I have always loved Easter. It is my favorite holiday even over Christmas. It is a more relaxing time of year and there is not the rushing around that the Christmas holidays bring. Both work and graduate classes were taking up so much of my time that it was nice to just relax on Easter and have dinner with my family. It didn’t really turn out that way but I got a lot accomplished and it ended up being a productive weekend.
Classes at NYU have been tough as there have been so many projects to do and the semester ends the second week of May. I have never seen time fly by like this. I would have thought the semester would have ended closer to Memorial Day Weekend but it ends much earlier and everyone is scrambling to get their work done. I was able to sneak down to Washington DC last Sunday to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom and this time around I got to see them.
My blog on “Visiting the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Two”:
The Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC the week before
They bloom so much earlier than the festival (almost two weeks) and last year the basin was loaded with people looking at bare trees. Everyone was taking pictures under the dozen or so trees that were the last species to bloom (the same ones in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and you could barely take a picture without a dozen people pushing you out of the way. At least this year the storms did not disrupt all the petals.
The Cherry Blossom at the basin and the crowds following them
Even though it was for one day, the trip to Washington DC is always a treat. I was looking forward though to seeing the other great Cherry Blossom displays in both Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in Brooklyn, NY. Those always follow this display and are just as spectacular.
It was Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ that was in full peak bloom this week. I was able to get to the park later in the afternoon around 4:00pm when the crowds started to thin out. I did not realize that the Visitors Center and parking lot were closed for renovation. That really backed up traffic in the park and there were wall to wall people by that section of the park. I parked toward the entrance (always a good move) and was able to walk all sections of the park with no problems. What surprised me but didn’t shock me was the behavior of people towards the Cherry Trees.
Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ at Park Avenue & Lake Street
Just like in DC the week before, people were climbing all over the trees, tugging on the branches, pulling off the blossoms and sticking in their hair and pockets or just taking the branches home. Even with all the signs, people just don’t listen. I never really thought about it until I started taking classes at NYU and was learning about the concept of over-tourism. People really have no consideration for the world around them and abuse the very things that they are there to see. I was constantly walking into someone’s picture from every angle.
The brilliance of Mother Nature in full bloom
Still the park was beautiful and the trees and shrubs were at the peak of bloom and that made it special to me. I still remember coming here with my dad every year and then we would go to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ for a hot dog after our visit. I never remember it being as busy as it is today but this was before 2010 and the IPhone was not as prevalent as it is now. It is amazing how social media has really changed this park.
The crowds in the late afternoon in Branch Brook Park
I just walked along the paths by myself enjoying the Spring day and admiring the trees and flowers of the park. I had never seen it at its peak and it was truly brilliant. I had never see the blossoms so vibrant and the colors so strong. It was Mother Nature at its peak and it only lasts for about a week.
With all the rain we have had lately it knocks the petals off the trees quickly. Branch Brook Park is one of the most unrated parks in the New York area and Newark does get knocked a lot but still the city offers its treasures to us if we seek them out.
How beautiful the river was running through the park
I spent about two hours exploring all parts of the park, watching baseball games, watching parents jump around with their kids and watching couples just holding hands and admiring the trees. There were so many Sweet Sixteen and Wedding pictures being snapped that again you had to maneuver correctly.
It’s always best to park by the entrance so that you can get out of the park easier when it is busy
After about two hours of walking around the park and enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful views, I had to get something to eat. Not in the mood for a hot dog as tradition states I stopped at Pizzatown Pizzeria in Newark for a slice of pizza. I had been there a few times over the years finding the pizzeria in pre-COVID days when all the food trucks were mobbed and not much options on the Bellville side of the park.
Pizzatown is one of those old Newark, NJ businesses that existed when this side of the city all around Branch Brook Park was all Italian up until about the early 1980’s when the last of the elderly Italian families either moved out or had passed away. It is the only business left from that time. Still the pizza is fantastic and I look forward to coming here every year when I am looking at the blossoms. I had a slice of Sicilian pizza that was delicious and it was just nice to relax and eat. I had taken so many pictures of the restaurant before I walked in that the owner asked if I was a relator. In that neighborhood? I thought he was kidding. I guess not too many 6:3 white guys go walking around this place.
Pizzatown Pizzeria & Restaurant at 883 Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark, NJ
The inside of Pizzatown harks back to the 1960’s when this was an Italian neighborhood
The Sicilian pizza here is so good!
After lunch was over, I took on last look around the park and admired all the trees that were newer that were planted in the park towards the entrance. It is interesting how they just keep planting more trees around the park. I heard that this is the largest collection of Cherry Trees in the world.
The Cherry Trees right by my car on the edge of the park
It was a nice afternoon of walking around and enjoying nature. I had never seen the Cherry Trees this brilliant and so vibrant in colors before. This is what it means to see the trees at their peak!
In between classes before the Easter weekend started, I walked around the City after my classes were over on Friday and walked into Macy’s for the Annual Flower Show at the Herald Square store. I could not believe it has been thirty five years since my interview that started my job at Macy’s in 1988. I had gone in for my interview on a Saturday morning and was mesmerized by the store and Flower Show which lead to my second and third interviews and my seven year career with the company. It dawned on me how long ago that morning had been.
The entrance to Macy’s Flower Show in the Herald Square main store
The Flower Show on the first floor of the Macy’s store is always a treat. There were a lot of interesting displays this year but not so many flowers on the tops of the display cases. At least not the ones that I had seen in the past. It seemed more scaled down from the flowers on the upper displays and more the hanging displays that lined the main aisle.
The entrance to the Flower Show from the Broadway side of the store
Most the displays were hanging from the main aisle of the first floor so it was a much different display from those of the past but still it was very creative and people stopped every three feet to take more pictures. I was just as annoying but the store looked so nice.
The first floor by the escalators that did not exist when I worked there
The Floral Display by the Cosmetic Department
Not quite the hanging gardens of the past but still nice
The hanging floral arrangements by the escalators on the first floor
It was not the show that I remember as there were many more floral arrangements that were much more detailed and elaborate as there was more space on the old tops of the display cases. This was a more modern view of the Flower Show. I thought it was fun and they did a nice job. New Management and a new way of looking at the show.
Macy’s Display windows-My favorite
Macy’s Display windows
The display windows outside were a lot of fun and the display people did a great job on the them. It was really funny though. I was not in the City for class on Good Friday so I did not see the full extent of the show until Monday morning when the store reopened (the store is closed on Easter).
Macy’s Display windows
When I returned on Tuesday for my next class, the windows were already closed and we being dismantled and the whole show must have been taken down Monday night after the store closed. Everything was gone by Tuesday afternoon. Another Flower Show had passed.
Macy’s Display windows
Easter morning was really nice as I got to spend it with my cousins and my aunt at a wonderful restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. It was a bright and sunny Easter but a bit chilly. It was the first time in years that I had not been to church on Easter morning but I would go another day. We had an 11:00am reservation for brunch and I got picked up at 9:45am.
The weather was really windy when we got the Oyster Point Hotel where we were having brunch. I could not believe the winds off the water but by the time we were finished, it ended up being a nice warm afternoon. I guess it rough in the morning.
The bay right next to the hotel parking lot
The bay area of Red Bank is so beautiful and everything was just coming into bloom. We were able to walk around the docks for a bit before brunch. People were just getting their boats serviced and ready for the season. It was a spectacular morning looking over the water.
We were one of the first tables to arrive that morning so I got some great shots of the buffet and all the delicious and creative displays at all the stations of the restaurant. It was a very nice presentation and there was so much to choose from.
Oyster Point Hotel Pearl Room Banquet space where the brunch took place
The Dining Room
The food and the service were just amazing. I could not believe the view of the bay and the dazzling blue water in front of us. Thank God though our table was not by the window because the buffet line stretched in that direction when we were eating.
The Seafood on Ice Station
I could not believe the choices at brunch. There was a complete salad section to make your own salad, a seafood display on ice, an omelet and waffle bar with potatoes, bacon and sausage on the side if you wanted to start with breakfast. The baked good section for breakfast was extensive with fresh doughnuts, pastries, muffins, bagels and cookies. There were also slices of white and coffee cake if you wanted those as well.
The Breakfast Pastry display
There was a pasta station with ravioli and penne with chicken and broccoli, a carving station with turkey, beef and salmon, a complete lunch bakery section and fruit display. The Candy station was really unique with a display of chocolate lobsters and peeps in a tree.
The display of candy was very clever
The Candy display was really unique and very creative
The Pastry Chef really has a a sense of humor
The best was that they had a complete crab cake station with all sorts of sides such as mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. They were all served in champagne glasses. The portions were small but you could go back as many times as you wanted.
The Lunch Bakery table
The Fruit Dessert display
There were also chafing dishes of wild rice, mixed vegetables, chicken piccata, roasted potatoes and a beef dish. The quality of the food in the chafing dishes matched all the stations and nothing was soggy or tepid. Everything was perfectly cooked and spiced. There was so much to choose from that I must have made twenty trips to the buffet line to the amusement of my family.
Being in the culinary arts and working in a soup kitchen for almost twenty years, I know not to waste food, Watching people pile their plates high is so silly when you can go back as many times as you want. I walk around a buffet, survey what is offered and then go back for many small tastes of everything. I think it is a sin to waste food and throw it out when there is no reason for it.
A little taste of the pasta section, the carving section, the chafing dishes and those marvelous crab cakes. The food was excellent!
After brunch was over, were were there for almost three hours eating and talking and watching the people on the bay in their boats, we made an early afternoon of it. I had wanted to go to the cemeteries and had some yard work to do (I can’t believe I had that much to do as I was in the yard for two hours) and then had some writing to finish. My life never sits still. We took some pictures around the hotel and walked around the dock for a bit. We said our goodbyes to my cousin and his wife and then toured the town of Red Bank, NJ. What a pretty downtown. It really has some nice stores and restaurants.
My cousins, my aunt and I at Easter 2023
I always enjoy spending time with my family. I hope every had a wonderful Easter and Passover!
Our special ‘Members Only” nights at the Met are a lot of fun!
I had just finished Finance class at NYU and I needed a break. I could tell that my Professor wanted to leave early as well and the whole class was lost on learning the Income Statement so it was a perfect time to end the class for the evening.
I had signed up for the ‘Private Members Night’ on Valentine’s Day thinking that people would not attend this event on Valentine’s Day. Boy was I wrong! The museum was packed with people all over the museum. Since the whole museum was not open (the Roman and Greek Galleries on the first floor with the American Wing to the back being open and upstairs it was the Special Galleries and the Impressionist Wing), the areas of the museum including the restaurants and gift shops filled with members dining together for the evening and snatching up bargains such as the 50% ornaments from Christmas at the Gift Shop. I had never seen a Private Members Night so busy. That made it more fun as people were out to enjoy themselves without the pressure of the holiday.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue during the day
Since I had seen most of the museum in the past and time was limited (I had about an hour and a half), I decided to spend my time at the new “Mayan Exhibition-The Lives of the Gods-Divinity in Maya Art”.
The entrance to the exhibition: “LIves of the Gods-Divinity in Maya Art”
‘In Maya art, the gods are depicted at all stages of life: as infants, as adults at the peak of their maturity and influence, and as they age. The gods could die, and some were born anew, serving as models of regeneration and resilience. In Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art, rarely seen masterpieces and recent discoveries trace the life cycle of the gods, from the moment of their creation in a sacred mountain to their dazzling transformations as blossoming flowers or fearsome creatures of the night.
