Category Archives: Exploring Westwood NJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving with my cousins and aunt at the Lambertville Inn

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas in Greenwich Village really kept my spirits up between classes

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

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

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

Window display in the Village

Window display in the Village

Christmas display inside and outside at Greenwich Village store

More Christmas trees for sale on lower Seventh Avenue

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

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree by day

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree at night

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

I keep it simple but elegant in my house

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roth Hall decorated for Christmas

The Christmas tree in the outside courtyard

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

Downtown Kingston, NY the night of the Snowflake Festival

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

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

The Christmas tree in Downtown Kingston, NY

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

The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

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

The “Into the Light” show at the local church

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

The parade begins at the Starr Library

The serpents are always a big hit at the parade

The stars always lead the parade down the hill

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

All the characters come together at the closing ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Naylis family entertaining the residents

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

My review on the Columbia Inn in Montville, NJ:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill at 17 Westage Drive & Route 9

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

The Culinary Institute of America at sunset

The Christmas tree lit at the Culinary Institute of America

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mills Mansion

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The band with the singer with the 1920’s outfit

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

It was a very elegant party that night

The Mill’s would have been proud of this party

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

The Brinckerhoff House at 68 North Kensington Drive at Christmas

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

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

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

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

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

The Christmas tree at the Brinckerhoff house

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

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

The Vanderbilt Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The entrance hall to the Vanderbilt Mansion

The Dining Room set for a formal Christmas dinner

The Living Room with the family Christmas tree

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

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The entrance hall of Springwood decorated for Christmas

The library decorated for FDR’s last Christmas

The Dining Room was set for Christmas supper

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

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

As I left the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions, I passed Downtown Hyde Park, NY which has a small downtown with about two blocks of historical buildings and admired the lights and how the businesses decorated the lights and buildings. I stopped to take a picture of their Christmas tree which was ablaze with lights on this snowy night. It really did look like Christmas.

Downtown Hyde Park, NY

The Hyde Park, NY Christmas tree a block from downtown

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

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

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

The Tree as we call it in Rockefeller Center December 2022

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

The side streets were particularly elegant

West 58th Street in its glory

The Plaza Hotel in all its glory that night

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

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

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

The beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night

The Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf-Goodman shined that evening

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

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

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

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

Link to Quiz Four: The Corporate Christmas Party

One of the invitations to the party

One of the Christmas menus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill was decorated nicely for Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

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

The foyer decorated for Christmas

The Christmas tree in the foyer

The Dining Room decorated with the masks

The Library decorated for the holidays

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

The article on The Mills Mansion:

Then it was off to Wilderstein

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The outside of Wilderstein decorated for the holidays

The Dining Room at Wilderstein during the holidays

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

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas time

The Christmas tree in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

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

Downtown Red Hook, NY

Downtown Red Hook, NY at Christmas

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

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

The Christmas Tree in Downtown Red Hook, NY

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

The Village Square at Woodstock, NY during the holidays

The Woodstock, NY Christmas tree is always interesting

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

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

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

The Locust Grove Mansion at Christmas time

https://www.lgny.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The Dining Room at Locust Grove at Christmas

The Billiards Room at Locust Grove at Christmas

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The Foyer at the Meiser Homestead decked out for the holidays

The Living Room with the Christmas tree

The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch

Downtown Wappingers Falls during Christmas

The Wappingers Falls Christmas tree in the downtown

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

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

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

https://www.carnegiehall.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

The stage at Carnegie Hall decorated for Christmas

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

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

Ingrid Michaelson and her fellow singers on stage

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

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

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

“Christmas Time is Here” by Ingrid Michaelson

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

Christmas tree sales by Carnegie Hall

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

Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 59th Street

https://amorepizzacafe.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23336838-Reviews-Amore_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

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

The Meat Lovers Pizza at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent

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

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

Us making Hardtack at the outdoor oven

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.bergencountyhistory.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The Blackhorse Tavern for dinner

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

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

Bogert’s Candy Shop in Downtown Hackensack closed in 1934

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

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

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

The ballroom at the Steuben House

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas on Park Avenue

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor of Confucius Chinese Restaurant:

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

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

My mother really decorated the house beautifully.

The House at Christmas.

Jane set the table so elegantly.

