Category Archives: Exploring the State of New Jersey

Day Two Hundred and Two: Exploring Downtown Boonton, NJ-A Local Journey August 15th, 2021

It has been a tough summer. I pulled a muscle and it has been hard to do long walks around Manhattan so I kept it to short walks around my neighborhood. As I have improved, I have been able to get more done and have started to drive again. I was able to make the trip to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Barbecue.

The Members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

So off I went adjusting the car seat higher with a pillow and an ice pack. It was a short trip with no traffic and the pain has now subsided with more walking. When I arrived at the home for the barbecue, I had to walk around the property to loosen up a bit.

Still it was a marvelous day and the most beautiful weather sunny and clear and 72 degrees. The residents loved being outside to enjoy the fresh air, music and food and the members liked that we still could socially distance and converse with the residents outside as long as there were not too many gathering (we want to keep our retired firefighting brothers safe too). Please check out my blog on the August BCFHA Barbecue:

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association August Barbecue at the NJ Firemen’s Home August 15th, 2021:

https://wordpress.com/post/tbcfha.wordpress.com/466

After the barbecue was over, I decided to head back to Downtown Boonton to explore the downtown on a weekend and get some stretching for my legs and back in before the long ride home. Downtown Boonton, which has been discovered by the artists and hipsters is going through a major change as we speak. There is so much to see and do.

Downtown Boonton, New Jersey is showing a new rebirth from the local shops of the past to new restaurants, galleries and shops popping up all over the downtown. Known for the local ironworks that once made this a company town, somehow this small hamlet was discovered by artists and galleries have been popping up on the main street.

What I like about Boonton’s downtown is the diversity of old and new mixed together and that the main street is a sloped and curving so that you can see the remains of the iron works and the park below. The views of the mountains and trees lined valley’s are spectacular in the summer with swaths of green trees all over.

I discovered Downtown Boonton by accident when I decided to drive around when I had time to spare before an event last year. I had read something about the Boonton Historical Society in a magazine (See my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). So I visited the Historical Society after our April meeting last year and attending their 2019 Open House for Christmas. That was a nice event with docent tours, light refreshments and musical performances. Since then I have been back a few more times to explore the shopping district.

Downtown Boonton, NJ Main Street

https://www.boonton.org/263/Boonton-Main-Street-Inc

https://www.boontonmainstreet.org/

https://www.facebook.com/BtnMainStreet/

I have started many trips at the Boonton Historical Society located at 210 Main Street. This interesting little museum is a treasure trove of local history with displays on the history of the local Iron Works, the Trolley Car industry and its role in the development of transportation in the area and displays on the history of the local police, fire and local schools. There are also some interesting pictures of the changes in the downtown area. They also run great walking tours.

I have visited the museum during the 2019 Christmas Open House which was an interesting afternoon of Docent tours of the museum’s Trolley and Railroad exhibition memorabilia and then a wonderful concert from a local musician with refreshments following.

In the Summer of 2021, I took a walking tour of the old Iron Works factory with a local historian. We toured all the spots in Grace Lord Park that had been built up to support the factory along with ruins of the old structures of the complex. It was sad that these will be knocked down for a new condo complex (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).

Boonton Historical Society at 210 Main Street

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BoontonHistoricalSociety/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46315-d19255529-Reviews-Boonton_Historical_Society_and_Museum-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

On my last three trips exploring the downtown, I have been admiring the statues of dogs and cats that line the street and flank all the buildings. The Boonton Arts Creative Placemaking Initiative organization in partnership with Boonton Main Street Inc. has been showcasing artists who have created these works.

The Dog Days of Summer & Some Cool Cats’ is a public art exhibition showcasing artist’s customer designs on life sized statues displayed on the main street. Artists are sponsored by the public. Once the artist received a sponsor, they get the opportunity to bring their design to life. For the duration of the summer, the sculptures will be available for adoption on the Boonton Arts Etsy page. The project has now raised $70,000 for local animal shelters and over $6,000 for local schools (Boonton Arts).

“Dog Days of Summer & Some Cool Cats” outside the Boonton Post Office

https://www.facebook.com/boontondogdays/

Boonton Dog Days of Summer & Some Cool Cats! +Music on Main!