Maya artists, who lived in what is now Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, depicted the gods in imaginative ways from the monumental to the miniature—from exquisitely carved, towering sculptures to jade, shell, and obsidian ornaments that adorned kings and queens, connecting them symbolically to supernatural forces. Finely painted ceramics reveal the eventful lives of the gods in rich detail.
Created by master artists of the royal cities of the Classic period (A.D. 250–900) Maya, the nearly 100 landmark works in Lives of the Gods evoke a world in which the divine, human, and natural realms are interconnected and alive’.
(from the Met website)
These were my favorite pieces from the exhibition:
The Mayan Throne at the entrance of the exhibition
The information on the ‘Throne Back’
The beautiful Jade icon pieces
The Rain Deity
The Deity Figure
The King Jaguar Bird Tapir
King Jaguar Bird Tapir
The Rain Deity
The Rain Deity Column
The Rain Deity
The Rain Deity Column
The exhibition was not that long and I was able to see everything in about an hour. I will have to go back to take some more time to read things but the art was just amazing. The detail work that these artisans had back then just showed how advanced they were without our modern tools. The Jade work was especially impressive.
After I finished the exhibit, I went down to the Impressionist Wing for twenty minutes before I toured the gift shop to see if anything new had come in. The museum must have emptied the storerooms of all the Christmas merchandise they were keeping in storage because there were tables of ornaments on sale fifty percent off. People were snatching things up and the lines were about fifteen deep. I have to say one thing, I was much more relaxed by the end of the evening.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art at closing
The museum had such an elegant look after dark. As we left the museum that evening, they gave us each sugar cookies that said “Met Member” on it printed on the icing. It was a very nice touch when we left and it was so sweet. It really pepped me up. It was such a nice warm evening (for the winter) and I decided to walked back to the Port Authority. It was quiet on the Upper East Side and it was nice to walk around.
When I got back down Fifth Avenue and passed Bryant Park, I saw the most spectacular view of the Empire State Building lit in pink for Valentine’s Day. What a site! This is why I love Manhattan so much. Where else do you get a view like this?
By the time I got back to Port Authority, things had gotten a little quieter. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza at the 99 Cent Pizza place down the road from the Port Authority and then headed home.
99 Cents Pizza at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 40th Street at 143 West 40th Street
I do not know where time went. One day I am cutting the lawn in 70-degree weather and the next day it is 32 degrees, and everyone is freezing. The weather has been going up and down like a yoyo and everyone is getting sick right before the holidays. Every other day the weather was changing, and this is the way the temperature would be every day for the month of December. One day it is Spring or Fall and the next everyone is bundling up.
Don’t be fooled by all the pictures and activities. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of driving and a lot of arranging to pull the holidays off this year. Teaching three classes and taking four classes in Grad school on top of volunteer work that I was committed to and getting ready for the holidays and all its expectations I had a lot of nights where I did not go to bed until two in the morning. I would study on busses and in hotel rooms and I never worked like this before in my life. Still it was a Merry Christmas and I consider myself a lucky person to see all these wonderful things.
All I did was run in and out of New York City every week for classes and work. There were so many historical sites that I wanted to visit over the holidays to update previously blogs that every moment of my day was taken up with touring. Still, I enjoyed taking my time to walk to school through Greenwich Village. The residents and merchants here know how to celebrate the holidays.
Christmas in Greenwich Village. I saw this home after class and I knew Santa was on his way
Walking past the train station on the way back to Port Authority was even festive.
With Grad School taking up so much of my time and I just finished all my presentations at Bergen Community College where I work (please see all three Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. projects), it’s now the final project for Grad School and getting ready for the holidays that are taking up my time. It is only two more weeks.
Thanksgiving with my cousins and aunt at the Lambertville Inn
Christmas started for me right after Thanksgiving with my family when the next day we had Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. We had 390 Christmas Trees delivery and we emptied the truck in one hour. By 10:30am, we sold our first Christmas tree and by the end of the first weekend, we sold 134 trees and 8 stands. We just missed last year’s numbers. It had rained most of Sunday so we missed that afternoon and evening of that day.
Christmas Tree drop off is right after Thanksgiving at 8:00am the next morning
The guys on the Men’s Association after we finished tagging and unloading the trees
Friday was a busy day selling. It often amazes me how many trees sell that first weekend. Last year we sold out in 11 days and people were disappointed that they had to wait. Many said that this year, they arrived early to get the tree they wanted. Even with the rain on Sunday, we did very well and were anticipating another get year (we sold out by December 9th on the morning shift).
My blog on Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association:
I knew it was Christmas when my neighbors set out all their decorations
The next evening after Thanksgiving was the Annual Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. Since we were opening the tree stand and I was on leave from the fire department this year, I did not go. Instead I stayed at the tree stand that evening and sold trees on my first split shift. We sold 44 trees on the first day of sales.
The Christmas Tree at the Circle in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The Gazebo at the Firemen’s Circle Memorial in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
I have to admit, Thanksgiving weekend and the subsequent week were all about grad school. We would be wrapping up classes in two weeks (classes ended on December 14th) and I had three major papers due, one for each class. With the exception of my Data Analytics class, I had one partner on each paper I really did not know if I could count on so there would be a lot of extra work to do.
Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard became a place to relax and unwind with a pizza and a drink
Heights Bar & Grill was very festive during the holidays
My post birthday dinner became my pre Christmas/post class dinner
The next weekend was Sinterklaas weekend, and I knew I had to be in Rhinebeck and then Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that I committed to last month. When you’re on all the Executive Boards of these organizations, you have to be there.
Still on the way back and forth to classes starting from mid-November until classes ended, I enjoyed my walks from the Port Authority to the NYU campus in the Village to admire all the decorations, display windows and Christmas tree setups all over the Village. Even before Christmas started, this section of the City is very traditional ‘Old New York’ and when it is all ready for the holidays it puts you in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas in Greenwich Village really kept my spirits up between classes
Selling Christmas trees in New York City was not difference from us but in prices.
The window displays in the Greenwich Village stores and boutiques were really creative. I loved walking all the side streets to discover what shop owner did that was so different from the others and these are some of my favorites. They really cheered me up as the pressure of the assignments built up.
Window display in the Village after they changed from Halloween to Christmas
Window display in the Village
Window display in the Village
Christmas display inside and outside at Greenwich Village store
More Christmas trees for sale on lower Seventh Avenue
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree was so beautiful both during the day and night. It was so nice to pass every evening I was coming back from class. It really put me in the holiday spirit especially when I was stressed out on my last three research papers of the semester. I took the time to just walk around the park and enjoy the cool air.
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree by day
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree at night
In between classes and work, I had to decorate and get my own house ready for the holidays. I have never worked so hard trying to pull off the holidays with so much going on in my life. Still I thought the house looked very nice. I decorated both the living room and dining room and it looked really festive. It was too bad there was no time for entertaining. That and the fact that everyone else was so busy, it made it impossible to do anything.
I keep it simple but elegant in my house
For years, I used to have a Christmas dinner but with everyone’s schedules and COVID still around, I am finding more and more people don’t want to get together. Again my schedule was no better this December. Still I worked my own “Santa” magic with other things I did for friends, neighbors and family.
From December 1st to the 31st, my feet never touched the ground. From unloading trees for the Men’s Association to watching the ball drop to completing three major projects for my job at Bergen Community College to the three major papers at school, my laptop followed me everywhere and was prominent in each of my hotel rooms as a worked on every business trip for my work with this blog. Who says that life is boring? The fun began as it does every year with Sinterklaas weekend in Rhinebeck.
My blog on Sinterklaas/ The Snowflake Festival weekend in Rhinebeck Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six:
I had to plan Sinterklaas weekend like D-Day. I had a major presentation on the Metaverse when I returned back on the next Monday night so I had to finish the framework for the paper the Friday night before the parade. I was visiting the Culinary Institute of American to interview one of my old chefs at the college but I was not able to get in touch with him.
Still I was able to leave a message for an appointment and then tour the campus. I forgot how beautiful the campus is and I never saw it during Christmas time. I had been on my Externship my first year at the CIA so I never experienced the holidays at the CIA.
Roth Hall decorated for Christmas
The Christmas tree in the outside courtyard
I did not have any plans that Friday evening and I looked at the papers and saw that there was a Snowflake Festival in Downtown Kingston, NY. So that evening after a nice nap at the hotel, I headed there for the evening. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was a cool but not cold evening full of activities and lots of Christmas decorations and a festive environment.
Downtown Kingston, NY the night of the Snowflake Festival
It was a nice evening of Christmas activities, horse drawn carriage rides, visiting the firehouse, beautifully decorated windows of the local merchants and people just having a good time amidst COVID problems and a bad economy. People ‘needed a little Christmas now’ (Please read the blog below on the Snowflake Festival and the Sinterklaas Parade).
The line to see Santa was impossibly long. I think everyone needed him this year.
The Christmas tree in Downtown Kingston, NY
My homebase for the weekend was the Quality Inn Hotel in Hyde Park, which is becoming a tradition with me. I love the location and the comfortable beds. If you get a room facing the field to the right, you can see the stonewall that lines the property. Plus, they have the best fresh waffle station every morning.
The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road
Sinterklaas morning was a really gloomy day. Even if the weather outside that morning was gloomy, the spirit of Sinterklaas was in full swing inside the Beekman Arms Hotel for the Opening Ceremony.
The Opening Ceremony at Sinterklaas with Founder Jeanne Fleming and the Pocket Lady
The animal being celebrated this year was the porcupine and this was his home in the courtyard in Downtown Rhinebeck. This wise woman told us his tale.
The “Into the Light” show at the local church
The parade is the highlight of the evening and we lucked out that night as the weather broke by the afternoon. The sun started to come out and it was a much nicer evening with a cool but not cold feel and you could see the stars out on this clear evening. The parade is always exciting especially as we walk down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck.
The parade begins at the Starr Library
The serpents are always a big hit at the parade
The stars always lead the parade down the hill
I marched at the end of the parade so all I saw was everyone’s backs. The crowds were not the same because of the weather that morning but they were still pretty large once we got into the core of downtown. Because of the weather earlier in the day, I could tell we had a more local crowd which was nice because Downtown Rhinebeck can only handle so many people.
All the characters come together at the closing ceremony
I swear that this parade like selling Christmas trees goes by faster and faster every year. I come to Rhinebeck in the Spring and the Summer and it just seems like I am counting the weeks until it starts all over again. After the parade was over, I stopped at Village Pizza for a few slices with the last of the parade stragglers. There were maybe three families eating a late dinner. By the time I warmed up and finished my pizza I walked around the downtown one more time. It was so quiet and peaceful with the exception of the saxaphone player who plays downtown at night. You would have never known there was a parade that night.
My review on TripAdvisor on Village Pizza in Rhinebeck, NY:
After a very sound sleep, I ate breakfast and enjoyed the waffle bar. Then I headed down to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that we were hosting at the home. Again, the year seems to go by fast.
