon.

We had another wonderful lunch at work with a full turkey dinner and a lot of well wishes and then the rains came for two days and did not let up. So we had to change the day of our Men’s Association Christmas party to the next night and I ended up having a nice time.

HHMA Christmas Tree Set Up 2017

Setting up the Christmas trees

We all huddled around a fire and talked about the past year and the success of the Christmas tree sale. This will mean more scholarships in the future to our students and hopefully more future customers.  People believe in what we are trying to achieve. The pot luck brings in everyone’s creativity and we had a nice meal.

The second weekend came and went as fast as the first. I gave my final exam in the morning to my class and for the most part everyone did well. I think we were all relieved when the class was over. They left as soon as they were done. I went off  to sell Christmas trees in the afternoon and there was only thirty one trees when I left.

I went off to a historical Christmas event at the Bergen County Historical Society at 1202 Main Street in Riveredge, NJ. They had the whole complex decorated for a Colonial Christmas. It was enchanting with the candles in the windows and people in costume walking around the buildings. In the Campbell-Christi House they had set up a Colonial era pub so you could have dinner with a modern twist to pub food including Shepard’s Pie, Mac & Cheese, a dessert plate and fried doughnuts It was all served by people in costume.

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The Van Steuben House, part of the Bergen County Historical Society

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

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

Then you were walked down to the Van Steuben House near the river for entertainment. Performer Linda Russell and her group sang traditional songs that would have been sang during the holidays.

Unlike the Victorian Christmas’s of a hundred years in the future, Christmas after the Revolutionary War was quite simple. Houses were decorated with holly, mistletoe and garland and there were church services in the morning with a lunch afterwards. Things like presents and Santa would not come until after the Civil War.

 

One of Linda Russell’s most popular songs

Performer Linda Russell performed traditional Christmas songs that were sung of that era in the main room of the Van Steuben House where General George Washington had stayed during his time in the Bergen County during the Revolutionary War. She lead a lecture and in song how people enjoyed themselves on those cold nights. It was a nice insight on the early holidays.

The next morning was a long trip up to the Hudson River Valley to visit some of the decorated mansions of the area. My first stop was Germantown to visit Clermont, the homestead of the Livingston family at County Route 6 (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com below). The house was beautifully decorated with garland and trees and was being set up that evening for the house’s ‘Candlelight Tour’, where actors in costume performed as guests. I came up before the event on one of the middle tours and got a personal tour of the house.

Clermont

Clermont, the home of the Livingston Family

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3928

The house sits frozen in time when it was donated to the State of New York with period furnishings and family heirlooms decorating the rooms and walls of the home. It was decorated with rows of garland, holly and mistletoe like most homes of the era and lavish Christmas trees in certain rooms. The formal dining room table was set of the holiday dinner.

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The formal dining room at Clermont

The tour including the history of the Livingston family in the area and in the country and the influence that the house had during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Then there was a discussion of the people that lived here and their stories. It is an interesting tour.

My next stop before the afternoon was over was a tour of Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, the home of the Suckley family, who were relations of the Roosevelts and Livingston’s. I had visited the beautiful decorated mansion many times in the past and on a glorious sunny day, the view of the Hudson River from this spot is spectacular.

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The Wilderstein Mansion in Rhinebeck, NY

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

Only the first floor of the mansion is open for tours and was elegantly decorated for the holidays. Ms. Suckley lived into her 90’s and dwelled only on the first floor in the end so the house is pretty much intact from the Victorian era. She kept the house immaculate and restorations continued. You could tour the living room, dining room, front palour, entrance hall and library which were decorated in holly, garland and Christmas trees with gifts in two of the rooms. Like the other mansions it was decorated for formal dinner.

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The elegant dining room at Wilderstein

By the time I got home that evening, we had sold out of Christmas tree for the Men’s Association and we closed the stand down for the season.

As classes geared down to their last day and work was pretty much over for the semester at the college, I concentrated on MywalkinManhattan blog and visiting as many cultural and historical sites that I could to update my VisitingaMuseum site. There are a lot of places to visit and things to see during the holidays in the New York City area and I wanted to share this with readers all over the world.

I revisited some sites in New York the day of the Holy Apostles Holiday Party that I went to for the work in the soup kitchen that I try to do once a week. During the day, I went back to Central Park South to finish walking part of the neighborhood and then walked across Manhattan to visit the Mount Vernon Hotel & Museum at 421 East 61st Street.

mount vernon hotel museum

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum at 421 East 61st Street in Manhattan

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2191

The museum was once a day hotel during the early 1800’s which means that you just went there for the afternoon and early evening for activities and lunch which was considered dinner back then. The house was open for tours to see it decorated for the Colonial holidays.

The main rooms has holly and garland all over the banisters as they were preparing for the Christmas holidays and the main dining room was set for a holiday luncheon. Foods that the visitors might have eaten at the noon time meal including turkey, oysters, fresh fruits and vegetables and apple and pumpkin pies. They did a nice job interpreting the meal.

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Meal at noontime at the Mount Vernon Hotel

Later that afternoon I stopped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree that they set up every year. I have been it hundreds of times over the years but I never like to miss it.

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The Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I also visited the Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History for about ten minutes before the crowds at the museum forced me out. It was packed during the holiday break.

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The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/origami-holiday-tree

That evening we had the Holy Apostles Holiday party at the Church of the Holy Apostles and it was a very nice evening. We had a complete Italian dinner with salads and desserts and the music provided by the Avenue’s (a local private school) Jazz Band. These kids are wonderful and can really play. It was a nice evening and a good way to end a very busy year in the Soup Kitchen. It just keeps getting busier with the needs changing.

On Friday night before Christmas, I was finishing my walk of the Central Park South neighborhood businesses and the evening treated myself to a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall which was appropriate since I spent so much time in the neighborhood. It is such a beautiful building inside and out.

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I love Carnegie Hall at Christmas

I went to the show “A Frank and Ella Christmas” with performers Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins who performed the tunes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. I love to see Carnegie Hall when it is lit for the holidays and decorated on stage. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit. Essential Voices USA were the back up vocals that evening and it was a wonderful concert. They sang all the classic songs with Santa leading a sing-a-long at the end of the concert.

Here is Tony DeSare singing “I’ll be home for Christmas”  as he did in the concert

They sang all the traditional songs such as “It’s the most wonderful time of the Year” and “Jingle Bells” and this beautiful version of “I’ll be home for Christmas”. The sing a long ended the concert with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and ended with “Jingle Bells”. It really got the audience moving and everyone was humming as they left the theater. I walked across the street to see the building decorated with wreaths and garland and lit in full view. It is quite a site at the holidays. After that I headed home. The next morning was the last day of class.

I gave out my grades the next morning. Class had finally ended and it had been an interesting semester. I had a ball with my students. Who ever thought we would present a project at Paterson City Hall? I did not. Most of my students told me how they loved the experience. That made me feel good right before the holidays.

Sunday brought us “Santa Around Town” our annual romp around Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. It was such a beautiful and we really lucked out with the weather. It must have been 50 degrees when we started the event and a sunny afternoon.

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“Santa Around Town” with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department December 22nd, 2019

We stopped at ten stops around town greeting families and their pets to an evening with Santa Claus. People get such a kick out of it. We have families that come every year and some plan their holiday parties around the event. I always find it excellent outreach to the community and like to watch the children’s faces when they take a picture with Santa. I also enjoy when people have their dogs take a picture with Santa. I get a kick out of that. It was a busy evening and we did not get back to the firehouse until 8:00pm.

See my write up on the Brothers of Engine One HHFD:

https://wordpress.com/post/engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/498

I had a lunch with a good friend at Sanducci’s Italian Restaurant (my review on TripAdvisor) the day before I left for my mother’s for Christmas and this has become our Christmas tradition. It was nice to catch up with her not realizing that it had been over a year since we saw one another. It is strange how fast it all goes.

I spent Christmas Eve morning visiting the cemeteries starting with my aunt and cousin in one place, then one set of grandparents in another and then visiting my second set of grandparents, my uncle and then my father, which is always the toughest at the last cemetery. I am not sure what people feel about paying your respects at the holidays but I feel it is very important. I do believe it keeps them alive at the holidays.

The it was off to my mother’s for Christmas. It is the one time of the year all three of us get together with my mother. Since my father’s passing, my brothers and I have tried to spend the holidays together. Since we are coming from all over the country it can be hard but well worth it. We have such a good time at my mom’s.

 

Christmas 2019 III

My brothers and I on Christmas Day

We get together as a family on Christmas Eve night for dinner at a Chinese restaurant which is a lot of fun. The owners know my mother really well so we get treated very well and they always treat us to a special dish or appetizer which I think is good business. I go the restaurant pretty much every trip I make to my mom’s because she loves going there so much. When we got home, we just talked most of the night and caught up with what was going on in our lives.

Christmas Day was very nice. We got up late and had breakfast and then exchanged smaller gifts (most of my gifts were emailed off ahead of time) while the fire was going and we played Christmas songs. My brother’s dog got in on the action and she just played along with a toy my older brother bought her.

My mother, the amazing cook that she is made a delicious tenderloin, homemade lasagna, salad and garlic bread. It’s great to have a mother who can cook. We sat around the table with my family and friend’s of my mom reminiscing about Christmas’s past. It was a nice evening and a nice way to spend Christmas Day.

Before I left my mom’s to head home to attend the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium to root on Michigan State University, my mother, brother and I went to lunch at a local restaurant in Downtown Lewes called the Striper Bites (see review on TripAdvisor) that she had wanted to try and I had wanted to review. The food is wonderful yet I am the only one who can go to a seafood restaurant and crave a hamburger which was delicious.

We also visited the store, Fairy Godmother at 103 Second Street in Lewes that I featured on my blog, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. This adorable children’s store should not be missed. It has the most original merchandise for infants and toddlers.

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Fairy Godmother is at 103 Second Street in Lewes

I was looking forward to the Pinstripe Bowl since they announced it a few weeks earlier that my Alma Mater, Michigan State University, was going to play at Yankee Stadium. It was warm but rather gloomy day that the game was played.  I had gotten to the stadium early for the Alumni Tailgate up in one of the suites. It was really nice as the cheerleaders and band came up to spread the cheer and we also got to meet the new President of the MSU, President Samuel Stanley.

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The New Era Pinstripe Bowl is at Yankee Stadium every year. It was Michigan State University versus Wake Forest University

It was a nice afternoon with all sorts of stadium foods to choose from like hot dogs, hamburger sliders, mac & cheese, French fries and a barely touched salad. They served assorted cookies and brownies for dessert so I was not hungry for the rest of the day.

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Here comes MSU: Go GREEN/GO WHITE

Then all of us got to our seats and it was let the game begin. I have to say it was a nail-biter all the way to the end as it was not a high scoring game. We had some great plays one of the best one being one of our players, Mike Panasuik, knocked the ball from Wake Forest and ran in for a touchdown. It happened so fast the other team did not have time to react. That was the turning point of the game.

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Mike Panasuik getting the interception that changed the game

It was a very rough ending to the game as no one scored in the last quarter and we won the game 27-21. I could see by the other Alumni we were glad the game was finally over. It was a spirited ending though with the presentation of the trophy and our Quarterback Brian Lewerke getting MVP of the game and setting a school record. It was nice way to end his time at Michigan State and a nice win for the college.

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Winning the Pinstripe Bowl

Highlights from the Pinstripe Bowl 2019

 

 

The remainder of the week before the New Year it was like one long road trip visiting decorated mansions for my blog, ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’. I have never put so many miles on my car before and made so many trips up to the Hudson River Valley (I am beginning to think that I need a weekend home up there) I feel like it is my second home.

Because of the extensive list of homes I visited, you can see their history’s and write ups on my blog VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

These are the mansions I visited during the week between Christmas and New Year’s:

The only time that you can visit The Skylands Manor at 5 Morris Road in Ringwood, NJ is the first week in December when they decorate the house for Christmas. During the rest of the year, it is used for catering and an inn.

skylands manor

The Skylands Manor in Ringwood, NJ has a beautiful location

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2641

The Skylands Manor is decorated by various Garden Clubs and individual organizations. Because of a snow storm that hit the week before the mansion did not seem as decorated as it had in previous years. Still the entrance way and main hallway were very originally decorated.

Skylands Manor 2019

The garden clubs do such a good job decorating the house. Each use their members own ideas and the amazing part is that they have one week to get it all up and two days to take it down and get it out of the house before it is used again.

The next weekend I travel led to Ringwood Manor at 1304 Sloatsburg Road in Ringwood, NJ right around the corner from the Skylands Manor. This lavish display is done by the Friends of Ringwood Manor who also run the cafe and the barn where artwork and gifts are sold. The home of the Hewitt family is in the process of being restored and are raising funds for a new roof.

Ringwood Manor

The Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, NJ

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2621

Ringwood Manor Christmas 2019

The Sun Room decorated at Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, NJ

The lavish display at Ringwood Manor is not how the house would have looked but is a nice interpretation of many ideas that can be coordinated into anyone’s home. I don’t think people would have decorated every room like this but the Friends do such a great job and have such original ideas I never like to miss this house at the holidays.

When returning from Ringwood, NJ from visiting the mansions and in the summer the Botanical Gardens, make a pit stop at Auntie El’s Farm at 171 Route 17 South in Sloatsburg, NY to eat.  They have the best baked goods, pies and jellies.

During the holidays I like to go up just for their cider doughnuts, which are still warm when you buy them ($1.00) or their cake truffles ($3.00) which are rich and decadent. Their Caramel Apple Pie ($12.00) was a little rich for me but still delicious. I feature them prominently on my site LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com.

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Auntie El’s Farm Market is such a great experience at Christmas

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AUntie El's II

The baked goods and those delicious doughnuts make the trip up to Ringwood, NJ very special

The Hermitage at 335 North Franklin Turnpike in Ho Ho Kus, NJ is one of the most famous mansions in Bergen County being the home of Theodosa Prevost and her second husband, Aaron Burr. The house was the headquarters for General George Washington at Mrs. Prevost request who she herself was afraid of losing her home.

The Hermitage III

The Hermitage in Ho Ho Kus, NJ

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1566

The house was decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays a big difference from the year before when its them was a ‘Depression Christmas’. The house was nicely but sparsely decorated that year reflecting the times. Here it was all garland on the banisters and archways and set for a formal Christmas dinner.

Herimtage at Christmas

Here is some the era’s clothing for the event

I followed the map of Hudson River decorated homes for the holidays and went one by one until Christmas Eve. My first trip including Boscobel at 1601 Route 9D in Garrison, NY , a mansion in Cold Springs, NY.

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https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4015

The house was beautifully decorated for the holidays and has the most interesting gardens.

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The next home I visited was Mount Gulian in Beacon, NY at 145 Sterling Street. This historic home was used as headquarters for the Revolutionary War and the where the Society of Cincinnati was formed as a Veterans group. The original house burned to the ground in 1931 and this is a recreation.

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

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They were just taking the decorations down at Mount Gulian but this home was a major point of refuge during the Revolutionary War.

On my next trip up to the Hudson River Valley, I visited some of the NY State Park sites starting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home Springwood at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY. The house is going to start a major renovation which our tour guide said it needed and will close April of 2020. As we were touring, they were removing books in the library and the only part of the house that was decorated for the holidays was a Christmas tree in the library.

Springfield

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

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The library at Springwood was the only part of the house that was decorated at that point. It looked really elegant in the wood paneled room but the room is slowly being taken apart. The house will close in April 2020 and reopen about a year and a half later so see it now before the closing.

The Vanderbilt Mansion and Estate at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park the next estate over was also starting to close for the holidays. I got there on the first tour of the day so I got to see it before most of the rooms were taken apart.

Vanderbilt Estate

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2200

The home of Fredrick and Louise Vanderbilt was decorated to the hilt for the holidays considering when Louise was alive they closed the house up and moved to New York City for the Social Season.

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The entrance foyer of the mansion was beautifully decorated for the holidays and there was flowers and garland all over the house.

The Mills Mansion (Staatsburg State Historic Site)  at 75 Mills Mansion Drive in Staatsburg, NY was decorated to the hilt for the holidays. I usually attend the fundraising cocktail party here right before the holidays but the weather was so bad that night, I did not venture the trip so I came right after the holidays.

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

The Mills Mansion is always decorated to the hilt by the Friends of Mills Mansion and each room in the house has its own character. Like most of the homes in the area, Ruth and Ogden Mills did not stay here too many times for the holidays.

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The formal Dining Room at the Mills Mansion is elaborate.

The home of Samuel Morse ‘Locust Grove’ at 2683 South Road (Route 9) in Poughkeepsie, NY was down the road from some of the more popular mansions. The home of Artist Samuel Morse and creator of the Morse Code and Cable lines owned this beautiful home as his ‘summer cottage’.

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

The Locust Grove estate is at the start of the big commercial district of Route 9 South so please watch for the turn off as it is sharp and you may miss it.

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Locust Grove was another home that was not used during the holidays by the family but more as the summer family retreat until Samuel Morse died and then it was sold to another family who lived locally. Still the mansion is beautifully decorated.

The last of the mansion’s I visited before the New Year was the Van Cortlandt House & Museum at Broadway and 246th Street in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. This beautiful home was the seat of the Van Cortlandt estate before the family sale in the late 1880’s. The family had several homes at this point in the New York area.

