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The Donald & Barbara Tober Exhibit Room plaque inside the Conrad N. Hilton Library hallway
The Donald and Barbara Tober Exhibit Room is on the main floor of the Conrad N. Hilton Library. The exhibit room is open to the CIA community and to the public. The exhibition room has ongoing displays of culinary themed exhibits that cover topics involving the culinary world and food service. This is run by both the college and by students. It is not quite a museum but more of a display room of artifacts that are held by the Conrad N. Hilton Library and its archives.
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!
Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time and something wonderful and fun happens. My weekend up in the Hudson River Valley was like that when I was on a recent business trip. It was restful and I got my mind off school and work. I had to go to the Culinary Institute of America to talk to one of my old chefs for a project I was working on for my Innovations in Tourism class at NYU.
Roth Hall during Christmas time 2022
It was a step back in time for me walking around campus and talking to students in their chef’s gear. It reminded me of when I was attending the CIA and visitors asking me what it was like to be a student there. Roth Hall where I took all my classes was decked out for Christmas which I never experienced when I was on campus because I left campus in October when it was still warm and worked in Hawaii during the holiday season.
The inside entrance of Roth Hall decorated for Christmas
The outside of Roth Hall decked out for Christmas
While on campus, I noticed in the paper that there was going to be a small Christmas celebration in Downtown Kingston, the “Snowflake Festival” from 6:00pm-8:00pm that evening so I thought I would just visit Kingston after I settled in the hotel.
My chef was not available that afternoon but it gave me a chance to walk around the campus and visit parts of campus that I had not visited since pre-COVID. It got to see some of the new buildings and renovations of the old ones. I forgot how beautiful the campus is on the Hudson River.
The campus was quiet because most of the students were in their night classes so the restaurants were preparing for evening dinner shift. Visitors were taking tours of campus so I took time to explore all the restaurants and see what they looked like. It was a step back in time to see that not too much had changed but the course levels and curriculum kept evolving.
The artwork on campus is interesting
After a long tour of the building, I walked around the grounds of the campus. I visited the new Student Center and the Recreation Building to see all the happenings. They now have more clubs than ever and a series of sports teams. We never had those things when I was on campus. I walked through the “Egg”, which is the big cafeteria for the students and then the path outside the building following the Hudson River.
I knew that it was going to be a long day so I stopped for some lunch at the Apple Pie Cafe, which had not opened until I graduated. The Apple Pie Cafe is a Panera type restaurant featuring soups, sandwiches, small entrees and desserts. It is really popular with all the tourists.
The Apple Pie Cafe on the first floor of Roth Hall
I got there near closing time so the menu was limited. I decided on the Mac & Cheese and an Apple Cider donut. Everything was delicious but then I would not have expected anything else. The Mac & Cheese was made of Cheddar, Asiana and Parmesan. It had been sitting so it was firm on the outside but still tender and cheesy on the inside and the flavor was excellent.
The Mac & Cheese is baked until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside
For dessert, I had one the Apple Cider Cake donuts and it was wonderful. The donut was freshly fried and then it was almost poached in a reduction of Apple Cider so the top was firm and the bottom was dipped in the reduction giving the bottom of the donut a sweeter taste.
The Apple Pie Cafe at 1946 Campus Drive on the Culinary Institute of America campus in Hyde Park, NY
The whole meal was delicious and they let us continue eating after the restaurant was closed. They were just cleaning up the kitchen around us. After I finished that wonderful lunch, I got back to Heinz Plaza as twilight was happening and the sun was receding along the Hudson River. The Christmas trees were lit in the plaza and it looked very festive.
The Christmas Tree in the Courtyard was lit for the evening and the site of the Tree was wonderful.
I went back outside to see the Christmas tree in the courtyard lit. The whole effect was very beautiful.
I left campus that day refreshed after a good lunch and a long walk and wanted to relax at the hotel before I left for Kingston. It was just nice to sink into the bed of the Quality Inn in Hyde Park. The rooms are so comfortable and the beds are soft and firm. I just relaxed in the room for about an hour and just took it easy. It had been a long week of classes at both colleges.
The Courtyard at night
The campus Christmas tree was fully lit when I returned to talk to Chef Zearfoss
I left for Kingston, NY across the river and got to the Stockade section of the City around 6:00pm when things were just starting up. The weather was perfect and it was around 50 degrees when I got there so the streets were really busy with people walking around to hear the bands.
The “Snowflake Festival” in Downtown Kingston, NY
The town had a lot of activities going on that night
I was greeted by this festive sign welcoming people to the festival
Downtown Kingston’s Stockard section was beautifully decorated for the holidays
I got the Stockade neighborhood in the oldest part of Kingston by 6:30pm so people were just starting to arrive when I got there to join in the festivities. The crowds were starting to grow as the evening progressed as it was a crisp but pleasant December evening. It was not too hot and not too cold. It was the perfect 48 degree evening.
People arriving in the Stockage section of the City of Kingston, NY
Snowflakes decorated the whole downtown area
The crowds kept growing through the evening
It was really a fun evening. The City of Kingston had a lot of activities planned all over the downtown and people were walking all over the decorated downtown. All the lights were on all over the streets and the main streets were lined with Christmas lights and snowflakes. The display windows of the business were decorated to the hilt for the holiday season.