The Executive Board the day of the party (I’m third to the right)
Because of COVID, the party is more subdued and families are still not allowed back with any great crowds. Still we had a DJ and Jerry Naylis’s daughter and granddaughters entertained the residents of the home. We really had a nice afternoon.
The Naylis family entertaining the residents
After the party was over, a few of us went the Columbia Inn for dinner. There was only a small group of us this year because again many of the guys were worried about COVID and large crowds. Still we toasted in the holiday season and after dinner, it was right back home to do my homework for school and classwork for my students. It would be never ending for the next three weeks.
The week between Sinterklaas and the next weekend of the Mills Mansion Party and exploring the decorated mansions to update my blogs for work, classes in both schools took a frenzy of activity on. I had to finish papers on the Metaverse and complete my White Paper on the Travel Industry and we started our paper on Mapping the Rockaways. I don’t think I ever went to bed before 2:00am every night for the next three weeks.
The “Dining on the Metaverse” paper required me to run around and interview chefs on the what their thoughts were on the Metaverse. I first went to the Ivy Inn in Hasbrouck Heights and talked with the Chef/Owner Jack. His thoughts on the Metaverse in dining were pretty strong and I needed a second interview so back to the Culinary Institute of America I went to talk to my former Chef at the college. He just happened to reach out to me that week so I stopped in to see him late on Friday.
The Ivy Inn at 268 Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ decorated for the holidays
I had an offer to revisit the Brinckerhoff Homestead the next afternoon before they ran a Afternoon Tea fundraiser to take pictures of the home decorated for Christmas for work and was able to get a last minute invitation acceptance for the Mills Mansion fundraiser, I decided to spend the night again at the Marriott in Fishkill, NY. It would be another long weekend of running around. So I booked a room at the Marriott Courtyard Fishkill, where I had stayed twice before and it would be close to all the sites and headed Upstate.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill at 17 Westage Drive & Route 9
I got up to the CIA before 4:30pm and walked around campus and enjoyed the Christmas lights again. The campus was starting to wind down for the holidays as the students would be leaving for break in a week and a half but the restaurants were busy with weekend reservations and by 4:30pm, I stated my interview on “Dining on the Metaverse” with the last chef I had before I graduated in 1998. I had not seen the guy in almost 25 years. Still he was just as nice as he was when I had him as an instructor and we had a good interview for almost two hours.
The campus was at twilight and it showed its true beauty next to the Hudson River.
The Culinary Institute of America at sunset
The Christmas tree lit at the Culinary Institute of America
We had our interview and it was nice talking with a Instructor that I had a lot of respect for years ago. It was nice of him to meet me after almost 25 years.
My TripAdvisor review on my lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe:
We bullshitted for the first hour and knowing that I had to be at the Mills Mansion by 6:30pm (the party was only going to 8:30pm), we had to get down to business. We spent the next hour talking about the effects of dining on the Metaverse and what it could do to the business in the future. His thoughts were pretty much the same as the Ivy Inn but it was an engaging conversation and I was able to take notes and write that section of the paper before I left for the weekend. Then it was off to the Mills Mansion for the Masquerade Cocktail Party fundraiser. That got my mind off a lot.
I had not been to a fundraiser here for the holidays since 2018 (COVID and work stopped me from going in the past) and it was a last minute thing I was able to attend. The President of the Friends of the Mills Mansion graciously let me come since it was sold out. I did not get there until almost 7:15pm by the time I left the CIA and got to Staatsburg and then had to park all the way down the hill.
The entrance to Staatsburgh, The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive the night of the party
I was not too keen on wearing a mask since I had to wear glasses but I still had a nice time. The band was excellent and the singer wore an outfit that looked like it was from the early 1920’s. The food was wonderful and they had nice passed appetizers and wine and champagne to drink. The mansion’s Dining Room was decked out with masks and everyone was dressed to the nines. I had not seen people so dressed up in years. It was so impressive to see how elegant the evening was like something out of the mid-1980’s. No one had dressed up this much in years and it made the whole event feel so festive and special.
The band with the singer with the 1920’s outfit
I was able to catch up to people I had not seen in two years (since the last Afternoon Tea lecture in February of 2020 right before the shutdown) and we had a nice time talking about what had been happening over the last two years. It was a nice evening to get my mind off school and work. I slept so soundly that night when I got back to the hotel.
It was a very elegant party that night
The Mill’s would have been proud of this party
The day after the interview and the party, off I went early in the morning to visit the decorated mansions and take the tours. The Brinckerhoff House was my first stop and I would not be there long because they had a fundraiser at 1:00pm and I promised to be there, take the pictures and leave because they would be busy for the rest of the afternoon. The house looked just as pleasant as it did when I visited it over the summer but the nice part was the fireplaces were going giving that house that winter smell of firewood and pine.
The Brinckerhoff House at 68 North Kensington Drive at Christmas
The house was set up and decorated for an Afternoon Tea fundraiser
The Christmas tree at the Brinckerhoff house
I only stayed for about an half hour as volunteers were showing up to assist with the event and then I was off to my next house which was the Vanderbilt Mansion. This was a big weekend for the decorated homes and I figured I should visit them since I would not have time in the future.
The Vanderbilt tour was booked solid as people had the same idea that I had. I got on the 1:00pm tour and off we went to tour the mansion. I had been there many times before but never to see the Christmas decorations. When I had visited back in 2019, they were taking the decorations down when I got there. By the time we left, most everything on one side of the house was gone. Today though, the mansion was in its full glory.
The Vanderbilt Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park
The house was tastefully but not over-decorated as Fredrick Vanderbilt and his wife never used the home for Christmas. They were in Manhattan for the Christmas and the beginning of the social season that would last from Christmas to about Easter when everyone would head to their Spring homes in the country or in Florida.
The entrance hall to the Vanderbilt Mansion
The Dining Room set for a formal Christmas dinner
The Living Room with the family Christmas tree
The full tour of the mansion was very interesting and you got to hear the stories of Fredrick and the last years of his life. He simplified matters, sold all his other homes and moved here until he passed away. He wife had died and he stopped the social swirl and concentrated on his job with the railroad.
After the tour was over, the tour guide told me that FDR Estate was having a big Open House that day and that I should head over before they closed at 5:00pm. Myself and pretty much everyone on my tour headed over to Springwood, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Springwood Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY
The first floor was decorated as it would have been for FDR and his family’s last Christmas when he was alive. The decorations were taken from old pictures of the house the year that he passed.
The entrance hall of Springwood decorated for Christmas
The library decorated for FDR’s last Christmas
The Dining Room was set for Christmas supper
The mansion again like the Vanderbilt Mansion was tastefully decorated but not overdone. The library had a tree with decorations and the many presents that the large extended family would have opened that day. The Dining Room was set for the family dinner with a children’s table in the back. It would have been a nice family affair.
We got to tour the rest of the house and head back to the Visitors Center for Hot Chocolate and cookies that they set up in the snack shop. That evening around 6:00pm, the Bard College music department was putting on a recital but I had to leave right after the tour as I had a tone of assignments and homework that I had to do for both colleges. At least I was finally able to see both mansions in their full glory at Christmas.
As I left the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions, I passed Downtown Hyde Park, NY which has a small downtown with about two blocks of historical buildings and admired the lights and how the businesses decorated the lights and buildings. I stopped to take a picture of their Christmas tree which was ablaze with lights on this snowy night. It really did look like Christmas.
Downtown Hyde Park, NY
The Hyde Park, NY Christmas tree a block from downtown
I got home early that night to finish my papers on the Metaverse and my White Page on the visitors we had to our Travel Trends class. It was an uphill battle that night and on Monday for both presentations. We got a “B+” on the Metaverse paper and an “A” on the White Page and in both classes I got an “A”. The Mapping project would go on until December 22nd. It would take five revisions and a lot of late nights. We were able to pull out a “B+” on the Mapping paper of the Rockaways right as my own classes were ending.
That last week of school Monday classes ended and after the Tuesday class my classmates wanted to go for an evening of Karaoke. I had papers to grade when I got home so I declined and took a walk up to see the tree and clear my head before heading home.
Christmas in New York City is always a pleasure and with the City opened back up to tourism, it made it exciting again. The anticipation of Christmas in Manhattan is something to experience if you have never done it before. It all started for me when I declined a karaoke night with my classmates and went to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I just needed a walk after my Data Analytics class. It had been a rough semester. Just seeing the tree put me in the Christmas spirit.
The Tree as we call it in Rockefeller Center December 2022
I walked around Midtown along Fifth Avenue, looking at Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows, admiring the lights and looking at the skyline. I forgot how beautiful this area of the City is at night. It was a mild Tuesday night when I was walking around and there were not too many people around. the tourists had not arrived in full swing yet. Being a Tuesday night, it was relaxing being able to walk around the Rockefeller Center area without the crowds.
The side streets were particularly elegant
West 58th Street in its glory
The Plaza Hotel in all its glory that night
I saw this playful sculpture along with others on Fifth Avenue but it was near my old haunt FAO Schwarz
This was the best display window at Bergdorf-Goodman on Fifth Avenue
Still what stood out to me on that glorious evening was the beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night. Even though it was still early in the evening, it might have well been 11:00pm because the streets were so quiet that evening. This is why I love Manhattan.
The beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night
The Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf-Goodman shined that evening
This little trip to Midtown after class really cheered me up. It had been a long semester and I needed this little Christmas break from school. It really put me into the holiday spirit. On my way back to Port Authority to head home, I passed the New York Public Library on my way through Bryant Park to see the Christmas Village
Outside the New York Public Library where the lions were decorated for the holidays.
As the school year ended at Bergen Community College and classes were wrapping up, I was getting tired of giving the traditional quizzes so for Quiz Four I gave all three classes from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. The students were asked by Corporate to arrange the company Christmas Party. They were asked to create the Invitation, the menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a signature drink.
Then were asked to create a Christmas Corporate message and two classes were asked to create an original Christmas song. It is amazing what a group of students can accomplish in an hour. Everyone in all three classes got an “A” and I did not have to drag home quizzes to grade. I will remember this quiz in the future.
The Paramus Business 101 Team’s idea for the Corporate Christmas Event
The Marketing 201 Team’s Ideas for the Corporate Christmas Event
The original Christmas song from the Marketing 201 Team for the Corporate Christmas Party
The ideas that the students came up with in ONE HOUR were just fantastic. This is why I love being a College Professor when you can get this type of creativity out of your students.
This Christmas message won the competition from my Business 101 Lyndhurst Team
As we put the revisions to the Mapping paper for my Data Analytics class and I prepared the final exams for my students and graded my other classes work, I planned another trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the rest of the decorated mansions on my list and update all my blogs for work. This was a long and very productive weekend. It would be capped off with a last minute Historical Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society. I had not been to one of these in three years.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill is where the adventure began. I revisited Staatsburgh (The Mills Mansion) and Wilderstein and then on Saturday I went to the Meiser Homestead in Wappinger Falls for their Holiday Open House. I had to time everything perfectly because I had to be in Manhattan for a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall at 8:00pm. I timed everything perfectly.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill was decorated nicely for Christmas
The Marriott did a nice job decorating the hotel for the holidays
I started my trip on a snowy Friday afternoon (it was funny that the weather was just cloudy down by us) and I made it for my 11:00am appointment to see Staatsburgh. I had been to the Mills Mansion fundraiser the week before but the whole house was not open that evening and I had only been there for an hour. Now I was able to tour the house at my leisure. I was even interviewed for the local papers by a woman who was doing an article on the decorated mansions of the area.