Across the street from the Historical Society at 309 Main Street is Eric’s Jamaican Cuisine which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It specializes in roasts, stews, fish dishes and the patties look amazing. The smells of food cooking and spices from the background grill will make your mouth water.

Eric’s Jamaican Cuisine is at 309 Main Street

https://www.facebook.com/EricsJamaican/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d8298067-Reviews-Erics_Jamaican_Cuisine-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I stopped in on a recent visit and had a Beef and Cheese Jamaican patty ($2.50) and it was delicious. The crust was so light and flaky and had a nice portion of filling inside. The Chicken and Jerk Chicken patties were sold out so I tried one of the Fried Dumplings ($1.00). It was a round deep fried crisp dough that was perfect with a little jam.

The service could not have been nicer and the woman working the counter went over the menu with me. I love the smell of the spices when you enter the restaurant.

The downtown shopping district has an eclectic mix of the restaurants and shops. One of the first places I ate lunch at when I was touring the downtown on my first trip was Pasquale’s Pizza at 307 Main Street #1. I stopped in for a slice of pizza and a Coke and the pizza here is really good. The slice was full of flavor with a nice gooey consistency. The service was very pleasant and on a cool Sunday afternoon was one of the few places that was open. The service is very friendly.

Pasquale’s Pizza at 307 Main Street #1

https://www.facebook.com/pasqualespizzeriaboonton/

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d4310023-Reviews-Pasquale_s_Pizza-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Walking up the hill from the train tracks, you will look up at the winding main street at an interesting mix of historical buildings that are in the process of renovation or have been brought back to their original beauty.

For lunch one afternoon, I ate at Wah Yan Kitchen at 601 Main Street. This little hole in the wall take out restaurant services delicious Cantonese food at very reasonable prices for lunch. The afternoon I was there I had a Shrimp Lo Mein with a side of Pork Fried Rice and an egg roll. The one this that differed Wah Yan Kitchen from many of the take out places I have eaten at is the portion size was very large and the dish did not skip on the ingredients. There was lots of chopped roast pork in both the fried rice and in the egg roll. Everything was delicious. The family who runs the restaurant could not have been nicer to me.

Wah Yan Kitchen at 601 Main Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d4686643-Reviews-Wah_Yan_Kitchen-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Egg City at 605 Main Street

https://www.facebook.com/eggscityboonton/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d23640991-Reviews-Egg_City-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

On a recent trip to Boonton, I stopped at Egg City at 605 Main Street for a late breakfast. It was a beautiful sunny day and I sat by the widows watching the world go by. I ordered the Eggs with Chorizo which came with a side of potatoes and wheat toast. The scrambled eggs came in a hard scramble with plenty of spicy Chorizo sausage chopped inside the eggs. Adding some of the hot sauce provided on the table, it added an extra zing to the dish.

The Scrambled eggs with Chorizo Sausage makes a nice combination

Boonton at one time must have been a very cultural center for the arts in the region having a theater, opera house and a well established library all located within the downtown area. With the Morris Canal cutting through the town and the Ironworks at the bottom of the hill, the traffic in the downtown at the turn of the last century was extremely busy being a place of trade and shipping.

The Darress Theater at 615 Main Street has been closed during the COVID pandemic but was still open in late 2019 when it was showing some classic films. It was closed when I visited the town over the last year and a half though.

The theater was opened in 1919 as a vaudeville house with many famous names on the circuit visiting the town like Burns & Allen and Abbott & Costello. After WWII, the theater became a movie house showing first run movies until the local malls took that business away in the 1980’s. Before it closed due to COVID, it had been showing classic films and live shows (NJ Daily Record).

The Darress Theater at 615 Main Street

http://www.darresstheater.com/

https://m.facebook.com/darresstheatre/

As you make your way up the hill, you will pass the picturesque Boonton Library at 621 Main Street. The library opened in this building in 1894 in a small section of the structure. The property was bought from the Iron Company in 1849 by Eliza Scott and was used for stores. Then the building was bought by local resident James Holmes in 1856 and in 1870 and was converted into the family homes. Upon his death in 1893, he willed the building and a sum of money so that the building could be used as a town library (Best Public Libraries/History of Boonton Library).

