Category Archives: Historic New York State neighborhoods

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

Spider Puppet on the Jefferson Market Library

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Nine: Halloween returned in an era of COVID October 31st, 2020

This Halloween was very subdued but not entirely canceled this year.

New Jersey still allowed Trick or Treating even though I saw very few children outside on the one nice sunny day we had seen in over two weeks. Because of the recent hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast, we got the tail of the last two storms. It had been cloudy and gloomy for almost three weeks and Halloween day was the first nice day we had. I could see that people wanted to get out of the house.

In the era COVID, I could not see too many people going out Trick or Treating. It was an unusual Halloween for me as I was usually preparing for a long day of working at the Halloween Parade in Manhattan but because of COVID that parade was cancelled. This on top of pretty much any other Halloween related activity. Things were done on a smaller scale. I saw small children Trick or Treating in our downtown business district and some parents were weaving between businesses to talk to merchants.

Residents in our community really decorated their houses and in some cases overdid it. I felt like I was passing mini cemeteries and houses of horror. I can understand that parents wanted to bring some sense of normalcy to their families in this extremely rough time.

Halloween Night in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

I started the day at a drill with the fire department. We spent the morning using the Hurst tools and practicing cutting a van. The department was practicing rescuing people from a trapped vehicle. It was a good training session as we all got chances to cut parts of the van and then get a small lecture on our work. At the end of the day, we had a wrap up session and then a pizza lunch. It was nice to just relax after a busy morning.

Our new coach, Mel Tucker, lead Michigan State University to victory

When I got home I arrived in time to watch the forth quarter of the Michigan State versus University of Michigan game. After the disaster we had the week before with Rutgers, we needed this win badly. I would like to say it was a back and forth game but we dominated them for most of the game and pulled out the win 27-24. Watching the Michigan players leave the stadium with all the arrogance gone was enjoyable. This since their coach practically forced the Big Ten to play when COVID is raging all over the country.

Beating Michigan every year is a pleasure!

Don’t miss the highlights from the game. It was something!

After the game was over, my best friend, Kris and I had a long and very excited conversation about the game which is the bragging rights of Michigan and that is a big deal between both sets of Alumni.

I looked outside on the sunny day and saw absolutely no Trick or Treaters. The Halloween Parade Committee had sent out an email earlier in the week that the Spider Puppet would be ‘crawling out of’ Jefferson Market Library on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street plus there would be a slide show in Times Square. With no other plans and a beautiful night ahead of me, off I went into Manhattan.

My first stop was Times Square which is a hop, skip and jump from Port Authority. I swear the whole area was crowded with people in costume having a wonderful time. I was surprised with the COVID going on how many people especially young families with children were not wearing masks. They were wearing costumes with no face coverings including the children.

Since the parade was cancelled, people had their own makeshift parade and were laughing, yelling and having a good time talking to one another in the closed off portion of Times Square between West 42nd to West 45th Streets along Broadway. I could see people just wanted to don a costume and forget all their troubles. I never realized how much people enjoyed the parade and how much they missed it.

Halloween Night in Times Square

Times Square on Halloween Night 2020

Try as I might, I could not find that billboard with the pictures of the Halloween Parade on it and I could not remember if they posted a side street with the information so I walked about four blocks around the square looking for the billboard and admiring the costumes.

I decided to head to the Village to see the spider puppet emerge from the library. That was another busy neighborhood. All the side street around Sixth Avenue were jammed with people in restaurants and bars. Here they were wearing masks to a point. When they were seated in extremely crowded restaurants, it was mask off. I could tell though again people were having a good time. Everyone looked fatigued and just needed to let off a little steam.

Stonewall Inn on Halloween Night

Pumpkin Men greeted people at the Stonewall Inn on Halloween Night

I watched as the puppet did emerge and dance around the outside of the library, which is a beautiful Victorian structure. The spider crawled out of the tower and I could see the puppeteers from the balcony above directing the spider.

Spider Puppet on the Jefferson Market Library

The spider emerges from the Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue

The spider is the creation of artist Basil Twist, a professional puppeteer with a studio on Leroy Street in the Village who constructed the puppet in 1994. He created the puppet as an homage to one of the original puppets in the parade that was founded by Roger Lee in the 1970’s. The artist usually waits until the marchers in the Halloween Parade get to Eighth Street to release the puppet. (DNA Info Danielle Tcholakian).

Artist Basil Twist

Artist Basil Twist with his spider in the clock tower of the Jefferson Market Tower

https://www.basiltwist.com/

Artist Basil Twist is an American born artist originally from San Francisco and now resides in New York City. He is a third generation puppeteer and is the only American to graduate from the Ecole Superieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionette in France. He is an artist, puppet designer, director and guest lecturer at many colleges.

A video on artist Basil Twist’s work

On quiet Sixth Avenue that only a year before on a 71 degree night where throngs of people walked uptown in the Halloween Parade, I watched the spider dangle from the library and dance down the side of the building. There were very few people to watch the show but the spider did its thing amusing all of us who watched it.

Just as I started to watch the slide show across the street from the library that was being shown of clips of the Halloween Parade, I ran across Grace, our fearless leader of the Parade who checks me in every year before I work the gate. I could barely recognize her under the mask. She and the creator of the Halloween Parade, Jeanne Fleming, were watching the spider too and running the slide show of past parades on the side of a apartment building across Sixth Avenue.

Jeanne Fleming, our fearless leader & Founder of the Halloween Parade

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

Grace and I talked for a bit while watching the spider crawl down from the balcony about how different a year makes. The Village was still busy with people walking on the streets with costumes and bars and restaurants packed with people enjoying the warm October night. It was definitely strange not to see thousands of people walk up Sixth Avenue after all these years but next year brings hopeful optimism.

The full Moon was in its magnificence that evening

I said my goodbyes to her and Jeanne and took one last stroll around the Village with its outdoor dining and costumed revelers and hoped things would work out. Then I noticed the beautiful full moon overhead. I had never seen one so bright on Halloween Night. No witches crossing the moon but a brightness to light the way into better years ahead.

Still I was also able to sneak up to Croton on the Hudson for the Annual “Pumpkin Blaze” that is sponsored by the Hudson River Historical Society. It was a much toned down event than last year and at 25% capacity was much easier to get through the displays. I had never seen so few people at the event but in the era of COVID it is smarter to have a smaller crowd and have the event than to have nothing. It is the Historical Society’s biggest fundraiser and people were having a good time.

The Van Cortlandt Manor ablaze with sights and sounds in its pumpkin cemetery

The Blaze was amazing with all the music, sites and sounds. I loved the MoMA version of the museum with pumpkin portraits and the Pumpkin Bridge, Ferris Wheel and Spider Webs. There was even a Croton on the Hudson fire truck and ambulance in dedication to all the hard work during COVID. Smaller yes but no less wonderful. I am glad that ran the event.

The Pumpkin Ferris Wheel at the Pumpkin Blaze at Croton on the Hudson

One of the Pumpkin Paintings based on “The Scream”

Van Cortlandt Manor in all its ghoulish delight the night of “The Blaze”

Justin Watrel (the blogger) at “The Pumpkin Blaze” during the Halloween holidays

I had the most amazing Chinese meal at New Happy Garden at 440 South Riverside Avenue #440 in the ShopRite Mall next to the Blaze and I highly recommend the restaurant. The Orange Chicken with Pork Fried and egg rolls.

A much more toned down Halloween than in the past but between the all events it made Halloween a more special time to get my mind off everything going on in the world.

Happy Halloween!

Highlights from the Halloween Parade 2019

The First Annual Miniature Halloween Parade: The gift of the Halloween Parade Committee in 2020

Giggles the Scare

My neighbor’s Scarecrow, Giggles. I think this thing is evil (Ha Ha)

Places to Visit:

Hasbrouck Heights Home Decorations

Drive around our Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ in Bergen County for Halloween and Christmas decoration every October and December

The Halloween Parade

The Parade steps off at 7:00pm on Halloween Night starting at Canal Street in Manhattan

The Jefferson Market Library (to see the Spider Puppet)

425 Sixth Avenue

New York City, NY 10011

(212) 243-4334

https://www.nypl.org/locations/jefferson-market

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 South Riverside Avenue

Croton on the Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 366-6900

Open: Seasonal Please check their website

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Places to Eat:

New Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant

440 South Riverside Avenue

Cronton On the Hudson, NY 10520

(914)271-7888

https://www.menupix.com/westchester/restaurants/3212099/Dong-Happy-Garden-Menu-Croton-On-Hudson-NY

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:30pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47560-d4616434-Reviews-Dong_Happy_Garden-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Five: Journeying back to the Hudson River Valley for Weekend Events September 19th-20th, 2020

Just as New York City is starting to open back up slowly to visitors and tourists, the Hudson River Valley has opened its restaurants, farms, wineries and historical sites to visitors who need some fresh air and escape from their worries. It has been a tough last couple of months for everyone all over the country and especially in New York City that depends so much on their office workers and tourists to keep the economy of the City thriving.

The Hudson River Valley started to slowly open back up in June and sites have been cautious about keeping everyone socially distanced and keeping events to a smaller scale. Of course you have to wear masks to everything so it does make it difficult to be outside sometimes. Still it was nice to pass people stopping at farm stands to buy fresh produce, visiting farmers markets to see all crafts people with baked goods, prepared foods and artworks. It was just a nice change of scenery.

After finishing the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, my first neighborhood visited since the City reopened on June 10th, 2020, I wanted to visit the sites of the Hudson River Valley. The Staatsburgh Historical Park and the Friends of the Mills Mansion put together a series of smaller events for members and their guests over the weekend so I travelled up to Staatsburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Red Hook to visit historical sites and see the farms. There was a lot I wanted to cover that I was not able to visit last year because of my schedule.

I started on Saturday at 9:00am in Hyde Park, NY where I have once lived while attending the Culinary Institute of America in the late 1990’s. I had plenty of time to visit since my tour was not until 10:00am in Staatsburgh so I visited the Hyde Park Farmers Market. They had just finished setting up when I got there and having a whole hour before the tour of ‘Historical Staatsburgh’, I decided to stop off and visit the market.

Hyde Park NY Farmers Market

The Hyde Park, NY Farmers Market

It was a cool morning when I arrived but most everyone had already set up their booths and it was a nice selection of baked goods, fresh vegetables and fruits, homemade items like pickles and jellies and a lot of crafts and skin care products. Apples are just starting to come in and there were all sorts of varieties available.