I returned to Staatsburgh on snowy cold afternoon so the mansion was pretty quiet for touring. There were only two people on the walking tour of the mansion that afternoon. The roads up to Hyde Park were not the best.
Staatsburgh-The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive on that snowy afternoon
It was nice to tour the house in peace and quiet. The party the week before had been a lot of fun but you could not see the rest of the house. All the rooms were so beautifully decorated, and the Dining Room was decorated to the hilt with masks, the theme of the party the week before. Since there was only two of us touring around, I got interviewed by the local paper by a reporter doing the same thing I was doing, visiting these beautiful homes. Visit my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com to see all my stories on my visits to these beautiful mansions.
The article on The Mills Mansion:
Then it was off to Wilderstein
Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, NY on that snowy afternoon
My last stop that evening was to Woodstock, NY. I had planned to come this year for the parade but with my brother coming in for Christmas that changed my plans. I figured this was the last time I was going to be able to come up before the holidays. So I braved the slush and snow and drove the long roads up to Woodstock. It never disappoints me.
The Village Square at Woodstock, NY during the holidays
The Woodstock, NY Christmas tree is always interesting
After dinner, I slept so soundly at the hotel again. The Marriott Courtyard in Fishkill, NY is in the perfect location with Route 84 and the mountains right behind it. Easy to get to the highway home but still the best views when you wake up.
The amazing view from my hotel room at the back of the hotel facing the mountains
I had to rush to go on the 10:30am tour of Locust Grove, the former home of Samuel Morse, that I wanted to photograph before I left for the Meiser Homestead. There was not time to eat this morning. Thank God I had some baked goods in the hotel room.
The Christmas tree in the formal Living Room in the Tower section of the home
The Dining Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
The Billiards Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
I toured the whole house in our private tour at 10:30am. There were so many people on the tour, they called a special docent in to run the tour and we had the house to ourselves. Ehtel lead the tour and we took time to enjoy each room. Then it was off the Meiser Homestead for their Open House.
The Mesier Homestead at 2 Spring Street in Wappingers Falls, NY
The Foyer at the Meiser Homestead decked out for the holidays
The Living Room with the Christmas tree
The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch
Downtown Wappingers Falls during Christmas
The Wappingers Falls Christmas tree in the downtown
After I returned home from the Meiser Homestead Open House, it was change clothes again and into the City I went. I did not have much time to do anything in the evenings when classes were going on at NYU so after the semester was over and my third class was finished for the semester at Bergen Community College, I got a last minute ticket to see NY Pops at Carnegie Hall with singer Ingrid Michaelson. What a concert!
I had not been to Carnegie Hall since 2019 in pre-COVID and this always is a tough concert to buy tickets for but I snagged a Saturday night ticket in Row H on the aisle (I have long legs) and it was fate.
The entrance to Carnegie Hall at 57th and Seventh Avenue on the night of the concert. Our concert is to the left.
The inside of Carnegie Hall decorated for the holidays. The crowds were getting settled into the theater.
The stage at Carnegie Hall decorated for Christmas
The excitement built when I entered the hall and it was all decked out for Christmas. It was a site to see. The surprising part was how casual everyone was dressed for the evening. I was really thrown by this especially at the holidays. My seatmate was also dressed to the nines and she made the same comment. She introduced herself and I thought it was funny that a recently married woman would come to the show by herself but there we were acting like two single people.
The beauty of the stage that night just as the NY Pops members started to come on to the stage
Ingrid Michaelson and her fellow singers on stage
The whole concert was amazing and Ingrid Michaelson was fantastic that evening. What I thought was funny was the end of these concerts end with a sing along with Santa on stage and that did not happen this time. She ended the show with one of her signature songs. Maybe her Friday night concert had that. Even though, the concert was excellent and I shared the two songs below that were my favorite from the show.
This was my favorite song from the concert “Christmas Valentine” a new classic. This was written by both Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz who performed it that night on stage.
The other great song from the concert was “Christmas Time is Here”:
“Christmas Time is Here” by Ingrid Michaelson
Even though it was a almost a two hour concert, it just seemed to end very quickly. After the concert was over, I just exploring the area around Lincoln Center. What a beautiful evening it was right before Christmas. People were talking in the local parks, admiring the Christmas lights in trees all over the neighborhood. Christmas tree stands were running in full force as people were decorating their homes on top of the their busy schedules.
Christmas tree sales by Carnegie Hall
For both lunch and dinner I returned to Amore Pizza cafe at 370 West 59th Street, which is down the road from Carnegie Hall. I swear that their food is the best.
I stopped in for a slice of Meat Lovers Pizza which was more than enough before the show and after the show I was still hungry. I went back and had a Chicken Parmesan Hero, which was good but it had been made from chopped fried chicken breasts instead of a freshly fried breast. It was good but not as good as the pizza was that night. After dinner, I just walked around Midtown and down Fifth Avenue admiring the windows.
The Meat Lovers Pizza at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent
The weekend was not finished yet as I had an early morning walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow and then I had a Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge. Since I had to extend my leave with the fire department, I missed the first “Santa Around Town” in eighteen years. This on top of the fact that I was supposed to run it. With my work and college schedule, I had to ‘cry uncle’ and give it up which really disappointed me. I had some really good plans for it. In the end only thirteen guys showed up out of fifty and they had a fire call before the event ended. Thank God it was just a block chimney.
I left for the last day walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor before the house closed for the season. I was on the last walking tour of the house. Since the house was not insulated and the weather gets bad for the winter, the house will not open again until April. So I was hoping to get some picture taking in and see the decorations. The house was not decorated for the holidays but still the tour was interesting.
The Philipsburg Manor house 381 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, NY
The tour was about an hour and we had indoor and outdoor activities that we got involved with cooking hardtack, touring the house and grounds and helping in the barn beating out the wheat seed. When the actors who worked at the site (who must have been freezing their butts off because it was cold that morning) told us and demonstrated the work that had been done on the estate, this was hard work! This was a working farm and business transport spot, not where a family lived and entertained. When Mr. Philips was on property, he was here for business and nothing else. The staff ran this farm.
Us making Hardtack at the outdoor oven
Our visit to the barn where were loosening the wheat seeds. This poor woman was out there all morning in the cold!
The tour was about an hour and I thought that the house would have had some Dutch Christmas decorations but again the tour guides and historians said that the house for business and visiting not for the day in day out lives of the family. Still it was interesting. After our tour finished, I toured the gift shop and then headed home to get ready for the concert.
The Bergen County Historical Society at New Bridge Landing brought back their indoor concerts for Christmas including opening the Blackhorse Pub (The Campbell-Christie House) for dinner before and after the concerts. It was so nice to come to this again. The crowds were a little light at the second concert at 7:45pm on a Sunday night but it made it more fun that we could still socially distance from each other and there was plenty of space to spread out.
I started the evening early at the pub eating my dinner before the concert. The pub had a limited but very nice menu based on what foods that may have been served at the time period (with a modern twist of course). There was Shepard’s Pie, a Ploughman’s Plate, Onion Pie, Trifle and Dutch Cookies and desserts on the menu..
The Campbell-Christie House at 1209 Main Street in River Edge, NJ at the Bergen County Historical Society
The Campbell-Christie House was used as the “Blackhorse Tavern” for the evening where pub food could be ordered for dinner. It was really beautiful that night with all the tables a glow from the candles and the room decorated with holly, garland and wreaths for the holidays.
The Blackhorse Tavern for dinner
After dinner was over, I had plenty of time to explore the gift shop and wonder around the property to see the other decorations. The other buildings on the property were closed that evening but still decorated so I followed the lantern filled pathway and looked at the decorations.
Before the second concert that evening that I would be attending at 7:45pm I wondered around the museum part of the Steuben House where the concerts were taking place. The exhibits were set up with a holiday/Christmas theme in mind. One display was on a candy maker who once had a store in Downtown Hackensack.
Bogert’s Candy Shop in Downtown Hackensack closed in 1934
Decorating the house both during the Revolutionary War and during the Victorian Age was a very extensive affair of preparing the house for entertainment. Garland, holly and pine would have been important to decorate with but it was the Christmas ornaments of the Victorian age and trimming trees with ornaments that would have made the tree very festive.
There were also displays on entertaining during that time period and soldiers lives while the war was going on and what would be needed. It could be lonely at the holidays.
We started to settle in as the second concert was about to start. The room was decorated for the holidays with a combination of Victorian and Revolutionary decorations.
The ballroom at the Steuben House
We were then treated to a concert by the great Linda Russell whose interpretations of Revolutionary Christmas songs is well known. We had a hour long concert of favorite songs, talks about the times and a history of the music itself. She shared with us her insights towards the holidays of New Jersey versus New England and their Puritan ways. Thank God we knew how to party then too.
Linda Russell (to the far left) and her group entertained us for the evening with songs, talks, a few jokes and a wonderful night of excellent music.
We were entertained for about an hour and got time during the intermission to talk with the musicians who shared their experiences with us and about the musical equipment that they were using that evening. It was an interesting talk and a wonderful concert. I highly recommend visiting the Bergen County Historical Society during this time of the year. They do a nice job with this concert and the site is so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday season.
Before my the last day of classes at Bergen Community College on December 22nd, I made one last trip into the City before I left for my mother’s. The house had to get cleaned and the laundry had to get done and I got all my errands done before I left. I just wanted to walk around and get my mind off both colleges. It had been a long semester and I was burnt out. The City could not have been more beautiful.
Christmas on Park Avenue
Park Avenue was lined with Christmas trees lighting up before it got dark
Homes on the Upper East Side were beautifully decorated for the holidays
Homes on the Upper East Side were decorated so nicely and some blocks there seemed to be a competition for whose house was nicer.
I went to Rockefeller Center one more time to see the tree and it was like a madhouse so I just looked at it from across the street and continued walking around the Upper East Side down to the Cornell Club where I relaxed for a bit before I went home. People would start taking their decorations down after the holidays and I wanted to take one more glimpse of the neighborhoods before that happened.
The Empire State Building from the Flatiron District
Christmas Eve morning, I visit the cemeteries and pay my respects to my family before I leave for my mother’s. I think it’s important to pay your respects. After fighting the crowds at Mills Bakery on Christmas Eve morning to get a Seven Layer Cake and breakfast cakes and doughnuts for the next day, I left for Rehoboth Beach. I swear the roads were really quiet and it was the first time that I got down to my mom’s in three and a half hours.
Mills Bakery at 275 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ had the most festive cakes, pies and cookies for the holidays
I had just seen my mother in September after the Firemen’s Convention but this was the first time since 2019 that we had spent Christmas together. COVID has really wreaked havoc on the holidays.
Christmas Eve and Day were spent at my mom’s which we have not done since the pandemic. It kept us away and it was strange not having a family get together for three years. It was nice to get together as a family again. On Christmas Eve, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and the place was a madhouse.
My review on TripAdvisor of Confucius Chinese Restaurant:
Even with all the crowds, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the meal and not have to do anything. I slept so soundly that night knowing that I did not have to be anywhere for a month.
My mother really decorated the house beautifully.