The Boonton Public Library at 621 Main Street

https://www.boonton.org/260/Public-Library

The impressive old building holds a periodical area, a Children’s and Teen Library and a sitting area for patrons. You can still see from of the impressive details of the old building when walking around the library.

Another wonderful restaurant that I tried one afternoon after a long walking tour of Grace Lord Park was Roma Pizzeria & Restaurant at 709 Main Street. They have the most delicious cheese pizza and their garlic knots are really good. The pizza has the most amazing sauce that tastes of fresh tomatoes, garlic, a bit of hot pepper and olive oil. It really gave each bit a rich flavor. The family that runs the pizzeria is really nice too and I was able to eat at one of the outdoor tables and admire the view of the area.

Roma Pizzeria & Restaurant at 709 Main Street

https://romapizzaofboonton.com/

https://www.facebook.com/romapizzaboonton/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d5010031-Reviews-Roma_Pizzeria-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Right down the road is the old Engine/Hose Company One firehouse at 713 Main Street. This original firehouse of the Boonton Fire Department was built in the 1890’s. It was renovated in 2012 and was formerly Maxfield’s Restaurant. The building is currently empty but you can still admire the stonework of the old building and the details that showed its once fire fighting past (LoopNet.com).

The old Engine/Hose Company One at 713 Main Street

https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/713-Main-St-Boonton-NJ/14224859/

Next to the fire house is another reminder of Boonton’s cultural past is the Boonton Opera House at 715 Main Street. This architectural gem was build in 1850 as Independence Hall which was used for various functions. Then in 1890, the owner added a third floor and christened it “Mrs. Green’s Opera House”. The building was fully renovated in 2016 by business owners in the area and now houses offices and retail space (Daily Record). Check out the buildings details on the other side of the street.

The Boonton Opera House at 715 Main Street

After my walking tour of the Iron Works Company with the Historical Society and a nice lunch at Roma Pizzeria & Restaurant, I sampled Scoop House at 813 Main Street. Scoop House is an old fashioned ice cream parlor with homemade ice cream and unusual flavors. The menu includes all sorts of sundaes, shakes, ice cream sandwiches and waffle & ice cream combos.

I had an unusual flavor called “Cookie Monster”, which was a purple ice cream with cookie dough batter in it and crushed chocolate chip cookies. Talk about different and delicious! The prices are also very fair at a time when other ice cream shops are charging premium prices.

Scoop House at 813 Main Street

https://www.facebook.com/scoophouse813/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d7342984-Reviews-Scoop_House-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I passed other businesses that were closed on most weekends and made my way to Grace Lord Park which is located at the top part of Downtown Boonton. From the sidewalks you can see the river path through the park and as you get closer to the bend, the waterfall near the bridge. This relaxing little park was once part of the Iron Works Company and where we started our walking tour of the area with the Boonton Historical Society.

Grace Lord Park in Boonton, NJ

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46315-d10306532-Reviews-Grace_Lord_Park-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html

The front part of the park as you enter from the downtown is lined with paths, a children’s playground, a wooded area, historical signs of the site, the gazebo where concerts take place and our meeting ground for the tours and the falls.

The Falls of Grace Lord Park in Boonton, NJ

On a perfect sunny day, a group of us joined the Historical Society of Boonton, NJ on a tour of the former Iron Works Company and of a section of the Morris Canal that ran through the town during the turn of the last century.

Boonton Iron Works

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boonton_Iron_Works

Here is a link to the tour:

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

On my more recent trips to the park, I just enjoy walking around the Falls area and taking a short hike down the paths into the woods and admire the river. On a nice day, there are plenty of families running around the park. In the summer, there are all sorts of concerts in the park and on the weekends there is the Farmer’s Market.

https://www.boontonmainstreet.org/farmers-market

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Farmers-Market/Boonton-Farmers-Market-112114583631452/

I visited the Farmers Market on the Saturday on Labor Day weekend but the town cancelled the market at the last minute. Still there were a few vendors that had set up and I was able to sample their wares. The Schieferstein Farm from Clark, NJ had all of their fruits and vegetable lined up in bins and they had the most flavorful white peaches for a dollar. It was juicy and sweet and there is nothing like a Jersey Peach when it is in season.