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https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2568

The Van Cortlandt family had this home since before the Revolutionary War and the estate had been in the family for about five generations. The house was decorated for the post -Revolutionary War era Christmas with garlands, mistletoe, holly and berries all over the house. You can take the tour on your own.

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The palour at the Van Cortlandt House was decorated with garlands and berries and the outside of the home was covered with wreathes.

I walked down Broadway and visited the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum at 4881 Broadway at 204th Street to see how the house was decorated for a Dutch Christmas. It was plainly decorated with some garland here and there. Like the tour guide said to me that this was a working farm before the Revolutionary War and things would have been plainer here.

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The Dyckman Farmhouse in Inwood

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/771

Dyckman Farm House V

Even though a traditional Dutch Christmas was not a big part of the home, it was interesting to see the everyday life of the traditional Dutch farmer in that era

My last stop that afternoon was to take a tour of the Cloisters Museum which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring their Medieval Collection located in Fort Tyron Park overlooking the Hudson River. The museum was decorated for Christmas during the Renaissance and they were conducting a tour on “Holly and Hawthorne: Decorating during the holidays” on how people of that era embraced the coming of Winter by sprucing the house up with pines and flowers that bloomed in the Winter months. I thought it was an original theme and played into how the museum was decorated for the Christmas holidays.

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The Cloisters Museum looked so elegant at Christmas

Cloisters Christmas

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

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

My last stop before my trip downtown was at Bodega Pizza at 4455 Broadway to have a pizza at a restaurant I have wanted to try since the summer. I had passed it many times on my walk down Broadway but it was always closed.

Bodega Pizza

Bodega Pizza in Washington Heights

The pizza was excellent and so well cooked and the service could not have been nicer or more welcoming. The only problem was that they pulled a stunt with the bill and charged me an extra dollar for the pizza which I did not find out until I left the restaurant. The food and service are wonderful but double check the bill before you leave.

It was a different story when traveling to the mansions. Running all over the Hudson River Valley can make anyone hungry and I stopped at a few restaurants that I had either passed or had been on ‘my bucket list’ to try. On my first trip up to see the homes higher up the river, I stopped at Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant in Wappinger Falls, NY on Route 9 for dinner. The Cantonese food is excellent and the place was not that busy. The Roast Pork Lo Mein was excellent and so were the egg rolls.

Jade Palace

Jade Palace in Wappinger’s Falls, NY

Another restaurant I visited was the Pete’s Famous in Rhinebeck, NY at 34 Main Street in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY. This local diner is my ‘go-to’ place when I visit. I love their stick to your ribs type of cooking. On a cold night I treated myself to a Hot Turkey platter with mashed potatoes and broccoli. That hit the spot for dinner. Their Chicken Rice Soup really warmed me up as well.

Pete's Famous

Pete’s Famous in Downtown Rhinebeck

When visiting the mansions closer to Beacon, NY, take time to travel up Route 9D and drive through the small towns that parallel Route 9. It has much more character and you will miss Wappinger’s Falls, a small quaint town out of a Currier & Ives print that is rapidly gentrifying like the rest of the small Hudson River towns.

Downtown Wappinger's Falls

Downtown Wappinger’s Falls along Route 9D has a lot of character

Right near the river, I was recommended Wagon Wheel Pizza at 2654 East Main Street by one of the merchants. I am glad that i waited until 4:00pm when they opened. The pizza was wonderful and the owner could not have been more engaging.

Wagon Wheel Pizza

Wagon Wheel for pizza is delicious

This traditional family business harks back to the 1970’s pizzeria’s that I remember going to as a kid and the pizza is excellent. The sauce has such great flavor and there is nothing like a fresh pie when it comes out of the oven. The owner could not have been nicer and it is a nice spot to talk to the locals.

I was so exhausted from all the running back and forth to the Hudson River Valley and running in and out of the Manhattan that I needed to relax on New Year’s Eve. When I returned from my three mansion tour and lunch, I was warn out. I spent the coming on the new decade asleep and the only reason why I awoke at Midnight to greet in the next decade was because my neighbors were shooting off fireworks. Otherwise I would have slept right through it.

Happy 2020!

Rockefeller Christmas tree 2019

The Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2019

What was special was they left the Annual Tree at Rockefeller Center up until January 8th so it was nice to see it lit without all the tourists milling around it. It was the perfect to visit Rockefeller Center. What a beautiful tree this year!

The Pointer Sisters sang it best. There is nothing like Christmas in New York!

 

 

What a fun song!

 

Places to Eat:

(I did not include the prices as they keep changing and the hours which can change during the times of the year. I made all the connections to each’s website).

 

Village Pizza of Rhinebeck

119 Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-9676

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

VFW of Lodi, NJ

163 Union Street

Lodi, NJ  07644

Every Second Sunday of the Month the Knights of Columbus run their Breakfast Buffet for $6.00 All you can Eat

 

Sanducci’s Italian Restaurant

620 Kinderkamack Road

River Edge, NJ  07661

(201) 599-0600

https://www.sanduccis.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46776-d535253-Reviews-Sanducci_s_Trattoria-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Striper Bites

107 Savannah Road

Lewes, DE 19958

(302) 645-4657

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34028-d396039-Reviews-Striper_Bites-Lewes_Delaware.html?m=19905

 

Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant

1659 Route 9

Wappingers Falls, NY  12590

(845) 297-1188

http://www.jadepalacewappingersfalls.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48799-d4631119-Reviews-Jade_Palace_Chinese_Restaurant-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Pete’s Famous Restaurant

34 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-7271

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petes-Famous-Restaurant/113374415362954

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Bodega Pizza

4455 Broadway

New York, NY 10040

(646) 869-0815

http://www.bodegapizza.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17990667-Reviews-Bodega_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Wagon Wheel Pizza

2694 East Main Street

Wappinger’s Falls, NY  12590

(845) 297-5940

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wagon-Wheel-Pizza/167984063214534

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48799-d4712660-Reviews-Wagon_Wheel_Pizza-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY hosts the Sinterklaas Parade every year on the first Saturday of the Month of December. Please look to the website for more information on it:

Home

https://www.facebook.com/sinterklaasrhinebeck/

 

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association sells Christmas trees each year starting the day after Thanksgiving until we sell out which is usually the second week of December:

https://www.facebook.com/hasbrouckheightsmensassociation/

 

Auntie El’s Farm Market

171 Route 17 South

Sloatsburg, NY  10974

(845)753-2122

Homepage

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48625-d4557200-Reviews-Auntie_El_s_Farm_Market_and_Bakery-Sloatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/180

 

Because of the extensive amount of Historical Sites and Decorated Mansions that I visited during the Holidays Season, please check out my blog, ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ on WordPress.com for more information on the Decorated Mansions and Museums:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

 

Downtown Lewes, DE has some very original and creative stores and restaurants that includes:

Fairy Godmother

103 Second Street

Lewes, DE  19958

(302) 930-7827

https://www.facebook.com/fairygodmother103/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/357

 

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department runs our annual “Santa Around Town” every December on the last Sunday of the month before Christmas:

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

http://hasbrouck-heightsnj.org/new_fire_department_page.html

 

Don’t miss Downtown Wappingers Falls, NY and Downtown Cold Springs during the holidays. The Hudson River Valley has such nice little towns to visit.

 

Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl 2019: The Highlights

 

The Game:

 

 

 

The Sinterklaas Parade 2019

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Six: The Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck-Here comes Christmas! December 7th, 2019

Welcome back to Rhinebeck, NY for Sinterklaas!

This annual Dutch Christmas festival has become part of my Christmas tradition since I visited Rhinebeck for the event in 2010. Rhinebeck, New York is the true Currier & Ives town at Christmas time and one of the most quintessential Hudson Valley town that retains it charm being so close to the City. I love coming up here not just for the event but as you have noticed by my most current blogs, I have spent a lot of time here in the Summer and Fall letting readers know of all the wonderful events and happenings in the area.

I have to say I was not used to Christmas creeping up on me like this. It had only been five weeks since we had the Halloween Parade in the City and puppet rehearsals had only been five and a half weeks earlier when I visited Rokeby. That and it had been 71 degrees on Halloween night and Sinterklass night it was more like 25 degrees. I could really feel the drop in temperature that evening.

Having just returned from Florida over the Thanksgiving break, I had been in class giving a quiz to my students that morning and reviewing over their group project and various chapters in the book for the upcoming exam. So I did not head Upstate until almost noon. I got up to Rhinebeck at 2:00pm and that is when it set in that the snow storm that had hit New Jersey was very different from the one Upstate. The storm had been worse Upstate than it had been in New Jersey and there was still a foot of snow in Rhinebeck. I didn’t get to the main street until 2:30pm.

The side streets were closed off on one side because the snow was still piled high. So it was an eight block walk on snowy paths to the Main Street of Rhinebeck which had fully cleaned up for the parade. What was nice this year was the first three blocks of the downtown area were closed off so you could enjoy the bands and acts walking around.

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Rhinebeck when the sun goes down at Christmas

It was a cold afternoon and I noticed that the crowds were not as large as they usually were for the event. Still Rhinebeck at Sinterklaas is festive and engaging environment. There were crowds weaving in and out of the restaurants and stores and the windows were decked out for the holidays with interesting holiday displays and lit stars from the parade. All around town there bands playing, people on stilts singing and grumpuses (Sinterklaas’s helpers) dancing around and chanting. You could see that people were freezing but still having a really good time.

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The Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers dancing in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

I was able to get to see some of the musical performances at the churches before the start of the parade and warm up. Even the audiences did not seem as busy as they had in the past but still people were enjoying the performances and stopped shivering.

Don’t miss this performance of Uptown Lowdown in downtown Rhinebeck that afternoon. The ladies were wonderful!

Sitting in the church pews and listening to groups was enjoyable. There was only about two hours before meeting at the Starr Library for the parade so I chose my shows by groups I had not heard in the past.

I started at 3rd Evangelical Lutheran Church listening to the Bard College Georgian Choir, who sang traditional Georgian Christmas music, which was interesting. I did not understand the words but the music was enjoyable. The students did a nice job.

This is some of their work at another concert

After that, I took a short walk to the other side of the downtown and heard the Vassar Devils at the Reformed Church Sanctuary. They were lively, peppy bunch that sang traditional Christmas carols with a jazzy spin.

This is the Vassar Devils at the 2015 Sinterklaas event

After the concerts, it was a quick walk to the Starr Library to get ready for the Sinterklaas Parade. There is always a lot of excitement to the beginning of the parade and getting ready to march down the hill. For some reason, I don’t remember it getting so cold so early in the season.

The temperature  dropped as the sun went down. Everyone was excited as we lined up for the parade and got ready for the walk through the downtown. All I could think about is how fast the year had gone and how I had this conversation with myself when I walked the parade last year. Were the years getting quicker between the parades?

There is an exhilaration when the parade progresses down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck and the whole town is lit with white Christmas lights and illuminated stars that represent the parade. It may have seemed quiet in town that afternoon but the crowds were out for the parade. There must have been about a thousand people lining the street on both sides. It was a big crowd filming the parade.

There is always such excitement to this parade. Similar to the Barnacle Parade that I attended in October (Day One Hundred and Fifty One The Barnacle Parade see below), this is a home grown parade that just keeps getting bigger. When I first starting coming to the Sinterklaas Parade back in 2010, it was more local people. Now you have people coming from many states to join in the festivities. Even the cold kept people from the day’s activities, they came for the parade.

Marching toward the end of the parade with Mother Nature, this is the second year of carrying the ‘star forest; puppet (I am not pulling my back out for something heavier as in the past), we get to see the other puppets, floats and bands head down the hill. You can see the multiple lights from the other puppets and the raging sounds of the bands and the Chinese Dragons as they head down the hill to town.

You can see me in the corner holding the Star Forest puppet by Mother Nature with my Cornell Pom-Pom hat on marching to keep warm. It is an exciting night!

There is always a delay as you get to the Route 9 crossing near the Beekman Arms Hotel for the performance of the “Wild Women of Rhinebeck”, who perform their annual dance and for the ‘Dragon Dance’ that the Chinese dancers perform. It is really fun to see up close if you get the chance.

When we entered the downtown, all the kids were excited to see the Mother Nature float winding by. The parents were just as excited as they high-fived Mother Nature as they passed by groups of people. The drum line was going in full beat just behind us followed by a large group of parade goers marching in the parade with their lit stars. It was exhilarating and fun to watch from the marcher’s point in the parade. On such a cold night (by this point it was 25 degrees), I could not believe that many people were lining the parade route.

As we rounded the corner into the Rhinebeck Municipal lot to end the parade and drop the puppets off, we were greeted by a huge roar of people and the announcements from the stage for the final part of the parade. I just dropped my puppet off and enjoyed the stage show as the drum line passed by.

The stage performance was with all the main characters of the parade, Sinterklaas, Mother Holly, the Snow King and Queen, the Mermaid Queen, the Midnight Moon Princess and various members of the Sinterklaas Parade Committee who run the parade. it is a ceremony that honors the children, ‘The Kings and Queens of Sinterklaas’, for the evening.

There were musical performances, dancing, prayer and then the fire jugglers entertaining us. The audience had thinned out by this point and about a hundred and fifty people were standing in the parking lot watching the ceremony. It was getting even colder by the time the fire jugglers started. After the last announcement for the parade events next year, the crowd started to disperse. It did not take long to watch crowd leave as it got so cold.

I walked around downtown Rhinebeck for about twenty minutes letting the crowds thin out and the traffic leave but by that point the town really quieted down and most of the cars were gone as I did not see that much traffic.

It was fun to walk the town one more time and admire the beautiful Christmas windows of all the stores and the sparking white lights that lined the trees on both sides of the main street of Rhinebeck. It is really is picturesque.

I had full day of work the next day that including decorated houses to visit, historical society events to attend, an Afternoon Tea at the Newark Museum (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) and then an evening selling Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association (see blogs on Christmas on MywalkinManhattan.com) so staying overnight in Rhinebeck was not possible this year. It was going to be a long ride home.

It was worth it and a lot of fun!

Happy Sinterklass and Merry Christmas!

Check out the videos online on the Sinterklaas Parade on YouTube. It is an exciting night!

My Halloween Blog on the Halloween Parade in October:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10800

My blog on the Barnacle Parade in October:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10747

Aunt Dee and I at the Pumpkin Blaze

Day One Hundred and Fifty Three: Here’s Halloween Again October 31st, 2019

I can’t believe that Halloween is over again! It comes and goes so quickly and I can already see the traces of Christmas on its way. There are times that I can’t believe that July and August go by so fast and then there are the holidays.

Halloween, as you can see by the last few years of this blog, have become more than just handing out Halloween treats to kids at my house. In fact, even when I have been home I rarely see trick or treaters, the most being 14 kids about ten years ago. Kids today at least in my part of the neighborhood have little interest in doing this anymore.

Halloween started for me on the first weekend of October with the ‘Pumpkin Blaze’ at the Van Cortlandt Manor (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). Last year I saw the Blaze on the last weekend it was open on the first weekend of November and the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees and I said never again. I wanted to see it when it was warm out and I could take my time to really see the displays.

So I asked my Aunt Deloris to attend with me as a delayed birthday present to her and on October 7th we headed up to Croton-on-the-Hudson to see the Annual Pumpkin Blaze. It was unusually warm that night at 62 degrees but there was the threat of rain later that evening. Still for the entire time we were at the Van Cortlandt Manor, it was mild and pleasant. Since we attended on a Monday night long before Halloween, the crowds were not as large.

It was a spectacular display this year with many new displays to ohh and ahh at while walking the paths around the manor. To let you all know, the Pumpkin Blaze is a volunteer event and major fundraiser for the Hudson Valley Historical Society. Thousands of hand-carved pumpkins are illuminated all over the grounds of the estate and the light makes it quite intriguing.

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The pumpkin carving starts in late August and early September

As you enter the path into the estate, they are lined completely with lit pumpkins. That lead to the Circus train display and the Tappan Scream Bridge, both made from a combination of real and plastic pumpkins, The train had gotten longer and more detailed over the years with detailed ghostly animals arriving at their destination.

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The spooky Circus train

Another display that was amazing was the Museum of Modern Art display that had with copies of famous works in pumpkins. It was in honor of the renovation and extension of the museum.

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The Andy Warhol Soup Can

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The Headless Horseman Scream

As we exited the ghostly museum, you pass the musical carousel and the Albany Post Road that was lined pumpkins. There were pumpkin jack in the boxes, pumpkin dinosaurs and pumpkin mummies. The displays were bigger, more detailed and more elaborate then years past.

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Pumpkin Dinosaurs

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The pumpkin carousel

The paths leading to the Van Cortlandt Manor were lined with a pumpkin cemetery and then the dinosaur displays. This lead to the light show at the Van Cortlandt Manor that was lined with pumpkins and a light show that illuminated the house. The house was surrounded by pumpkins of all faces and expressions along the path around the house. This lead to another cemetery that had the Van Cortlandt family names as you exited the property.

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Van Cortland Manor at Croton-on-the-Hudson

As we exited the property it lead to a series of tents that carried all sorts of gifts and Halloween items, two different food concessions with hot dogs, cider, homemade doughnuts and popcorn. It was very active after everyone had walked the show.