The House at Christmas.
Jane set the table so elegantly.
Cooking this year like in 2019 is now a family affair. My Mom relinquish some control of the kitchen over the last couple of years as dinner was getting to be too much for her to do alone so we all help now. My brother and I coordinate the schedules and plan the menu with my mom and we each did part of the meal and cooked it. This is what the Team work produced:
The Appetizers and Desserts being prepped for dinner:
Mom should be hired by Nancy Meyers to do visuals for her films.
The Potato Croquettes that I prepared for dinner, the Broccoli Casserole and the homemade Apple Pie my mother prepared for dinner (my mom makes the best pies).
We were all getting ready to cook our portion of Christmas Dinner.
My mother preparing the Sauteed String Beans
Me preparing the Potato Croquettes (which by the way were a big hit I think I look like a French Chef).
My brother getting the Roast carved before the start of dinner.
My Mother with the final Christmas dinner that was the Team effort
Christmas Dinner 2022 and everyone loved it! The dinner was Roast Fresh Park, Potato Croquettes, Apple Sauce, Broccoli Souffle and Sauteed String Beans.
The Desserts were Homemade Apple Pie and a Seven Layer Cake that I brought from Mills Bakery. My brother also made all the Christmas cookies.
My family on Christmas Day after dinner (minus my younger brother and his kids).
We had such a nice time with my mother and her friends at dinner and it was a nice quiet and mellow Christmas. It was what I needed after a long school year.
The day after Christmas while my brother headed to New York City, I took the ferry from Lewes to Cape May to spend the night and admire all the decorations all over town. I only spent one night in Cape May but with how relaxing, beautiful and quiet it was that evening I felt like I had been there for a week. I always say in my blogs that the only town to rival Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas is Cape May, NJ.
I took the ferry the next day from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ and thank God the weather was nice. We had really light waves and the trip went by really quick. We got into Cape May in a little over an hour and a half. Since I did not have to check into my hotel and it was getting late, I decided to head over to Sunset Beach and watch the sun set. That really relaxed me. In any weather, I swear the beach is always full of people doing the same thing. It was relatively warm that day and when I got to the park, people were playing miniature golf at the little range they have there. I thought that was amusing.
The sunset was fantastic! The weather had really cleared that evening and the colors were so entrancing.
The sun preparing to set that night
The hues at Sunset Beach make this place very special
I just stayed until it got a bit dark and then I headed to the hotel. I stay at the Chalfonte in the winter time in their Souther Quarters (the regular hotel is not insulted and closed until May) and I always enjoy the rooms with their cheery shabbiness and the way the place is always decorated for the holidays. You have to like these old hotels.
The Southern Quarters at the Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street
I have been coming to the hotel for Christmas for the last several years and last year when COVID again shut things down for Christmas, I stayed here while visiting my younger brother in Rehoboth Beach when he came for a visit. I love Cape May at Christmastime.
The hotel has that festive home away from home feeling with poinsettias around the hotel, Christmas candies and chocolates at the front door and Christmas lights around the building.
I like the shabby chic of the place
My room was really nice and the bed was so comfortable
The room has just been renovated but still had a water spot on the ceiling. That is the charm of the Chalfonte. It reminds you that it is an old hotel. I ventured out to the downtown and the Washington Mall that evening to see the true magic of what makes Cape May a Christmas town. All the lights, trees and decorations make sure that Santa does not miss this town.
The town square with it’s Christmas tree in the bandstand and white lights all over the little part are whimsical and magically as you walk through them. It always reminds me of “Whoville” in the “Grinch that stole Christmas”.
Cape May Town Square at Christmas
The bandstand and Christmas tree are amazing at night
The Cape May Christmas tree
I spent a good part of the my evening admiring the lights of downtown and of Washington Mall which is the downtown section of Cape May. The whole neighborhood was ablaze with lights, decorations and beautiful Christmas displays in the windows. Cape May knows how to decorate for the holidays.
The Washington Mall at night
The Washington Mall in Cape May decorated for the holidays
Our Lady of the Star Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Downtown Cape May
After a long walk picture taking everything in the downtown from every angle (I have pictures that I ended up using for other sites), I went back to the room to relax. I just sunk into the pillows and went out like a light. I woke up two hours later and got to bed. I slept so soundly again.
The next morning was rested and ready to go. I had my usual post-Christmas game plan. I started with breakfast at the Mad Batter, a local well known restaurant in Cape May and the food is always excellent. I have eaten here several times and I highly recommend it.
The food and the service are always very good. That morning there seemed to be only one waitress on the floor and I swear that this woman handled the dining room like a pro. The service was flawless and she never panicked.
The Bacon and Cheese Omelet with home fries was outstanding
After breakfast was over, I gathered my things at the hotel and dropped off my keys and then spent the afternoon visiting historical sites. Most everything I was surprised were closed so I took exterior shots to update my blogs.
While walking downtown, I saw that Our Lady of the Star Sea, the Catholic Church in the Washington Mall was having service at 11:00am. Since I did not go to church services on Christmas Eve or Day, I went in for the post-Christmas services. I was surprised how crowded they were that morning. I found out that a young new priest has just come from the seminary and started that day. I found him very inspirational and very enthusiastic.
The church was so beautifully decorated for the holidays
Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Christmas holiday season
After church services were over, I toured around Cape May. I had a noon time appointment at the Physick Mansion to see their Christmas decorations so I stopped at a few of the museum around the downtown area but again all closed.
The Physick Mansion tour at the holidays I have taken many times and it is one of the nicest homes decorated for the holidays. Many people would not have decorated every nook and cranny of the house the way this is but like Locust Grove, it gives you an idea of how the Victorians celebrated the holidays.
The decorations were amazing and the house was decked to the hilt for the Christmas holidays. We got to tour the entire house and every room has such festive garland and Christmas trees. The family seemed to know how to celebrate the holidays.
The Living Room at the Physick Estate
The Dining Room
The Parlor with the ‘Tabletop’ Tree in the corner
We went room by room with the tour guide explaining how the family would prepare for Christmas and the preparations that would have to be done by the staff for guests and for the family dinner. There would be many trips to Philadelphia department stores for gifts for the family. You felt on the tour that the family had just left for the day.
After the tour, I headed over to West Cape May to see the Cape May Lighthouse and was surprised that it was open that day. With everything else being closed, it was a treat to be able to climb it again. The drive in was nice as people decorated their homes nicely and being a warm day around 50 degrees (Christmas just seems to be getting warmer), I drove around for a bit to admire them.
The entrance to the Borough of Cape May Point decked for the holidays
The outdoor Christmas display in West Cape May
The Cape May Lighthouse and grounds were really busy with visitors and being such a warm day many were walking on the beach or admiring the park. Several passed me as I climbed the lighthouse which I had not done in a few years. The view on this clear sunny day was great.
The views from the top were so clear and beautiful and being so clear you could see the entire surrounding community.
The view from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse
After climbing up and back down, I passed more people who I could not believe were complaining on how hard it was to walk it. I got up in about ten minutes with a couple of stops and then was back down again once reaching the top. It is not that hard and is well worth the trip up.
Watching the time, I wanted to visit the farms in the area but Rea Farm was closed for the season so I headed to Beach Plum Farm, which has become quite the tourist stop since my first trip to Cape May. It is such a picturesque farm but it looks very planned. When I first started coming here is was a more local farm. Now it looks like a gourmet shop and it has gotten more expensive.
The entrance to Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street
I toured around the gift shop and admired the beautiful displays of gourmet foods. The place was almost empty as I could see that they must have had a very good Christmas. There was some serious restocking that needed to be done.
The wonderful gourmet items at Beach Plum Farm
I ended my afternoon feeding the chickens before I left the farm. God they were so excited to see me. I just had a little feed and they ran all around me like groupies. I guess this is how the farm feeds them. It was the best quarter I spent on the trip.
The chickens were a very excited bunch that afternoon
Before I left Cape May that day for home, I visited Sunset Beach one more time to enjoy the weather. The beach was pretty crowded again as everyone waited to see the sun set again on Cape May. Like I said before, you can see this a hundred times but it is never boring.
Sunset Beach on a warmish sunny day attracts a lot of visitors
From Sunset Beach, I headed home. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza on the way and then I had to leave Cape May (until the next time). There was a lot to do and I had places that I wanted to visit before the holidays were over. I could not believe how much work I got done on this two day trip to Cape May. I got to see a lot.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I made another trip around the City. Since I did not have to return to classes until the end of January, I was able to take my time and explore around campus and the Village. Christmas was still in full swing.
Christmas in Greenwich Village
Decorations in one of the pocket parks on Greenwich Street
Homes decked out for the holidays
Townhouses decked out for the holidays
I also made a special trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree and decorations before the museum took them down after the Epiphany. I love seeing them every year. It still is a big attraction at the museum and you have to visit it before that first weekend in January is over.
The Metropolitan Museum of at at 1000 Fifth Avenue:
My last holiday event before school started again was Epiphany services at the Reformed Church of Paramus and visiting my father for his birthday. It can be sobering but I try to still celebrate his life and going to this church puts me into the Christmas spirit.
The Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ
Christmas services at the Paramus Reformed Church
The Paramus Reformed Church’s decorations by Route 17 are always tasteful
After services were over, I stayed and joined the other parishioners for Tea and snacks after the service and talked with other parishioners. It was nice to sit back after a long holiday season and just relax. After services were over, I went to pay respects to my father for his birthday (which is the reason why I come here for church as its on the way home). The cemetery was filled to the brim with wreaths and grave blankets so even though it was a cemetery, there was still a festive feel to the fact that so many people paid their respects to their families.
My aunt took me out on the last day of the Epiphany weekend for my combination birthday/Christmas present dinner to the Ivy Inn. What a nice evening we had and it was the perfect way to end the holiday season. The Chef/ Owner was not there that day but we were able to discuss with the staff the paper I wrote on the Metaverse. They seemed amused by it all (see my review on dinner on my TripAdvisor review above by the Metaverse paper story).
The Ivy Inn decorated for Christmas
The beauty of the dining room decorated for the holidays
The delicious salad I started with
The delicious Penne with Sundried Tomatoes and Sweet Sausage that I had that evening
My aunt and I shared this wonderful Zeppoles with Chocolate and Raspberry sauces
It was a magical evening with good food and company in a festive environment. I really needed this with all the running around with school, work, blogging and research that I had done from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany. It was a lot for one person to pull off and somehow I managed it all. I am lucky that I have supportive friends and family.
I had the entire month of January to relax before the whole thing began again for Spring Semester and that is all I wanted to do. It didn’t quite happen that way but I finally got time to myself which I needed.
My work for my blogs took me all over New York and New Jersey, visiting small towns, admiring Christmas decorations and supporting many community events. Please visit my other blogs DiningonaShoeStringin NYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and VisitingaMuseum.com to see all the updates, more detailed stories on the mansions and events and all my updated pictures.
I got my final grades by the end of the semester and it was straight “A”‘s. This was the first time in my life I ever did that! Don’t even ask me how I pulled this all off!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Empire State Building from the NoMAD section of Manhattan just off Broadway
*Note: There is no delivery and no Credit Cards-Cash Only(Note: Since COVID the prices have gone up one or two dollars).