Downtown merchant window display
Downtown merchant window display
My favorite window display was a home furnishing store on the main street
The merchants of Kingston really went all out for the holidays
The merchants in Kingston really got into the spirit of it all
I first wondered around the downtown on where to start first and just walked all the streets of the downtown area to see what was going on. My first stop was the Dutch Reformed Church were they were going to have a series of concerts. I had been there many times for Sinterklaas fundraisers in the past but had not been there for this event.
The church was all decked out with garlands and lights for the Christmas holiday season. I love these old churches when they are decorated for the holidays. There is such a beauty to them and so many traditions that they are a part of in the community. This church is in the center of old Kingston and always has such interesting events.
The outside of the Dutch Reformed Church of Kingston at 272 Wall Street was very festive with garland and lights
I had been in the church before for Sinterklaas fundraisers but never in the main part of the church where services took place. It is one of those old 19th century churches with the wooden pews, the elaborate stained glass windows and the high pulpit above the congregation.
The church was decorated with lights, bows, holly and garland all over the pews and aisles. It is amazing how secular these churches are getting for the holidays. The concert was a lot of fun and very festive. They not only performed classic hits, contemporary music but also some traditional Christmas songs. It really got everyone in the mood for the holidays.
The concerts were very lively
After visiting the church, I walked around the grounds. It is amazing how short the distance is between Halloween and Christmas but the lines are getting more blurred every year. It seems that time is flying by between the two holidays. I even see some of the Halloween merchandise still sitting on the shelves in stores.
I followed the carolers around the downtown area and took several pictures by the Kingston Christmas tree. Their tree was very impressive this year and beautifully lit for the holidays. Downtown Kingston was very beautiful that evening as I admired all the buildings that were being renovated and all the new stores opening up.
The Downtown Kingston Christmas Tree on Main Street
I walked around the streets and I came to the Kingston Volunteer Firefighters Museum that was open and decorated for the holidays. They even had an antique fire engine in the front of the museum decorated with lights.
The Volunteer Firemen’s Hall and Museum at 265 Fair Street
The retired firefighters from the former volunteer companies really did a great job dressing the museum up for the event. In the upstairs Chief’s office, there was garland and a Christmas tree.
All the equipment was shined up for the open house and all the firemen were swapping stories with those of us in the fire service who understood what we were talking about. They had some pretty good stories to tell. What I like about visiting this museum is all the antique equipment they have on display.
I love the parade hose beds that the museum has on display. These elaborate pieces are the pride of these fire companies and were out for every parade.
Before I left though, I had the worst (I mean worst) cup of hot chocolate that I ever drank. It tasted like it was cooked in a burnt pot. I had to throw that out and find something else to drink.
After the fire museum, I turned the corner to see the horse drawn carriage rides that were available. I loved the look of the carriage with the horses decked out for the holidays and the driver in a top hat. The only problem was there was one driver and the line even towards the end of the event was fifty deep. I did not know how they were going to get through all those people before it was time to go.
My last visit for the evening was to the Senate House in the historic area of downtown. The lawn and all the trees were lit with Christmas lights and the buildings covered in garland.
The Senate House Complex at 295 Fair Street was beautifully decorated that night
Here a performer was singing Christmas songs and leading sing a longs while Santa wished everyone well and listened to what everyone wanted for Christmas.
Singer Mark Rust at the Senate House lawn for the Snowflake Festival
The lines to see Santa were also fifty deep as everyone was trying to see Santa before the event ended. I just was a casual observer.
Santa was really busy that night. I don’t know how he handled the crowds
The event winded down rather quickly at 8:00pm and when I started to turn the corners of the downtown again especially on main street, they were starting to pack things up. 8:00pm meant 8:00pm! The strange part was that it looked like all the restaurants were closing at 8:00pm as well. It was as if the whole downtown was rolling up its sleeves. By 8:30pm. the downtown looked like a ghost town.
The Snowflake decorations in Downtown Kingston, NY
Street art in Downtown Kingston, NY by the Christmas tree
I tried to find a place to eat that evening but literally most every place was closed and the only Chinese restaurant that was open did not have a place to sit down so I left Kingston to cross the river again. I knew that Golden Wok in Red Hook was open late so I decided to head to Red Hook, NY for dinner.
Red Hook like the other towns in the Hudson River Valley is so picturesque during the holidays and is one town that is not geared towards tourists as opposed to the local citizens. Their restaurants are reasonable and the town is not overloaded with expensive gift shops like Rhinebeck and Woodstock are in their downtowns. It is also so beautifully decorated with garland and white lights all over the buildings downtown.
Downtown Red Hook, NY was decked out for the holidays
Downtown Red Hook, NY decked out for the holidays
Downtown Red Hook, NY
Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop really decorated to the hilt for Christmas
It was also quiet in Red Hook as well and I was the only one walking around the downtown. I walked around for a bit, admiring the lights and looking over their town Christmas tree which just a few weeks earlier had been a Fall display for Halloween.