Then my aunt and I came across this giant pumpkin that was craved out of wood that everyone was taking pictures at and we pose for our own Halloween portrait. That was a lot of fun dodging the other families to take the shot.

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My Aunt Deloris and I at the end of the Annual Pumpkin Blaze

Just as we were leaving the site and heading to the car, the heavens opened up and it started to rain. We just made it to the car as it started to pour. As we headed back to New Jersey and crossed over the Tappan Zee Bridge, the rain started to let up to a light dizzle. When we reached Paramus, it was just a light mist.

We stopped for dinner at the Suburban Diner at 172 Route 17 North in Paramus, NJ ( see review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. The snack ended up being a large Turkey Club Sandwich with a side of fries, cole slaw and a pickle. This thing was huge! My aunt ordered a BLT that was just as large and for two  people who just wanted a ‘snack’ we devoured everything. I guess it was all that walking.

I continued my Halloween activities to where it all took place, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, NY, where the months of September, October and early November are very busy. Historic Hudson Valley has lots of events this time of the year, one of them being the Pumpkin Blaze.

Another event I attended was the “Home of the ‘Legend'”, a tour of Washington Irving’s home, ‘Sunnyside’, which is located at 3 West Sunnyside Lane in Irvington, NY (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had visited the house years ago but they now had a Halloween tour of the house.

‘Sunnyside’ was the home of Washington Irving from 1835 until his death in the house in 1859. The house was originally a small two room stone house had been built around 1690 for a tenant farmer and  had once been part of the Philipse Manor estate grounds. When Washington Irving bought the house in 1835, eyeing the home when visiting his son Oscar who lived in the area.

Sunnyside.jpg

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside at 3 West Sunnyside Lane

With his friend, George Harvey, a painter, they created the home in the Romantic style with almost a fairy tale appearance. The ‘storybook’ home is covered in wisteria and has the most beautiful views of the widest area of the Hudson River. The author wrote some of his most famous stories from this house. He lived here with his brother, Ebenezer and his five daughters after his business failed so the house was a busy one.

Sunnyside III

Washington Irving’s study

The house was sold to John D. Rockefeller for the State by Washington Irving’s great grandson, Louis Irving in 1945 preservation. The house tour is really interesting as the old Victorian wing was torn down to preserve it to the time of Washington Irving so it has the original kitchen, ice house and barn. These ten acres were a working estate.

I got to see Washington Irving’s study and bedroom with the original furnishings which I thought was interesting. It does have a small kitchen for all those people and the bedrooms the rest of the family had were almost the size of today’s contemporary homes. So it must have been tight for the family.

When you exit the kitchen from the back to end the house tour, you head to the back lawn where the ice house is located, the gardens and the barn. There are ten acres to roam around with ponds and streams and again that amazing view of the Hudson River. This tour should not be missed when it opens back up in the Spring.

The last  event I went to in Tarrytown was ‘The Unsilent Picture, which took place at the Tarrytown auditorium. The program was a movie based on a story line mystery that takes place one evening and the local actors play out the characters to scare a family member. I was so tired from the cold and it was so boring that I think I fell asleep for five minutes and missed a section of it. I just didn’t get the interest in the whole thing. I would bypass this in the future.

Unsilent Movie.jpg

The Unsilent Movie

Here is the trailer for the movie:

One Halloween event you should look into is the Victorian Halloween Tea lecture at the Staatsburg Historical Site/Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, NY.  These lecture teas are very interesting and the food is wonderful.

Mills Mansion

The Staatsburg Historical Site/Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive

I have been a Friend of the Mills Mansion now for about four years finding that I was going to a lot of their events it just made it easier to join and get priority on their special events which are enjoyable. This event was a tea and lecture of how the Victorians recreated Halloween from a dark more countryside evening wrapped in mystery to an engaging urban event with costumes, specialty foods and traditional events like apple bobbing that guests then made their own. Local Historian Carol Kohan discussed how the event went from a dark rural event to fun and engaging holiday.

Mills Mansion Halloween

The Victorian’s made everything elaborate and overdone and the Halloween celebrations were ‘taken up a notch’ with elaborate costumes, parties, bonfires and desserts and candies that were to be served. There were special invitations and cards that were to sent and rules of etiquette.

Mills Mansion Halloween II.jpg

Following the Civil War and at a time when disease was not understood the way it is now, there was an interest in spiritualism and seances were in vague as people want to reach out to their loved ones. So having a medium at a party was part of the activity. The Victorians knew how to transform a holiday.

During the discussion, we enjoyed an afternoon tea of the specialty Staatsburg Tea blend, a variety of finger sandwiches, pumpkin and cranberry scones and many types of pastries including mini pumpkin cheesecakes, tiny devil’s food cupcakes and assorted sweet cookies. The caterer always does a nice job with the food and service here.

Afternoon Tea

The food at these function are excellent and plentiful

After the tea and lecture, we took a detailed tour of the Mill’s Mansion which I had taken many times but this was with another tour guide and he gave us another perspective to the house. He mentioned stories of the Mills family that I had not heard before and we also got to see how the renovations of the house were going. It looks like the dining room and entrance hall will be finished in time for the holiday party.

All of these activities lead to the big event in my Halloween every year, the NY Greenwich Village Halloween Parade which I have been marshaling now for five years. Participating in the event this year, I got an invitation to go to Rokeby, the estate of the Aldrich/Livingston family to see the puppet rehearsals. This year’s theme to the parade was “Wild Things” and the puppets and costumes were to reflect this.

Because I had the above Afternoon tea at the Mill’s Mansion the next day, I stayed at an Airbnb for the night and that was interesting. I had a feeling that the host really did not want to meet me as she scrambled out the door that night.  The room was in a small private home near downtown Kingston and the nice part was that I could enjoy all the restaurants, museums and historical sites (See VisitingaMuseum.com for the sites I visited) and go back to the room to sleep.

After I checked into the Airbnb, it was off to The Rokeby Estate which is a 400 acre property in Red Hook, NY. Most of the artists for the Halloween Parade and the Sinterklass Parade in December (see my blogs on this as well) live on the Rokeby Estate in the homes that surround the old mansion.

Rokeby

The Rokeby Estate in Red Hook, NY

By the time I got up there, it was just starting to get dark and trust me, the roads are not paved going up to the house and it gets dark up there. I parked by the barn where all the magic happens and they create and assemble all the puppets. This was interesting because I got to see all the designs and all the construction areas of the barn.

The rehearsal went by well and they even created music for the puppets to dance to when performing. Then the participants holding the puppets lead everyone to the Rokeby Mansion and we all assembled on the porch which was lit with Christmas lights and watched the performance from there.

Halloween Parade Puppet Rehearsals 2019

The Wild Things at the Puppet Rehearsals at Rokeby

Halloween Parade Puppet Rehearsals 2019 II

The Max’s of the Wild Things

Watching from the porch of Rokeby was a lot of fun and what a place to view everything. Before it got dark, I got to talk to Tracey and Wilt Aldrich and introduce myself (we are like 12th cousins by marriage) and we got to chat before the performance. I got to see the sun set over the Hudson River from there and it was spectacular. The colors over the mountains was amazing and you can understand why people moved up here.

After rehearsals, it was off to Rhinebeck for dinner at Pete’s Famous, a diner concept downtown that I highly recommend. I had a much needed Hot Turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes ($10.95) and a Coke (see review on TripAdvisor). The main meal was loaded with that thick turkey gravy that diners are known for when serving this dish. The meal started with a Chicken and Rice soup that really warmed me up. It was nice to warm up in the restaurant and chat with the waitstaff.

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Pete’s Famous at 34 East Main Street in Rhinebeck, NY has wonderful food

After dinner, I just walked around downtown Rhinebeck, NY knowing that Sinterklass was only four and a half weeks later. I could see that the Christmas lights were being put on the trees already. Then it was off to bed and back to the Mills Mansion for the tea. The parade would be four days later.

Halloween Night was really unusual again this year. The weather was threatening rain all day and it was weirdly warm being 71 degrees and humid that night. Somehow we never saw the rain that night and as it got dark didn’t even notice the clouds.

I got the parade early this year arriving at 3:00pm to meet with the Head Marshal at the gate (and my distant cousin by marriage), Marc Schuyler. I had lucked out and had been invited to the Marshaling meeting the week before which made me better prepared for the parade. By the time I got there, most of the marshals had arrived and I got to work with the locations of people and where everyone was supposed to go.

Halloween Parade 2017

My ‘cousin’ Marc Schuyler and myself at the parade entrance

With the exception with one pain who lived near by and snuck into the parade route, we did not have one problem this year and getting people into the parade was easy. We had no hassles this year and because it was not raining as expected, the parade route got really busy. People came out for the parade in droves and the costumes were more creative than in previous years.

We got all the bands in, all the ‘Thriller” dancers checked in and all the float people into the park on time and kept the tourists out. By the time we closed the gate at 8:00pm, there was no one left and the parade was in progress. By the time I got to Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, most of the parade was uptown.

I got to see about four floats go up Sixth Avenue and one band before the rest of the parade was people in costume. There was everything from Superheros to cheerleaders in that parade. People dressed as horses, birds and trees. Lots of Jason’s and Freddie Kruger’s and spirits of death. People were dressed like little kids and cartoon characters the list goes on.

There was a small get together after the parade but that was not until 10:00pm so it gave me about an hour to walk around the Village and watch people in action. I swear I walked all over the Village and Soho and every street and restaurant was mobbed! Because it was so warm outside all the outdoor cafes were open. All the outside tables were taken and it seemed that every restaurant was packed with people with more waiting. Even the McDonald’s and littlest pizzerias were busy. With no rain and warm weather, people were in the mood to be outside one last time.

A group of us had light dinner that night at Da Umberto on 107 West 17th Street in the Village and the food and service were wonderful.  They had a nice buffet set up for us and we had a choice of a Risotto Bolognese, Penne with a Pesto Cream sauce, Rigatoni with Vodka sauce, or Eggplant Parmesan as the main dish, a wonderful salad with house dressing and a Tiramisu for dessert. The food and the service was excellent and we had a nice evening just sitting around and talking about the parade.

Da Umberto.jpg

Da Umberto is an excellent restaurant! Make sure to try the pastas

When I left the party around 11:30pm, it was still going strong as was the street party after the parade. People were still eating outside, house parties could be seen from the windows and people were still parading around in their costumes.

When I got home just past Midnight, I felt the first drops of the storm and when I got inside around 12:15am, the heaven’s opened up and did it rain! It pounded the roof. God had really spared us all of that. It was the last night that I slept with the air conditioner  on and the heat off because when I woke up it must have dropped 25 degrees and the heat went right back on.

Another Halloween over and here come the Winter and Christmas!

 

A glimpse of the parade on YouTube:

 

 

Places to Eat:

Suburban Diner

172 Route 17 North

Paramus, NJ  07450

(201) 261-2605

https://www.suburbandiner17.com/

https://www.suburbandiner17.com/menu

Open: Sunday-Wednesday 6:00am-2:00am/Thursday 6:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46712-d4474628-Reviews-Suburban_Diner-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Dominick’s

34 North Front Street

Uptown Kingston, NY  12401

(845) 338-4552

Open: Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday 7:30am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48003-d1187760-Reviews-Dominick_s_Cafe-Kingston_New_York.html?m=19905side

 

Pete’s Famous

34 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 876-7271

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petes-Famous-Restaurant/113374415362954

Open: Sunday & Saturday 6:00am-3:00pm/Monday-Friday 6:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Da Umberto

107 West 17th Street

New York, NY 10011

(212) 989-0303

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Thursday 12:00pm-3:00pm/5:30pm-11:00pm/Friday 12:00pm-3:00pm/11:30pm/Saturday 5:30pm-11:30pm

https://daumbertonyc.com/

Menus

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d423279-Reviews-Da_Umberto-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to visit:

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 Riverside Drive

Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 336-6900

Van Cortlandt Manor

Van Cortlandt Manor School Programs

Open: The house is closed for the season. The house is open in July and August for select tours. Please check their website.

Fee: See website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47560-d116391-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3677

 

 

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

3 West Sunnyside Lane

Irvington, NY  10533

(914)-336-6900

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

Open: Sunnyside will be closed until May 2020 and then reopens for Spring Hours.

Fee: Visit the above website

My review on TripAdvisor;

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47953-d104379-Reviews-Washington_Irving_s_Sunnyside_House-Irvington_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3673

 

 

Staatsburg State Historic Site/Mills Mansion

75 Mills Mansion Drive, US Route 1

Staatsburg, NY  12580

(845) 889-8851

Fee: Adults $8.00/Groups and Seniors $6.00/Children under 12 free

Open: Monday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

The Halloween Parade

Every October 31st-Halloween Night in Greenwich Village NYC

Start time 7:00pm

Halloween Parade 2019

The Halloween Parade get better every year!

Dutchess County Fairgrounds

Day One Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Dutchess County Fair Friday August 24th, 2018 (revisited on August 12th, 2019)

I updated my trip to the Dutchess County Fair when visiting in 2019. It is one of the great fairs of New York State and you all should not miss it next summer!

Dutchess County Fair II

 

mywalkinmanhattan

I took some time off from walking in the City to walking around Upstate. I read that the Dutchess County Fair was the last week of August and I had not visited it since my first summer when I was attending the Culinary Institute of America in 1996.  I wanted to see if it changed much in twenty years and it hasn’t.

From parking in the lot at the Dutchess County to the buildings that housed the animals and displays it looked to me that nothing changed in over twenty years with the exception of people taking pictures with their phones. Even then, I did not see that many phones out. The Fair was in its 173rd year and people were just having a good time with their families. It was a similar day when I went for the 174th year. The place was crowded with local families catching up…

View original post 2,151 more words

Samuel's Sweet Shop

Samuel’s Sweet Shop 42 East Market Street Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Don’t miss Samuel’s Sweet Shop in downtown Rhinebeck, NY. This store has been mentioned on my Christmas blogs for Sinterklass. The store is owned by actor Paul Rudd.

Samuel's Sweet Shop II

Don’t miss all the wonderful treats at Samuel’s Sweet Shop

Little Shop on Main Street

Samuel’s Sweet Shop

42 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-5312

http://www.samuelssweetshop.com/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 7:30am-8:00pm/Saturday-Sunday 7:30am-10:00pm

My Review on TripAdvisor:

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

I have visited Samuel’s Sweet Shop many times over the years from both living in Hyde Park, NY and visiting for Sinterklass events.

Samuel’s Sweet Shop is a unique and quirky little store of nostalgic candies, local vendor sweets, bulk candies, delicious baked products and coffees and hot chocolate. There are all sorts of gift items, bagged candies and sweet delights to choose from. The shelves are colorfully displayed with all sorts of candies, chocolate figurines, bags of gourmet mini cookies and boxed items at the holidays.

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All the colorful bagged candies at Samuel’s

I have to admit some of prices are a little high with some nostalgic candies like Razzles or certain larger chocolate bars running around $2.35 but for a one time treat it makes a…

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Carnegie Hall at Christmas time

Day One Hundred and Twenty Nine: Here comes Christmas: Part Two December 16th, 2018-January 10th, 2019

I swear it was full steam ahead for the rest of the holiday season. December for me just keeps getting busier. From the time we finished the Victorian Walking Tour to after the Epiphany my feet never touched the ground. Christmas tree sales kept me busy on the weekends, class finished up with my final exam night on the second week of December (I am very proud to say that I gave out 28 A’s, 2 B plus’s and 2 B’s) and then I really got busy with my volunteer work.

After the weekend with the Victorian Walking Tour and the Washington’s Crossing event, it was off to visit Lillian again. I had just seen her at Thanksgiving and here it was three weeks later, I was out on Long Island for another family event. The facility she lived in really does a lot of nice things for the families.

Lillian and I at Xmas 2018

Lillian and I with her Christmas present, Petula the Pup from FAO Schwarz

I had given Lillian a choice, would she like me to come out for the Family Dinner or the the Family Concert the next week? I unfortunately could not do both. Work was getting busy and I had two Christmas parties to plan. So we decided on the Family dinner. We really had a nice time.

We joined her roommate, Marie and her two daughters for dinner that night. The facility had a nice dinner for us with roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli that was surprising well cooked and seasoned for a nursing facility and they gave you plenty of it. We had a nice time chatting and getting to know one another when Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance and greeted all the residents and their families. The two staff members who played the roles did a marvelous job with it and made it extra festive.

After dinner and a tour around the building greeting other residents and their families I said my goodbyes to Lillian and her roommate and her family. I had a long trip ahead of me as well. I could tell that Lillian was a little sad by it but I said that I would see her at Valentine’s Day and we would see each other after the craziness of the holidays was over. That is when I surprised her with the small Petula the Pup that we both used to sell in both of our time in the Pre-School Department at FAO Schwarz. She was very surprised and touched by it. It must have triggered something because I saw her cry a little. It made her happy that someone remembered (Please see the blog on Day One Hundred & Thirty-Lillian passed away three weeks after our dinner together).

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The next morning myself and the volunteers who work with me at work had our Christmas party for the residents of the Maywood facility that I work with on my job with the County of Bergen for our Post-Stroke & Disabled Support Group. We had entertainment with Van Martin Productions and we decorated the tables with garland and candy and the room for the holidays. The whole affect was very festive.