There is not a bad thing to say about Barcelona’s Restaurant and Bar. It is classic North Jersey restaurant that has not changed over time. I once took my mother there for dinner and she said that it not changed since she was a teenager. This type of time warp has not affected the food or the prices or the service. All are still terrific.
The waiters here are such characters. It is so casual that you feel like you have known them for years. Most of the staff has been there for many years and they always treat you nicely.
I do not think my feet touched the ground the entire month of October. Halloween night was spent in classes doing presentations and starting a new class on the Metaverse at NYU. It was not too awful as it rained during the parade for about an hour and was not the usual clear sunny (and usually warm) day that it had been in the past. Even though my partner at the parade, Mark Schuyler, said it was fun, the rain would be a bit of a deterrent.
The Village Merchant windows
The end of September lead to the crazy days of October as I settled into my classes at NYU and continued to get more assignments than I could keep up with. Between the three classes that I was taking at NYU and the three classes at Bergen Community College that I was teaching, my hands were so full that I never stopped running around. Everyone just kept adding more and more and I just had to keep up.
The Village Merchant windows at Halloween
The weather was surprising warm through early November this year which made the walk from Port Authority to campus a real pleasure. This is how I knew that Halloween was on its way. Here and there amongst the great little stores in the neighborhood, the window displays were full of pumpkins, witches, ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night.
The Salvation Army windows around the corner from NYU
Many of the merchants in the neighborhood really decorated their windows and it made it fun to exploring the side streets.
The Theater around the corner from NYU
As I walked through Washington Square Park, I thought back to the Haunted New York Ghost Tour that I took with the Cornell Club the year before and passed some of the sites in the neighborhood that we visited on the tour especially the “Hanging Tree” at the edge of the park.
The “Hanging Tree” in Washington Square Park where they used to hang prisoners until Society moved to the neighborhood and asked them to stop.
I passed through Gramercy Park to see what was going on in the park and people really decorated around the neighborhood.
I also remembered that Washington Square Park was a giant cemetery with a park on top of it. I am not too sure if people in the neighborhood or my fellow NYU classmates know all of this. Every once in a while when they have to fix the pipes near the edge of the park, they hit the tombs where bodies now rest. It is kind of eerie to know that people are buried under where people now play music, dance and protest. Just hope we don’t wake them up (Hee Hee).
Downtown Hasbrouck Heights decorated for Halloween in 2022
In early October, people really get into Halloween in a major way in Hasbrouck Heights and I start noticing that people are decorating their houses more for the holiday. By the end of the month, the Men’s Association starts to run around town judging houses for our annual contest. Some people started decorating early.
The beginnings of Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The beginnings of Fall in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Looks like the competition will be fierce this year
My neighbors even put their evil scarecrow “Giggles” outside to scare the passersby on Route 46 East. I swear this thing has a mind of its own.
“Giggles the Scarecrow” at Route 46 East in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The story of “Giggles the Scarecrow” on MywalkinManhattan.com Day One Hundred and Eighty-One:
As the temperature stayed warm and the trees stayed green, I could see the windows in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights start to change as the Annual Halloween Children’s Painting Contest for the elementary schools began. This goes on for about a week and sometimes the paintings stay up until Christmas time as people don’t realize that they are still on the windows. Some of these kids are really creative and do a nice job.
The Hasbrouck Heights Halloween WIndow Painting Contest
The merchants in our downtown like in the Village start to get creative with the window displays and this is why on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association we added a Merchant winner this year to our Halloween House Decorating Contest. So many of the merchants do such a terrific job of getting into the spirit of the holiday. Halloween is a big business now.
Heights Flower Shoppe was our winner this year and this picture does not give the display justice
Spindler’s Bake Shop decorated inside and out to be the Runner Up
Residents of Hasbrouck Heights for Halloween last year went all out decorating their houses for the holidays. This year it seemed a bit more subdued as the economy, the elections and just the general environment seemed a bit testy, people held back a bit but some residents went all out and by the end of the month we started the Second Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association House Decorating Contest with a new Merchant Category. Halloween then really kicked off.
I knew that Halloween was coming when I saw the kids on the Boulevard painting away at the Merchants windows in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights the first week of October. The funny part is that I sometimes see these paintings through Christmas.
The kids do such a great job though and they are so creative. Here is a sampling up and down the Boulevard that I saw when I was judging businesses for Halloween. This is just a sampling of some of the paintings that the children of Hasbrouck Heights in 2022:
Some of the paintings on the Boulevard with the winner
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
The contest is really popular every year and there are winners at every level
With classes in full swing and projects that I had to work on it made it tough to have free time to visit a lot of places that I had done in the past, so I concentrated on new experiences and trying to revisit the places I had when I had a free moment. It took a lot of planning, but I was able to get to upstate New York and down to Southern New Jersey again. In simple terms, between classes and work, I never stopped running around for the entire month of October. I did a lot of driving this month.
First I had to spend my birthday in class making a major presentation in my ‘Business Models’ class and my ‘Travel Trends’ class. That was nerve wracking enough but I got an “A” on both so I was really happy. I did the project on Wheelchair tourism in NYC and the challenges that a person could face when visiting Manhattan in a wheelchair.
The in the evening, I was in my Business Models class explaining the use of the “Garbage Box”, a mythical product that I created to contain all the street garbage from leaking on the sidewalk and making the sidewalk a bit more attractive by packaging the garbage. That earned me another “A”.
The “Garbage Box” prototype that when after class I really used it and packed garbage inside and left it at the curb. See how much nicer the garbage looks now?
Between those two classes and work on my two classes getting papers graded and getting quizzes done, I was burnt out. When I got home from my Thursday night class in Lyndhurst, I went to Heights Bar & Grill in Hasbrouck Heights for a drink and a snack. Happy Birthday finally to me!
My birthday dinner (two weeks late) at Heights Bar & Grill. The Cosmos and Pizza were amazing
When I finally got those projects over and done with for school, I went Upstate to the Hudson River Valley for the Sheep & Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on October 16th to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and to walk around the fairgrounds.
I don’t think the festival anticipated that many people that day
It ended up being almost 75 degrees that day but felt warmer. The fairgrounds were packed the entire afternoon. Not quite during the Dutchess County Fair but the food vendors were out in full force and that made me happy. There were not as many as during the fair and that led to a lot of long lines. This is the reason why I decided to walk around for a bit.
The large crowds at the food concessions at the Sheep & Wool Festival
Please enjoy my blog on the visiting the Sheep & Wool Festival Day One Hundred & Forty Nine:
I made my way to the animal pens and the Arts & Crafts sellers. You could see that everyone was getting ready for the Christmas holiday season. There were all sorts of items for stocking stuffers and people had all sorts of beautiful handcrafted ornaments and Santas. I love visiting my favorite woodcarving artists where I get my mother’s Santas every year.
Because of the warm weather, I don’t think the festival figured on the number of people
The guys were all there and all three of them showed me what they had to offer this Christmas. Since I never carry cash around (a mugger would hate me) and they never take credit cards, its makes it easy to make a selection. I have to buy the cheapest most creative one each year.
The wood carvers are so talented. I buy my Santas from these three men every year
I could not decide so I told the guys I would do what I usually did, see what was left over when I got back and make a decision then. I think they get a kick out of that philosophy of mine. I walked around the rest of the building to see what was there but I have a tough time spending $10.00 on a bar of soap or $20.00 on a bottle of honey. I do have limits on what I will spend money on.
The crowds on a warm October afternoon at the Sheep & Wool Festival
I walked around the rest of the buildings looking at the arts & crafts, a lot of yarn and crocheted articles at the booths and the homemade food stuffs. There was a lot to choose from. As I left the buildings with all the homemade articles, I passed displays for Halloween and could not even think about Christmas at this point (it’s always there at Halloween anyway) and remembered which holiday was coming up.
I loved this ‘Disco’ Ghost display in the main buildings
When I got to the animal pens that are usually filled with animals at the top of the hill were filled with more vendors. There were all different types of things to buy from ceramics to homemade flowers to honey and other wonderful gourmet foods to handmade cosmetic products. There really was something for everyone here.
I saw one of my favorite Children’s Arts & Crafts artist’s at the fair, Susannah White and I see her work every year. She creates the most wonderful dolls, fairy houses and masks. Everything is done by hand and her prices are very fair for the craftsmanship and attention to detail that each piece has to it.
I love the creativity and attention to detail this merchant has in her work
These are some of her finger puppets and masks that she create for ‘children’ but I see plenty of adults buying them too. I have to think about getting one of these in the future. They are ‘art’.
Another one of my favorite ‘children’s artists’ was there also displaying her puppets and sculpture as well. Artist Bonnie Hall creates these fantastic 3-D beasts of the imagination. They are so unusual and cute.
I walked the rest of the booths but nothing stood out as these few did. I always look forward to seeing these vendors and what they have come up with in terms of new merchandise.
I then visited the animal pens and made it in time to see the sheep being sheared and groomed. There are some people from the City that looked amused by all of this with a look in their eyes like, “it’s this quaint” when the very clothes they are wearing were created with a process that begins like this.
Some of the groomers explained how they do this and the process behind the step by step process it takes to shear an animal. Also, the difference in the wool from one part of the body to another and the difference in feel of it. I as a retailer thought this was fascinating. It is almost the same as when you skin an animal for its pelt. What is the difference between long hair fur and short hair fur.
The sheep looked they did not mind all the attention either making it a show of itself. They were probably used to all the attention at these shows after all these years.
I loved walking along the pens and looking at all the sheep and lambs staring back at me as well. I think they are amused by all of this as much as we are. These animals must be so used to human contact that they are jaded by it. Still it makes for an interesting interaction.
I walked around the fairgrounds to the rest of the pens and there was a combination of sheep and lambs. There were displays of the animals and the groomers were showing everyone how to care for them.
After I toured all the pens and barns with arts and crafts, I toured the small museums on the fairgrounds. I toured the Century Museum Village, which is a permanent museum on the property which shows life in rural New York State between 1880-1930. There was also the Schoolhouse Museum and Train Station Museum right up the hill from it. These give a look into Dutchess Counties past and compares how much has changed to today.
The Century Museum Village on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds
The inside of the museum and the counties rural past
My review on VisitingaMuseum.com on the Century Museum Village:
By the end of the afternoon, the lines had gone down for food but not by much. I still had to wait in line at Janek’s for a Cheeseburger for a half hour. The lines only went down about an hour before the Sheep & Wool Festival closed for the day.
Janek’s makes the BEST burgers ever!
My favorite lunch at the fair is Janek’s ‘Piggyback Burger’, which is a freshly made burger topped with Cheddar Cheese, pulled pork, cured ham and topped with barbecue sauce and homemade pickles. Biting into it is like biting into a piece of heaven. The burger does not need any salt or pepper and make sure to get it with the side of their homemade pierogis with sour cream. I only eat this twice a year, once at the Dutchess County Fair and once at the Sheep & Wool Festival and I am satisfied for the rest of the year.
“The Piggyback Burger” with the side of homemade pierogis
As I relaxed and enjoyed my lunch, I could see that the sun was starting to move around, and the day was starting to get darker out. I had not realized that I spent the entire day at the fair. Time really went by fast especially as I had never seen crowds like this at the fair before. Having such warm weather made a big difference in the crowds. I think the food vendors will rethink this last year since there were a lot less then for the Dutchess County Fair.