Don’t miss the Schieferstein Farm stand for the sweetest Jersey Peaches

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Nurseries—Gardening-Store/Schieferstein-Farm-Market-106215647485085/

I returned the next week and there were many more vendors selling all sorts of wares at the Farmers Market. I visited Gizmo’s Pet Products for gourmet pet treats, Race Farms out of Blairstown, NJ for another sweet juicy yellow Jersey Peach ($1.00) and Urban Gypsy Arts by artist Vicki Stafford who sells handmade knit and crocheted hats and scarves, handmade earrings and pins.

A Crocheted Voodoo doll by artist Vicki Stafford, the perfect gift for Halloween

Along the way there were other vendors selling Empanadas, Italian dinners, gourmet cheese, homemade pickles and freshly baked breads and pastries. There really is something for everyone at this Farmer’s Market. There was guitar band performing that morning for the patrons with original songs and a small play area with a Cornhole set up for the kids. The Boonton Farmers Market is a nice way to spend an early Saturday morning.

On my way back down the hill through the downtown area, there are several bakery and gift shops to explore and have a quick dessert before you leave town.

Heavenly Temptations at 712 Main Street is a perfect place to duck into when it rains as it did on two afternoons when visiting Boonton. It has a extensive bakery section with cupcakes, muffins, scones, cookies and croissants. The shop also has an extensive collection of gift baskets, books, local art products and other assorted gifts. It is also a big meeting place for locals (Heavenly Temptations website).

Heavenly Temptations at 712 Main Street

https://www.facebook.com/HeavenlyTemptations/

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d4604993-Reviews-Heavenly_Temptations-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

There are several places to get desserts in the downtown area. Another is Creations by Sabrina that adds a touch of elegance to their dessert selections.

Creations by Sabrina is located at 706 Main Street

https://www.creationsbysabrinallc.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Creationsbysabrinallc/

My review on TripAdvisor:

Creations by Sabrina is like walking into a bakery that treats their bakes goods like displayed jewels in a the case with beautiful and elegant looking cupcakes and cookies for sale. Each cupcake has its own unique look and flavor.

Another establishment to enjoy pastries with a Spanish flair is Pergamino’s Bakery & Café at720 Main Street. I had ducked into Pergaminos during a rainy afternoon when they were closing down for the afternoon and the people working there no only let me walk through while they were cleaning up but I could buy what I liked and they would not rush me out.

Pergamino’s Bakery & Café at 720 Main Street

https://www.facebook.com/PergaminosBC

https://pergaminos-bakery-cafe.business.site/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d23593536-Reviews-Pergaminos_Bakery_Cafe-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

What attracted me to Pergamino’s was the Columbian pastries and hot foods that the bakery restaurant carried. On my first trip, I tried a Guava Plate, which was a flaky pastry split into two and filled with cream cheese and guava jelly. It was flaky and sweet but I was not crazy about the cream cheese in the dessert.

I was also able to try their Beef and Cheese Empanadas, which I ended up taking home with me. They warmed up in the oven perfectly and I liked the spiciness of the beef which was accented by the home made hot sauce they gave me.

On the second trip, I tried one of their Apple Turnovers, which from what the staff said were really popular and I could see why. Surrounded by a sugary puff pastry, these sweet apples are rolled in cinnamon sugar and butter and baked until a golden brown.

When you reach the middle of the downtown area, you can see the remnants of the old Morris Canal that used to run through town. When I was taking my tour of the Boonton Iron Works (see above), this section of the canal was filled in years ago but at the turn of the last century, the canal was busy taking iron and other raw materials from the area to market. This is what made Boonton Boonton.

This section of the canal was called Morris Canal Inclined Plane 7 East for the machine that allowed the boats to navigate the canal to overcome changes in the elevation (Boonton Historical Marker).

Morris Canal Inclined Plane 7 East that parallels the downtown

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Canal

As I made my way down the hill, back to the car, I passed the popular Don’s Sandwich Shop and music store. I stopped in one morning after visiting the Farmer’s Market and had a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a soft chewy roll. It was the perfect breakfast on a cool morning.