The ladies who are part of the group that comes to our events had a wonderful time. Each one of us baked a special dessert for the event and at all the place settings were chocolate Santa’s and candy canes for each resident. We served desserts and coffee to everyone, handed out gifts to all and had a wonderful afternoon of good food and wonderful entertainment.

That evening, I hosted an Italian dinner at my home for the ladies who volunteer for me. Taking everyone to a restaurant gets expensive plus at the holidays everyone rushes you out so I found it more personal to have it at my house.

I cooked the entire meal and served it. We started the meal with homemade mini-meatballs that I made a few days before, sauted shrimp and cheeses for the appetizer and for dinner I made chicken cutlets, spaghetti with marinara sauce, garlic bread and a nice salad all with the accompanying wines. We had a wonderful time and did a lot of laughing that night.

As I was serving dessert which I made an assortment of cookies and cakes, the noise got louder. Other guests joined us later and there was a lot of catching up to do. It was a enjoyable way to spend our last day together before the holidays.

The next day I joined a friend that I had not seen for almost two years for lunch in Sanducci’s at 620 Kinderkamack Road in Paramus, NJ (see review on TripAdvisor). It was just nice to finally catch up as it had been a long time since we talked. We both agreed that our lives had us running in different directions. We spent our afternoon laughing at things from years ago and in our current lives. It is nice to spend time with friends at the holidays. I had not realized that Nancy and I had not seen one another in two years!

sanducci's

Sanducci’s at 620 Kinderkamack Road

After lunch, I had to prepare another dinner as we held our annual Men’s Association Christmas Party at the tree-stand to end our season of selling. That Friday night, we had four trees on the lot and by the time the party was over we sold them out. We sold 338 trees (one was stolen and one was donated) during the holiday season and that was a new record for us.

I made a batch of stuffed shells for dinner and a batch of chocolate brownies for dessert. I never know what to make as it is a pot luck and all the guys bring something different but two years earlier three of us brought baked ziti. So I know shy away from that. That and I wanted something quick because I was still tired from cooking the night before.

It a fun evening of great food and conversation mostly dwelling on the success of this year’s sale. God, can some of these guys cook! Our former President, Mike, makes a venison chili that is always the highlight of the dinner especially on a cold night. The stuffed shells were put under the warmers and were a big hit. I never have to sell brownies to anyone. I was sure they were gone by the end of the evening.

The weather started to drop that night and after an hour at the party it went down to 35 degrees. Even sitting by the barrel fire, I could not take it anymore. I said my goodbyes by 9:00pm. I was exhausted  from a week of cooking and had still more to do over the weekend. I had to plan two menus for that Sunday and had to have back to back meals. One of the guys later on told me that a group of them were there until 2:00am. Not a night I would have been out.

I had to sleep in that Saturday morning because I was worn out from the running around that week but there was food to prepare, a house to clean and a table to set. I needed a break from it all to put me back into the spirit of the holiday so before I started all the prep work, I went to Ringwood Manor for  their celebration and to see the decorated house.

Ringwood Manor every year is beautifully decorated by a group of volunteers. The house was open for tours of life in the Victorian Age. Each of the rooms was decorated to the hilt with garland and plants and all sorts of decorations.

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The Ringwood Manor Dining Room

Ringwood Manor has an interesting history. The area around Ringwood, NJ was the center for iron ore manufacturing and was a big player in munitions during the Revolutionary War because of both the amount of ore in the hills and the strategic location near New York City.

Ringwood Manor

Ringwood Manor

In 1807, the land was bought by Martin J. Ryerson who built the first home of the property which was a 10 room Federalist style home. In 1853, Peter Cooper bought the mines and the home and it became one of the biggest suppliers iron ore to the Civil War effort. Peter Cooper’s partners were his son, Edward and his future son-in-law, Abram S. Hewitt. The home became the summer estate for Mr. & Mrs. Hewitt and added on to the house in 1864, 1875, 1900 and 1910. The home then had 51 rooms and was designed in the Classic Victorian style with furnishings from all over the world. In 1938, the home, it contents and grounds of the estate was donated to the State of New Jersey (Ringwood Manor Park History).

The tour was self-guided and you could take as much time as you wanted seeing each room. There was a docent on hand to explain all the decorations and furnishings as well as the purpose of the room. One of the points that was made when I was visiting the decorated homes during the holiday season was that Victorians never decorated every room in the house like on the tours.

They decorated maybe the living room and dining room with a tree and garland. Only the wealthiest families would decorate more than that because they had servants to maintain it. Trees and garland were used after the Civil War because Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert was from Germany and brought the Pagan tradition of putting a tree inside the house with him to England (Victorian Christmas History).

After my visit to the manor, it was off to Auntie El’s Farm at 171 Route 17 South in Sloatsburg, NY (see my review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) for some baked goods and a tour of the farm. I roamed through the farm stand who just like us were wiped out of Christmas trees. I bought cake truffles ($5.00 each) and a Caramel Apple Cake ($10.95) for my Christmas dinner and munched on Apple Turnovers ($3.50) and Cider Doughnuts ($1.00) while I was there looking around the bakery. In the farm stand area, they have to most delicious jellies and jams to choose from and other gourmet products.

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Auntie El’s desserts!

When I got home, I spent the rest of the time cooking for our Engine One Brunch for Company members and families on Sunday morning and then for my Christmas dinner with my family on Sunday night. I never left the kitchen.

That Sunday was a busy day for me as I had to pull off two back to back meals. In the morning from 10:00am-1:00pm was the Engine One Brunch and after clean up and saying goodbye to everyone was the early Christmas dinner with my family from 4:30pm to 9:00pm. I had never done back to back meals before and don’t plan on doing it again. Way too much work!

I got to the firehouse at 8:30am that morning and had to deal with a major mess. The Department Christmas Party had been the night before and they did not clean it properly. So the first thing I had to do was clean all the tables, throw out the garbage and mop the floors. That took almost an hour.

Then I had to clean and set up the kitchen for Brunch. Once I got that done, I set the buffet table for the food and then put all the table clothes on the tables in the main room. Then I set up and started to cook and set the tables for breakfast. By the time I was done with all of that, the first guys started to arrived to help me.

Engine One Brunch 2018 III

Me setting up breakfast

I cooked an elaborate breakfast menu for the members of our company, our honorees and family members.

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Me in front of the Brunch Buffet Table

It really was great meal. I prepared two egg casseroles, one with bacon and the other with Italian sausage, a French Toast Souffle, homemade waffles (I drag that waffle iron all over), fresh fruit salad and then I baked a cinnamon crunch coffee cake, blueberry muffins, a chocolate chip pound cake and brought in assorted bagels from Panera and doughnuts from Mills Bakery in Wood Ridge. There was something for everyone.

We had a wonderful time. About 54 people showed up for breakfast and did people come hungry. We did not have much left. Our Lieutenant, Bernie Valente, gave the welcoming speech and greeted everyone for brunch and wished everyone a happy and safe holiday season. It was a nice morning of good food and conversation.

Engine One Brunch 2018 IV

The Engine One Members at the Brunch

After the Brunch was over, I said my goodbyes to everyone and had to clean and mop the room again. That took some time but the place was spotless when I left.

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I ran home and thank God, I had already cleaned the house, set the dining room table and prepared the house for guests. I was able to take a 45 minute break before my family showed up for a pre-Christmas dinner. I relaxed on the couch for about twenty minutes before my family showed up. I was so grateful they showed up late.

What a great time we had that night! My Aunt Dee and my cousins, Wayne and Bruce came to dinner and we had a wonderful time. Since I was joining my brothers at my Mom’s house for Christmas Eve and Day, I would not be seeing my aunts and cousins this year.

I cooked a four course meal that was my pride and joy. We started with an assortment of cheese and crackers, sauteed shrimp on toasts and mozzarella sticks with a bottle of bubbly to toast the holidays. We had a nice time just catching up with work and family events.

About an hour later, I served dinner. I kept it simple this year making chicken cutlets, a potato puff and string beans with butter. It was the perfect evening of good food and conversation. My cousins told me about work and what was going on in their lives and my aunt was telling me stories about her upcoming holiday events. We always have a nice time.

For dessert, I had the desserts from Aunt El’s. I served the caramel apple pie and the cake truffles. I have to admit that they were all a little sweet but still good. There was a layer of caramel and chocolate on the top of the apple pie. It was a nice way to end the evening.

After a week of cooking for five parties and dinners, I took a break from the kitchen and planned a couple of Christmas events. The first was I attended the Hasbrouck Heights High School Holiday concert. I had a nice time listening to the choir and jazz band. The school was packed with people filming the whole thing. I have never seen so many cells phones out.

The one event I had gone to last year was the holiday concert at Carnegie Hall and looked forward to seeing it again. The ‘Home Alone Concert’ with the New York Philharmonic had been sold out as was the ‘Holidays with Brass Concert’. So I scoured the internet to see if there were tickets left to the concert and I was in luck. It looked like someone had given up their two tickets and grabbed the second to last ticket for the concert and it was on the isle! What a concert!

First, I love going to Carnegie Hall during the holidays. It is so beautifully decorated for the holidays and everyone from the staff to the concert goers are in the festive spirit.  The concert was called “Under the Mistletoe” with the New York Pops with singer, Ashley Brown who had originated the role of “Mary Poppins” on Broadway.

Here is Ms. Brown preparing for the concert I saw on December 22nd.

 

What a wonderful concert! Ms. Brown was accompanied by Essential Voices USA which was a choir that sang during the concert. They opened with much excitement the songs “Deck the Halls” and “It’s the most wonderful time of the Year” and then introducing Ms. Brown singing “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland”. The rest of the concert was filled with traditional Christmas songs and a lot of holiday cheer.

In the middle of the second act, Santa came down the aisle near me and greeted the crowds. I swear I was having a somewhat rough holiday season missing my father and all and when I saw Santa, I really believed it was him. I was so happy to see him as was everyone else in the room. I could see how emotional people were and knew they felt the same way. It looked like everyone just wanted to believe that night and we are talking of a crowd of concert goers who were in their fifties, sixties and seventies. I guest you are never too old to believe in Santa. It has been a rough year for everyone.

The concert ended with a big sing-a-long with Santa, the Essential Voices USA and Ashley Brown leading the “Jingle Jangle Sing-Along” with the songs, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and ending with “Jingle Bells”. Even Santa joined us singing! I swear, that whole concert hall rocked with people singing all the classics and it brought the house down. People were on the feet applauding at the end of the concert. I had never seen so many smiling faces in one spot in a long time.

Carnegie Hall Christmas

The Sing a Long with Santa

The next morning, was still singing the concert in the back of my mind as I was preparing breakfast at the firehouse for the Department’s Annual “Santa Around Town”. A group of us got to the firehouse early to wash the truck, so I cooked the traditional Engine One breakfast before we started the wash and decorating. I made a pancake and sausage breakfast for the guys. We had a ball eating, laughing and talking about upcoming holiday plans.

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The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights before ‘Santa Around Town’

We then got to work washing the whole truck and preparing it for the long trip around Hasbrouck Heights greeting residents with holiday cheer and assisting Santa handing out candy canes to all the kids. It is a long evening but we really lucked out with the weather. It was warmer than usual around 45 degrees and people really came out to see Santa. We had large families of kids and dogs taking group shots with Santa. It is nice to see that people still do believe (See my Blog: The Brothers of Engine One participate in “Santa Around Town” December 23rd, 2018). We had a great time that night.

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The next morning it was off to visit my immediate family for Christmas. I know I have visited Woodstock, NY and Cape May, NJ in the past for the holidays (as you have seen in this blog) but it was time to join the family again on Christmas Day. I had not spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my mother and brothers since 1981 and the last time I had spent Christmas with my Mom was in 2010 so it was something I was looking forward to this year.

I spent my morning visiting cemeteries, paying my respect to my aunts, uncles, cousin. grand parents and finally my father, dropping off flowers and arrangements to all locations. I say a small prayer and send my wishes. I think this important at the holidays.

Then it was off for the four hour trip down to my mother’s in Delaware. It really was a wonderful Christmas with my family. We all had not been together for the holidays for such a long time. The last several years I would go down after the holidays and we would spend time together then. Since my father’s passing this is the first time the rest of us have been together as a family.

Christmas Eve was always a lot of fun in my family growing up. We would go over to my parents long time friend’s house from 1969-1981 until my parents divorce. Christmas Day was with my Aunt Elaine and my cousins from 1969-1990 right before my aunt passed away. Those were very special Christmas’s and I will always remember them. Since then it changed from year to year as was Christmas Day. All of us kids moved around the country and with school and jobs everything kept changing.

Somehow the stars aligned this year and we were all available. It really was a nice four days and it was fun connecting with everyone again. My younger brother came up with my niece and my older brother with his husband, so the extended family was all there.

We went to Confucius Chinese Restaurant at 57 Wilmington Road in Rehoboth Beach for Christmas Eve dinner (see review on TripAdvisor) and it was packed that night as if everyone in town had the same idea we did. We spent most of the evening either yelling over the table or saying hello to the dozens of people my mom knew in the community. The town was hopping for Christmas Eve and there were cars all over the place with people eating at restaurants up and down the downtown area.

When we got home after a wonderful dinner and tour of the downtown Christmas tree, we just relaxed in the living room and talked. It was nice to finally catch up with everyone in a peaceful environment. In the back of my mind, I still could not believe how Christmas creeped up on us this year or that it was actually Christmas Eve. I slept like a rock that night.

The next morning it was all hands on deck as I was helping my mother in the kitchen after breakfast. After a quick bowl of cereal and a shower, it was off to chopping, cutting and rolling in the kitchen. My mom said she would need my help in the kitchen helping with dinner which was a surprise as she never lets anyone in the kitchen when she is cooking.

I helped her make the breaded broccoli, the pigs in a blanket, making sure that she tied the crown roast the right way (it took some time) and stuff it and then arrange cookie trays for the dessert. Four of my mother’s friends joined us for dinner so there would be ten of us and did we eat that afternoon. My mother is an amazing cook and host and knows how to entertain at the holidays.

Christmas in Rehobeth Beach

Cooking in the kitchen with my family

We had a nice afternoon of reminiscing about family Christmases of the past, what my mother’s friends were up to and how all of our lives were going. It was a nice evening of good eating and wonderful conversation. My brothers and I even cleaned the whole kitchen for my mother so she could relax and enjoy her guests.

Christmas in Rehobeth Beach IIII

Christmas with my family

The next two days we spent at my mom’s house just catching up and relaxing and my brothers and I each hosted a meal for the other members of the family so that we could give my mom a break from cooking for a large group of house guests.

In the afternoons, pretty much everyone did their thing and then we would meet up for meals. My brother and my niece brought their little French Pug named “Boogie” up to my Mom’s so she would not be lonely. God, did we spoil that dog with attention and treats. She was the cutest most well behaved dog and what was funny was when I was lying on the floor watching a movie with my family, she plopped down next to me on the pillow and slept.

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Boogie sleeping next to me

Our first afternoon after Christmas, our family met at “A Touch of Italy” restaurant at my mother’s recommendation. The food was excellent. The most delicious thin crusted pizzas I have had in a long time. The pizzas, pastas and sandwiches are delicious here. For dinner the next night, we went to ‘Big Fish’, a local seafood restaurant my mother wanted to try.

It was now two days after Christmas and people looked like they were having family dinners before everyone had to go back to work. The place was mobbed! Our waiter, Scott, really handled the table well with our ten people. “Big Fish” (see my review on TripAdvisor), is a local seafood restaurant whose most popular dishes is everything fried. A friend of my mother’s said that she always has the fried shrimp when she is dining there. So that is what I had for dinner.

They were like heaven in every bite, sweet and briny and the breading was cooked perfectly. The potatoes and vegetables were also perfectly cooked. Between the entree and appetizers, there was no room for dessert to the shock of my family. Me miss dessert?

Our last morning was tough. My brothers were leaving for home and I was heading up to Cape May that evening to go to the theater to see “The Actors Carol” at the Cape May Theater and spend the night at the Chalfonte Hotel. It was baby steps back into the family Christmas and I still wanted some time alone for the holidays.

My mother made a big family breakfast and then we said our goodbyes over a fritata and sweet rolls. It was nice being able to spend some time with my brothers who live in other parts of the country and my niece who was off from school. We chatted on about the holiday and what we were doing for New Years and then it was off to travelling for all of us.

For the first time, I took the Lewes-Cape May Ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey (see review on TripAdvisor). It was about an hour and a half and had it been a warmer sunny day it would have been a beautiful trip. When I got there, I sat outside and watched dolphins swim by us. Of course, it had to be a cloudy day and then started to get cloudier and sprinkled so I spent the rest of the voyage inside watching a tourist film. I was able to watch the bay go by and it is quite a site. There is a beauty to the Delaware Bay.

I got into Cape May within the hour and settled at my hotel. I had just been at the Chalfonte in September for the Firemen’s Convention and the town was still hopping with tourists. It really has become a big destination for the holidays. It is funny though to see the main hotel closed for the season. It really does look haunted at night when only the spotlight is on it. The place was buzzing when I left nine weeks earlier.