It was nice talking to the merchants about their wares and about business. The COVID pandemic has really affected the farmers markets like everything else and people are just getting used to walking around with masks on even in outdoor spots. The customers like myself put on the their masks and start exploring the booths.

One bakery I stopped at, Tom’s Heritage Bakes Goods & Jam by baker Tom Green, made a pastry that was cross between a pocket and turnover filled with fresh peaches, blueberries and cream cheese. It was $5.00 but it was amazing. The fresh fruit and the buttery pastry was a great combination. Another merchant was selling beautiful wooden snowman and Christmas trees and his wife was selling hand products. I was blown away by the craftsmanship of both of them. It was nice just being outside talking to people who looked happy to see another adult outside the house.

Don’t miss Tom Green’s fruit pockets at the Hyde Park Farmers Market

After the Farmers Market, I headed to Staatsburgh State Park and downtown Staatsburgh (which is about six buildings) to take the walking tour of “Historical Staatsburgh” that the park and the Friends group were sponsoring. While I waited for the tour to start, the local Episcopalian church was having their monthly soup and baked goods sale from 9:00am-12:00pm. It was not even 10:00am, they were almost all sold out. The weather had changed over the weekend and it was about 50 degrees when I got to Rhinebeck and had not warmed up that much. It was soup weather.

St. Margaret’s Church was having a wonderful Soup Sale before the tour

https://www.stmargaretsepiscopalchurch.org/

Also before the tour, I got to visit the Staatsburgh Library which is housed in the old church chapel. That was a really interesting library. It was lined with beautiful light fixtures and had a nice selection of books that was well organized and had a cosy Children’s Room that was off to the side for the kids. They also had public bathrooms which was very convenient before an afternoon of touring.

The Staatsburg Library was originally the church and then the chapel

We just outside the church at 11:00am and then started our tour of Staatsburgh. We started our walk at St. Margaret’s Episcopalian Church and were lucky enough to be allowed inside. We had to keep socially distanced but got to see the graceful woodwork and the beautiful stained glass windows. The Mills family had donated them to the church and were parishioners here.

The stained glass windows here are hundreds of years old

On the tour through the town, we got to see the homes of various servants and merchants who worked with the Mills family. What I was impressed with was how well the Mills family compensated their employees so that they could have a nice and comfortable life. The homes the servants lived in were really nice even by today’s standards. I could see why everyone stayed with the family a long time.

Many of the homes have been renovated since but still you could see how nicely they were designed and built. The gardens of these homes were in full bloom with zinnias and daisies so the colorful rock gardens accented the homes nicely.

Staatsburgh up until the end of WWII was a factory and industry town that mostly closed down after the war. It was explained to us that when Route 9 was built and bypassed the town, it went from a large working community to the sleepy little town it is today which I did not think was such a bad thing. Staatsburg has such a nice hometown feel to it now.

As we walked through the neighborhoods, we walked past the railroads where society would stop in their Pullman cars and attend society events at the Mills and other Hudson River families homes. It was mostly in ruin now but once this is where High Society gathered before they arrived at their summer homes or as guests.

The last part of the tour was visiting what was left of the small downtown which included a Coach facility for horses and an old elegant department store which now is a store that sells sails for sailboats. A real sign of the times how much a town can change.

Department Store in Staatsburgh

The old department store in Staatsburgh now is a sail shop

After the tour finished, I took a ride around the side roads of the old town and admired the houses and gardens one more time. I liked the combination of stone gardens and old homes that make up this part of town. It gives it such a classic Hudson River town look about it.

For lunch after the tour, I went back to Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Albany Post Road for lunch. What a nice place for a relaxing lunch. The old ice cream stand has been renovated and the food here is excellent. I had their Roadside Burger which is a simple burger made with freshly ground beef with lettuce, pickle and tomato on it. God, was it delicious. You could taste the richness of the beef with the fresh vegetables. The Pint of Fries were freshly cut potatoes that had deep fried and salted to perfection. The only disappointing part was the milk shake made out of vanilla soft serve. It had no flavor to it.

Del’s Dairy Creme has the most amazing burgers and ice cream

I sat at one of the many tables on the lawn behind the stand. It was cool that afternoon so I wanted to get as much sun as I could. I also noticed all the families that were eating there that afternoon who looked they needed to get out of the house too. The kids ran around and played corn hole while their parents talked.

After the tour, I rode to my next stop the “Walkway Over the Hudson State Historical Park”, an old bridge in Poughkeepsie that you can walk the span of the bridge and see the views of the Hudson River and the surrounding valley.

The “Walkway Across the Hudson” was originally opened as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, the first train crossed in January 1889. Known as “The Great Connector,” the bridge linked the industrial Northeast with the developing Midwest and at one time the span was the longest in the nation(Walkway Over The Hudson pamphlet). It was a beautiful sunny day and the view was amazing.

Walkway Over the Hudson

The views over the Hudson River were beautiful

You can cross the river both on the Highland NY and Poughkeepsie, NY and I parked on the Poughkeepsie side. Please be careful when parking in the parking lot with all the bumps and pot holes.

The walk across the walkway was just breathtaking. You could see all the way up and down the river and the views of the riverside with the foliage changing. This on top of watching sailboats going by the bridge and there were some kites in the air on this cool, windy afternoon. You really have to take your time to walk both sides of the bridge. On the Highland side, there is a beautiful park with trails.

The beauty of the Walkway Across the Hudson needs to be appreciated on both sides of the bridge.

After I exited the Walkway, I decided to take a walk around Downtown Poughkeepsie, which I had not visited in almost 25 years since I went to college in Hyde Park. It was being gentrified then and now is going through another wave of gentrification right before COVID hit the country.

The Walkway Across the Hudson and the historical surrounding neighborhoods

The Little Italy section of Poughkeepsie must have been greatly reduced since its heyday. While walking around the Mill Street section of the neighborhood, all that is left is two restaurants, a bakery, a hair salon and a pizzeria. The pandemic has closed several businesses.

Still some of the food establishments stand out. Don’t miss La Deliziosa, an Italian pastry shop at 10 t. Carmel Place. I had an eclair that was delicious. It had a rich creamy custard filling with a thick chocolate icing topping that was a pleasure in every bite. I know that I had a big smile on my fact when I was walking back up Mill Street.

Little Italy and the Historic Downtown are being gentrified quickly

I could see the borders of the old neighborhood but I noticed was that the artists and ‘hipsters’ were moving into the neighborhood. Art galleries and studios were moving into the neighborhood as well as the old Victorian homes were being or had been renovated back to their glory days. The nearby Barrett Art Center is the hub of activity.

I walked from Little Italy to the Historic Downtown with its cast iron and stone carved on the first four blocks which are now housing art galleries, new restaurants and clothing stores. I could see by the new windows and sandblasting that the buildings have already been flipped and the artists are turning these into loft. This part of downtown will soon look like Downtown Beacon, NY soon. It looks like the artists are escaping the City and settling up here.

The Historic Downtown of Poughkeepsie has its Victorian charms

Downtown Poughkeepsie

The Cast Iron buildings of Downtown Poughkeepsie are being made into lofts

After my tour of the historic part of Poughkeepsie, I took a drive up to Downtown Red Hook for a slice of pizza before I headed home for the evening. I love going to Village Pizza III for dinner. They make the absolute best red sauce that they use in their pizza and entrees. After having such a big lunch, I just settled on a slice of pizza and a Coke. I then walked around Downtown Red Hook before the trip home. Most of the stores were closed but it was fun to just work off lunch and dinner before I left for home. I would be back the next day for a tour of the Hudson.

Village Pizza III in Downtown Red Hook, NY is outstanding for pizza

Yum! Their pizza is excellent!

The next morning, I made my way back to the Hudson River Valley for the Hudson River Cruise in Kingston , NY at the Kingston Roundout. It was a quiet morning in Kingston as I got there about an hour and a half earlier than the cruise. It was also much colder than the day before and I learned my lesson from the day before and wore long pants on the cruise.

Hudson River Cruises run through the end of October and should not be missed

Before my 11:00am cruise, I got to walk around the Kingston Roundout, the riverfront section of the City of Kingston. This area of the City has seen a lot of action lately as the exodus out of the City up to Kingston has been tremendous. On another trip I took to Kingston one of the women at the Trolley Museum told me that they have 11,000 new residents in Ulster County.

I have to admit that it was not the greatest day to go out on the Hudson River. The temperature really dropped over night and even at 11:00am it was still only 48 degrees. It did warm up a little as the cruise went one but it was still cool the whole trip.

Don’t miss a trip on the Rip Van Winkle II before it closes down at the end of October

The boat, the Rip Van Winkle, was not that full at 11:00am in the morning, there were about 50 of us on a boat that normally holds about 200. So there was plenty of places for us to ‘socially distance ourselves from one another on the boat and most of us chose to sit on the top deck.

Even though it was cold, at least it woke us all up. When we pulled out of the Roundout, the first thing we saw as we exited to enter the Hudson River was the Roundout Lighthouse at the mouth of where the canal meets the Hudson River. Talk about picturesque.

The first stop on the cruise is the Roundout Lighthouse

There was a tape recording of the history of the lighthouse and the people that lived there. It seemed that the lighthouse keeper died on the way back to the lighthouse and his wife carried on the job for many years.

As we passed the lighthouse, continued south down the river until we started to see the mansions along the Hudson River like Wilderstein and the Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh. I have seen these estates many times from land but never from the view of the river and now know why they built the houses where they did. What views! Also the foliage was just starting to change Upstate and the colors were so vibrant.

The foliage is just starting to change in the Hudson River Valley

Our next point of interesting was the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse further down the Hudson River where we heard a recording of that lighthouse keeper as well. The lighthouse was built in 1871 and has been going through renovations and upgrades over the last several years. Sitting in the middle of the river with a backdrop of the foliage made the whole effect picturesque.

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse

The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse sits majestically in the Hudson River

As we rounded the lighthouse, we heard the history of the lighthouses place in the Hudson River before automation and the changes in shipping over the next hundred years. Even though the Hudson River is still a major place of commerce and shipping it is not to the extent it was a hundred years ago. The coming of the railroads and then airplanes changed all that.

We headed back to the Roundout with a history of the mansions that lined the Hudson and our last home was the beautiful Wilderstein, the home of Daisy Suckley who was a relative and confident of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Queen Ann home sits on a buff with a beautiful view of the river.