They made the sandwich with provolone cheese instead of the the traditional American cheese and with a little mayo added the perfect zing to the sandwich. The couple that runs the shop could not have been nicer to me.

There is even a music shop within the store, Drummer’s Corner, which is located in the corner of the sandwich shop.

Don’s Sandwich Shop and Drummer’s Corner

https://www.facebook.com/Dons-Sandwich-Shop-120487317968363/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46315-d4639902-Reviews-Don_s_Sandwich_Shop-Boonton_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Boonton Civil War Monument

https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=88878#:~:text=Boonton%20Civil%20War%20Monument.%20.,To%20The%20Brave%20Erected%201876%20.&text=Erected%201876.,-Topics.

Adding to the many historical sites in Downtown Boonton is the Boonton Civil War monument located in the middle of the shopping district. This interesting piece of town history was erected in 1876 and was “In grateful remembrance of their fellow citizens who volunteered in defense of The Union of the War of 1861-1865 Honor to the Brave 1876” (Monument). This touching monument is a tribute for those who were lost in the Battle of the States.

As I walked back to my car, I took time to glance at the scenic views from the main street of the foliage and mountains that make the backdrop of the downtown area. I can see why the artists are starting to move into town and the amount of art galleries that are starting to open (most were closed on the weekends on my last two visits).

Take time to walk east of the downtown to visit the historic homes of former factory workers of the Iron Works which are now being snatched up and renovated. When I drove through the downtown one last time and made my way up the hill, I drove past Grace Lord Park. Up the hill through the Essex Street neighborhood above downtown were blocks of old Victorian homes and mansions line the streets overlooking the park.

There is so much to see and visit when walking Downtown Boonton and with the influx of new residents and the energy of the present ones, it is making Boonton, NJ a vibrant and interesting town to visit.

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I stayed to watch the Boonton Fire Department Labor Day Parade and that was a lot of fun. The Department marched in the parade and fire departments from all over the County joined in with their fire apparatus. It was a beautiful day for the parade.

The Boonton Fire Department had their classic apparatus in the parade

Dad and I

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

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

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

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

The Core of Manhattan and the Perimeter of Manhattan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Otterness Playground

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

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

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

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

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

https://visitingamuseum.com/

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

Downtown Catskill NY

Downtown Catskill, NY was interesting to visit recently

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you Dad and Happy Father’s Day!

Dad and I

Blogger Justin Watrel with his father, Warren Watrel in 2013

What a great Dad!

Big Bowls/Little Plates 16 Glen Road Rutherford, NJ 07070

Don’t miss a trip to downtown Rutherford, NJ for dining and shopping.

Big Bowls Little Plates is a wonderful place for a meal or a snack.

The Peking Duck buns are excellent.

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

Big Bowls/Little Plates

16 Glen Road

Rutherford, NJ 07070

(201) 514-4163/4162

https://www.bigbowlslittleplates.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46796-d14978690-Reviews-Big_Bowls_Little_Plates-Rutherford_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

There are times that I just stumble upon a really good restaurant by accident. I found Big Bowls/Little Plates on my Dining program with Mileage Plus and once I tried it I have been coming back ever since. The food and service are just excellent and the atmosphere is downtown ‘hip’.

For a small restaurant in downtown Rutherford, NJ it is so interesting in it’s decor. The use of the exposed brick walls, the Christmas lights on the ceiling and the wooden tables gives it a ‘City Vibe’ with a contemporary twist. The tables are larger made to share the space but in the era of COVID we are kept apart. While most of the orders when I was there both times were take out, it is more fun to…

View original post 716 more words

Miss T’s Two 264 First Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

It’s easy to miss this wonderful little snack shop in a small neighborhood in Hackensack, NJ.

The Chicken and Beef patties mild and spicy are really good here.

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

Miss T’s Two

264 First Street

Hackensack, NJ 07601

(201) 342-3919

Open: Call above number

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46480-d21311040-Reviews-Miss_T_s_Two-Hackensack_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I have been to Miss T’s Two several times when I needed a quick snack and was in the area. The deli is tucked in a residential neighborhood right near Hackensack High School so I know who their customer is when the school year is in session.