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I settled into the Southern Annex (see review on TripAdvisor) and took a nap before the show. It had been a long but fun four days. It was nice to just relax and be by myself now. It was funny what a year can bring to you and how different you can become. I guess I was no longer that person that needed Cape May or Woodstock anymore. They were perfect for their time in my life but even I felt it was time to step out in the world again.

The show was funny that night. “The Actor’s Carol” was a take on the classic “Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. The star of the show within a show was a Prima Donna whose best acting days were behind him and made everyone miserable in this small town production. He was in turn visited by three ghosts from his past to show him how he got to where he was in life. It was not the most original show but very clever in premise.

After the production was over, I looked for a place to eat but a lot of the popular places were either closed for the holidays or closing for the evening. Just wanting a snack after the show and before going to bed, I stopped at Dellas 5 & 10 at 501-503 Washington Mall (see review on TripAdvisor) in downtown Cape May for dinner. This small drugstore has a soda fountain and restaurant in the back like Woolworth’s did years ago. The food is very good and the burger I had was well prepared. I had fun as the only customer talking with the waiters.

I walked all over downtown Cape May that night as I had the year before. It just seemed different this year as the experience was surreal. It was still Christmas to me but I just felt changed by the last four days. Still downtown was beautiful with all the lights on the trees, the creative window displays and the bells from the church sounding in the back. The gazebo in the main square still had the Christmas lit up and that put me back into the Christmas mood.

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The Gazebo in downtown Cape May

I got back to the hotel and slept like a log. All this driving and running around got to be too much on me. The hotel annex was really quiet even though it was full of guests. I did not hear or see anyone in my time at the hotel.

The next morning as I checked out, I was surprised to see Uncle Bill’s Pancake House at 261 Beach Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor and DiningonashoestringinNYC@Wordpress.com) open this year. It was locked shut last Christmas. I guess they figured the town was busy for the holidays and trust me, a smart choice as the restaurant was busy. They have the best breakfasts and their pancakes and scrambled eggs are cooked in butter so there is some extra caramelization to them. The service there is always so friendly and welcoming.

Uncle Bills Pancake House

Uncle Bill’s at 261 Beach Avenue

After breakfast, I walked the downtown again, walked all through the Congress Hall Hotel, where I stayed last year for Christmas (See Day One Hundred-This is Christmas) and then visited the Physick Mansion for another Christmas tour of the house (See TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.com). It is always a nice tour and the mansion is so nicely decorated for the holidays. The tour like everything else in Cape May was busy. It was sunny and around 48 degrees that morning.

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After the tour, I left Cape May, probably to see it later again in the Spring and then headed up the Jersey Shore line to visit Margate and the Lucy Elephant statue (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had not climbed the top of the elephant yet and since it was a nice day wanted to take the tour before the statue closed for the day. I drove up the shoreline to Margate, NJ and got there by 2:00pm.

Lucy the Elephant

The famous Lucy the Elephant in Margate, NJ

I got on the tour which was just about to leave and we climbed the whole statue and got to the top of the ‘howdah’, the transport on top of the elephant. That was the reason why I went the statue.  I had not been able to go to the top in 2015. It is the most beautiful view of the ocean and the best part is that it got warmer toward the afternoon. I was able to walk around the statue and by the beach and it must have gone up to 50 degrees.

I decided since it was early to double back to Ocean City, NJ and have some lunch before I drove home. What a spectacular afternoon walking in the Boardwalk. It was crowded because of the weather and surprisingly this late into the holiday week, a lot of the businesses were open.

I was able to go to Johnson’s Popcorn at 1360 Boardwalk (see review on TripAdvisor), which had a line ten deep, for caramel corn. They were making it in small batches and when I started eating it was still hot from the machine. There is nothing like warm caramelized corn on a cool day.

Johnson's Popcorn

Johnson’s Popcorn 1360 Boardwalk

After that, I went to Manco & Manco Pizza at 8, 9 & 12th on the Boardwalk (see reviews on TripAdvisor) for lunch. Their slices were the best. They make a good sauce and it was so busy that the pies are coming constantly so it was fresh. This is a real Jersey Shore pizzeria and the attitude of the guys working there showed it. You have to visit the Jersey shore Boardwalks to know what I am talking about. As the sun started to go down, it was time to leave. It was getting cooler. I got home later that evening in good time because there was no traffic.

New Year’s Eve was just sitting at home relaxing and calling friends. It looked like everyone was bunking in this year and the fact it went down to 10 degrees on New Year’s Eve night I could not believe all those crazy tourists were sitting in Times Square. I went to bed right after Midnight.

Later that week, I did make a trip up to Woodstock, NY to see their Christmas tree before they took it down but it was down already.  The town just seemed depressed when I arrived. I had not been up here since Christmas of 2016 so it had been over a two years since I celebrated a holiday up in the mountains. First, it had a cool damp feel to the town but since you are in the mountains it can be that way. Also, since the holidays were over, a lot of decorations were already down and usually you would keep these up until the Epiphany on January 6th.

The worst was several of the restaurants and clothing businesses that I had remembered from a few years back had gone out of business so there were empty storefronts. It just did not seem like the magical place that I had enjoyed three separate, wonderful holiday season’s. I really wanted to see the tree in the square but you can’t have it all. Still I had lunch at Shindig  located at 1 Tinker Street (see review on TripAdvisor) and they have the best burgers and mac & cheese around. It was nice to sit by the window on this cold but sunny day and watch the world go by. I just walked around the town on this quiet afternoon.

The Epiphany brought my only church visit to Corpus Christi Church and the service was nice. The church was still decorated for Christmas so it was the last thing to keep me in the spirit of the holiday. We had our Installation Dinner at the fire department a week later but that is another story Check it out on my blog, The Brothers of Engine One HHFD below.

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Overall, it was a nice Christmas. Different from the last five years since my father’s passing but it was time to move on and enjoy the new family traditions we are creating. I was ready for the change.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Places to Stay:

 

The Chalfonte Hotel Annex

301 Howard Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-8409

https://www.chalfonte.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Places to Visit:

 

Ringwood Manor

1304 Sloatsburg Road

Ringwood, NJ  07456

(973) 962-2240

http://www.ringwoodmanor.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46774-d9564482-Reviews-Ringwood_Manor-Ringwood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2621

 

Auntie El’s Farm Market and Bakery

171 Route 17 South

Sloatsburg, NY  10974

(845) 753- 2122

https://auntieelsfarmmarket.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48625-d4557200-Reviews-Auntie_El_s_Farm_Market_and_Bakery-Sloatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/180

 

Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34048-d268895-Reviews-Rehoboth_Beach_Boardwalk-Rehoboth_Beach_Delaware.html?m=19905

 

Ocean City Boardwalk:

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46696-d583375-Reviews-Ocean_City_Boardwalk-Ocean_City_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Lucy the Elephant

1900 Atlantic Avenue at Decater Avenue

Margate City, New Jersey 08402

(609) 823-6473

http://www.lucytheelephant.org/

Open: Hours are seasonal/only open on the weekends during the winter months 11:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46600-d518065-Reviews-Lucy_the_Elephant-Margate_City_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/333

 

Emlen Physick Estate

1048 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-5404

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 11:15am-4:00pm/Saturday 11:45am-4:00pm

Fee: Check with website/seasonal

https://www.capemaymac.org/emlen-physick-estate

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d614851-Reviews-Emlen_Physick_Estate-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Places to Eat:

 

Sanducci’s Trattoria

620 Kinderkamack Road

River Edge, NJ  07661

(201) 599-0600

https://www.sanduccis.com/

Open: Sunday 4:00pm-9:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:30am-10:00pm/Saturday 4:00pm-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46776-d535253-Reviews-Sanducci_s_Trattoria-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Confucius Chinese Cuisine

57 Wilmington Road

Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971

(302) 227-3848

http://www.confuciusrb.com/

Open: Check the website for hours because of the seasonality of the beach

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Big Fish Grill

20298 Coastal Highway

Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971

(302) 227-3474

https://bigfishgrill.com/rehoboth-beach-dining-menus/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-9:30pm/Monday-Thursday 11:30am-3:00pm & 5:00pm-9:00pm/Friday-Saturday 11:30am-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34048-d396017-Reviews-Big_Fish_Grill-Rehoboth_Beach_Delaware.html?m=19905

 

Touch of Italy

19724 Coastal Highway

Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

(302) 703-3090

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

http://www.touchofitaly.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34048-d4606866-Reviews-Touch_of_Italy-Rehoboth_Beach_Delaware.html?m=19905

 

Uncle Bills Pancake House

261 Beach Avenue

Cape May, New Jersey 08204

(609) 884-7199

http://www.unclebillspancakehouse.com/cape-may.html

Open: Monday- Friday 7:00am-2:00pm/Saturday-Sunday 6:30am-2:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d393950-Reviews-Uncle_Bill_s_Pancake_House-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/906

 

Dellas 5 & 10

501-503 Washington Mall

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-4568

https://www.capemay.com/shops/dellas-5-10/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 9:00am-5:00pm/Friday-Saturday 9:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d1067917-Reviews-Dellas_5_10-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Manco & Manco Pizza

8, 9 & 12th Boardwalk

Ocean City, New Jersey 08226

(609) 398-0720

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46696-d459222-Reviews-Manco_Manco_Pizza-Ocean_City_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Johnson’s Popcorn

8,9 & 12th Boardwalk

Ocean City, New Jersey 08226

(609) 398-5404

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

http://www.johnsonspopcorn.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46696-d4762196-Reviews-Johnson_s_Popcorn-Ocean_City_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Shindig

1 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 684-7901

http://www.woodstockshindig.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Christmas in Rehobeth Beach VI.jpg

My mother relaxing with the Boogie

 

 

The Sinterklaas Parade in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Day One Hundred and Twenty Seven: Here Comes Christmas! Part One- November 30th-December 14th, 2018

I do not know how Christmas creeps up every year. It starts when Forth of July weekend ends and then we blink our eyes and there is Christmas. The years just keep getting faster and faster. Even though the holiday season snuck up on me the month of December was full of interesting events.

I had to put my walk around Manhattan on hold for most of the holiday season. Between classes, work, the Fire Department and selling Christmas trees (as you have seen in other blogs), the month of December was a busy one. There were different events to attend, activities to participate in and places to visit.

Christmas to me is not just the holiday itself but the time of the year to give back and help raise money for those in need. I really believe in giving back to the community during the holidays so there was a whole series of fundraisers that I attended. As my friends always say of me, you never sit still for one minute.

The holiday season started right after returning from seeing Lillian out in Kings Park, NY. We had such a nice time together having dinner with the other families and enjoying the entertainment that I promised her that I would see her in two weeks for the family Christmas dinner at her facility.

The next day, I got up early to the firehouse to help wash the truck as the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department was participating in the Annual Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. Our Chamber of Commerce sponsors the parade and Christmas tree lighting every year on Thanksgiving weekend.

The Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always a lot of fun. It gives all of us a chance to give back to the community as the procession of floats, decorated cars and organizations participate in the parade ending at the circle near the edge of town for the tree lighting ceremony.

Christmas Parade in HH

Engine One in the Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade

Before the parade, all of us met up at the firehouse to wash and decorate the trucks and then stage by the Boulevard before the parade. I always enjoy watching the little kids in awe when the trucks pass by. It was cold the night of the parade so the crowds were thinner than previous years but still people looked like they were having a nice time. After the parade was over, everyone met at the circle for the tree lighting ceremony which got the usual ohhs and ahhs.

I had to be up early the next day as we had to unload 340 Christmas trees from the truck for the Annual Christmas tree sales for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. This is our organization’s largest fundraiser and it is our job to sell all those trees for our scholarship program. We must have set a new record for emptying the truck and by the end of the season for selling them (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Six).

It is something for me as next year I will be going on my twentieth year on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.  I have seen the growth of the organization and the all the high school seniors that we have given a head start with our scholarship program.  I can’t believe I have served on the Executive Board for four years now as Director (Sargent of Arms). It has been quite the journey.

HHMA Christmas Tree Set Up 2017

The members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association setting up the trees.

This starts the holiday season in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with the Boulevard decorated for the holidays, fantastic window displays by our town merchants and everyone excited that Santa was coming.  The holiday season means holiday parties, tours of decorated mansions, hand writing Christmas cards and keeping everything in check. I went to a record thirteen Christmas parties and get togethers this year. I am the member so many organizations and with four jobs everyone wants to get together. I was a busy person this year.

Right after Thanksgiving Weekend with the endless activity and getting to work selling those trees, I had to go back to work and put my schedule together for the month of December.

My first weekend of December was busy with back to back activities with Sinterklaas Weekend ahead of me and the day after the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party. This is always a busy weekend so I spend my weekend up in Rhinebeck at the Quality Inn (See review on TripAdvisor) while I run from one place to another. This was on top of the fact that my class would be presenting their final project for my Communications class the Monday I got back to work.

This was my sixth year participating in the parade. Rhinebeck, New York is a magical place at the holidays. The store windows are beautifully decorated with all sorts of merchandise that showcase the stores and the trees that line the downtown are layered with white lights that illuminate the downtown. Little wooden paintings line all the trees in the downtown area and garland accents a lot of buildings. It looks like a quaint little Christmas town straight out of a Currier & Ives print.

Rhinebeck at Christmas.jpg

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

I help with the set up at 10:00am at the Starr Library every year. This year the theme was the Butterfly. (At the cocktail party fundraiser before Thanksgiving, the Sinterklaas community was introduced to the Butterfly King & Queen and were given the traditional blessing before the start of the Sinterklaas season.) The committee created Butterfly puppets for the parade that we put together that morning. As I unpacked the truck with the other volunteers, I could not believe how fast the year went. I kept asking myself how did this go so fast.

The same group of volunteers I have worked with for four years and we all worked in tandem with each other, emptying out the truck, unloading all the puppets and then putting them all together and stacking them against the library for the night of the parade. I have done this for so many years, I know how to put most of them together in my sleep. We were done in about two hours and then I was able to enjoy the rest of the days activities.

I have been volunteering in the parade now since 2010 and I can definitely tell you that the number of people has tripled over the past four years alone. After the Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms Hotel (I get a kick out of Mother Holly’s ‘feeling Jolly’ speech every year), I got a copy of the day’s activities and then snuck up to Red Hook, NY right up Route 9 to visit a few stores and restaurants on my bucket list for my blogs (you will find Little Pickles Children’s Store on ‘LittleShoponMainStreet’ and Village Pizza II on ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ on my WordPress.com blog sites). Red Hook’s downtown was decorated for their Christmas event the next weekend. As one gallery owner explained “everyone is in Rhinebeck for Sinterklaas, so the town is quiet”.

Little Pickles II

Little Pickles in Red Hook, NY

I was able to visit businesses for my blogs that had not been open the weekend I visited President Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY (see the Van Buren Homestead on my VisitingaMuseum.com site) and revisit old ones. I wanted to get a better feel for their downtown. (Please don’t miss the pizza at Village Pizza III at 7514 North Broadway. Their slices are excellent).

By the time I got back to Rhinebeck at about 1:30pm, I could not find a parking spot. The town was mobbed with people and almost every block around the downtown was lined with cars. I had to park almost five blocks away.

The rest of the afternoon was full of concerts, performances by the dancing polar bear and the grumpuses and lively singing at the churches. All four churches in town had either singing groups or bands. Lining the Main Street of Rhinebeck were all sorts of local charities selling Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, hot dogs and other snacks. Most were almost empty when I got back as people were snacking as they walked the streets to get from one activity to another.

Sinterklaas Parade III.jpg

The Grumpus singing and dancing in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

I decided to relax and not run around for the afternoon as I have seen most of the shows and acts that were on the roster and pinpointed how I wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon.

I first visited the Butterfly nest that was located in the courtyard. The artists are very creative on the Sinterklaas staff. They built entire Butterfly cocoon that you could walk through. There was music going on in and around the cocoon and when I exited, the grumpuses were starting to do one of their dances in the courtyard. They had the whole crowd laughing and clapping along.

My stop on the event was the ‘Into the Light’ show at the Church of the Messiah. I have seen this show over the years of coming to Sinterklaas and I swear, the girl who plays the main character has not changed in the last five years. She is just getting older.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018 II.jpg

‘Into the Light’ Show

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the United Methodist Church listening to the Brass bands. I got to hear the Funkrust Brass Band and The Second Line Brass Band. It was nice to just sit back and relax and listen to the music. I had been running around the town the who afternoon.

After the bands, it was time to get ready for the parade. So back up to the Starr Library and my position in the parade as part of the “Star Forest” of puppets. We lucked out again that night as the weather was mild and it was in the high 40′ that night.

As the excitement of the parade started and we made our way down the hill, I noticed immediately that the crowds had really grown this year. They were five deep at the parade route on both sides and everyone had their cellphones out to record the parade. With all the white lights on the trees, all the decorated windows in full light and all the Sinterklaas stars that lined the route, it was a beautiful and festive night when coming into town.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018 III

Me in the Parade in the ‘Star Forrest; by the Mother Earth Float

People got so excited to see “Sinterklaas” (the Dutch word for ‘Santa Claus’) and the various characters in the parade as ‘Mother Holly’, ‘The Pocket Lady’, ‘The Dancing Polar Bear and his trainer”, ‘The Butterfly King and Queen’,  ‘The Grumpuses’ and ‘The Wild Women of Rhinebeck’ joined the brass bands, floats, puppets and singers, dancers, performers and animals who make the parade what is every year. It really is exciting to be part of this parade.