Wilderstein from the Hudson River

Wilderstein sits on a buff with a beautiful view of the Hudson River

We made our way back to the Kingston Roundout by 1:00pm and it gave me plenty of time to explore the neighborhood. The Kingston Farmer’s Market was still going on when we returned and I do not know where these vendors get their prices. $5.00 for three cookies and a small bundt cake for $8.00? Were they kidding us? These prices were higher than the Farmer’s Market in Hyde Park and more inline with Union Square in Manhattan. Bypass this one folks!

The museum than covers the creation of the Erie Canal and the immense changes to shipping down the Hudson River and the growth of New York City due to shipping. It then covered the modern times with sailing, boating and rowing and its use today.

Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing

My next stop was the Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing right next to the cruise ship dock. This interest museum covers not just the nautical aspect of the Hudson River but its history from it’s creation by the glaciers and its indigenous population by the Lennape tribes and their life on the Hudson to the the coming of the Dutch settlers and the changes of population.

The history of the shipping and trade on the Hudson River

The museum also covers the development of industry and pollution on the river and how environmentalists have worked to clean it up. There is so much that has happened on the river and its history is extensive. There are also simulated rooms that had been once shipping offices and the complete history of the pleasure rides up and down the Hudson River in steamships. I was at the museum for over two hours.

The shipping industry has been extensive

After another quick tour of the Kingston Roundout shops and restaurants (which I may add are getting more expensive), I left Kingston for a quick trip to SUNY New Paltz to the Samuel Dorsky Museum. The campus had been closed since March and it was the first time since last year I was able to visit the museum.

In between both museums, I stopped for a snack at the Apple Bin Farm Market at 810 Broadway in Ulster Park, NY. This cute little farm stand is right next to their orchards and has all sorts of produce, gardening supplies and grocery products to purchase.

Apple Bin Farm Market

The Apple Bin Farm Market is typical Upstate Hudson River Valley

The market is really nice

I stopped and had a apple turnover which was pricey at $3.50 but was out of the world. It was loaded with apples and cinnamon and topped with a thick icing that I gobbled down in the parking lot. I will be visiting here again soon.

The SUNY New Paltz campus was open on a limited basis and the museum had just reopened. The Dorsky Museum was having a two exhibitions at the time that were carried over from the Spring when the school closed. Artist Jan Swaka, a local artist who had moved from Poland to the Hudson River Valley, was being featured. His works had the influence of change and turmoil coming from a Communist country.

Jan Sawka’s ‘Mother in Law portrait

The other exhibition called “Local Hudson River Artists 2020”, that featured local artists that really showcased the developments in the local art world. It was quiet at the museum and I had the galleries to myself. The campus was quiet during the weekend.

Local Hudson River Artists 2020 exhibition

After I toured the museum and part of the campus which there was no one around, I headed to the Mills Mansion for an outdoor concert that the were having for members. It was the first social event we had had since the Afternoon Tea for Masked Balls in February. I have been taking walking tours around the mansion recently (see VisitingaMuseum.com) but this was really nice.

Staatsburgh State Park-The Mills Mansion

The park and home are the former home of Ruth and Ogden Mills and is a really nice place to tour when it is open. We had the concert out on the portico in the front of the house. It was nice nice to see some of the other members again some since last Fall and some since the winter. We were treated to a concert by the duo ” Acute Reflections”, a jazz duo who looked like they were freezing in their costumes. It had dipped down to 50 degrees at this point and was going in the high 40’s by time the sun went down.

The duo “Acute Reflection” performed that late afternoon.

The concert was really nice as people were bundling under blankets to keep warm or enjoying light snacks that were provided by the Friends of Mills Mansion. The concert went on for about an hour with classic hits from Cole Porter and other known artist from that era plus some original songs they wrote. The duo had a lot of light banter between the two of them during the concert that we were picking up on. Still they were terrific.

Acute Reflections video

It was nice to see the sun set behind the mansion and admire the foliage. It was a nice way to end the evening and then watch the sun set over the Catskills in the distance.

After I left the mansion that evening, saying goodbye to other member of the Friends group, I stopped by Giacomo’s Pizza at One Spakenhill Drive by the Marist College campus for a slice of pizza. Talk about not socially distancing! Marist students were coming in and out all night and the place was packed with people ordering pizza and taking it back to campus.

There was not much of a selection that evening as their normally is so I just had a quick slice of Cheese and went on my way.

Giacomo's Pizza is really good!

Giacomo’s Cheese pizza is really good

Even in the era of COVID, many of us are finding ways of adapting to what is going on in the world. With me, I just throw a mask on and go about my business. This is what life is all about just living it.

I will be making more trips to Upstate New York before Halloween.

Places to Visit:

The Staatsburg State Historical Site (The Mill’s Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive, US 1

Staatsburgh, NY 12580

(845) 889-8851

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

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

Fee: Adults $8.00/Students & Seniors $6.00/Group Tours Call Ahead

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The Walkway Across the Hudson State Historic Park

Walkway West

87 Haviland Road

Highland, NY 12528

Walkway East

61 Parker Avenue

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

(845) 834-7245

https://parks.ny.gov/parks/178/details.aspx

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-4:30pm

Fee: Currently Free, please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48443-d2249606-Reviews-Walkway_Over_the_Hudson_State_Historic_Park-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5276

Hudson River Cruises

1 East Strand Street

Kingston, NY 12401

(845) 340-4700/800-843-7472

Open: Please check the website for cruises and dates

Fee: Please check the website for cruises and dates

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d1520206-Reviews-Hudson_River_Cruises_Inc-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Hudson River Maritime Museum

50 Roundout Landing

Kingston, NY 12401

(845) 338-0071

http://www.hrmm.org/

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

Fee: Adults $9.00/Seniors (65+) and Children (4-18) $6.00/Children (4-under), Active Military and Members Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48003-d285787-Reviews-Hudson_River_Maritime_Museum-Kingston_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5305

Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz

1 Hawk Drive State University at New Paltz

New Paltz, NY 12561

(845) 257-3844

https://www.newpaltz.edu/museum/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm

Fee: Suggested $5.00 donation

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48245-d10130343-Reviews-Samuel_Dorsky_Museum_of_Art-New_Paltz_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2871

Places to Eat:

Del’s Dairy Creme

6780 Albany Post Road

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 516-4800

https://www.delsroadside.com/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-8:00pm/Monday-Wednesday 11:00am-7:00pm/Thursday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1832

La Deliziosa Italian Pastry Shop

10 Mt. Carmel Place

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

(845) 471-3636

https://www.ladeliziosany.com/

Open: Sunday-Monday 8:30am-5:30pm/Tuesday-Saturday 8:30am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48443-d4226362-Reviews-La_Deliziosa-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html?m=19905

Apple Bin Farm Market

810 Broadway

Ulster Park, NY 12487

(845) 339-7229

http://theapplebinfarmmarket.com/services

Open: Please see the website during the seasons

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48749-d8366709-Reviews-Peters_Apple_Bin_Farm_Market-Ulster_Park_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Village Pizza III

7514 North Broadway

Red Hook, NY 12571

(845) 758-5808

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=113437418688745

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Emiliano’s Pizza

111 Main Street

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

https://www.emilianospizza.com/

(845) 473-1414/Fax (845) 473-6016

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48443-d4623177-Reviews-Emiliano_s_Pizza-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html?m=19905

Giocomo’s Pizza

1 Spakenkill Road

Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

(845) 462-5555

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

https://www.giacomospizzaexpress.com/

http://marist.ucampus.co/1739611/giacomos-pizza-and-ice-cream

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48443-d4281164-Reviews-Giacomo_s_Pizza_Cafe-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html?m=19905

Murray Hill Brownstones

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Two: Walking the Avenues of Murray Hill from Madison to First Avenues August 14th, 2020

I have recently been reading articles about New York City and how ‘dead’ it has become and how ‘it will never come back this time’. It’s funny when people who did not come into New York in the 1970’s and early 80’s or were even born remember what we went through when visiting Manhattan. Some residents who came into the City in the last ten years see a much different place than what I remembered in all my years working on Macy’s on 34th Street. It was ‘no miracle in 1990’s when I started in the Buying offices and Seventh Avenue after 6:00pm was no better when left the store for home.

Ford to the City

That famous cover from so many years ago

Still by doing this walking project I don’t see a ‘dead city”. I see a City going through another transition and adaption. New York City is unique in the way it changes over time. When I walked the streets of Manhattan at Christmas just nine months ago, I saw a City again in the process of changing. I had never seen so many homeless out on the streets and saw the streets and avenues get dirty again. This started the last two years under Mayor Bloomberg and continued under the current mayor.  I was not too sure what was happening or why it was changing considering all the building going on and renovations in parks, squares and pathways around the City.

Still as I started to walk the Avenues of Murray Hill, I did not see a ‘dead city’. I saw vibrancy and energy on each block. I saw adaption in restaurants with outdoor dining and delivery. I saw stores open to limited people but still open and display their wares with zest. I saw hopelessness next to enthusiasm but the one thing I didn’t see was everyone giving up.

From the delivery guys from GrubHub piling up orders to the men and women meeting their friends socially distanced at outdoor cafes all over the neighborhood to the little girl who was shooting hoops (and hitting every basket) in St. Varta Park park that afternoon. There is still resilience and things to do and get done in Murray Hill and all over New York City.

I really had a nice time walking around Murray Hill the other day and started today with a plan to walk all the Avenues of the neighborhood. Again I was amazed how quiet the City was this afternoon but more people are starting to sit in Bryant Park and the lines for the bathrooms there (the public bathrooms there are still the best in NYC) are getting longer.

Bryant Park Bathrooms

The Bryant Park bathrooms; they should all be like this

I am starting to see tourists slowly coming back as I am seeing more selfies in Midtown. Not like Christmas (not at all) but still slowly coming back in. There are still a lot of people (masks included) walking around the City taking pictures, searching for an open restaurant and sunning themselves in the park.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park is still alive with people and flora

I started the walk today walking down Eighth Avenue to see if some of the restaurants on my ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site were still open. Restaurants have been closing like crazy but the small places still have staying power.

Check out the blog:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

Fu Xing

Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street (now closed 2021)

I stopped for an early morning snack at Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street for some roast pork buns ($1.20) which they make homemade and when they come fresh out of the oven are amazing. They are soft and sweet on the outside and filled with freshly chopped roast pork. I ordered two and munched on them on the walk around Bryant Park. I was just happy that all the places in the Garment District are still open.

Fu Xing buns

The assorted buns at Fu Xing are available in the mornings and late afternoons

I took these wonderful little treats on my walk around the Garment District and back up to West 42nd Street and then cut across town back to the borders of Murray Hill. I started my walk again at the front of New York Public Library admiring the architecture of Fifth Avenue and passing it on my way to Madison Avenue.