As I left the fair that afternoon, I passed the St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park who were holding the Historic Graveyard Tours that evening. I did not have a reservation but stopped in to see if I could tour the graveyard that evening. I had planned on coming up the next week but since I was here, I figured why not try now (Thank God I did because it rained the next weekend). I stopped at the church first in the afternoon just in case I could not make the tour. No one was around but I took a quick tour of the cemetery before I left for the Sheep & Wool Festival.
The sign outside the church
The St. James Episcopal Church of Hyde Park at 4526 Albany Post Road
I walked down the path marked for that evening’s Cemetery Walk and got to see the graves and crypts before it got dark. In the start of the fall, the cemetery was very picturesque on a sunny afternoon. There was almost an elegance to the cemetery with its detailed tombstones and colorful foliage. It looked like a quiet and elegant resting place for these residents of Hyde Park. There are a lot of famous names buried here.
St. James Church before you enter the cemetery
The start of the Cemetery Walk during the day
Walking through the cemetery during the day is interesting
A walk through the cemetery at St. James
Following the path of the Cemetery Walk during the day
The Livingston Mausoleum at the St. James Cemetery
Sara Delano Roosevelt (the President’s Mother) gravesite at St. James Cemetery
Walking through the tombstones at St. James along the Cemetery Walk path
The graves at the St. James Cemetery
It is an interesting tour. Before I got to the fair, I had stopped by the church to talk to someone about the tour, but no one was around so I just walked the path on my own and took pictures during the day so it least if I could not go on the tour, I had seen the cemetery. It was really interesting. The tour guide took us on a lantern tour on a marked path of the 200-year-old graveyard and we got to meet characters who were buried there portrayed by local actors (who I never know how they do it. They have to sit in a dark cemetery until the next tour comes through).
inside the St. James Episcopal Church before the Cemetery Walk
We met in the church first and did a quick orientation on what to expect and then the tour guide took us on the tour. It was very interesting, and the actors did a good job with each character. We met the following characters:
Captain Isaac Russell, a Revolutionary War Soldier who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and was present at the surrender of General Burgoyne on October 17th, 1777.
Anna Roosevelt Halstead, the daughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She had served in President Kennedy’s Citizens Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and she also served as the Vice-Chairman of the President’s Commission for the Observance of Human Rights.
Susan Cowman Carter, an early St. James Choir Director and organist.
Christopher Hughes III, a 19th century Hyde Park farmer
Adelaide Roddy, a pioneering early 20th century female Theologian who died on her honeymoon of spinal meningitis.
Arthur (Rube) DeGroff, Hyde Park’s very own Professional Baseball Player who had played with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1905. He played one game in 1906 and then was sent back to the minors.
The tour was very interesting, and each actor did a good job telling their story. The tour guide was right though, you had to stay on the path, or you would trip over a tombstone (as I almost did). I have to say one thing in that I was glad there were so many people on the tour and that the next tour after ours was full as well. Once you passed the lit areas, this cemetery was really gloomy and dark. Even the church looked a little creepy from a distance. Maybe that was the effect that they were going for on the tour. After the tour was over, I headed home.
School got even busier, so I had to pace myself with the activities and I managed to finish all my homework as well as get the students quizzes graded and the papers finished before I left for South Jersey the next weekend. The weather was going to be nice, and I decided to head back down to Salem, NJ again to finish touring some of the historical sites for my blogs and to go on the Salem Haunted Tour of the Downtown business district.
The Salem NJ Walking Ghost Tour in 2023
Before the walking tour there would be a concert “Tunes from the Crypt” at St. John’s Episcopal Church with musician Erik Meyer.
I had seen this tour advertised for many years, but it was tough to go on it from such a distance away. Since the weekend would be open, I hopped in the car on a Friday night and made another reservation at the Inn at Salem Country Club for the night. I was glad that Yvonne, the owner had the room open.
I got down early enough on Friday afternoon to take pictures at the Salem Oak Cemetery, the Salem Historical Society and at various points of interest in Salem’s Historical Downtown.
The historic Salem Oak Cemetery where many of the founders of Salem are buried and was home to the oldest Oak Tree in the State until it fell in 2019.
Downtown Salem has the most beautiful and historical residential district
I snapped pictures all the over the downtown area and managed to get all the pictures that I missed over the summer when I came down to do my blog on the Historic sites of Southern New Jersey (see blog below):
My blog on the Historical Sites of Southern New Jersey: Day Two Hundred and Forty:
Before I took the tour and after I settled into the hotel, I had a quick dinner at Bravo Pizza at 179 West Broadway in Downtown Salem.
The inside of the dining room of Bravo Pizza
I must have been attracting attention with all my picture taking in Downtown Salem. Since Salem is not the safest town, some gangbanger looking guys came in while I was eating my meatball hero to check me out. I just stared back, and they disappeared out the back door. I swear everyone thinks I am a Fed.
Bravo Pizza & Pasta at 179 West Broadway is really good and the prices are fair
I was able to get settled into the Inn before the tour and took a lot of pictures of the church’s cemetery before the Haunted Walk and then got to the church in time for the organist started a special Halloween concert. This was taking place before the walking tour. The weather surprisingly cooperated, and it was a warm October weekend.
The Inn at Salem Country Club at 91 Country Club Road (Now called the Salem River Inn)
Once I had eaten and was settled in, it was time to visit the downtown before the concert. Halloween weekend in recent years has gotten much warmer. The night of the concert and the walking tour was not different. It must have been in the mid 60’s the night of the tour.
I was one of the first ones at St. John’s Episcopal Church that evening so I got a prime parking spot right in front of the church and since there were no signs that I could not park there, it was nice that I did not have to move far.
The inside of the church was beautiful with all the historic stained glass windows and wooden pews. I was walking around admiring the church before the concert. What I love about these hundred year old churches is that they have a classic look to them. There is such a history to them. I admired the stained glass windows which were beautiful.
The inside of St. John’s Church
The stained glass windows at the church
The stained glass windows at the church
The church was very impressive. Most of these were Tiffany windows
Still these churches are so old that they have an intriguing look to them with an air of mystery. The interiors look like they belong in a independent horror film.
Even the church had a mysterious look to it at night
Musician Erik Meyer performed a series of classical horror film melodies on the church organ. What I thought was funny was the priest for St. John’s Church did the introduction and made a comment to a packed church full of people of all ages in the pews this was the most amount of people he had seen in the church in a long time.
Musician Erik Meyer dressed as Count Dracula next to the organ
After the concert was over, I talked with Erik Meyer about the irony of performing Halloween music in a church. He said many churches while their thoughts on Halloween are mixed have embraced this type of fundraiser to bring people back to the churches and raise money for them at the same time. He also told me that he had been performing these concerts at churches all over the state for the same reason. They have become very popular.
Royal Port Antiques at 13 Market Street was our starting and stopping point for the tour
After the concert was over, the whole group of us at the church headed over to the antique store where we would be starting the Haunted Historical Walking Tour of Downtown Salem. The tour took us from the store to the Salem Historical Society and back. I guess the rest of the Downtown at night was not the safest (I experienced that).
The start of the Ghost Tour
I have to admit the Historic Market Street neighborhood while very pretty and elegant with all the Federalist homes during the day is very pretty, at night it does look pretty spooky.
Downtown Salem Market Street Historic District at night
People did decorate in Downtown Salem, NJ
This townhouse really got into the spirit of Halloween
More detail on the house
Our first stop on the tour was visiting a small Dutch house that was a recreation of old homes that used to be part of the community. The home had been rebuilt in honor of visiting dignitaries visiting from Europe. The house was now a popular tourist site. While we were inside we got to peek inside and see the furnishings and a live fire in the fireplace.
The small Dutch House on the walking tour
I went back the next day and it did not seem that creepy
A Salem resident shares a ghostly tale of his home since moving here
Creepy tales at the Salem Historical Society courtyard
The Society courtyard is less creepy and very beautiful during the day with the fall foliage
Tales at the St. John’s cemetery
The St. John’s Cemetery is a very interesting place to visit during the day. The foliage in Salem, NJ was at its peak right before Halloween and the end of the October and I got to tour the graves of the people that the narrator was talking about during the day. It was an interesting story of how this resident treated his first wife in death and treatment of the second wife when she died. People are still people.
The entrance to St. John’s Cemetery
During the day, walking around this historic cemetery is very interesting. Many of the founding members of the Salem community are buried here and you can find the family cemetery plots among the paths. I would take the time to visit and walk around this interesting piece of the past.
The the tale of the Second wife that you see above during the day. The husband and second wife are in the elevated crypts and the first wife has a slab on top of here. As the narrator said this is what he thought of her in the end.
Colonial Robert Johnson and his second wife, Julia in the elevated crypts
The St. John’s Cemetery during the day
The St. John’s Cemetery
The St. John’s Cemetery family plots
The famous people buried in the cemetery-The Sinnickson Family plot-One of the founding families of Salem, NJ
After we left the church, we joined this friendly witch who told us the story about a spirit that haunts houses. To confuse them, you have to leave a bowl of rice at the doorway so that you confuse the spirit as it tries to count the grains of rice and then gets frustrated and leaves. I had never heard this story before but I did get a small bag of rice as a gift that I keep in my travel bag now.
Tales of spirits and the use of rice to keep them away
A Ghoul with a New York accent tells the tales
We ended the tour at the Salem Creek with tales of ghostly fisherman but you could not see anything at night so I took this the next morning. I almost tripped on the hill leaving this little park.
After the tour was over, we went back to the antique store to have hot cider and homemade cookies. I thought this was a very nice touch to a wonderful evening. There were a few more tours going on after I was finished so I got to walk around the antique store and then around the downtown and look at all the buildings at night. On a warm October evening, I found this tour to not just be relaxing but fascinating as well to learn the history of the town. When I got back to the Inn, I slept so soundly that night.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I watched the phases of the sun come up over the field from my bedroom window. I swear the location of this Inn is amazing and has the most spectacular views.
The Inn at Salem Country Club sunrise:
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
The sunrise from my room in its final phase and it was an amazing warm day.
What I like about the Inn at Salem Country Club is its location on Delaware Bay. In the warmer months, people use the beaches outside the Inn for swimming and recreation. Its location on the Delaware Bay is pretty spectacular and I never really noticed when I visited in the summer. I was so busy running around Southern New Jersey and I had gotten there late and left early the last time. On this trip, I had more time in the morning to walk around the grounds before I went to visit the remaining museums on my list (most of them were closed anyway as they were only open on certain weekends).
The grounds of the Salem Country Club Inn in late October
The grounds of the Inn were very beautiful on this warm Saturday morning in late October. The leaves were still changing colors and the weather was warm. I had my breakfast on the enclosed terrace (it was too cool to eat outside in the morning) and just watched the boats and birds pass by. It was such a wonderful morning to just relax and watch time go by.
The beach at the Inn at Salem Country Club
The lawn of the Inn of Salem Country Club
The beach at the Inn at Salem Country Club
After a relaxing night’s sleep, Yvonne ordered breakfast for me again from the Salem Diamond Diner just past the downtown. Over French Toast and sausage and fresh fruit, I watch the beauty of the Delaware Bay from the open room on the first floor. It was too cool to eat on the deck but another five degrees and I would have been out there. The views are just amazing when it is sunny.