At the end of the parade route, we pass the stage with all the members of the Sinterklaas family to make our final goodbyes until next year and drop off the puppets. It was funny that the whole time I was walking in the parade I kept telling myself how fast the year had gone and I could not believe I was here again.

Watch me in the Sinterklaas Parade in the ‘Star Forrest’ on the right

I dropped off my puppet and went to watch the last of the parade before leaving for dinner. It was fun to watch the fire throwers perform at the end of the parade. It was a nice way to end the evening and after the performance was over, the crowds dispersed to go to dinner. Every restaurant in town was mobbed all evening.

I went to a barbecue restaurant that I had wanted to try for years, (See review on TripAdvisor). I had the buffet dinner ($20.00) that they had set up for the day and just ate. I had to admit as much as l liked the food, the waiter annoyed me when he charged me for the refills on the drinks (Noted in the review and in his tip).

As I walked back to my car, it started to mist and rain lightly. I did not realize how far I had packed away from town. I was four blocks away near the Duchess County Fairgrounds. That is how busy the town was that day. I just went back to the hotel and relaxed. I had an early trip the next morning.

The next morning after a big breakfast, it was off to the Boonton Firemen’s Home for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party for the residents that we throw every year. The facility was nicely decorated and we had some crowd that afternoon with all the residents present and their family members as well.

The band was a lot to be desired as they were off key most of the time and the lead singer could not sing a note. The place was really in the holiday spirit when member, Jerry Naylis and his family, who sing in their church choir and whose daughter in law sing opera, entertained the crowd. It really livened up the room and put us all in the holiday spirit. His little granddaughter stole the show when she sang ‘Jingle Bells’.

BCFHA XMAS 2018 III

The Naylis Family entertaining the residents at the Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

During the intermission we gave the residents their Christmas presents, monogrammed sweatshirts with their names on them, as a gift which I still see them wearing everytime we come to the home for events (See blog, BCFHA@Wordpress.com-Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association below).

https://wordpress.com/post/tbcfha.wordpress.com/156

The residents look forward to this party every year and were very touched by the gifts and the holiday thoughts. It was a fun time for all.

BCFHA XMAS 2018 II

The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association with the residents in December 2018

After the party was over, the members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association went to dinner at the Columbia Inn for our annual get together. We had a great time just catching up with one another and having a few laughs. The restaurants pizza is terrific too (See review on TripAdvisor).

With the weekend closing, it was back to work for me and another week of a round of holiday parties. First though, my students presented their project, “Bergecco-Park Consulting Inc. presents “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”, their final exam project (See Day One Hundred & in ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’). The students gave a very professional presentation to a crowd of professors and administrators and members of the Athletic, Theater, Art, College Foundation, Alumni Association and Department of Special Services were on hand to view the presentation. It was well received by everyone and I could not have been prouder as a professor (please view that blog for the full project presentation).

bergecco logo yellow brick road final draft

Our logo for “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”.

See the whole project presentation on my site, “MywalkinManhattan.com”

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8022

After I finally had the presentation behind me, it was a series of holiday parties one after another between the school, the fire department and various organizations that I am involved in (and that number is high). I joined the faculty at the college for our annual holiday get together, which was really nice. They had a full Thanksgiving dinner for us and a lot of holiday cheer. The Administration got up and wished us all a happy holiday season and good luck with the remainder of classes. It was nice to talk to the other professors who had come to the presentation. They gave me nice feedback at the party.

The next night it was off to the Engine One Christmas Party at Segovia’s in Moonachie. It was a nice evening with the guys, toasting the year and the successes that we had as a company (See The Brothers of Engine One HHFD-Blog on WordPress.com). It had been a busy year for us activity and project wise accomplishing both getting the bell fixed and chromed and getting the tee-shirts finally ordered and out to everyone. It was nice to catch up with everyone in a relaxed environment.

On Friday night was the annual Friends of Mills Mansion Holiday Cocktail party and fundraiser. Normally this is the night before Sinterklaas but it seemed that no one was in the holiday spirit on November 30th so they held it the week after.

Mills Mansion Holiday Party

Me at the Mills Mansion Holiday Party with members of the Friends Executive Board and dancers from the Isabel Duncan Dance company.

We had a really nice time. The event for the first time was sold out and the mansion was packed with well dressed people. The food was excellent and the servers did a nice job passing appetizers to all the guests. One of the local wineries was sampling one of their new sweet ice wines as well as a Chenin Blanc. It was a perfect dessert wine for the holidays.

The rooms were fully decorated for a Victorian Christmas and the Jazz band they had performing were excellent. They were engaging and people cleared the floor for impromptu dancing. It was nice to see people get up and dance again. It was nice to just sit back and catch up with other members I had met over the years and listen to the music. After that I took a quick tour of the rooms before heading back to the main room to hear the holiday greetings from the Executive Board.

Mills Mansion Dining Room

The formal dining room at the Mills Mansion for Christmas

It was important that they sold out the event because the money will go to renovating both ceiling in the dining room and redoing the curtains that line the dining room windows. The mansion is slowly returning to its past glory and these events make this possible. The only problem was I was really tired after the event and it was a long ride home.

The weekend was coming up and there were two big events planned and I wanted to get enough rest to enjoy them. The first was on Saturday afternoon where I joined the Cornell Club as we we took a tour of the Ladies Shopping Mile and Gramercy Park with an event, the “Victorian Tour: Origin of Christmas Traditions” (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight). We literally walked this entire section of the City around Union and Gramercy Parks and walked up lower Sixth Avenue to visit the old department store buildings to know their history as part of the shopping area after the Civil War.

Ladies Shopping Mile

Ladies Shopping Mile on lower 6th Avenue

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8117

On Sunday was the dress rehearsal for the “Washington Crossing Reenactment” at Washington Crossing Historic Park. The event takes place every Christmas morning to remember when General Washington crossed the Delaware River and surprised the British. It was an interesting event that everyone should see once in life. It is very important to know how he crossed the river, in what type of boat and the conditions they were under that morning during a snow storm.

Washington Crossing Reenactment II.jpg

The Military Parade by the Delaware River

We started the morning with a Artillery Demonstration and then this lead to a Fife and Drum Parade in the historic village on the Pennsylvania side of the park. Then the troops had a Musket Firing Demo & Soldier’s Drill by the Delaware River. At noontime, the troops had their formation and the Reading of the Order of Battle.

See the parade of soldier’s before the Crossing December 2018

By 12:45pm when the troops made their trip, the event was narrated by Major General Walter Lord, U.S. Army (Retired). The troops had their parade movement and then they loaded the Durham boats, which were rebuilt for the event from the original designs that General Washington and the troops actually used.

Washington Crossing Reenactment.jpg

The Washington Crossing Reenactment 2018

What I found interesting about the event was that they used the same boats as General Washington used and even in normal conditions, it was hard to maneuver these boats in the river. One of the boats even had problems had with the crossing and it took them extra time to cross and they had rescue boats off to the side in case the boats lost control, Imagine doing this during an ice storm riding in boats with chunks of ice coming at you in the water. What these men did to save our freedom is commendable.

The reenactments have been going on at this site since 1838 where it was discussed the importance of this historic event. The first attempt at a proper crossing was done in 1844 but the crowd was so rowdy and drunk that it marred the event. When they tried the event again in 1876, it was so cold and the exposure to the weather and too much alcohol consumption by the crowd marred the event again and it was noted not to attempt is again for another hundred years (History of Washington Crossing-Park).

As part of a pledge project in 1947, a group of Rider College students attempted the crossing again and it received national attention. In 1953, a half-scale Durham boat was built and a proper ‘authentic’ using the same boats as used that day of the crossing and it was successful. Over 700 people came to the event and since then it has become an annual tradition (Washington Crossing Park History).

It was a busy first half of the holiday season and just kept getting busier as the holiday got closer. Between work and outside activities, I just kept running.

Please read about the Victorian Walking Tour on Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight.

 

Places to stay:

 

Quality Inn Rhinebeck

4142 Albany Post Road

Hyde Park, NY  12538

(845) 229-0088

https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwjjlt6N7OvgAhWGhLMKHbcJBsgYABAAGgJxbg&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAASE-RooTIxmc5SMBldM5FH_lmQddE&sig=AOD64_2mmL-hiEz3ZSdcMhSE1Dot8L-jQw&q=&ved=2ahUKEwiQnteN7OvgAhWkct8KHa-EB7wQ0Qx6BAgNEAE&adurl=

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Places to Eat:

 

Columbia Inn

29 Main Road

Montville, NJ 07045

(973) 263-1300

https://www.thecolumbiainn.com/

Hours: Sunday 1:00pm-9:30pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-10:00pm/Saturday 2:30pm-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Smokey Rock BBQ

6367 Mill Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-5232

Hours: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

https://www.smokyrockbbq.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d6684399-Reviews-Smoky_Rock_BBQ-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Segovia’s Steakhouse

217 Main Street

Little Ferry, NJ  07643

(201) 814-1110

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46575-d3700411-Reviews-Segovia_Steakhouse-Little_Ferry_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

http://www.rhinebeckchamber.com/

 

Washington Crossing Historical Park

Washington Crossing PE Road

Titusville, NJ  08560

(609) 737-0623

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/washcros.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46869-d3440313-Reviews-Washington_Crossing_State_Historic_Park-Titusville_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Washington Crossing Historical Park

1112 River Road

Washington Crossing, PA  18977

(215) 493-4076

https://www.washingtoncrossingpark.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g53924-d2522457-Reviews-Washington_Crossing_Historic_Park-Washington_Crossing_Pennsylvania.html?m=19905

Have a great holiday season!!

Here’s the whole reenactment event on YouTube of the Washington Crossing Event 2018

 

 

Day One Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Dutchess County Fair Friday, August 24th, 2018 (revisited on August 12th, 2019)

I took some time off from walking in the City to walking around Upstate. I read that the Dutchess County Fair was the last week of August and I had not visited it since my first summer when I was attending the Culinary Institute of America in 1996.  I wanted to see if it changed much in twenty years and it hasn’t.

From parking in the lot at the Dutchess County to the buildings that housed the animals and displays it looked to me that nothing changed in over twenty years with the exception of people taking pictures with their phones. Even then, I did not see that many phones out. The Fair was in its 173rd year and people were just having a good time with their families. It was a similar day when I went for the 174th year. The place was crowded with local families catching up with one another.

From walking to the admission booths (it was $10.00 to get into the fairgrounds) to walking the paths not much had changed. When visiting the fairgrounds means almost a step back into time when things seemed so much slower. Being just outside Rhinebeck with its galleries and high-end restaurants it seemed a world away. The only difference was the use of cellphones and I did not see too many of them out either.

My day started late as I had so many errands to run and work in the morning that I got off to a late start. I got to the Dutchess County Fair Grounds at 3:00pm and spent the rest of my afternoon exploring the Fair. It is so interesting to see how much has changed in the world but how little it really changes. In 2019, I had the whole day to spend at the fair and it really is a lot of fun.

A cow is a cow at the end of the day. How to take care of it and milk it have changed over the time and the philosophy of animals and their care have advanced but the cow is still in the pen, fed hay and goes Moo! That goes the same with chickens, rabbits and goats. There is also the immense pride these children take in these animals that far extends taking a picture of them on an app and having them talk like a human.

Walking the Fair is interesting in that it is broken down into many different areas to explore but when you first walk in what is there but all the food carts and booths. I have never seen so much deep-fried food in my life and I have been through the Feast of San Genaro dozens of times. There were food trucks selling fried dough, funnel cakes, Twinkies, brownies and zeppoli’s. There carts selling deep fried hot dogs, stuffed pizza and giant tacos. It is hardly for the Vegan customer.

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The Midway of food vendors at the Dutchess County fair

In 2019, I got there in the early afternoon and was starved. I stopped at a food truck in the Midway named ‘Jaykens’ and ordered a hamburger special. The special was two freshly made beef patties that were caramelized and cooked to perfection, topped with smoked bacon, pulled pork and freshly made cheddar on a home baked bun with a side of homemade pickles and cheese and potato pierogi that had been sauted in butter and onions.

It was on the pricey side but was the best $12.00 I had ever spent.  The flavors were so complex and so delicious on that burger that I thought the guy who made it was more of an artist than a cook. It blew away any pizza or fried dough I would have eaten.

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After eating this burger at Jaykens Food Truck it is so perfect you will see God!

My first stop in the Fair was the Amusement section where all the kiddie rides, Ferris wheels, games of chance and thrill rides were located. In the early part of the day, the area was mildly busy but by the time I left and the lights came on the true ‘Wonderland’ came to life. The lights, the noise and all the screaming coming from the thrill rides brought the area to life. During the day though, it was little kids on the carousels, mini-rides and small track rides. To be a kid again at this Fair.

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Dutchess County Fair Midway

Leaving the Amusement area, I ventured next to the historical area of the Fair where the Cider Mill, Sugar Home, the One Room Schoolhouse and the Historic Train Station were located. These recreations of old Dutch farming villages showed a way of life from the turn of the last century and beyond. It is amazing to see how we have progressed in education since then but I think the times were different.

In 2019, I had a very interesting tour of the Dutchess County Fire Museum (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) that had been set up on a temporary basis at the fair awaiting a permanent home on the fairgrounds.

Dutchess County Firefighter Museum III

The Dutchess County Temporary Fire Museum at the fairgrounds

The retired firefighters that I talked to said that they have been trying to raise money for a museum but it has been tough. The fairgrounds have now offered them a space the only problem being that it would be open only when the fairgrounds are open. We will see how that works out.

When I walked all these buildings that were created before electricity, computers and even modern light, I think there were less distractions and you had no choice but to work. Those were the days of back-breaking work loads and things were done totally by hand. There was a care and quality to those items. Still it is interesting to see how these things were made.

The school room I have seen in many historic museums and have not much changed from their modern version except the furniture has gotten nicer and there is more light. The philosophy of learning the ‘ABC’s’ is still there and the black boards are still part of the routine. I still think it is the best way to learn.

The pathway lead me to the Animal Barns and this is where the Fair had not changed. The families stood guard at their at the different pens washing and taking care of the pets. I never saw such pampering to pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits and goats. They were so well-groomed and well taken care of and their pens were so clean and if they weren’t the kids were right there to take care of it. There were ribbons for all the hard work these children put into it. The care and the pride these children have on animal husbandry is encouraging.

I saw the cow grooming show when I was visiting the Cow Barn and I have never seen such clean cows before. They were washed, brushed and combed by their owners and it reminded me of similar judging at the Dog Shows that I see on TV. When they walked their cows along the path in the ring, there was such pride in the owners faces especially to the winners. I have to say that the ribbons were very impressive.

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Animal husbandry at its best

The Llama Barn was interesting in that I usually find Llama to be friendlier but these animals really kept to themselves and stood in the corners of their pens. They seemed to want to socialize with one another and avoid the humans.

The Goat Barn was the exact opposite. I could not have met a friendlier animal with good social graces. They looked like they were so happy to see me. They all came running up to me as I stood by their pens. They are really are an observant animal. They just stare you down when you are looking at them and then they walk away.

The surprising part of the Pig Barn was that it wasn’t a pig pen. It was one of the cleanest parts of the Fair. Each of the stalls were really clean with only the smell of the pigs which probably surprised people coming up from the City. The only thing was some of these over-sized pigs didn’t fit into the pens and there was not much moving room for them. They really do oink a lot.

My favorite part of the animal barns was the Commerford’s Petting Zoo that they had between the amusement areas and the barns. I never got into petting zoos even when I was a kid but got some feed from what looked like bubble gum machines and then the goats and sheep were putty in my hands. They were so friendly and let me pet their warm fur. I have never seen so many happy faces chasing after me. The sheep had such a nice feel to them with their soft furry backs and the goats which I thought might be aggressive could not have been friendlier.

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The petting zoo

When you pet them they seem so grateful that you are scratching their backs. I ended up spending more time here than I planned feeding the animals and petting them. They seemed so happy that they got extra attention.

The Horticultural Building reminded me of my many trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show, large self-contained displays of flowers, lawn decorations and furniture each with their own them. There was a lot of creativity to their displays with water sources, planted flowers and shrubs all over the place all colorfully designed. They also used some statuary to accent the plantings. It was a nice size building made even bigger with these creative gardens.

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These temporary gardens are beautiful

After visiting all the barns and historic recreations, it was off for a late lunch. In 2018, I headed back to the food trucks to decide between the cheese steaks, meatball sandwiches and fried desserts. I decided on a pulled pork sandwich with pickles and a Coke for lunch that was more than enough. The sweetness of the barbecue sauce with the roasted meat on a soft roll made a wonderful meal. The nice part was sitting under a tree on a picnic table to enjoy my lunch. On a nice day, there is nothing like it.

I avoided all the fried desserts and got a traditional pretzel with mustard from a vendor from Pennsylvania. The was an expensive pretzel at $8.00 but it was well worth it. The thing was huge, freshly rolled and made and was still hot. With a little mustard there is nothing like it. The softness and butteriness of the outside made every bite enjoyable.

After lunch, walked through the rest of the barns looking at rabbits, chickens and taking another peek at the Goat Barn. They are really are a beautiful animal. After leaving the barns area, I walked down to watch the Equestrians perform. There is such a grace to jumping and the ladies did a great job. Some of them are so poised on their horses.