When I was walking Fifth Avenue, even after all these years, it feels like I am seeing it for the first time. With not many people walking on the sidewalks, you have more time to look up and admire what is right in front of you. I never realized how from 34th to 42nd Streets was such a prominent shopping district before the move further up Fifth Avenue. The buildings reflect how retailers took themselves more seriously about setting up shop and how the exteriors should match the importance of the interiors. They were merchants that were there to stay (now mostly gone with the closing of Lord & Taylor).

424-434 Fifth Avenue-Lord & Taylor

The former Lord & Taylor Department Store headquarters on Fifth Avenue

http://www.thedepartmentstoremuseum.org/2010/05/lord-taylor.html

Madison Avenue is still an important advertising and communications business neighborhood with many current office building renovations to workers who may or may not come back after the pandemic. It was really creepy to not see more than ten people walking down the Avenue.

I could not believe how many restaurants had closed and stores that have not reopened. The problem is that with all the office workers gone, the foot traffic during lunch went with it. So many restaurants that were packed just a few months packed up and closed. Still there are many bright spots that make Madison Avenue so unique.

The Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue at 41st Street is a beautiful spot on the Avenue with music drifting from the main lobby and outdoor tables from the cafe spilling on to the sidewalk with a few people dining in the early afternoon.

Library Hotel II

The Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue

https://libraryhotel.com/en/

Their outdoor restaurant, Madison & Vine is a beautiful little cafe with an interesting menu and the few people dining there looked like they were having a nice time. I will have to try it in the future.

The Library Hotel

Madison & Vine at the Library Hotel

The hotel is housed in a former office building designed in the ‘sliver design’ facing East 41st Street across the street from the New York Public Library. The hotel is designed in the ‘Neo-Gothic style’ in 1912. Many of these historic office buildings have been turned into hotels while historic hotels like The Plaza and The Waldorf-Astoria are being turned into condos.

Madison Avenue in the East 40’s is mostly office buildings but here and there are architectural gems tucked here and there left over from the Gilded Age. At 205-209 Madison Avenue is the Church of the Incarnation, an Episcopal church that was built in 1896. The original church had been built in 1865 but was destroyed by fire in 1882.

Church of the Incarnation

The Church of the Incarnation

Home

The original design for the church was designed by architect Emlen T. Littel and after the fire all that survived were the walls and the tower. The redesign of the church was built by architect David Jardine and added many of the features seen today. Many prominent ‘old families’ of New York were parishioners here like the Sedgwick’s, Delano’s and Roosevelt’s. Take time to look at the church’s details and stained glass windows (Wiki).

Church of the Incarnation II

The church is now an historic landmark

Further down Madison Avenue are reminders of the ‘Gilded Age’ in the form of the Morgan and De Lamar mansions built at a time when money was no object and there were no income taxes. These palaces of gracious living were a reminder of people who wanted to show their place in the world and Society welcome them with open arms (if Mrs. Astor allowed it).

The De Lamar Mansion, which is now the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland of New York since 1973. was built by C. P.H. Gilbert in the ‘Beaux-Arts style’ for millionaire Joseph Raphael De Lamar, a Dutch born sea merchant who made his fortune in mining and metallurgy. The home was completed in 1905. By the time the mansion was finished, he and his wife divorced and he lived in the house for another eight years until his death in 1918. The mansion was sold by his daughter shortly after on her move to Park Avenue (Wiki).

Joseph Raphael De Lamar Mansion

The De Lamar Mansion (now the Polish Consulate) at Madison Avenue & East 37th Street

Jan Karski Statue

Jan Karski Statue outside the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland/De Lamar Mansion

The statue is of Jan Karski who was a courier who served as part of the Anti-Nazi Resistance in German occupied Poland during WWII. The statue was created by Polish artist Karol Badyna. The statue was dedicated in 2007 (Big Apple Secrets).

Karol Badyna artist

Artist Karol Badyna

https://badyna.pl/

Karol Badyna is a Polish born artist who has studied at the Post-Secondary School of Conservation of Works of Art and Sculpture at Monuments Conservation Studio in Krakow, Poland. He currently serves a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Artist bio).

The Morgan Library & Library is at 225 Madison Avenue is a wonderful little museum that holds the art and library collection of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. The museum is made up of three buildings, the original library that J.P.Morgan built before he died, the annex building where the bulk of the museum collection is located and the brownstone mansion where the Morgan Dining Room and gift shop are located.

The first part of the building was the Italianate brownstone on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street that was built by Isaac Newton Phelps in 1854 who left it to his daughter upon his death. It was bought by J.P. Morgan for his son, J.P. Morgan II who lived there from 1905-1943. It houses the Morgan Dining Room and the gift shop (Wiki).

Morgan Library & Museum X

The Morgan Library & Museum-The Phelps Mansion and the Annex

The Morgan Library’s Annex building in the middle of the Museum was built on top of the original family mansion and was built by Benjamin Wistar Morris. This is where the exhibition hall and theater is located (Morgan Library Museum).

The last part of the building is the Morgan Library that houses the manuscript collection and artworks. The building was designed in the ‘Classic Revival Style’ by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. The building was finished in 1907 (Wiki).

The former J. P. Morgan mansion is now the Morgan Library Museum.

Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library Museum Annex and Library buildings

Morgan Library & Museum VIII

The inside of the Morgan Library Museum Annex

On the corner of Madison Avenue and East 34th is the old B. Altman Department store, the final location for the iconic department store that closed in 1989. The store was the brainchild of merchant Benjamin Altman. The store was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston in 1906-1913 expanding from Fifth to Madison Avenues. The store was designed in the ‘Italian Renaissance style’ (Wiki).

B. Altman & Co. IV

The former B. Altman & Company at the Fifth Avenue entrance

http://www.thedepartmentstoremuseum.org/2010/05/b-altman-co-new-york-city.html

The store was known for its exclusive designs, Couture clothing, it’s elegant wooden interiors, Christmas window displays and the famous Charleston Gardens Restaurant.

Charleston Gardens at B. Altman & Company

The Charleston Gardens Restaurant at B. Altman & Company

Walking back up Madison Avenue, I notice another sculpture that popped out at me. The sculpture of “Eight” by artist Robert Indiana located in front of 261 Madison Avenue.

Eight by Robert Indiana

Eight by Robert Indiana

Artist Robert Indiana was an American born artist who was involved with the ‘Pop Art’ Movement. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Edinburgh College of Art (Wiki). He looked at art with images of small town America with the visual image of High Art. The result was what he called an “verbal visual forms’ (MIA).

Robert Indiana artist

Chronology

I rounded the corner from Madison Avenue to the open blocks of lower Park Avenue seeing Grand Central guarding over the Avenue. This beautiful ‘Beaux Arts Style’ building seems to define the elegance that is Park Avenue.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station defines Park Avenue with its elegance

Just walking down Park Avenue you can see the difference in the way the Avenue portray’s itself with its elegant office buildings, Gilded Age mansions tucked here and there, private clubs and interesting pieces of street art creating an ‘open air’ museum to walk through.

Just outside of 90 Park Avenue is the interesting artwork “The Couple” by artist Arthur Carter. Mr. Carter’s extraordinary life took him from the military to Wall Street to publishing to farming to art. A Brown and Dartmouth graduate from a financial background is pretty much self-taught. His works are very impressive and this work does stand out.

Coupling

“The Couple” by artist Arthur Carter in 1999

Arthur Carter Artist

Artist Arthur Carter

http://www.arthurcarter.com/about

On the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street on the side of a building is the plaque for the home of the Murray family mansion (which the neighborhood is named after) ‘Inclenberg’, that once stood on the site.

Murray Hill Mansion II

The plaque to the Murray home “Inclenberg”

The Murray family were merchants and prominent business people at the time of the Revolutionary War. Robert Murray’s wife, Mary Lindley Murray, had delayed General Howe’s troops by several hours letting the Patriots escape by serving wine, tea and cake to the British soldiers and entertaining them with music and conversation (Wiki and Untapped Cities).

Murray Hill Mansion V

Mary Lindley Murray entertaining the British at her home

Mary Lindley Murray

The Murray's home, Inclenberg

The Murray Mansion ‘Inclenberg’ now the site of Park Avenue and East 37th Street

The continued walk on Park Avenue brought me to the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street. The club was founded in 1863 by former members of the Union Club who did not like the Pro-Southern activities of club members and created their own club with the Union League Club. The current clubhouse was designed by member Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1931.

Union League Club

The elegance of the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street

At 23 Park Avenue, another elegant mansion graces the beauty of Park Avenue and a reminder of its Gilded Age past. The home was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White with architect Stanford White leading the design. The home was built in 1890 for retired Senator James Hampden Robb and his wife Cornelia Van Rensselaer Robb. The mansion is now a co-op (Street Easy & Wiki).

23 Park Avenue-The Cornelia Robb House

23 Park Avenue-The Cornelia Robb House.

Another Gilded Age mansion is now the Guatemala UN Mission at 57 Park Avenue was once the Adelaide T. Townsend Douglas mansion. She had been the wife of William Proctor Douglas, a Capitalist and rumored to be the mistress of J.P.Morgan, the banker. Never divorcing her husband, she continued on as a New York Socialite (Untapped Cities).

The mansion was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer in the ‘French Classical style’ and it was completed in 1911. In 1978, the house was sold after several owners to the Guatemala UN Mission as their headquarters to the United Nations (Daytonian).

57 Park Avenue-The Townsend Mansion

57 Park Avenue-Guatemala UN Mission & the former Townsend Mansion

One of the little treasures I found on Park Avenue though was the alleyway of the Church of our Savior at 59 Park Avenue. This beautiful church has hidden off to the side of the building a tiny alleyway with a garden with statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It is such a nice tranquil place to relax and think that I did not want to leave. It was a relaxing reprieve from the hustle of the City.

The Church of Our Savior

The Church of Our Savior at 59 Park Avenue-Check out the garden alleyway

https://oursaviournyc.org/

Another building that stands out is 41 Park Avenue owned by the Stonehenge NYC. This beautiful and elegant building was built in 1950 and has all the pre-war details.

41 Park Avenue

41 Park Avenue

I was in a mood most of the morning because of some past events of the week and as I passed a small cafe on the corner of Park Avenue and 40th Street I heard a familiar song from the 1980’s that reminded me of college and immediately put me back in a good mood. It is amazing the power of the memories of songs.

‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads

I was humming all the way to Lexington Avenue. The rest of the day just seemed so much better. The song brought me back to my wonderful college years.

Lexington Avenue was quiet for most of my walk down to East 34th Street. Lexington Avenue between it and Park Avenue has some of the most beautiful brownstones on the side streets. It looks like a classic New York neighborhood. That runs between about East 40th to East 36th Streets and then gets more commercial as you get closer to 34th Street.

Murray Hill Brownstones

Murray Hill Brownstones

What I was surprised by is the amount of restaurants that closed their doors on Lexington Avenue. I never saw so many for rent signs on buildings before. Some well known neighborhood places like House of Lasagna were shut at the time of my visit.

House of Lasagna

House of Lasagna at 334 Lexington Avenue

On a recent visit to the  neighborhood in 2021, I went to dinner at the House of Lasagna after it reopened for business. I thought the restaurant was really nice and the service was excellent but the lasagna  was okay. I had the Lasagna Bolognese and it was just okay. I am not too sure it warrants another trip but I am willing to try it in the future.

One restaurant going strong with outdoor dining with a creative menu is Hunan Manor at 339 Lexington Avenue. I saw some of the patrons eating outside and their Soup Dumplings and Chicken dishes that I saw people eating for lunch looked really good. Another restaurant for the bucket list.

Hunan Manor Restaurant NYC

Hunan Manor Restaurant at 339 Lexington Avenue

Walking down Lexington Avenue was very different from Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues with their unusual architecture, interesting parks and street art. It was more of a combination of low rise buildings and commercial spots. There was one standout though and that was the Sailors Club at 283 Lexington Avenue.

Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Club

283 Lexington Avenue-The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club

The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club is the only private club of its kind to provide accommodations at a subsidized rate for service men and women and retirees, veterans and their families visiting New York (Club website). The club was founded in 1919 by Cornelia Barnes Rogers and Eleanor Butler Alexander Roosevelt with General John J. Pershing. The club is housed in two 1880 twin brownstones that once served the area as upper middle class housing (Club website and Wiki). Towards 34th Street you will enter the midtown campus of Yeshiva University.

Walking back up Lexington Avenue, you can see how both Lexington and Third Avenue are quickly changing. Gone are all the low rise and smaller buildings and their businesses giving way to large office high rises and commercial spots. The small rise buildings are being razed for larger buildings.

Here and there on Third Avenue are pockets of the old neighborhood below East 38th Street but the neighborhood is changing to a more modern commercial area. There are more smaller businesses as you get closer to 34th Street. One older restaurant, Sarges Delicatessen & Diner at 548 Lexington Avenue has been around since 1964. It offers traditional deli items such as Matzo-ball Soup and over-sized sandwiches. The restaurant was the idea of retired NYPD Sargent Abe Katz, who who loved Jewish style cooking and wanted to open a deli when he retired. The family has been carrying his tradition for all these years offering many dishes made from scratch in-house (Meat & Poultry-Fox 2019).

Sarges Deli Third Avenue

Sarges Delicatessen & Diner at 548 Lexington Avenue

All around Sarges though the neighborhood continues to morph into a commercial neighborhood where skyscraper office buildings are becoming the norm. Here and there tough are little touches of artistic creativity.

The sculpture “Windward” is sitting just outside an office building at 655 Lexington Avenue by artist Jan Peter Stern.

Windward Jan Peter Stern

“Windward” at 655 Third Avenue

Jan Peter Stern was a German born American  artist who specialized in contemporary, politically influenced artist of the Post-War era. He graduated from Syracuse with a degree in Industrial Design and married to artist Irene Stern.

http://www.artatsite.com/NewYork/details/Stern_Jan_Peter_Windward_contemporary_statue_Art_at_Site_New_York.html

The changes of Lexington and Third Avenues in the East 40’s is also changing the complexity of Second Avenue as well. In the upper parts of the neighborhood, the small buildings and brownstones that set the character as one of the last bastions of ‘old New York’ are giving way to office buildings and apartment high-rises. Second Avenue to me from 100th to 34th Streets still represent ‘old New York’ to me with the smaller buildings with character and the ‘mom and pop’ stores that still line the Avenue.

In the East 30’s there are still the quintessential small brownstone and low rise buildings with many ‘for rent signs’. A lot of the smaller ‘mom and pop’ have closed with the ravages of COVID-19 or just have not reopened. Some of the smaller restaurants have opened outdoor cafes and with the NYU Langone Hospital around the corner, there is a small lunch business when I visited but most workers take their lunches to the open garden courts and then get back to work. Still there is a lot of character to this part of the neighborhood.

One of the standouts in the lower part of the Murray Hill between Second and First Avenues is St. Vartan’s Park. This small oasis of green is very popular with families in this part of the neighborhood.

St. Varta Park NYC II

St. Vartan Park is between Second and First Avenues at East 35th Street

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-vartan-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-vartan-park/history

The park is named after the Armenian Orthodox Church nearby, St. Vartan Cathedral which is a nod to the neighborhood’s Armenian heritage (NYCParks). The park has a wonderful basketball court, playground and lawn space to run around on. The bathrooms were shut which was not helpful but still a nice place to just relax under a tree.

St. Varta Armenian Church

St. Varta Armenian Church at 630 Second Avenue

It was just nice to sit and relax both when I was walking Second and First Avenues. The shade trees blocked the sun and there was nice benches to sit down on and watch everyone playing basketball and paddle ball.

What really caught my attention was at the other end of the basketball court was this little girl who could not have been older than four throwing the basketball into the adult hoop. What was amazing was that she made it every time! I could not believe it. She would just throw it and it went right into the basket with no problems. I was mystified by it all how she did it.

St. Varta Park NYC

St. Varta Park between First and Second Avenue

After some rest in the park, it was time to finish the walk with a stroll down  First Avenue which I made on my border walk of the neighborhood a few days earlier.  The upper parts of First Avenue like everything between Lexington and Second Avenue is going through a big transition and must have been before the COVID-19 pandemic with the upper sections of the neighborhood. The low-rise buildings are giving way to new office and apartment buildings that offer views of the river and the changing Brooklyn and Queens skylines.

Just like the rest of the City during the Pandemic, the Murray Hill is quietly changing and morphing into a new neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what will develop here in the future. Like a flower in the Spring, it will show its ‘true beauty’ in the future.

My walk of the Borders of Murray Hill on August 13th, 2020:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14324

My walk of the Streets of Murray Hill on September 4th-6th, 2020:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14568

Places to Eat:

Fu Xing (formerly New Li Yuan) (Closed in 2021)

273 West 38th Street

NYC, NY  10018

(212) 575-6978

http://www.fuxingnyc.com/

Hours: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-5:30pm

My reviews on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14037661-Reviews-Fu_Xing-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12562531-Reviews-New_Li_Yuan-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/149

Madison & Vine Restaurant at the Library Hotel

299 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10017

(212) 867-5535

https://libraryhotel.com/en/dining.html

https://www.facebook.com/MadisonAndVine/

Open: Sunday & Saturday Closed/Monday-Friday 12:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1020156-Reviews-Madison_Vine-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Hunan Manor

339 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 682-2883/2886

Fax: (212) 682-2992

http://www.hunanmanornewyork.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Friday 11:30am-10:00pm/Everyday from 3:00pm-5:00pm Closed.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2389603-Reviews-Hunan_Manor_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Pizza & Pita

344 East 34th Street

New York, NY  10016

(212) 679-6161/(212) 679-3183

https://www.pizzaandpita.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-11:00pm/Delivery until 1:30am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4727274-Reviews-Pizza_Pita-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

Sarges Delicatessen & Diner

548 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 679-0442

https://sargesdeli.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d457802-Reviews-Sarge_s_Delicatessen_Diner-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

House of Lasagna

334 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 883-9555

Home

Open: Sunday-Saturday 5:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d425343-Reviews-House_of_Lasagna-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Bryant Park

Between Fifth & Sixth Avenues and 40th to 42nd Streets

New York, NY  10018

(212) 639-9675

https://bryantpark.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136347-Reviews-Bryant_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

St. Vartan Park

First Avenue & East 35th Street

New York, NY  10016

(212) 639-9675

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:00pm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-vartan-park/history

Morgan Library & Museum

225 Madison Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 685-0008

https://www.themorgan.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 10:30am-5:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Adults $22.00/Seniors (over 65) $14.00/Current Students with ID $13.00/Free to Members and Children under 12 accompanied by a parent. Free on Friday Nights from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Discount for people with disabilities $13.00-Caregiver Free. review

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107356-Reviews-The_Morgan_Library_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/5208

All the street art and architecture I mentioned by Avenue and by Artist. Look up and around the neighborhood when you are walking or you may miss it.

Downtown Red Hook, NY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mills Mansion

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

Mills Mansion Summer

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

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

Ruth Livingston Mills

Ruth Livingston Mills

Ogden Mills

Ogden Mills

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

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

Downtown Red Hook NY

Looking down East Market Street

I parked on East Market Street and started to walk towards the intersection. I discovered that one of my favorite stores that I just featured a few months ago, Pause at 10 East Market Street had moved to Rhinebeck. It now has an online store that is available in both Red Hook and Rhinebeck.

Pause

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

Pause II

Pause was at 30 East Market Street and is now online

https://www.pausedogboutique.com/

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

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

Village Pizza III

The food and service at Village Pizza III is excellent!

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

The many times I have eaten here over the holiday season and on my visits to the area for functions, I really love coming here for lunch and dinner. The red sauce here is just delicious and has a rich tomato flavor that makes every dish wonderful. The Chicken Parmesan dinner with spaghetti could feed two people easily. It is loaded with gooey mozzarella cheese.

The Spaghetti and meatballs are out of this world. Three golf ball sized freshly made meatballs on top of what looked like a half pound of spaghetti.  The red sauce here is amazing. The calzones are overstuffed with ingredients  and the pizza has the most amazing combination of spices and cheeses. Each bite is like heaven.

Village Pizza III I

The pizza here is fantastic!

Village Pizza III

The prices here are extremely fair.

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

Red Hook NY

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

Annabelle's Village Bake Shop

The excellent doughnuts and cinnamon rolls

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

Little Pickles II

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

Homepage

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

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

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

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

Little Pickles III

This is where children come for that special gift

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

Little Pickles IV

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

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

Equis Art Gallery

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

Equis Art Gallery

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

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

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

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

Equis Art Gallery II

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

Equis Art Gallery III

Equis Gallery owner Juliet R. Harrison

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

Golden Wok in Red Hook NY

Golden Wok at 7479 South Broadway

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

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

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

The Memorial Day Parade in Red Hook NY from 2008

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

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

Pete's Famous Restaurant

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

The Turkey Club Sandwich at Pete's Famous

The turkey club with fries here is excellent.