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

The Appetizers and Desserts being prepped for dinner:

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

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

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

My mother preparing the Sauteed String Beans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sun preparing to set that night

The hues at Sunset Beach make this place very special

https://sunsetbeachnj.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g3948623-d103992-Reviews-Sunset_Beach-Lower_Township_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The Southern Quarters at the Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

I like the shabby chic of the place

My room was really nice and the bed was so comfortable

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

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

Cape May Town Square at Christmas

The bandstand and Christmas tree are amazing at night

The Cape May Christmas tree

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

The Washington Mall at night

The Washington Mall in Cape May decorated for the holidays

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

http://ladystarofthesea.org/olss/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d16846237-Reviews-Our_Lady_Star_of_the_Sea_Church-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

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

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

The Mad Batter at 19 Jackson Street in Cape May

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

The Bacon and Cheese Omelet with home fries was outstanding

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

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

The church was so beautifully decorated for the holidays

Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Christmas holiday season

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

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

The Emlen Physick Estate at

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The Living Room at the Physick Estate

The Dining Room

The Parlor with the ‘Tabletop’ Tree in the corner

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

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

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

The outdoor Christmas display in West Cape May

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

The Cape May Lighthouse at 215 Lighthouse Avenue

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

The view from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse

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

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

The entrance to Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

The wonderful gourmet items at Beach Plum Farm

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

The chickens were a very excited bunch that afternoon

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

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

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

My TripAdvisor review on Brothers Pizza II:

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

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

Christmas in Greenwich Village

Decorations in one of the pocket parks on Greenwich Street

Homes decked out for the holidays

Townhouses decked out for the holidays

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

The Metropolitan Museum of at at 1000 Fifth Avenue:

https://www.metmuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas tree

The display around the tree is amazing

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

The Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ

Christmas services at the Paramus Reformed Church

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

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

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

The Ivy Inn decorated for Christmas

The beauty of the dining room decorated for the holidays

The delicious salad I started with

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Four Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ-Be A Tourist in your own Town” at Bergen Community College November 30th, 2022

My students continue to dazzle me every semester.

I have been teaching “Marketing 201” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.

This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.

In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of post-COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees

https://bcpccom.wordpress.com/contact/

In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

This semester’s project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019 and “Rocking it in Rutherford” in 2021. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson, the Borough of Rutherford and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.

The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/11226

The blog on Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Four: “Rocking it in Rutherford: Be a Tourist in your own Town”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/23377

I chose Westwood, NJ this semester because of all the years spent shopping and eating in Westwood with my family who live in the Township of Washington the next town over and many of the long term businesses that dot the downtown shopping district. Downtown Westwood had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of the train station dominating the downtown and a park with a band stand in Veterans Park in the heart of the downtown. It was a traditional downtown in New Jersey.

The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Westwood, NJ has all of these.

I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.

I entitled the project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.

The Project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”:

BCC-Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. 2022 Project It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ

When I presented the project, I got the usual moans and groans from some of the students and excitement from the others (it all depends on their position in the company and their enthusiasm in group projects). I got the Teams organized, had them meet up with one another and exchange emails and planned my field trip to Westwood, NJ as part of the project. It took some doing.

Two weeks later, I took my class on a field trip to Westwood, NJ to walk the downtown business district, to see where the Westwood Heritage Museum was located and to visit the shops and restaurants in the downtown area. The week in between me presenting the project and us visiting Westwood, NJ, I started to make contacts in the town.

I started by dropping off a copy of the project with City Hall and hoping to get the Mayor and Council involved the way we did in both Paterson and Rutherford, talking with the head of the Chamber of Commerce and then talking to merchants who I wanted to visit that included Hartly’s, a well known Women’s Store and Conrad’s, a very well-known Ice Cream and Candy store.

We really lucked out the day of the tour. It was a beautiful day but a little windy. We started out at the bandstand which is a symbol of the town. I never realized the historical significance that the bandstand had played in the town and in it’s history. It had been an important part of the social fabric of the town during the turn of the last century and still used for concerts today.

We were joined by the Honorable Beth Dell, the President of the Westwood Town Council and I thought this was a very nice honor that the town wanted to get involved in the beginning of the project. We really had a productive afternoon.

The tour of the downtown started in Veterans Park with the Team trying to figure out on how to create some of the activities that we would be creating such as the “Halloween in the Park”, the “Nick in Time” event and the “Jazz Summer Concert” events. We used the parks layout and logistics to figure out how to configure the usage of space. Before we toured the historic train station, we took our first in a series of corporate pictures.

Our Group picture at the Westwood Bandshell at the start of the tour (Councilwoman Dell and I to the right)

We continued on to the historic Westwood Train Station, which is the home to the Westwood Heritage Museum one day a month. It had not been operating recently because of COVID but I wanted the students to see the potential in how the museum could be updated and advertised to increase traffic.

The Train Station marker in Veterans Park

We toured the station and looked over the architecture and location of the station to understand why the location of the station has helped shape the way the downtown has been built around it.

The historic Westwood, NJ Train Station

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westwood_station_(NJ_Transit)

The next part of the tour, we met with the head of the Westwood Chamber of Commerce at his business, Westwood Gallery, Michael Fitzsimmons. Mr. Fitzsimmons and I had met the week before and I knew how busy he would be so we had to plan the whole visit on a timely basis.