Miss T’s Two is primarily a deli/bodega selling some household items and snack foods to the locals who live in the area but they also have a small hot food area in the back of the store and this is where this unassuming place shines. Their hot food selection may be limited but everything I have tried is delicious and extremely reasonable and is always fresh.

The first two trips I made to the deli was by accident. I had passed the place…

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Demarest Farms 244 Werimus Road Hillsdale, NJ 07642

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

Demarest Farms at Christmas is really special

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

Little Shop on Main Street

Demarest Farms

244 Werimus Road

Hillsdale, NJ 07642

(201) 666-0472

https://demarestfarms.com/

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

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

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

Demar

The Demarest Farm Store at 244 Werimus Road

The farm stand building is always a buzz…

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Bronx Zoo Light Show

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Tree sales

The trees were really nice this year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

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

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

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

Bill O'Shea's Florist VIII

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

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

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

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

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

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

Heights Flowers V

The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store

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

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

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

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

The Circle at Hasbrouck Heights

The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

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

Steuben House BCHS

The Steuben House at Christmas

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

Linda Russell Lecturer

Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society

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

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

Campbell-Christie House Xmas

Campbell-Christie House at the end of the tour:

My blog on The Bergen County Historical Society:

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

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

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

My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:

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

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

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

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

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

Beach Haven Beach

The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon

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

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

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

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg

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

Chicken or the Egg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bud N' Mud logo

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

My blog on the “Bud N’ Mud” project:

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

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

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

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

My blog on “Santa Around Town” 2020:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY:

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

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

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

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

AC Hote

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

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

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

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

Rockefeller

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

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

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

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

9th Avenue Deli

9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion in the winter

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

My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

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

Demarest Farms Christmas

Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ

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

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

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

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

The Bronx Zoo Light Show

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

Bronx Zoo Christmas tree

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

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

My blog on the Bronx Zoo:

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

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

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

The holidays were just different this year.

Places to Stay:

AC Hotel New York Times Square

260 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

(844) 631-0595

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Places to Eat:

9th Avenue Deli

769 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 258-2600

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232/736-4004

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 594-3393

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Staatsburgh State Historic Site(The Mills Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive

Staatsburgh, NY  12580

http://www.facebook.com/staatsburghSHS

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

TripAdvisor Review:

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

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

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The Bergen County Historical Society

1201 Main Street

River Edge, NJ 07661

(201) 343-9492

http://bergencountyhistory.org/

Open: Special Events and weekend hours check the website site

Fee: Depends on events/donations

TripAdvisor Review:

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

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

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Demarest Farm at Christmas

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

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

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

“From Revolution to Renewal” our Historical Bergen County project

NJ Agricultural Information:

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

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

The Project “From Revolution to Renewal”:

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

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

https://bergecooparc.wixsite.com/bergen

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

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

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

Schraalenburgh Farm in the Spring

Old Schraalenburgh Farm in the warmer months of Spring

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

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

The Farm Burger

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

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

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

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

The Breakfast sandwich at the

The Bacon, Egg and Cheese here is excellent

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

pie cookies

The blueberry pie cookies

The bakery also has something called “Burnt Cookies” (.50 cents) that are in jars near the register. I thought someone made a mistake and overcooked them. The woman at the counter said “Oh no. People like a crisper cookie.” I still say they were selling a mistake but they were really good! I had the sugar, chocolate chip and an oatmeal cookies and they were really crisp. To tell you how popular they are I dropped a piece at the chicken pen and the chickens and roosters got all excited and ran out of their pen to eat the piece that had fallen on the ground. That’s an endorsement.

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

Schraalenburg Farm pie case

The bakery case at the farm

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

Christmas at Abram Demaree Homestead

The antiques and holiday decorations at the Abram Demaree Homestead

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

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

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

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

Abram Demaree Homestead

The Abram Demaree Homestead in the Summer months

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

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

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

Old Hook Farm

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

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

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

Old Hook Farm

The Old Hook Farm grocery section of the General store

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

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

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

Christmas tree sales

The Christmas trees were pretty much sold out when I visited

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

History of the Old Hook Farm:

The town of Emerson did not exist during the Native American origin. The name ‘Old Hook’ on the east side of the town came from the Dutch word ‘Hoek’ meaning ‘angle’ or ‘corner’. The angle of the land was created by the three connecting water ways, the Hackensack River, the Pascack Brook and the Musquapsink Brook. The first person to make their home here was William Rutan, who settled on a parcel of land just west of today’s ‘Old Hook Farm’ sometime around 1748 (Emerson Town History).