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

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

Del's Dairy Creme in Rhinebeck, NY

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Del's Lunch Menu

Del’s lunch menu

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

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

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

The Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream here is excellent!

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

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

Mills Mansion Tour

Mills Mansion “Servants Talk”

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

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

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

Mills Mansion Summer II

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

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

Spending time at the holidays in Red Hook is also special. The merchants do such a nice job decorating their windows for Christmas  and all the older buildings in the downtown are decorated with garland, red ribbons and white lights. It looks like a Currier & Ives print especially at night when the whole town is lit up.

Christmas tree sales

During the usual holiday season, the town holds the “Snowflake Festival” the second Saturday in December (the first weekend in December is the big “Sinterklaas” festival in Rhinebeck and that gets all the people the first weekend) and that is a nice family event.

Red Hook is so peaceful on a pre or post Christmas night. I visited on New Year’s Day and most of the stores and restaurants were closed but still at twilight, the Christmas holiday with all its hope and dreams is still alive and appreciated at night. The Christmas season in the Hudson River Valley especially in these small towns is really special.

Bill O'Shea's Flowers

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

The Hudson River Valley

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Day One Hundred and Three: ‘Xin Nian Hao’ ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ or “Happy Chinese New Year”! February 2018 (Revisited February 2020 and 2021)

Happy New Year everyone! I visited Chinatown for the Annual Lunar New Year Parade again in 2020 and it was a great day!

Chinese New Year 2015

The underlining affects of the Coronavirus since Chinese New Year has changed Chinatown business now.

Please watch this video:

https://youtu.be/f5ZeB2zSbX0

This was at the beginning of the Pandemic in March of 2020

Chinese New Year in 2021:

I returned to Chinatown for Chinese New Year 2021 and what a change to the neighborhood in just a year. I have never seen so many “For Rent” signs in the core of Chinatown. This pandemic has destroyed so many well-known businesses. Not just restaurants and snack shops that could not adjust to the take out business that many places have had to adopt to now. It was well known gift shops, hair and nail salons, body massage businesses and several well-known bakeries.

When I saw a sign on the Lung Moon Bakery 83 Mulberry Street (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) that the bakery closed its doors after 53 years in business that is telling you there are problems here. Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street (visit my reviews as well on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor as well), which has been there for over 30 years has been closed as well and I am not sure if it is going to be reopened. This is heart breaking because these were my go-to places for years.

The weird part was it was not just on Mott Street, the heart of Chinatown, but on the side streets off Mott and outer parts of the neighborhood reaching out to East Broadway and into parts of the Lower East Side like Hester and Henry Streets. It is not just in Chinatown because at the end of the evening I walked up to Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) to see if that store was still open and walked through the heart of Little Italy Mulberry Street.

Three well known restaurants had closed for business including Angelo’s and Luna which has been mainstays of the neighborhood for over 40 years. A lot store fronts were dark here as well and slowly but surely NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) is creeping further and further into Little Italy. Even the two well known Chinese restaurants on Mulberry Street are now closed for business.

My journey on this gloomy Saturday morning started when I took the C train down to Canal Street and started to walk around Lower Manhattan to see what was open and not. The City had lifted its ban on indoor dining, I think too little to late, for Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. Still even with the 25% indoor dining allowed, people choose to eat outside or else some of the restaurants were not ready to open indoor dining. On a 30 degree day I could not believe that people wanted to eat outside. Even bundling under heat lamps does not make pleasant dining. The mood was festive but people were cold.

It was the second day of Chinese New Year and there were not that many people out in the streets as I thought there would be. In the early morning, there were small groups of people walking around but not the throngs of people on parade day. Last year, the Chinese New Year Parade was very subdued and there were not that many people around the route. The parade was cancelled this year and even though there were lights and decorations all over Mott Street there was not a lot of people walking around.

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year 2021-Mott Street

When I visited the provision and grocery stores in the neighborhood, they were mobbed with people doing their grocery shopping telling me that people were opting to stay home and have small intimate dinners with their families. This is where I saw no social distancing.

My project today was to see not just what was happening for the New Year but to visit many of the stores and restaurants I had mentioned on my blogs to see if they were still open. Thankfully many of the establishments that were already take-out were surviving the storm. Plus I came with an appetite.

My first stop was Fried Dumpling on 106 Moscoe Street, a little hole in the wall for fried pork and chive dumplings. The owner/chef is a real hoot. I am figuring she changed her prices and serving sizes to increase sales because I ordered 17 dumplings for $5.00 which I thought was too much to eat but ended up devouring all the them in record time while sitting next to the bathrooms in Columbus Park just off Mott Street. In the summer months this park is packed with people but with the two feet snow piles and over flowing garbage cans, it was not the best place to eat. Even with the cold weather, these delicious little pan-fried pork and chive dumplings can warm any heart in the New Year.

Fried Dumpling

Fried Dumpling at 106 Moscoe Street

After this snack that warmed me up I walked all over the neighborhood, walking the side streets and the Bowery which is the northern border of the traditional neighborhood. Again many of the well known restaurants and stores were either empty or closed for the New Year celebrations.

I walked up and down the side streets of Chinatown that border with Mott Street along Bayard, Pell, Henry, Division and East Broadway to look at the status of restaurants that I enjoy and have written about and to see what is still open there as well. It has not been pretty.

Dumplings at 25B Henry Street, one of the few places left in Chinatown where you can get five dumplings for $1.00 is closed except for takeout (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). That was always the fun of this place was squeezing in and having their delicious pork and chive dumplings. I was always sharing soy sauce with the kids from the local school that would come here for a snack and I would listen in on their very adult sounding conversations.

Dumplings on Henry Street

Dumplings at 25B Henry Street

Walking up the side streets until I got to the Manhattan Bridge was just as upsetting, There were so many closed businesses on all of these streets that I wondered where the locals were eating and shopping. What really surprised me was how many art galleries had opened in the places where provision stores and small restaurants had once been. When I started to see white twenty year olds walking out of the tenements in the neighborhood, I knew that it would not be long until this whole area started to gentrify.

The walk took me further into the Lower East Side then I had ever been. I walked down the length of Catherine Street to the river and then turned around and walked down Market to the park under the Manhattan Bridge to watch the skate boarders. Those kids were really talented. They were performing some amazing tricks.

I stopped at this little deli, the K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street just to take a peek inside. The cook was so friendly to me that I felt I should get something. Even after the 17 dumplings I was still hungry and I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($3.25). It was mind-blowingly good. The roll was fresh chewy and soft and the perfect combination of scrambled eggs with the cheese melted just perfect and crisp bacon. On this cool now afternoon it really warmed me up and I devoured it while I walked along Cherry Street.

K & K Food Deli

K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street

This area of the City is all housing projects and even in the small park in between them all it was really quiet. The one thing I find when I visit the areas around the projects is the assortment of restaurants are so creative with their menus and they are so reasonable. I just popped in and out and looked at their menus.

I walked around Little Flower Park at Madison and Jefferson Street, which lines all the housing complexes and was watching as kids were using the swings in snow drifts. I thought that was dedication of wanting to get outside as the weather grew colder that day.

I walked back down Madison Street and around Monroe Street and back up Market Street to get to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge entrance and then walked around that to Chrystie Street. Then I made the turn to see if my favorite group of restaurants were still open Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street , Wah Fung Number One at 79 Chrystie Street and Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street. I called this stretch of Chrystie Street the ‘triple threat’ as these three restaurants are mind blowing and the best part reasonable (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).

Chi Dumpling House

Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street

Even after 17 dumplings and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich I was still hungry so I stopped in at Chi Dumpling House for steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes. This little hole in the wall has the most amazing food and for $5.00 I got an order of steamed dumplings ($3.00) and an order of scallion pancakes ($2.00). Both were just excellent.

Because there was no indoor dining in the restaurant yet, I had to eat them in the park across the street. In between the snow piles and the pigeons, I found a place to sit down. The dumplings and the scallion pancake let off so much steam you could see it in the air. The scallion pancake was loaded with freshly chopped scallions and was pan-fried to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The dumplings were plump and bursting with juice when I topped them with soy and hot chili sauce. They warmed me up at the day grew colder.

I walked back through Mott Street and saw many people twisting poppers and letting streamers into the air. About a dozen people got into it and were having a good time blocking traffic. It was nice to see a little celebrating that day.

Sweets Bakery

Sweets Bakery at 135 Walker Street

My last stop on the agenda was Sweets bakery, one of my favorites in Chinatown at 135 Walker Street, which is right across the street from Sun Sai Gai. The pastries here are just excellent and I have never had a bad baked item from here. I treated myself to an Egg Custard tart ($1.50) and a Pineapple Bun ($1.25). Both had just been baked and were still warm. I started eating them as soon as I left the store to explore Little Italy.

Egg Custard

The Egg Custard Tarts at Sweets Bakery are amazing

I devoured them before I crossed the street. The egg custard had a rich creamy texture and was still warm when I made each bite. The taste of the butter in the tart and the eggs was so good. The Pineapple Bun was made of a rich dough and topped with a sweet crumb topping that crackled when I bit into it. It was a nice way to end this ongoing meal.

Walking through Little Italy was just as bad as Chinatown. The main thoroughfare, Mulberry Street was like looking at Mott Street. Some of the most famous restaurants closed like Luna and Angelo’s. I could not believe how many empty store fronts were open. Even for a Saturday night it was really quiet. There were a few people eating inside.

What I did notice just like in Chinatown was that NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) was creeping further and further down Mulberry Street and the surrounding blocks. All of a sudden all these little trendy stores and restaurants started opening up where the Italian restaurants once lined the streets.

I reached my destination, Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), one of the nicest children’s stores in Manhattan and one of the most creative. I was so happy to see that they were still open. I felt a little over-whelmed because the owner was showering attention on me as I was here only customer. She looked determined to sell me something. I guess I looked like a high spender. I was polite and looked around. As a store it is so visually appealing with the greatest window displays.

Little Moony

Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street

The owner showed me all the new clothing that had come in, the artisan toys she was carrying and some new books carried. If I had someone to buy something for I would have bought something. The merchandise is that nice. I was just afraid that she had closed.