As the afternoon wore on, my last stop was the Gift tents where they were selling handmade arts and crafts. You should see the work of these knitters, quilters and wood carvers. Some of the baby blankets and clothes were so beautifully made and colorful that I wished I had someone to give it to as a gift. The wood carvers were getting ready for the holidays with Santa’s and snowmen. It never ceases to amaze me that we are in a perpetual state of Christmas no matter what time of year it is. The surrealist look of many of these Santa’s  were done by the cut of wood that the artist had to work with when carving the piece. These men and women are very creative in their work and they will be back in October for the Craft’s Show.

Before I left for the evening, a saw a long line forming by the 4 H Exhibit Building and I found out they were selling giant homemade milkshakes with the milk and cream from the Dairy Barns. The sold these large Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry shakes for only $5.00! That was one line I did not mind being in. I ordered this Vanilla shake where you really could taste the fresh ice cream which was was loaded with several scoops. There is nothing like a fresh milkshake with real ice cream. It was the perfect way to cap off the evening. In 2019, I ordered the Strawberry milk shake and one is more than enough. All those scoops of fresh ice cream and sweet milk. It is heaven!

Dutchess County Milk Shake

This little guy was enjoying the same type of milkshake that I had

Walking the Fair at twilight you really see it come to life with all the lights, screaming kids by the rides and hungry patrons at the food trucks. It is so funny to see these small kids gobble down cheese steaks and fried dough. They had some appetites! When you work on a farm and take care of the animals as I saw the fairgoers did they must burn off all the calories.

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The fair is a wonderland of lights and amazement at night

It was a great day and I learned a few things about Animal Husbandry and landscaping. I just wondered why on the way home it took me twenty-two years to come back.

The Dutchess County Fair is the last week of August and is well worth the trip up to Rhinebeck. I thought that again in 2019 and will again in 2020!

 

Dutchess County Fair:

 

The Month of August

http://dutchessfair.com/dutchess-fair/

 

Janken’s Food Truck

Not much information but there are at the Fairgrounds during events

 

Firefighter’s Museum of Dutchess County:

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3196

 

 

Mother Nature Float "Big Mama" at the Sinterklaas Parade

Day One Hundred: This is Christmas-Cape May, NJ, Rehoboth Beach, DE and Rhinebeck NY: Part Two December 10th, 2017-January 1st, 2018

It is never easy when there is a death in the family and is harder when it happens during the Christmas holiday season. This blog is dedicated to my uncle, Donald Snyder (1929-2017), who passed away December 4th, 2017. I had just come back from my Sinterklaas weekend in Upstate New York when we got the news as I was getting out of class on Monday night. So the next week after Sinterklaas weekend was spent preparing for the funeral.

My brother had flown in for the service so it was nice to have some support and I could see that my aunt and cousins appreciated it. At least we could be there to support our family in their time of need.

My aunt had planned a small and tasteful service for my uncle and it was the first time I had met many of my cousins cousins from my uncle’s side of the family. They pretty much talked amongst themselves and were not at the funeral services the next morning.  It was going to be a snowy day the next morning and the commutes would have been tough for everyone.

My aunt kept everything simple and tasteful and it was a short service with a smaller internment service at the mausoleum. It was only the immediate family and friends of my cousins who came to the service and by the repast dinner, everyone was exhausted and it was a small crowd of close family (our side) and friends of my cousins. We had a toast to my uncle and then talked amongst ourselves.

After that weekend, the holidays started to speed up again. It is always tough after a big loss to a family but I found ways to support my aunt and my cousins during the holidays as we planned a Christmas dinner right before Christmas Day.

I took my younger brother to the fire department Christmas Party and that was a cultural awaking for him. He had never been in a firehouse before and really did not understand the culture. He was a little shocked to see adults fighting in front of small children and some of the horse play that the guys do on one another. Even though he had a good time and enjoyed the food, it was a different experience for him.

The holiday month continued on with Christmas tree sales every weekend (we sold out by December 18th this year with a record of 315 trees). We had the Christmas Party for the Men’s Association at the Christmas tree site, which is always interesting. We spend most of the time huddling around a barrel fire to keep warm.

This is when the guys culinary skills kick in and we see some interesting dishes. I always leave it easy. I made chicken cutlets, baked ziti and double fudge brownies ( I am not going to say how many baked zitis, lasagnas and batches of stuffed shells on top of gallons of marinara sauce and pounds of cookies and brownies that I made this holiday season but it was a lot). This party was the first in five meals that I cooked at the holidays trying to keep with the same theme so I did not have to do double time in the kitchen. Plus everyone seems to like Italian cooking so it makes it easy.

HHMA Christmas Tree Set Up 2017

Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Set Up

The party was a great success with about thirty members coming and going all night while we caught up with what each other were doing at the holidays and the parties that they were planning and cooking for their families. December is always a tough month to get anything done as everyone is running around. Leaving at 11:00pm as I usually do because of work, I had heard they were still going strong into the morning hours.

I took an about face and at the last minute decided to go to Carnegie Hall for a Christmas Concert starring Megan Hilty, a Disney star, who was terrific. I got last minute tickets in the nose-bleed section of the theater but still could see and hear everything. I was really surprised being on the top tear and to hear it all so perfectly.

Megan Hilty

Megan Hilty with the New York Pops

It was an excellent concert with many popular songs of the holidays being performed so well. She did a great job with the more contemporary classics such as “Sleigh Ride” and “Santa Claus is coming to town”. Everyone in the audience got so into the show and the last few songs became a sing along and the whole auditorium became alive with song. People really enjoyed themselves and were still laughing and singing as they were leaving the theater.

Megan Hilty’s Christmas Album

The last full week before Christmas weekend was non-stop cooking, cleaning and running around. We started the week with the Annual ‘Santa Around Town’ that the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department sponsors every year for the residents of Hasbrouck Heights. We take all the fire trucks and equipment to twelve locations around the town and have Santa meet with all the families. Every year this is a very big deal to a lot of residents and some plan their holiday parties around this event.

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Santa Around Town with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Our day started early in the morning when myself, my captain and lieutenant and a junior member met for breakfast and then washed and decorated the truck. This is where a lot of my cooking came into play. I made a sausage, egg and cheese souffle, homemade waffles and fresh cinnamon butter muffins. I had cooked enough for the company and it ended up only four of us showed up. So we had a great breakfast and then we scrubbed down the truck inside and out and put all the Christmas lights on it. The truck always looks festive in the dark.

For the trip around Hasbrouck Heights, I made homemade French Bread pizza with homemade marinara sauce and double fudge brownies, two items that are very popular with hungry firemen. Along the way, residents make all sorts of Christmas cookies and other holiday treats for us along the route so we don’t ‘starve’.

The tough part for us was that the generator blew before the last three stops and we had to bring it back up to the house and extinguish it. That was tough as the engine then had to go out of service for the holidays for repair. At least we got it back up to the firehouse in one piece.

The next night I gave my final exam in class and finished the semester on a high note. All of my students got “A”‘s and I could not have been happier with their final project , the tech start up “Buscomonzefi.com” (see ‘Day Ninety-Eight’) and was impressed with them as a class. It was fun going into work every week and I will miss this class.

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Buscomonzefi.com logo

What was nice was I took some of my team to Biagio’s Restaurant in Paramus, NJ (see review on TripAdvisor) near the college for a wrap up party. I was surprised when only four of my sixteen students showed up. One of my students mentioned that no one would show because of exams and I was almost tempted not to show up but I figured I was starved so at least I could get something to eat. It ended up that all of my Sales & Marketing team showed up and we had a really nice time.

I could not believe how this group of students bonded so much together. I really did see a lot of new friendships being formed that night and for that I was really proud of the project. Plus the food and conversation were excellent that evening. If ever a Professor could be more proud of their students.

I did not have much time to dwell on class as I had to cook a Holiday luncheon for my Stroke & Disabled Support Group that meets every Tuesday in Ridgewood, NJ (See my BergenCountyCaregiver.com site on WordPress.com). I don’t know I got suckered into this but it was a lot of work.

In years past, our group normally ordered in for the party and all I would do is dessert. For years, we ordered in Chinese food but last year most people got sick of it so we ordered in pizza. This year one of the women in the group asked about maybe getting a tray of stuffed shells and of salad. When I mentioned how much that might cost and how I could make it for so much less that’s when I was asked to cook.

Thank God I had made a double batch of marinara sauce because it came in handy. I made the most amazing lunch for everyone and used every skill from catering that I learned from Hyatt.

I got up early that morning and started to cook. I did all the last minute touches and fried out the cutlets and cut up the salad. The last thing I did was prepare the garlic bread before I packed the car up. I never had so much food all over the car as I had to bring it from home to City Hall in Ridgewood.

The party was a huge success! I made Chicken Cutlet Parmesan with a side of plain cutlets for those who didn’t want all the cheese, a lasagna, two small trays of stuffed shells, a arugula salad, garlic bread, assorted cookies, brownies and cupcakes. Some of the members brought fruit and other desserts so we had a lot of food left.

The whole building came up to the conference room to the party so it was very festive. People from different departments who help us during the year joined us so there were people in and out the whole afternoon. I really think that’s what the holidays are about.  Everyone had great time and there was not much left over. All I know is that I was exhausted on the drive home. I had to take a nap when I got home.

There was not much time to rest as I drove out to visit Lillian again on Long Island at her Assisted Living Facility for her annual resident concert (see various blogs on my visits). I had gone last year and had a nice time. I swear even at 99, she has the same spirit that she always has had.

Lillian and I at Xmas 2018

Lillian and I at Christmas 2018

She sang and played the triangle as she did last year and all the residents performed a list of Christmas songs to the other residents and their families who attended. It was a nice concert but it seemed have more guests last year. Everyone who attended really enjoyed it.

After the concert was over, I went off and got Chinese food for our Christmas lunch, which I know that Lillian always appreciates. I go to Dragon House (See review on TripAdvisor) for our meals and this one did not disappoint. I ordered Lo Mein and Chicken and String beans with some eggrolls. I swear that Lillian has a good appetite. She can eat. For dessert, I brought some cookies from Park Bakery (See review on TripAdvisor) right next store to the restaurant. To have two such good places to eat right next to one another is great.

Dragon House

Dragon House in Kings Park, NY for excellent Chinese food

After our dinner, we talked for the rest of the evening. Since the weather was going to be nice the next day, I got a hotel room and was able to stay late to talk to Lillian for a few more hours. We just caught up and as we talked more, I noticed how much more came back to her. It was the ‘old’ Lillian who I remember. I think she needed it as well. We laughed so much it was like old times. When I had to leave a little after seven, she had a huge smile on her face. It was a very special Christmas for the two us.

I stayed at a very Hampton Inn on the South Shore in Commack, NY (See review on TripAdvisor) that evening and just collapsed in the room. It had been a long week already and I was tired from all the cooking and cleaning. I just relaxed that evening and read and wrote out Christmas cards.

The next morning I got up and traveled out to Montauk on the very edge of the island.  I wanted to see their famous lighthouse and museum (which was closed at the time). It was a beautiful sunny and warm day for this time of the year.

The South Shore of Long Island is so beautiful and I highly recommend it in the off season. It is just so nice to visit these small towns when they are not overrun with people from the city. The locals are so nice and you really do remember that it is a farming community out there. Outside of the core of East Hampton and the overbuilt areas of South Hampton, the other towns were like visiting a farming community. All the locals were out in their pick up trucks carrying local products. It is so different in the off season but so much nicer. Everyone is so laid back.

I wanted to visit the ‘Big Duck’ (see Review on TripAdvisor & my blog “VisitingaMuseum.wordpress.com), a building in the shape of a duck on Route 24 Flanders Road in Flanders, NY. It is very interesting to see a building in the shape of a duck, very similar to ‘Lucy’ the Elephant in Margate, NJ (see review on TripAdvisor & my blog “VisitingaMuseum.wordpress.com). It is a small building in the shape of a duck that was created by the owners back in the 30’s to promote their duck farm. Its cute but the guy that volunteers there must not get too many visitors because he NEVER SHUTS UP! God, I to fray going to the bathroom to getaway from him and got out of there.

The Bid Duck

The Big Duck Visitors Center and Gift Shop

I continued my way through the back-roads to the Hampton’s. I now know why it takes so long to get to the Hampton’s. All the roads once you get off the main highway are all local two lane roads. Most of the towns were quiet before the holidays so it was nice just to drive through.

I got out to Montauk to Lighthouse Park (See review on TripAdvisor) by 2:00pm. I took far longer than I thought but it was well worth the trip. It was a bright sunny afternoon and the view on the point was just breathtaking! The way the sun shone over the beach area and the point was spectacular. The only bad part was the lighthouse was closed that afternoon and would not open until the weekend. The giant wreath on the front of the lighthouse made it very festive.

Montauk Lighthouse

Christmas at the Montauk Lighthouse

I had lunch in downtown Montauk and most of the places were closed for the afternoon. The town was really quiet. I ended up eating at Pizza Village at 700 Montauk Highway in  (See review on TripAdvisor) in the downtown area. The pizza is amazingly good and their sauce is excellent. I highly recommend it when visiting Montauk. It really warmed me up.

Then I headed back to New Jersey. Is that a long trip. Going over the George Washington Bridge at rush hour right before the holidays is a nightmare. It took over two hours to go from the Throgs Neck Bridge to Route 46 in New Jersey. The irony was that as soon as I got closer to home, we had a dumpster fire at the local Walmart. Never a dull moment.

As things revved up for the holidays, I had my family over to the house for an early Christmas dinner. Since I was going to be away and my aunt and cousin had just suffered a very hard loss right before the holidays, I had a holiday meal at the house.

Even at a time of loss, we had such a nice time. I went all out for the meal. I cleaned the whole house again, did more shopping and prep work and decorated the house. We had such a nice time. I had my two aunts and my cousin over for a three course meal. As usual, I started the meal with appetizers followed by a full meal and dessert.

I made sauted shrimp on toasts, pigs in a blanket and assorted gourmet cheeses to start with two bottles of Asti to enjoy with it. For the main meal, I made pork cutlets, a potato puff with lots of cheese and eggs, string beans and my aunt brought some of her homemade apple sauce (I hate to brag but she makes it terrific). For dessert, I brought a seven layer cake from Mills Bakery (See review on TripAdvisor) and my aunt brought a strawberry cheesecake. We ate a lot.

It was a nice night of good food and great conversation. It was nice to have the house so full of life during the holidays again. It had been so long since everyone had something to laugh about. I have to admit we did have a nice Easter and celebration of our birthdays at the house, so it felt that my uncle was there with us in spirit. Dinner went into the late evening, so I had to clean up the house and run the dishwasher that night so it was a long night for me.

The next day I was off to spend my Christmas in Cape May, NJ. Most of family had their own plans and I like to spend the holidays by myself to relax and write. It was a gloomy day when I started out that afternoon. I had so much to do before I left like the laundry and the vacuuming, so that the house looked good when I got home. I just didn’t want to have to do much before I got home.

It takes about three hours to Cape May from my house. You are literally are going from one end of the state to another. When I finally reached Cape May I made a big mistake and took a turn over the bridge into the Wildwoods. When I tell you that is a dead community at this time of the year, it is DEAD. There were no lights on in any of the homes or in the hotels and there were very few businesses open as well. It is so weird to see a place that you were just in two and half months ago that was so much alive. Since I could find my way out, I had to take the route I knew off the island and drive back down south to Cape May.

When I arrived at the Congress Hall Hotel (See review on TripAdvisor), it was ablaze with Christmas lights. I have to say that the two days that I stayed at the Congress Hall put me in the Christmas mood. Since my father passed, the holidays have been tough on me and the atmosphere of the hotel was just what I needed. The whole place was decorated for the holidays with garland, trees, bright lights and Christmas cheer. It just made me festive for the holidays.

Congress Hall

Congress Hall Hotel at Christmas

I got to the hotel late and wanted to celebrate Midnight Mass and unfortunately no church in town did the Midnight Mass. So I went to the Our Lady of the Sea Church for the 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass. It was a beautiful mass.

Not quite the elaborate mass I was used to at the Dutch Reformed Church up in Woodstock, NY for the past three years but still inspirational and enjoyable. Even though it is church, I still believe mass should not be stuffy or boring. I think it should be inspirational, engaging and make you reflect on the past year.

The church was beautifully decorated for the holidays with secular decorations of holy, trees, garland and poinsettias. I have noticed over the past decade that more churches have done this. The poor priest was suffering through a leg injury but still gave a nice sermon. I think he was surprised by so many out of towner’s at the mass.

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Our Lady of the Sea at Christmas

After the service, I walked around the Washington Street Mall, which is Cape May’s downtown. It looked like every business was trying to outdo one another for the best decorations. All were so elegantly decorated for the holidays with detailed displays, lights and in some cases bows and garland. Inside there were all sorts of Christmas scenes with Santa’s, reindeer and Currier & Ives type displays. Everyone did a nice job and the downtown was very picturesque with the hotel in the backdrop being so nicely decorated on the outside as well.