The current ‘Old Hook Farm’ was bought by current owner, Bruce Marek’s grandfather in 1925 as a weekend getaway. He rented the farm and the farm house to a local resident for 35 years and the family had a large garden on the property until about 1948. Then his father took over the land and cleared the fields and had Soil Conservation come in and do contours and started to grow in the greenhouse. When his father died in 1973, he took over the farm and within eight years, reopened the garden store and started to experiment and grow organic crops (Bruce Marek’s interview with ‘Bergen Save the Watershed Action Network’).

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

Demar

The Demarest Farm Store at 244 Werimus Road

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

Demarest Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demarest Farm at Christmas

Demarest Farm Store decorated for Christmas

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

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

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

The History of Demarest Farms:

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

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

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

Demarest Farms put out this wonderful promotional video on the event

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

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

Goffle Road Poutry Farm

Goffle Road Poultry Farm at 549 Goffle Road

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

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

History of Goffle Road Poultry Farm:

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

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

The Abma

The Abma Farm at 700 Lawlins Road in Wyckoff

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

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

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

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

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

Amba

The Abma Farm Store stocked with delicious foods

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

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

The History of Abma Farm:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring and Summer of 2021:

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

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

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

Stokes Farm

The Stokes Farm Stand in Old Tappan, NJ

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

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

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

The History of Stokes Farm:

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

Stokes Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Binaghi Jr. at Stokes Farm

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

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

(Stokes Farm website)

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

Depiero's Farmstand

Depiero’s Farm Stand at 156 Summit Avenue

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

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

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

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

The History of DePiero’s Farm:

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

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

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

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

Secor Farms greenhouse

Secor Farms greenhouse is laden with flowers and plants

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

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

Secor Farms

Secor Farms in Mahwah, NJ

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

The History of Secor Farms:

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

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

Fall at Secor Farms in Mahwah, NJ

Farms to Visit:

Old Schraalenburgh Farm Stand and Abram Demaree Homestead

177 Schraalenburgh Road

Closter, NJ  07624

(201) 289-3627

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

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

https://www.abramdemareehomestead.org/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

Old Hook Farm Stand & General Store

650 Old Hook Road

Emerson, NJ 07630

(201) 265-4835

http://www.oldhookfarm.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

Demarest Farm

244 Werimus Road

Hillsdale, NJ 07642

(201) 666-0472

https://demarestfarms.com/

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Goffle Road Poultry Farm

549 Goffle Road

Wyckoff, NJ 07481

(201) 444-3238

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Abma Farm

700 Lawlins Road

Wyckoff, NJ 07481

(201) 891-0278

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Stokes Farm

23 Dewolf Road

Old Tappan, NJ 07675

(201) 768-3931

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Secor Farms

85 Airmont Avenue

Mahwah, NJ 07430

(201) 529-2595

http://www.secorfarms.com/

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Depiero’s Farm Stand

156 Summit Avenue

Montvale, NJ 07645

(201) 930-8678

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Giggles the Scarecrow

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

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

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

“The Legend of Giggles the Scarecrow”:

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

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

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

Giggles the Scarecrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

mywalkinmanhattan

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

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

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VIII

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

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

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

Our trees just…

View original post 874 more words

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The song ‘Hasbrouck Heights’ by Burt Bacharach

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

Battle of Hackensack

The Battles in Hackensack and Paramus during the Revolutionary War

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

Washington Retreat Sign

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

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

Corleone's Pizza II

Corleone’s Pizza at 205 Williams Avenue

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

https://www.corleonespizzeriamenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corpus Chrisit Church

Corpus Christi Catholic Church at 215 Kipp Avenue

http://www.corpuschristihh.org/

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

Corpus Christi Church II

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

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

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

China House

China House at 250 Boulevard

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

The Religious Shoppe

The Religious Shoppe at 220 Boulevard

https://thereligiousshopusa.com/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Sophia's Mediterranean Grill

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

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

Sofia's Kitchen II

Sofia’s Mediterranean Grill at 220 Boulevard

https://sofiasmediterraneangrill.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Young Fashions Inc III

Young Fashions at 206 Boulevard (Closed June 2021)

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

Young Fashions Inc. II

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

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

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

Not too Shabby

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

https://nottooshabbynj.com/

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Dumpling Chinese Food

Dumpling Chinese Food at 202 Boulevard

http://www.dumplingchinesehasbrouckheights.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

Dumplings

Dumplings dumplings are really good!