I walked back down Mulberry Street again surprised by the number of people in the restaurants and the number of new buildings opening up on the lower part of Mulberry Street. I do not even give it five years before the entire core of Little Italy is just a block if that.

I walked back to the A train up Canal Street and looked at the buildings in various stages of renovations. I have to say one thing that the City is still progressing as COVID still goes on. It is like walking through NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park), the neighborhood just keeps getting sandblasted and going through another stage of its life.

Maybe this is what the New Year is about, new beginnings and new life to something. Even though there was no formal parade, there was still the feeling that the New Year was here and let’s hope it is a better New Year!

Happy New Year in 2021! Gong Hei Fat Choi!

Chinese New Year 2021-Very Subdued

Helping Chinatown during the New Year 2021

Chinatown restaurants need help-Chinese New Year 2021

mywalkinmanhattan

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020)

After a long day in the Soup Kitchen (I have to stop doubling up events on days), instead of finishing the walk of the Upper East Side, I decided to head downtown to Chinatown for the first day of Chinese New Year. What a madhouse!

First off, it was a gloomy day. The clouds kept threatening rain which finally came around 4:00 pm but it did not damper everyone’s spirits. The city closed off the main streets of Chinatown, so people were able to walk around Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Elizabeth Streets and all the side streets around the core of Chinatown.

It was a very festive afternoon of Lion Dances in front of businesses and a non-stop of silly string and firecrackers going off all over the neighborhood. It was fun watching all the kids…

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The Woodstock, NY Christmas Tree

Day Thirty-Four: A Woodstock, NY return trip for the Christmas Eve Parade and the Christmas Holidays December 25th, 2015

There has been a lot of visits to my other blog on my visit to Woodstock, NY for Christmas. I wanted to share this earlier one with everyone as well. The parade on Christmas Eve should be experienced once and you will see the magic of Woodstock, NY at the holidays. It is amazing!

Woodstock Christmas Eve 2016

The Woodstock NY Christmas Parade

mywalkinmanhattan

I put my walking project in Manhattan on hold to participate in other activities that I was organizing during the month of December. Trips in the city became day trips to the museums, walking tours and many holiday events that was I was invited to or helped organize for other people.

Some of the memorable events I had was organizing my holiday party at work. I work with the disabled who are a very active bunch of people. I make sure that there is always exercising, stimulating speakers and lively engaging conversation. These are not people who will ever sit on the back of the bus if I can help it. I always want them to know you can get better and make better of any situation.

We had a lively party with exercise, music and good food. As I do every year, I have the Bamboo House 28 South…

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Author Justin Watral

Day Ninety One: New Blog Sites: VisitingaMuseum.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@WordPress.com by Blogger Justin Watrel.

To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.

I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.

Gallery Bergen II.jpg

Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College

There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.

‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.

Dumplings II.jpg

Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street

These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

Beekman Place.jpg

Beekman Place

So I hope you enjoy ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com when coming to Manhattan. Please check all of this places out online for a change of hours and exhibits and menus.

Check out the newest site, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” for small boutiques and specialty shops that are unique and quirky.

Cute Downtown.jpg

Little Shop on Main Street:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.

New Jersey Firemen's Home Museum

The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of  Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.

Brother's of Engine One with their bell

The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/tag/engine-one-hhfd/

The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.

BCFHA Barbecue 2019 V

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association

I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.

Happy Reading!

My Blogs:

MywalkinManhattan.com

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

BergenCountyCaregiver.com

https://wwwbergencountycaregiver.com/

VisitingaMuseum.com

https://visitingamuseum.com/

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

TheBrothersofEngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartment@Wordpress.com

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/

TBCFMA@Wordpress.com

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

Also visit my past blog on Patch.com: The Merchant Series

https://patch.com/users/justin-watrel

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

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

I did this for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library from 2009-2014.

Woodstock Christmas Eve Parade

Day Sixty-Three: Christmas in Woodstock, NY Again: December 24th-25th, 2016

I traveled to Woodstock, NY for my third Christmas upstate to see the Christmas Parade in downtown Woodstock and go to Christmas Eve services at the Dutch Reformed Church. After that, a quiet dinner out and then a drive by the town Christmas tree. It has been my Christmas tradition since my father passed away. I like the calm and the beauty of Upstate New York. I like to relax after the hustle of the holidays.

I love the trip up to the Hudson Valley region. After going to school up here for two years, (Alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America Class of ’98, Honors and Perfect Attendance) I have never gotten over how gorgeous this region can be in the early winter. The leaves have already fallen but the hills and streams are still so impressive. It is also not that far from home and the area is fun to explore. Woodstock is not exactly isolated but it is further off the beaten path.

I love how the town is decorated for the holidays. The tree on the square is a classic every year with plain colorful lights with the backdrop of the lit Dutch Reformed Church, several well decorated businesses and the Village Green B & B behind it (where I stayed the year before). The whole square lit for the holidays can put any non-believer in the Christmas mood. It is classic New England Christmas.

Woodstock Christmas Eve

The Green in Downtown Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, NY at Christmas on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g48915-d7003084-r335526056-Woodstock_Town_Center-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

The Parade in Woodstock is unusual in the way it is timed. It starts when the last bus leaves the square  for New York City at 5:15pm and must be over at 6:30pm before the Dutch Reformed Church starts its 7:00pm services. It runs like a well-oiled machine. The second that bus leaves the square, I swear I saw the police and fire department had those roads fast.

I got up early around 4:00pm knowing from past history that you will never get into town if you don’t get arrive before 5:00pm. I stayed this year at the Woodstock Inn at the Millstream (See review on TripAdvisor). What a beautiful and unique little hotel. I was talking with the manager, Karen, when I arrived and she said that it was an old motel that the owners found and fixed up. It is the most unassuming and beautiful place to stay.

Woodstock Inn at Millstream.jpg

Woodstock Inn at Millstream at 14 Tannery Brook Road

It is just off the beaten path off the downtown and within walking distance of downtown. It has the picturesque location right by the Mill Stream. It must truly show itself in the summer months when you can sit under the shade trees and look at the stream.

There was a large size crowd this year for the parade but not as big as last year when the temperature was 70 degrees (the hottest in history of record keeping). The temperature was a balmy 42 degrees. Very seasonable. Still there was a lot of energy in the crowd as we all waited to see how Santa would arrive.

Santa did not disappoint and with the help of the Woodstock Fire Department, Santa made his appearance  via a Partridge in a Pear tree.  It is the most anticipated part of the parade to see how Santa will make his appearance. Last year it was via a magic hat with a snowman dancing around.

As Santa exited the fire truck and was greeted with Mrs. Claus who arrived on another float, the crowd stood in line for their turn to talk to Santa. The jazz band started to play outside the church. That was the one part of the parade I was disappointed with, in that every year that I have been up in Woodstock, Lindsay Webster and her band, had entertained everyone with her version of jazz Christmas carols. That the parade to me. It was Woodstock’s own stamp to the holidays (Ms. Webster and her band I found out later were touring in Europe for the holidays).

Here’s a clip from the parade in Downtown Woodstock, NY

For the next hour, people were milling around the square, listening to bands, eating snacks in the local restaurants (there is an place called ‘Shindig’ on the square that makes the most mind-blowing mac & cheese, See my review on TripAdvisor) and meeting up with their neighbors and friends. It really does have the small town feel about it as unlike Sinterklass in Rhinebeck a few weeks earlier that is attracting larger crowds. Woodstock attracts crowds but still keeps it small due to the restrictions of time.

I swear by 6:30pm, the crowds started to thin out and the band wrapped it up and were putting equipment away before the church doors opened by 6:45pm. I entered the church about ten to seven and most people including Santa were wrapping things up.

Christmas Eve service at the Dutch Reformed Church is always special to me. The church run such informal and welcoming service. It is so different from Catholic services, where we spend the whole service standing up and sitting down. The Church was decorated all over with garland and bows and candles. The Church was build in the 1800’s so it does have the old wooden pews that us modern folk have to squeeze into and there are two levels so you look up and see more parishioner’s.

Dutch Reformed Church Woodstock

Dutch Reformed Church on the Green at 16 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/

The service started with a combo playing all sorts holiday music and then we were welcomed by members of the Church to the holiday mass. The service is lively with many Christmas songs that the audience participates in and the service I have always found very inspirational and enlighten. Reverend Josh has a real passion in making people feel comfortable in Church. His sermons actually say something and he makes it more personable.

There are those little touches that I don’t see in my local Church such as the bell choir and lighting the candles during the last part of mass. If you really want to see something its a Church fully lit with candles in the pitch black. Does that make an effect inside a Church the way the light played off the woodwork and decorations.

After Church, it was the most uninspiring visit to Cucina, an Italian restaurant in Woodstock. After two disappointing years at Joshua’s on the Green, I decided to try something different. As much as the restaurant is beautifully decorated and appointed and the service friendly and accommodating, the food is dismal. It had no flavor and its presentation was less than perfect (See review on TripAdvisor).

Cucina in Woodstock

Cucina at 109 Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, NY

I went back to my room to change and then I took a walk to the Green to look at the stars. I swear you can almost touch them up here. It is also nice to have the whole Green to yourself. It is fun to just sit and look at the tree and the well light store fronts. It is so quiet and peaceful it really gives you a chance to sit back and reflect on the year. I could not believe another Christmas had come again.

I had never seen a year come and go so fast. Time does have a way of passing by quickly without you noticing it. Even so, looking up at the stars and the moon, it really does make you want to catch a glimpse for Santa’s sleight passing by. It was just one of those nights.

The next morning after an amazing nights sleep with the sound of a stream passing by and a great breakfast of homemade granola (Karen makes this and it is excellent) and fresh fruit, I made my traditional phone calls to my family and friends and play catch up beyond all the Christmas cards that I sent out earlier in the month. Everyone was happy to hear from me and I had nice conversations with my cousins who lived in different states and friends that I had not heard from in a long time.

I had visited my friend, Lillian, who lives in Assisted Living out on Long Island earlier in the week and talked with other friends earlier in the month, so it was nice just to exchange well-wishes. After sending out about eight boxes of Christmas cards, the lines of communication between myself and my friends and family are excellent.

Then I took a long drive up into the Catskill Mountains. I know why the place is so inspirational to writers and painters, it is just so beautiful and graceful of a place. The mountains are just so picturesque even with no leaves on the ground.