Westwood Gallery at 10 Westwood Avenue

Custom Framing and Fine Art, Bergen County New Jersey

Not only did he spend a lot of time with us but introduced the class to members of ‘Celebrate Westwood”, a group of volunteers who help organize special events in the town. Talk about a productive and very engaging conversation on what both organizations do for the benefit of the town. The students, especially the Executive and Marketing Teams, gained a lot of knowledge and expertise from it.

The Westwood Chamber of Commerce:

Celebrate Westwood:

https://www.celebratewestwood.org/

Our second stop on the tour was a quick one through B & S Kitchen, an innovative sandwich shop a few doors down. I had just eaten lunch there the week before and thought that the food and selection of homemade soups were excellent. With a lunch special of a half a sandwich with a side of soup for $9.95, I saw this as an excellent business decision considering the quality of the food and service. It was so busy that morning the owners did not have a chance to talk to us but I was able to share my experience with the students while visiting there.

B & S Kitchen at 48 Westwood Avenue

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46923-d25074444-Reviews-B_S_Kitchen-Westwood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Our third stop on the tour was Hartly Fashion women’s store, which I think is one of the finest independent women’s clothing stores in the state. For a small store, it has some of the finest merchandise for work, parties and weddings. The service they have does not exist in stores anymore where salespeople will call you when items come in and will work with you on a personal one on one basis. Hartly is in a league all its own.

Hartly Fashion at 104 Westwood Avenue

The manager, Jo and I had talked about the tour and I could tell she was a bit sceptical when I mentioned it but myself and the students came in, she captured the students attention on what quality and customer service meant to people. Especially when she described women travelling from places like Long Island, Manhattan and Connecticut to come shop in the store.

With pride, we walked through the store and were given a very detailed description on the type of customer that shopped here, what she was looking for in clothes and the attention to detail she would get in the shopping experience. It was a real eye-opener to many of the students who are completely online shoppers.

We walked the rest of the Downtown to Firemen’s Park and I discussed the pride that the town takes in its fire service and described my own time on the fire service and what a park like this means to the fire fighting community.

We toured the other side of Westwood Avene, the main street of the downtown and I discussed the amount of men’s and women’s clothing and accessory stores in the downtown area. You do not see this many clothing stores in one concentration in a downtown anymore being so close to the amount of malls we have in Bergen County. Westwood had become a destination for shopping and I discussed because of quality merchandise and good customer service these stores have thrived and propersed. To some of students, I could see this was alien to them. They were a generation where you pushed the button and it came to you.

I stopped by Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue to check on our lunch reservation on our way back to the train station. This is where I would be taking the Team for lunch that afternoon. With that taken care of, we made our last stop of the trip at Conrad’s Ice Cream and Candy store at 107 Westwood Avenue. I could tell for the students that was the best part of the tour. The owner Connie and the manager, Sue and the rest of the staff could not have been nicer or more accommodating to the students.

Conrad’s Confectionery at 107 Westwood Avenue

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46923-d4440175-Reviews-Conrad_s_Confectionery-Westwood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I just thought we would have a little talk on the history of the business and a small walk through but the ladies really gave the students a thorough talk on not just the history of the business but on how homemade ice cream and candy are both made (they are made on premise), how the family got involved in the business, how Connie’s son has now taken over the business and has been growing it, new product developments and how they handled COVID era shopping and how it changed the way the business is run (they now have food trucks for parties and events).

The ladies led a very engaging talk with the students, let them tour around the store and Sue ended the discussion with giving each student a small package of Conrad’s homemade caramel corn. I have never seen so many excited students! You would have thought they won the lottery. The students left so happy and I thought this was a very smart business move. Start to capture the customer while they are in the store. I found out later that many students revisited the store throughout the project.

The Conrad’s Ice Cream counter

The students used Conrad’s as the inspiration as for corporate gifts

We finished the tour with lunch at Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue. I have been coming to Pompilio’s Pizzeria since I was a freshman in high school when my aunt and uncle took us here for dinner when we were visiting them one summer. I also knew that they had ordered here a few times when we visited the house. Funny what you remember when you were a kid. The pizza is just as excellent as it was back in the 1980’s.

Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46923-d4643410-Reviews-Pompilio_s_Pizzeria_Restaurant-Westwood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

As tradition with the Town projects that make up the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. umbrella, I break bread with the students and this is my way of getting them to know one another. I found this very successful when we went to the Lunch Box in Paterson, NJ (now closed) as a group during our walking tour of Downtown Paterson and found it effective in Team building. I also get to know the students as well.