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

Masonic Lodge

The Euclid Masonic Lodge at 200 Boulevard

About Us

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

Neil Parrot Playhouse

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Hasbrouck Heights Circle

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

Hasbrouck Heights Christmas

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

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

Firemen's Memorial Hasbrouck Heights

The Firemen’s Memorial in Hasbrouck Heights

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

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

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

Heights Bar & Grill

Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard

http://www.heightsbarandgrill.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

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

KTB Coffee Shop & Lounge

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

Bella Pizza

Bella Pizza at 193 Boulevard

https://www.bellapizzahh.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

Risotto House

The Risotto House of Hasbrouck Heights at 203 Boulevard

https://www.ourrisottohouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

J. Maru Sushi

J. Maru Sushi at 205 Boulevard

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Heights Flower Shoppe

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://www.heightsflowershoppe.com/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

Heights Flower Shoppe

Heights Flower Shoppe is always special at the Christmas holidays

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

Lovey's Pizza

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

https://www.loveysristorantepizzeria.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Ho Mei Kitchen

Ho Mei Kitchen at 227 Boulevard

http://www.homeikitchen.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Lemon Chicken

Their Lemon Chicken is the best!

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

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

Bill O'Sheas Florist

Bill O’Sheas Florist & Gifts at 227 Boulevard

https://osheasflowers.com/

My article on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

Bill OShea's

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

Bill O'Shea's at Easter

Bill O’Shea’s Easter Open House 2021

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

Ralph's Ice Cream

Ralph’s Ice Cream at 239 Boulevard

Home

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

Fisher's Cafe

Fisher’s Café at 245 Boulevard

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Spindler's Bakery V

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

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

Spindler's Bakery III

Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

Spindler's Bakery VI

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

Lemon Turnovers at Spindler's Bake Shop

Their Lemon Turnovers are excellent!

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

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

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

Tom Young Koong

Tom Young Koong at 305 Boulevard

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

Heights Pizza

Heights Pizzeria at 313 Boulevard

https://www.hasbrouckheightspizza.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My article on Patch.com:

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

Heights Pizza II

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

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

Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building

The Hasbrouck Heights Municipal Building at 320 Boulevard

https://hasbrouck-heightsnj.org/

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

Hasbrouck Heights High School

Hasbrouck Heights High School at 365 Boulevard

https://www.hhschools.org/

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

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

Danson Jewelers

Danson Jewelers at 201 Williams Avenue

Jewelry

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

Two Ladies Bakery

Two Ladies Bakery at 448 Boulevard

https://twoladiesbakerynorth.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Cream Puffs

The cream puffs are good but expensive

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

Heights Pharmacy

Heights Specialty Pharmacy at 450 Boulevard

http://heightsspecialty.com/

My article on Patch.com:

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

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

Jerry's Barber Shop

Jerry’s Barber Shop at 460 Boulevard

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

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

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

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

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

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

Bill O'Shea's Florist V

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

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

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

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

Heights Flowers V

Heights Flower Shoppe has the most interesting merchandise

Heights Flowers IV

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

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

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales VI

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

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

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales V

The trees were gorgeous this year

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

Hasbrouck Heights Christmas VI

Our town Christmas tree at the Circle

Neil Parrot Playhouse

The Neil Parrot playhouse is even decorated at the Circle

Bill O'Shea's Florist VII

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights welcomes you at Christmas

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

Santa Around Town HHFD

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

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

Christmas Parade in HH

We visit every neighborhood in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

HHFD Santa Around Town 2020

HHFD at Santa Around Town 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town 2020”:

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

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

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

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

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

And be a tourist in your own town!