It is sad that many of the small town on Route 28 have gotten so depressed. Even Phoenicia that had so many nice little restaurants and shops two years earlier, things have just closed down. The further I went up Route 28, the more depressed it got. Pine Hill is run down, Fleishman is the same, in Margaretville each of the buildings could have used a good paint job and it was not until I got to Andes did I see a little spark of vibrancy. There were some nice little shops and places to eat.

I was taking this tour to visit Bovina Center, which is off Route 28 on Route 6 in the middle of a farming community to visit the Bushman Eating House, a restaurant I had read about in a magazine. I was hoping to have lunch there but unfortunately like most things on Christmas Day, it was closed. Maybe sometime in the Spring when the weather is nicer (See trip to Cornell University Day Seventy-Seven in MywalkinManhattan.com below:)

My trip to Bovina/Narrowsburg and Ithaca:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5116

Brushland Eating House

Brushland Eating House at 1927 Co Road 6 in Bovina Center

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor (later trip):

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47344-d7045175-Reviews-Brushland_Eating_House-Bovina_Center_New_York.html?m=19905

I made a turnaround and went down Route 10, past the SUNY campus in Delhi, which is located in the quaint little town of Delhi and through Stamford and other smaller towns and then to Tannersville to see some of the closed galleries and then back down Route 214 through Phoenicia again which really closed for the night.

I ate at Little Bear (see review on TripAdvisor) by 5:30pm and enjoyed another Chinese meal there before the crowds beseeched on the only restaurant open in a ten mile radius.  When I mean that this place gets packed for the evening, it gets packed. I finished my meal at 5:00pm and the line was already 20 deep with the phones ringing off the hook for to go orders. People can be so pushy especially here when they are hungry.

The food at Little Bear is usually very good but on Christmas Day they just can’t handle the crowds and it suffered the year before. You have to get here before the first movie lets out at 6:30pm. After that it is ciaos until 9:00pm. I had delicious Shu Mai starter followed by Mu Shu pork and a order of Dragon & the Phoenix (shrimp and chicken combo), both which were good but tepid. They need more help during the holidays (See review on TripAdvisor). They have a hard time just keeping up with the to go orders let alone seating people. Otherwise, the one time I ate here when it was quiet, the food was wonderful.

I thought about a movie after dinner but settled on another walk to the Green. It was just too beautiful of a night to sit in the movies when I could walk around town. With all the lights on at the downtown businesses and the tree lit in the Green, it just felt like Christmas Day night. Like Santa had just visited and people were just enjoying time with their families. A few people were walking their dogs or just looking at the tree in the Green with their children.

Christmas in Woodstock,NY

To me, Woodstock, New York is just such a nice place to come to celebrate Christmas. So quiet, so picturesque and serene and relaxing. It is a place that you can sit, think and reflect on the year.

Merry Christmas to you all & a Happy New Year!

If you like this blog, check out my other Christmas visits to Woodstock, NY on:

Day Thirty-Four: Christmas in Woodstock, NY 2015:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/662

Places to stay:

The Woodstock Inn at Mill Stream

48 Tannery Brook Road

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-8211

https://www.woodstock-inn-ny.com/

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48915-d80289-Reviews-The_Woodstock_Inn_on_the_Millstream-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to eat:

Cucina

109 Mill Hill Road

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-9800

info@cucinawoodstock.com

Hours: Sunday 11:00am-9:30pm/Monday-Thursday 5:00pm-9:30pm/Saturday 11:00am-10:30pm

My Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d1457080-Reviews-Cucina-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Little Bear Chinese Restaurant

295 Tinker Street, Street B

Bearsville, NY  12409

(845) 679-8849

http://littlebearchineserestaurant.com/

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

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47293-d3216488-Reviews-The_Little_Bear-Bearsville_New_York.html?m=19905

Shindig

1 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 684-7091

Open:

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

shindig1Tinker@yahoo.com

My TripAdvisor review:

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

Places to Visit:

The Dutch Reformed Church

16 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-6610

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/Home/who-we-are

Check their website for services

The Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY

Day Thirty-Two: “The Sinterklaas Parade” in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY December 5th, 2015

The Christmas holiday season was a whirlwind of activities for me that took me again away from Manhattan and up to Rhinebeck, New York for the annual ‘Sinterklaas Holiday Festival’ and activities. Sinterklaas is a Dutch holiday tradition that has been recaptured in the Hudson River Valley and is run the first Saturday in December every year. It is to celebrate the coming of ‘Sinterklaas’ or “Santa Claus” as we know it. This was my third year in helping out in the parade.

As the literature states, ‘Sinterklaas is the celebration where children are transformed into Kings and Queens and honored as the bringers of the light at the darkest time of the year.

The tradition of Sinterklaas comes all the way from the Netherlands, brought by the Dutch settlers who arrived in Rhinebeck over 300 years ago. Sinterklaas, the patron of children and sailors, finds a welcoming community in the Mid-Hudson Valley as recreated through the lens of modern day America.

The revived tradition is non-denominational and all inclusive, everyone is invited to participate. The young, the old, the in-between, absolutely everyone and anyone who wants to be part of a community of hope for a joyous and peaceful world are all welcome.’

Our coordinator for the parade, Trish, wanted me up by 10:00am and that was a treat taking a two hour drive from Northern New Jersey to Upstate New York, but it ended up being a very nice and very quick trip up as there was no traffic on the road.

Again the weather could not have been nicer as it reached 60 degrees in Rhinebeck at the height of the afternoon and even I could not believe it got that warm. It was such a nice day that when we were putting the floats together, I did not even need a jacket.

I put together the ‘Honey Bee’ puppets as my first project. The artist did a really nice job with them as they were our theme for the parade, honoring one of nature’s creatures, the Honey Bee.

Sinterklaas Parade 2015

The ‘Honey Bee’ floats

‘Distinct from all other animals with the exception of those that give us milk, the Honey Bee makes more honey than they need for themselves and that’s why there is enough for us. They don’t just give us sweetness but medicine, flowers, fruits, vegetables and meat, natures beauty and bounty. They make our lives beautiful, tasty and nutritious.’

We put the puppets together in record time and later in the parade (see YouTube under ‘Sinterklaas Parade 2015), they made quite a site as it grew dark and they lit up the beginning of the parade. After my partner, Liz and I, put them all together, we worked on the knight horse costumes for the parade and then on the star puppets. We had so many people helping that we got done in record time and got to spend the afternoon enjoying the activities in the afternoon. We did not have to be back until 4:30pm for the startup of the parade.

Sinterklaas Parade

The Sinterklaas Parade in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The festival was chock full of events for all age groups, from puppet shows, to book readings, musical acts on stilts, storytelling and all sorts of musicians from the local colleges from brass bands to a Capella groups to choirs performed at all the churches and at city hall. In the parking lot across from the Beekman Arms Hotel, there were high wire acts, local bands and all over town there were local groups like the Four H and the Boy Scouts selling treats at booths all over the Main Street.

There is a special show at the Church of the Messiah called “Into the Light: A holiday Spectacular”, which has become very popular every year. The lines wrapped around the building. Its the holiday story of a young girl’s journey throughout the world searching for the light. The play features giant puppets and groups of children from the church singing.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018 II

‘Into the Light’ show at the Church of the Messiah in Rhinebeck, NY

There was a giant honeycomb in the courtyard by the restaurant that makes thin-crusted pizzas and the kids got to meet the Queen Bee. The line was so long that I could not get in but later that evening I was able to see the inside and I have to say that one of the artists was creative in putting this together.

I also saw a giant polar bear walking around town and you had to sing him. It must have been a long day for the actor who had to do that in that heavy costume but it was fun to watch. Watching the kids to sing to him and watch the bear dance was a lot fun.

There was a Pocket Lady who symbolizes the generosity of Sinterklaas and in her pockets are all secret surprises for children and at the Rhinebeck Fire Department there was a Crowns & Branches workshop where kids could decorate branches and crowns that would be used in the parade and meeting the Wish Lady, who would provide a wish for your branch. Watching the Grumpus do there dance all over town was a lot of fun. They are some of Sinterklaas’s helpers and I swear are probably the same people who have been doing it for years. They dance and bang drums all over town.

Sinterklaas Parade III

The Grumpuses

The best part was visiting the Reformed Church for their bake sale. They had really good frosted cookies and I swear I went back three times much to the thankfulness of the kids running the booth. The Third Evangelical Lutheran Church has a lunch area in the basement and they made a mean grilled cheese for a small donation and the tables off to the side was laden with Christmas cookies, which were part of the cost of the lunch. When I tell you these people can bake at the Church, they can bake. Their frosted cookies and cakes were really good. For a small donation, you can eat like a king for lunch.

At dusk, when it starts getting darker, the lights on the trees come into full form and all the businesses on the Main Street light up their display windows. The town looks like a little Christmas village out of a Currier & Ives portrait. It really puts you in the Christmas mood.

Rhinebeck at Christmas

Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

I got back to the library at 5:00pm to get ready for the parade. My job like last year was lighting Sinterklaas himself. That is a lot of fun because you are at the beginning of the parade and you get to see the whole parade coming down the hill and that is quite a site.

Like the Macy’s Parade, there is such anticipation at the start of the parade and watching it come down the hill is like being at Mardi Gras. It is so well lit and so colorful with bands playing and people dancing and so full of energy. It looks like a giant party coming down the hill.

The guy who plays Sinterklaas I worked with the year before so I knew him. We did not get to talk much during the rain storm that drenched everyone last year and we just wanted to get off the parade route. This year it was still slightly warm as the parade started so it was fun to spend a lot of time with the kids. He is a naturally born ham and the kids just adored the guy. I had to chase him around the parade route with a lighting pack and a giant candle that lit him. He had all the fun and I had to make sure that he did not go dark the whole time. Work yes but it is so much fun watching how he made each one of these children’s day. Every time he passed a child to talk to them, they were so happy and they cheered.

Sinterklaas Parade II

Sinterklaas leading the parade

That was the power of Sinterklaas. If you are not in the holiday spirit, the Sinterklaas parade will definitely put you in the mood. It was a spectacular night of bands, great costumes, creative puppets and festive cheer.

It didn’t end a moment too soon as it typical with Rhinebeck this time of the year that the temperature drops like ten degrees in one hour. I handed my lighting wand in and watched all the costume characters from the parade get introduced to the crowd by the parade leaders. It was a nice way to end the parade and collect all the props while keeping everyone engaged.

I spent the night in Rhinebeck and relaxed. This is one event you should not miss while in Upstate New York. The Sinterklaas Celebration is a real treat of holiday activities and good cheer!

Merry Christmas!

The Sinterklaas Parade 2015