My reviews of breakfast sent to me at the Inn from the Diamond Grill in Salem:
The rest of the day after I checked out I spent revisiting or trying to visit historical sites that I have missed on my Father’s Day weekend trip here. Most were so small that they were not even on the listing that I had from the summer. Almost all of them were either closed for the season at that point or would be open sometime in November and I was not racing down to South Jersey for a two hour visit to a historical site. This just makes another trip to the area justified in the Spring.
I had already visited the Salem Historical Society, the Salem Oak Cemetery and tried to visit the Salem Fire Museum so I ventured back to some of the places I seen over the summer. I also wanted to visit some of the smaller Historical societies I had a list of from the last trip. Most of them were closed for the season.
Some of the places that I visited were:
The Hancock House at 3 Front Street in Hancock’s Bridge:
I had to cross the county after visiting a these obscure sites to get to the Church Landing Farm at Pennsville Historical Society at 86 Church Landing Road. Thank God it was still open at 3:00pm. It was a real treat:
I was able to tour the Hancock House again while they were having a little Halloween festival and take pictures of the house. I also got to tour the Church Landing Farmhouse and visit all the little out buildings with all the displays. It was fun to finally see with more time to spend. Though it was just an overnight trip, I felt like I was gone for a week. I was so refreshed from the trip. It was time to go home and get some work done.
The Halloween Festival at the Hancock House on Halloween weekend
The days before Halloween, we were in the final judging of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween House Decorating Contest so when I got home from Salem, NJ, I had to present the awards to the winners and their families. Later the next week, I presented the awards to the merchants in town who were not opened on Sunday. It was a long but very productive morning and afternoon as the winners and runners-up were thrilled by their awards.
My blog on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween House Decorating Contest Day Two Hundred and Fifty on MywalkinManhattan.com:
It was a series of long drives around town, late nights looking at spooky lights, figures of fright and things that go bump in the night but the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorating Contest made a decision who had the best decorated house and downtown business in Hasbrouck Heights.
Decorations at 85 Woodside Avenue
Like last year the decision was tough but we chose 85 Woodside Avenue, the home of Matt and Lisa Fiduccia, last year’s runners up. The house was decorated to the hilt with ghosts, ghouls and figures that frightened the passersby. “We learned more from last year,” Matt Fiduccia said when they found out they won this year’s contest. “We added more to it.”
85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights Halloween 2022-Winner
The zombies and ghouls of 85 Woodside Avenue
The committee liked the theme of the property, the organization of the props and decorations of the doorway and the lighting of the house the night before Halloween which really showcased their creativity. The family was really excited about winning this year and the whole Fiduccia family joined Chairman Justin Watrel and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association President Steve Palladino for the presentation of the plaque and official sign from the organization declaring them winner. It was an award well deserved.
Chairman Justin Watrel with the Fiduccia family at 85 Woodside Avenue
Winners Matt and Lisa Fiduccia with their children and the official sign from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association
It was a tough decision to make this year as last year’s winner, Scott Vicario and runners up last year Frank and Mary Rose Blunda also created wonderful displays that would dazzle and delight trick or treaters the next night for Halloween.
253 Henry Street-The Runner-up this year
This is the second year Scott Vicario created a moving cemetery and ghoul fest all over his front lawn starting with a possessed woman climbing a tree outside the property and a variety of ghouls and zombies climbing popping and walking around the yard. “I keep finding new things to add to the display,” Scott told the committee when he was presented his award. “I look for professionally made displays.” Mr. Vicario who lives at 253 Henry Street said he “has more planned for next year” to win the award back.
Last year’s winner, Scott Vicario, was runner up this year
Some of the decorations were truly frightening
Ghosts and ghouls at 253 Henry Street
Scott Varicario in front of 253 Henry Street
253 Henry Street was full of zombies and ghosts
The other runners up last year, Frank and Mary Rose Blunda, keep creating frightening but friendly displays that dazzle their Halloween visitors. Trick or Treaters keep coming back for the displays of vampires and pumpkin headed beasts.
510 Henry Street
“We really love Halloween and we do this for the kids,” Frank Blunda said. “The families get such a kick out of visiting our house every year.” The Blunda’s love that families take a special trip to see their home.
The Ghosts, Ghouls and Pumpkin Heads of 510 Henry Street
Mary Rose and Frank Blunda of 510 Henry Street were runners-up again this year
Chairman Justin Watrel with Mary Rose and Frank Blunda at 510 Henry Street
The House Decorating Committee added a Merchant Division this year and we were dazzled by Heights Flower Shoppe, who always displays their holiday merchandise so nicely. Ray Vorisek, the owner of Heights Flower Shoppe was very thankful to the committee for the award. “We always like decorating the store to the hilt for the holidays.
Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
People come from all over to visit us.” Both inside and outside, the store was full of all sorts of merchandise to decorate the house and for creative Halloween parties. Ghosts and witches flowed all over the store.
The decorations of the windows at Heights Flower Shoppe
“We have a creative team that works together here,” Mrs. Spindler said as she accepted her framed award. “It is a team effort that got the store ready for the holiday.” Spindler’s Bakery not only decorated the windows with pumpkins and bears ready for Trick or Treating but the store had all sorts of delicious looking decorated pastries and cookies, perfect for any Halloween Party.
The inside of Spindler’s Bake Shop with decorations and Halloween treats
Chairman Justin Watrel with runner-up winner, Ginny Spindler and her co-worker
We also wanted to mention the Honorary mentions, whose decorated home made the first and second round cut of the contest and we wish you luck next year. These are 110 Central Avenue, 458 Jefferson Avenue, 415 Madison Avenue, 115 Ottawa Avenue and 310 Bell Avenue. Good luck and have a wonderful and safe holiday season from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.
Honorary Mention on Ottawa Avenue
Another Honorary Mention on Ottawa Avenue
Halloween Night was a bust for me. I had to start my first night of my Tourism Innovation Class, which concentrated on the Metaverse that evening and for the first time in six years I did not work on the Halloween Parade. It was a real bummer and I know Mark was really disappointed that I could not make it that evening. It rained during part of the parade so that at least made me feel a bit better.
When I left class that evening, it was also about 9:30pm and since we were meeting in the Uptown campus on West 42nd Street, I did not notice any part of the parade except for a few people heading back to New Jersey through the Port Authority. It was a cold and rather gloomy night because of the quick shower we had earlier. Not much of a holiday but at least I was able to celebrate in different ways in different parts of the month.
‘Aristocrats’ Justin Watrel (Beekman family) and Marc Schuyler (Schuyler family) at the Halloween Parade gate 2019.
Before Halloween was over I managed to sneak up to Croton on the Hudson to the Van Cortlandt Manor to see the Annual “Pumpkin Blaze” (see the blog attached):
Visiting the Pumpkin Blaze Day Two Hundred and Six:
The weather was really mild that night and I got tickets for the 8:00pm walk. Being later in the season, it was not as busy as it would be before Halloween. Still I could walk the show at my own pace and enjoy the displays. If you have never been there, I highly suggest it.
The entrance to the “Pumpkin Blaze”
The displays keep changing every year and it is fun to see all the new creative ideas that they come up with for the evening. It was the perfect way to finish the Halloween festivities. Now here comes Christmas!
I have been teaching “Marketing 201” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.
This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of post-COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
This semester’s project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019 and “Rocking it in Rutherford” in 2021. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson, the Borough of Rutherford and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.
The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:
I chose Westwood, NJ this semester because of all the years spent shopping and eating in Westwood with my family who live in the Township of Washington the next town over and many of the long term businesses that dot the downtown shopping district. Downtown Westwood had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of the train station dominating the downtown and a park with a band stand in Veterans Park in the heart of the downtown. It was a traditional downtown in New Jersey.
The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Westwood, NJ has all of these.
I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.
I entitled the project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.
The Project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”:
BCC-Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. 2022 Project It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ
When I presented the project, I got the usual moans and groans from some of the students and excitement from the others (it all depends on their position in the company and their enthusiasm in group projects). I got the Teams organized, had them meet up with one another and exchange emails and planned my field trip to Westwood, NJ as part of the project. It took some doing.
Two weeks later, I took my class on a field trip to Westwood, NJ to walk the downtown business district, to see where the Westwood Heritage Museum was located and to visit the shops and restaurants in the downtown area. The week in between me presenting the project and us visiting Westwood, NJ, I started to make contacts in the town.
I started by dropping off a copy of the project with City Hall and hoping to get the Mayor and Council involved the way we did in both Paterson and Rutherford, talking with the head of the Chamber of Commerce and then talking to merchants who I wanted to visit that included Hartly’s, a well known Women’s Store and Conrad’s, a very well-known Ice Cream and Candy store.
We really lucked out the day of the tour. It was a beautiful day but a little windy. We started out at the bandstand which is a symbol of the town. I never realized the historical significance that the bandstand had played in the town and in it’s history. It had been an important part of the social fabric of the town during the turn of the last century and still used for concerts today.
We were joined by the Honorable Beth Dell, the President of the Westwood Town Council and I thought this was a very nice honor that the town wanted to get involved in the beginning of the project. We really had a productive afternoon.
The tour of the downtown started in Veterans Park with the Team trying to figure out on how to create some of the activities that we would be creating such as the “Halloween in the Park”, the “Nick in Time” event and the “Jazz Summer Concert” events. We used the parks layout and logistics to figure out how to configure the usage of space. Before we toured the historic train station, we took our first in a series of corporate pictures.
Our Group picture at the Westwood Bandshell at the start of the tour (Councilwoman Dell and I to the right)
We continued on to the historic Westwood Train Station, which is the home to the Westwood Heritage Museum one day a month. It had not been operating recently because of COVID but I wanted the students to see the potential in how the museum could be updated and advertised to increase traffic.
The Train Station marker in Veterans Park
We toured the station and looked over the architecture and location of the station to understand why the location of the station has helped shape the way the downtown has been built around it.
The next part of the tour, we met with the head of the Westwood Chamber of Commerce at his business, Westwood Gallery, Michael Fitzsimmons. Mr. Fitzsimmons and I had met the week before and I knew how busy he would be so we had to plan the whole visit on a timely basis.
Not only did he spend a lot of time with us but introduced the class to members of ‘Celebrate Westwood”, a group of volunteers who help organize special events in the town. Talk about a productive and very engaging conversation on what both organizations do for the benefit of the town. The students, especially the Executive and Marketing Teams, gained a lot of knowledge and expertise from it.
Our second stop on the tour was a quick one through B & S Kitchen, an innovative sandwich shop a few doors down. I had just eaten lunch there the week before and thought that the food and selection of homemade soups were excellent. With a lunch special of a half a sandwich with a side of soup for $9.95, I saw this as an excellent business decision considering the quality of the food and service. It was so busy that morning the owners did not have a chance to talk to us but I was able to share my experience with the students while visiting there.
Our third stop on the tour was Hartly Fashion women’s store, which I think is one of the finest independent women’s clothing stores in the state. For a small store, it has some of the finest merchandise for work, parties and weddings. The service they have does not exist in stores anymore where salespeople will call you when items come in and will work with you on a personal one on one basis. Hartly is in a league all its own.