Washington Mall Christmas

Washington Street Mall at Christmas

I had Christmas Eve dinner in the hotel’s pizzeria, the Boiler Room, for pizza (See review on TripAdvisor). The service was excellent and the food was wonderful. I had an prosciutto and arugula pizza and it was perfectly cooked and just what I needed after a long drive. They even had music that night. It was a far cry from the two restaurants that I ate at in Woodstock over the past three Christmas Eve’s, where the food was hit or miss.

I just relaxed on Christmas Eve and walked back outside to look at the downtown and the hotel from a distance. I could not believe how packed the hotel was on a holiday. The place was completely sold out.

Christmas was very mellow this year. With my uncle passing two weeks earlier and everything going on in my life and family, I needed a break from everyone and everything in my life.

I slept in and relaxed Christmas morning, had a nice long breakfast in the very busy Blue Pig restaurant, the hotel’s casual family restaurant (see review on TripAdvisor) and just enjoyed the quiet morning. The restaurant itself was going full force when I got there. Families were all eating together and it looked like a lot  of family reunions were going on in the hotel for the holidays.

The food there is excellent and I highly recommend eating there when in Cape May. I had this dish, the Eggs Blackstone, that was a unique combination of poached eggs on two cheese biscuits with wilted greens and hollandaise sauce, which I normally do not like that just worked. The combination of flavors mixed so well and with the service of Laura, my waiter that morning, who I could tell has been in the business for years, just made the Christmas morning meal perfect.

I sat for most of the morning on a window bench on the second floor of the hotel, over-looking the courtyard of the hotel and the small holiday marketplace the hotel had in the courtyard for the guests. It was nicely set up around the heated pool.

They had a fire-pit for warm up around, small tents with quirky shops to buy local products (although I thought most everything was WAY over-priced) and a small Christmas cafe with traditional winter treats like hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. Even those were pretty but over-priced ($6.00 for four cookies?). It was nice to walk around and Christmas ended up being a bright and sunny day. We had missed the snow storm that hit Northern New Jersey and I later found out really hit Woodstock, NY.

I spent most of my morning doing my writing, call friends and family wishing them a Merry Christmas and talking to other guests who just happened to see me writing and wanted to know what I was up to.  I swear that I am never alone when I travel, people just seem to find me.

The rest of the afternoon I walked around Cape May, looking at the store windows downtown, walking along the shore and looking at the birds on the beach and the waves and looking at all the Victorian homes that were decorated for the holidays. Even though all the hotels surrounding ours including ours were fully booked, the town was quiet. It looked like a lot of people were away.

I had my Christmas dinner at the Ugly Mug (See review on TripAdvisor), a bar/pub that I had eaten at over twenty years ago. The food is still excellent. I had a bacon bbq cheeseburger with fries, not your traditional Christmas dinner but still was wonderful. The place was really busy with other people who looked like they were done with Christmas as well. Even the manager told me that they are always busy at the holidays.

That night I just walked around town and looked at the Christmas tree in the square, which was so elegantly decorated for the holidays. Cape May knows how to decorate for the holidays. I walked around the hotel and looked at the decorations. The hotel was mobbed with people just looking for something to do and a place to sit and chat. People were jockeying for a place near the fireplace and I could see there were some struggles for that.

Christmas in Cape May

Christmas in the town square at Cape May, NJ

On the 26th, things got back to normal in town. Most of the stores opened and there were sales on everything. I went to the Mad Batter Restaurant (See review on TripAdvisor) for breakfast, wanting some elbow room from the hotel. The food there is excellent. I had this Croustade with scrambled eggs, sausage, peppers and cheese served on a brioche bun. Again a somewhat overdone combination but it worked and was delicious .This institution has been around for years and I wanted to try it for a long time.

I explored the town for the afternoon. I went on the decorated house tour at the Emlen Physick Estate  (see review on TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.wordpress.com), who was a prominent doctor in the town and his house showed it. His grandfather has invented a famous medical device and upon getting his medical degree, he inherited his fortune and never practiced medicine again. What he did leave was a beautiful home for touring and every room was decorated for the holidays. The woman who gave the tour was an actor playing his mother and it was the week before Christmas. She did a nice job.

Physick home at Christmas

Physick Estate at Christmas

After that, I visited the Cape May Lighthouse (see review on TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.Wordpress.com) and climbed the whole thing in about twenty minutes, shocking the guy at the admission office who said that I only had a half hour to spend before they closed. I even surprised myself with how fast I climbed it. I swear, this walking project is keeping me in good health. What a view! You could see all over West Cape May and the whole tip of the peninsula. The beach was so quiet yet majestic with all the waves crashing and the birds and dogs running around. They also have a small museum next to the building on Jersey flora and fauna that you should check out as well.

The last part of the evening was when I visited Sunset Beach in West Cape May (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).  What a magnificent beach this is, located on the very western tip of New Jersey.  Sunset Beach has the most breathtaking sunset of any beach I have ever seen and I have been all over the world. The way the sun sets on the beach and the location of where it falls creates a rainbow of colors anytime of the year. Although it was cool on the beach as it fell, the beach was full of people watching the same natural phenomenon. It was just amazing to see all the colors change as the sun changed positions and more fun to watch the Lewis/Cape May shuttle drive past every half hour. If there is ever a beach that you need to visit, it is Sunset Beach.

Sunset beach.jpg

Sunset Beach

That evening was my last night in Cape May and I had to change hotels because the Congress was booked solid for a wedding. I switched to The Chalfonte, one of the oldest hotels and most ‘Southern’ in Cape May. You have to remember that Cape May is below the Mason-Dixon Line and Southern New Jersey is technically the South.

The Chalfonte at 301 Howard Street (see review on TripAdvisor) is located in an older section of Cape May surrounded by Victorian homes. The main hotel was closed for the season (it closes in October) but they keep the ‘Southern Quarters’, a small house next to the hotel, open for the season as it is insulated.

Chalfonte Hotel.jpg

The Chalfonte Hotel during the summer months

As I wrote in my review on TripAdvisor, it was like staying at your Grandmother’s or Great Aunt’s beach home for the night. A little rough around the edges but comfortable, warm and homey. I find places like this charming but they are not for everyone.

I stopped by the Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street (see review on TripAdvisor) for breakfast and to tour the farm. Although the breakfast sandwich I ate was good as well as the home fries, everything was cold or lukewarm. They need to warm their plates. The property is so nicely laid out and it was fun to feed the chickens who were excited about the feed. I did one last walk around the downtown to see the tree on the square and had a slice of pizza at JoJo’s Pizza on the Washington Mall (see review on TripAdvisor).

My last dinner in Cape May was at the Washington Inn Restaurant (see review on TripAdvisor), considered one of the best in Cape May. The food and the service were all top notch. I had the crabcakes for my entree and the Bananas Foster for dessert both I recommend very much. The service was excellent but for some reason I expected older waiters to be working in a place like this. The rooms are elegant and romantic for couples. For me, it was just the thrill of eating in such a well-known restaurant with excellent food and service. At its price tag though, it is a special occasion treat.

I slept like a log that night, being able to faintly hear the crashing of the waves in the distance. They decorated the room with just enough plants and Christmas items to make it look festive.

The next morning as I was dropping off my keys, the owners son, Dillon, took me on a tour inside the family hotel. It was elegant as it was gloomy. I had read that the hotel was haunted but as he said to me he had never seen anything. It is weird to see a hotel closed down for the season. All I could think of was the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’. It just had that eerie, someone had just been there look to it. After I said my goodbyes, I was off to Rehoboth Beach to visit my mother.

On the trip to Rehoboth, I made several stops to towns I had passed through the previous year. I stopped in Millville, NJ first. The downtown has been creating a buzz for itself as an art center especially with the opening of the Cumberland College Arts Annex and the studio area. Artists from Southern New Jersey seem to be pouring into the town as all the buildings are getting renovated and new restaurants are opening. I stopped in a few galleries and looked at menus of what is going to be an ‘arts hub’ of Southern New Jersey.

The next town I stopped in was Bridgeton, whose downtown had seen better days. Most of the stores were either empty or catered to the Hispanic population who worked in the area. Not exactly the arts district they claim to be. There is not much to see here except a lot of Victorian homes in bad shape.

Salem was my last stop before crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge. This is a town that has not been discovered yet. The homes are really gorgeous in the downtown area, all built in the 1700 and 1800’s. Beautiful old Federal and Empire style homes are spread throughout the downtown and the sad part is that they are mostly in bad shape.

I stopped in the Salem Historical Society at 83 Market Street (see review on TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.com) . This place is not the usual Historical Society with the musty displays and the dusty artifacts with some woman older than God looking you over. It was an interesting, insightful and beautifully decorated for the holidays building with displays of local interest.

Salem Historical Society

Salem Historical Society

The building is made up of three homes, one of which had a hearth fireplace in the kitchen. That part of the building was decorated for a Colonial Christmas. I loved the spinning wheel with the lights and the tree in the older section of the house. It only takes about an hour to see the whole building but take the time to really look at the displays as they are so well mounted.

I ate at Bravo Pizza and Pasta at 179 West Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor) in the downtown area and highly recommend their pizza. The sauce was excellent and the flavor was delicious. What was best was that the owner asked me to wait as he had a new pizza coming out, so It gave me time to walk around the downtown area and look at the old buildings. It was so sad to see many of these old homes in such bad shape. This is a place I am surprised that the artists have not discovered yet. Check out the local cemetery with the large historical Oak Tree that covers the graveyard. It is right around the corner from the restaurant and Historical Society.

I finally got out of Salem, it was the long drive down to mom’s from Salem to Rehoboth Beach. When I called my mother, she was wondering what was taking me so long. When I finally arrived around six, she was asking me what I was doing all this time. I told her discovering my State. I never realized how interesting the State of New Jersey is (no jokes everyone).

My mom and I talked about the trip, the holidays and what we had planned for the next two days. My younger brother was coming up with my nieces to celebrate the post holidays. We really had a nice time. My mom cooked ‘the Dinner’ again and we just sat around and I told her about my Christmas. I now know where I get my love for travel details from as she sees how excited I get when I talk about visiting places.

My brother arrived the next morning and we planned everything. We went took the girls to the boardwalk for the afternoon to walk around and ended up going to Thrasher’s (see review on TripAdvisor) for French Fries. I have never seen four people devour a medium bucket of fries so fast. They were just fried and were oh so good. Even in the winter, I never tire of seeing the shore.

Our first night at my mom’s she cooked so we had a mellow roast pork dinner and just sat around and talked. It was nice for my nieces who never get to see my mom much and for me who see them about the same about of time. They talked about their trip up from Florida and how school is going.

Christmas in Rehobeth Beach V

Christmas in Rehoboth Beach, DE

The next day we took the girls on a tour of Rehoboth Beach and the surrounding areas, we went at twilight to Henlopen Park (see review on TripAdvisor) to see the Christmas lights, which was very similar in feel to the JackleLantern display in Croton-on-the- Hudson. It was a huge display of figures, such as Santa’s, elf’s, reindeer and decorated trees  lit up by lights all over the park and we were able to drive and see all the displays one at a time.

Even tough we were going out to dinner that night, my mother insisted we stop at the Big Oyster Brewery at 1007 Kings Highway (see review on TripAdvisor) for lunch when no one was hungry. I had some pulled pork sliders that were very good but like everyone else did not have much of an appetite. We had had a big breakfast earlier in the day.

For dinner my last night in Rehoboth, we went to my mother’s favorite restaurant, Confucius  Chinese Restaurant at 57 Wilmington Street (See review on TripAdvisor) by the beach.  We must have had eight different dishes on the table but you know what, the food here is just excellent and the service matches the food. My mother has been coming here since they opened and know the owners well so they are always coming over to say high or sometimes they give us a free appetizer, which I think is good business.

I had to head home the next day but we had a nice time even though it was so short with my nieces. I wish my brother had planned more time. We didn’t get to do too much on this trip since it was so quick. I headed back to New Jersey the next morning, probably seeing my mom again when the weather gets warmer.

My last day before the New Year began, I joined my other brother in the New York City for Dim Sum at the Golden Unicorn Restaurant at 18 East Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor), one of the mainstays for going for Dim Sum in the city. I swear we must have gone through half the menu. The food is really good and I love when the carts go around with all the dishes. I love to try many dishes when I am at the restaurant.

The only problem with New Year’s Eve is that the city shuts down all their roads by 3:00pm and it was also 20F outside that day. Trust me, it is not a day you want to be in New York City unless you want to sit in Times Square for hours on end to watch the ball drop. It was 9F degrees that evening.

The New Year brought in my Swearing In with the fire department. I am the Department Secretary (now on my fifth year) and Engine One Secretary (now on my eleventh year) and just keep rolling along. Our Installation  Dinner was the second week of January and that pretty much ends my holiday season.

Justin Watrel Firefighter

Swearing in as Secretary of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

It was a lot of running around this holiday season but I also was able to raise a lot of money for charity in between working three jobs, editing my book and all my volunteer work. I never seem to just stop and relax.

Now you all know why I had to put the MywalkinManhattan.com on hold.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Everyone!!

Getting to Cape May, NJ:

Just follow the Garden State Parkway to the very end and there you are in the middle of town.

 

Places I stayed:

 

Hampton Inn Commack

680 Commack Road

Commack, NY  11725

(631) 462-5700

Hilton.com

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g47518-d93152-Reviews-Hampton_Inn_Long_Island_Commack-Commack_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Congress Hall Hotel

200 Congress Place

Cape May, NJ  08204

(888) 944-1816

http://www.caperesorts.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

The Chalfonte Hotel

301 Howard Street

Cape May, NJ 08204

(609) 984-8409

http://www.chalfonte.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Places to eat at the holidays:

The Bakeries:

Mills Bakery

275 Valley Boulevard

Wood-Ridge, NJ  07075

(201) 438-7690

http://www.mills-bakery.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/463

 

Park Bakery

112NY-25A

Kings Park, NY  11754

(631) 269-3825

http://www.parkbakeshop.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48001-d933880-Reviews-Park_Bake_Shop-Kings_Park_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/645

 

Places to eat:

 

Biagio’s

299 Paramus Road

Paramus, NJ  07652

(201) 612-0201

biagios.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46712-d1488625-Reviews-Biagio_s_Ristorante-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Pizza Village

700 Montauk Highway

Montauk, NY

(631) 668-2232

pizzavillagemontauk.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48194-d405528-Reviews-Pizza_Village-Montauk_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Dragon House Chinese Restaurant

118 Main Street #A

Kings Park, NY  11750

(631) 544-5438

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48001-d10641889-Reviews-Dragon_House_Chinese_Restaurant-Kings_Park_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/632

 

The Ugly Mug

426 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-3451

uglymug.bar

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Washington Inn Restaurant

801 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-5697

http://www.washingtoninn.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d393813-Reviews-Washington_Inn-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Boiler Room Pizzeria/The Blue Pig Tavern

Congress Hall Hotel

200 Congress Place

Cape May, NJ 08204

https://www.caperesorts.com/congress-hall/blue-pig-tavern

(609) 884-6507

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Beach Plum Farm

140 Stevens Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 602-0128

http://www.beachplumfarm.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1867426-d5866138-Reviews-Beach_Plum_Farm-West_Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

JoJo Pizza

507 Washington Place

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-0404

http://www.jojopizzanj.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d8006294-Reviews-Jojo_Pizza-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

The Mad Batter

19 Jackson Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609)  884-5970

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Bravo Pizza & Pasta

179 Broadway

Salem, NJ  08079

(859) 339-0049

http://www.madbatter.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46799-d4514081-Reviews-Bravo_Pizza_and_Pasta-Salem_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Confucius Chinese Cuisine

57 Wilmington Avenue

Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971

(308) 227-3840

http://www.confucius.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

The Big Oyster Brewery

1007 Kings Highway

Lewes, DE  19958

(302) 644-2621

http://www.bigoysterbrewery.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34028-d12941936-Reviews-Big_Oyster_Brewery-Lewes_Delaware.html?m=19905

 

Golden Unicorn Restaurant

18 East Broadway

New York, NY  10002

(212) 941-0911

http://www.goldenunicornnyc.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d457884-Reviews-Golden_Unicorn_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Emlen Physick House

1048 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-5404

http://www.capemaymac.com/physick-estate.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d614851-Reviews-Emlen_Physick_Estate-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

The Big Duck

1012 NY-24

Flanders, NY  11901

(631) 852-3377

http://www.bigduck.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g754554-d3292234-Reviews-The_Big_Duck-Flanders_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

M review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1735

 

Sunset Beach Cape May

Cape May Point

Cape May, NJ 08212

(609) 465-1000

https://www.new-jersey-leisure-guide.com/sunset-beach.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g3948623-d103992-Reviews-Sunset_Beach-Lower_Township_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Salem County Historical Society

83 Market Street

Salem, NJ  08079

http://www.salemcountyhistoricalsociety.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46799-d13368307-Reviews-Salem_County_Historical_Society-Salem_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1742

*Blogger wants to note that the hours change for many of these historical sites and for the restaurants so please check their websites for the most current hours during the off-season and when in season.

 

Events:

Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Sale

(From Thanksgiving until the trees sell out)

Our Commercial that star’s me!:

 

Hasbrouck Heights ‘Santa Around Town’

(The last Sunday before Christmas)

 

Please see this video of the Congress Hall Hotel by the hotel. It is a magical place at Christmas.

 

 

Megan Hilty’s Christmas Album from the concert