I ordered six large Cheese Pizzas and pitchers of soda and we just relaxed and reviewed our walking tour of the downtown area and how to better promote it for the town. The Team sat with their groups and brainstormed ideas over lunch. In the middle of lunch, the owner of Pompilio’s came out and discussed his family business with us and how his father’s family came from Italy and how they started the business in Westwood. I thought it was nice of the owner to come out and spend time with us seeing that he was so busy that afternoon. It was nice to see the merchants support this project.

The students created this new logo for the Town of Westwood, NJ:

The logo that was created for Westwood, NJ for ‘It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”

During class time, I tried to give the students as much time as I could but much of the work was done outside the classroom. Being a Hybrid class, I had to train the students to realize that class was not just in the one hour and fifteen minutes that we had in the classroom. This was lecture time and they needed to understand the theory of what they were doing, why they were doing it and how to understand the outcome. Most of them did very well in the academic part of the work.

The Saturday before the presentation, I took the students on a optional tour of the Westwood Heritage Museum, which is located in the Train Station of Westwood, NJ the second Saturday of every month. The Westwood Heritage Society sets the station up for visiting from 10:00am-12:00pm and I met the students at 10:30am at the museum. My entire Historical Team showed up along with about five other students which meant about half the class showed up.

Westwood Heritage Museum

https://www.facebook.com/hfwhalen/

The displays at the Westwood Heritage Society Museum in the Train Station

Westwood Heritage Society displays

The members of the Westwood Heritage Society gave us a tour of the museum, explained how it worked and how they set things up each month. Then they gave us a talk on the history of the town and the historical attributes of the downtown. The students got a feel for how the museum worked and how we could better promote it to the outside community.

The tour concluded with visit to the WWII bunker at the bottom of the train station. Both myself and the students were equally impressed by this.

As we prepared for the final touches on the presentation, the student Executives were nervous about the presentation. I had a very good Executive so I was not worried. I just wanted a good representation from the town.

We had to delay the presentation twice. Once because the Town Council asked if we would like to present it at City Hall and the Council was going to a conference the day of our presentation. Then it was delayed again because the day we were supposed to present it, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and even I did not realize that we had the day off. So presentation day would be when we returned back from the Thanksgiving break, November 30th, 2022.

The day of the presentation I got there early so that I could set the room up for the presentation. I had the Reception to set up and make sure that everything in the room was working. My President and Senior Vice-President of Operations arrived early as well and then most of the Team showed up much earlier than class time. They wanted to get their groups settled in.

I also had to give the students their Dress Code grade and I have to say that I was annoyed when I saw two students wearing sneakers to the presentation. Trust me, they were graded accordingly. Every semester it is the same thing, the ladies always blow away the men.

We were joined that afternoon with Council President the Honorable Councilwoman Beth Dell, the Borough Administrator and another Councilwoman plus two members of the Westwood Heritage Museum whom we had met on a trip to the museum the previous Saturday. I thought it was very nice of all of them to come out and support the students.

This is the presentation that everyone saw that afternoon:

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Be a Tourist in your own Town” website and Powerpoint presentation:

The Marketing 201 Executive Team the day of the Presentation on the Bergen Community College Paramus Campus with the Council women from Westwood, NJ:

The Paramus Executive Team for “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ-Be a Tourist in your own Town” with Council members and guests.

The full Executive Team with members of Westwood City Council and members of the Westwood Heritage Society Museum

CEO and company Co-Founder Justin Watrel receiving a gift of a Conrad’s Chocolate Champagne bottle presented to him by Team Leader of Talent, Eva Sipos, of the Paramus Team.

The Commercials:

Here is the Team’s video Marketing the Town for Tourism in English and Spanish:

The Historical Team was tasked with creating a new video to promote the Historical Section of Westwood, NJ:

The Historical Team created this video to promote the Westwood Heritage Museum:

The Team created a new Town song for Westwood, NJ “The Hub”:

This is the Team Presentation of “It’s Wonderful in Westwood-Be a Tourist in your own Town” to the Honorable members of the Westwood Town Council and the Westwood Heritage Museum:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

This was one of the smoother presentations that I have had in the last two or three semesters. The students did an excellent job with the presentation. We had enough time for a question and answer session before the students had to leave for their next classes. Being an one hour class, we had to stay on a strict schedule. This differs from my night classes.

Still it was one hell of a presentation!

The Team to finish out their project arranged a company Christmas party for Corporate Headquarters. The students had to create an Invitation to the Party, A Christmas Poem, the Party Dinner menu and an original Christmas song. Here are the ideas:

The Christmas Project: Quiz Four:

Here is their Team Video for Christmas:

The Team was tasked to create a new Christmas song for the company:

Remember “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ”.