Downtown Red Hook, NY Christmas tree
Things move fast in these towns.
I was Golden Wok’s only customer at that time so I ate in at the front table and just watched the traffic go by. The food at the restaurant is just amazing. For a small take out place, they do a wonderful job with their dishes.
I had the most delicious Roast Pork Lo Mein with Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll for dinner. Not only was the food good but the portion sizes were very generous. I just sat back and relaxed and ate realizing that I did not have to be anywhere or race to do anything. That was a nice feeling. It was just nice to eat and admire all the Christmas decorations. The restaurant got a little busier as people saw me eating in the front of the restaurant and I guess figured that it was open and started to come in. They got a bit of a rush after that
The Roast Pork Lo Mein and Fried Rice are delicious at Golden Wok
I headed back to my hotel to get some rest. I had to be up the next morning to help with the Sinterklaas Parade. During the Sinterklaas weekend, I always stay at the Quality Inn in Hyde Park, NY which is near the Culinary Institute of America campus. It is the halfway point between all the towns that I visit and not that far from Rhinebeck so it is a quick trip for set up the next morning.
The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road
Since we had the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association party for the residents on Sunday morning and afternoon in Boonton, NJ, I arranged to stay for two nights. One top of the loads of homework I had for graduate school, I also was taking pictures for my blogs as well and trying to catch up the visuals on my VisitingaMuseum.com site. I had to get settled into the hotel and ended up staying up until almost one in the morning getting work done for school.
The next morning could not have been more miserable. It was cold and rainy when I got up for the Sinterklaas parade. They said it was going to rain all day and that did not make me happy. I had walked in the Sinterklaas Parade in the past in the rain and it is no fun!
I made a big mistake and got up really early and ate my breakfast early and got to the Starlight Library in Rhinebeck by 8:30am thinking I would be late. I forgot that this is when I used to leave home to get to Rhinebeck. The set up was usually at 10:00am and I forgot. So I sat there making phone calls until 10:30am wondering where everyone was that morning. I was not the only one as another volunteer did the same thing. We both ended up back downtown in Rhinebeck asking what was going on.
I ended up that the parade organizers decided to wait until 11:00am to start setting up. By that point, I was starved again and went to Peter’s Famous for an early lunch and decided to go to opening ceremonies before heading back to the library. It was there I heard that they were setting up at the library by 11:00am. I decided to stay and head up after.
I have been participating and/or attending the Sinterklaas Parade since 2010 when my dad and I went up to Rhinebeck, NY when I was interviewing Jeanne Fleming for an article I was working on for the Soup Kitchen. We loved it so much that we continued to go for years even after my father got sick. We made the best of the whole experience.
Since I was not too sure what was going on, I decided I wanted to see the opening ceremony first so I had a quick lunch at Pete’s Famous in Rhinebeck at 34 East Market Street #1. I was in the mood for one of their club sandwiches and ended up indulging in their homemade Chicken Salad Club Sandwiches ($11.99) with French Fries and a Coke.
Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY
Did that sandwich hit the spot and kept me going for the rest of the afternoon. The chicken salad was delicious and the sandwich was so filling. The French Fries really warmed me up on this cool gloomy morning and the service is always so friendly.
The Chicken Salad Club at Pete’s Famous is a ‘must try’ when dining here
After lunch was over, I headed over to the Beekman Arms where in the banquet room they had the opening ceremony for Sinterklaas.
Sinterklaas Director and founder Jeanne Fleming at the opening ceremony
The Mayor of Rhinebeck, NY welcoming everyone to the event
Jeanne Fleming welcoming the Pocket Lady to the event
Jeanne Fleming welcoming Mother Holly and her story book to the event
Jeanne Fleming welcoming the evil “Gadfly” to the event
The Grove of Trees of the magic forest
The musical polar bear enters the room to bring cheer to the crowd
The meddlesome Gadfly jealous of the polar bear
Hansel and Gretel close the ceremony with a song
The Opening Ceremony was about an hour long and we got to meet all the characters of Sinterklaas. There was the Pocket Lady who shares a gift with all the good little children from her series of pockets, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee (Oh!), the Dancing Musical Polar Bear and the evil Gadfly. The Mayor of Rhinebeck, NY welcomed everyone to the annual event and wished everyone a happy and safe holiday season.
The Polar Bear danced down the aisle high fiving everyone much to the Gadfly’s dismay and he started to kvetch about it. Only when he was shushed by the crowd did he calm down. Then the dancing trees took their place on stage to be followed by a song by Hansel and Gretel, who closed the ceremony with a lively song. Everyone was wished a Happy Sinterklaas and some people stayed to listen to storyteller Jonathan Kruk tell the story of Sinterklaas while I went out to enjoy the festivities.
When I got outside the Beekman Arms, I saw the first musical group performing on the lawn of the Beekman Arms. I stopped for a bit to watch them perform and then I rushed to the library to see if there was anything left to do for the parade. When I got there, the last touches were being put on the puppets for the parade and there was not much left to do. The weather started to clear so it looked like the parade was on for later that evening.
The first group was performing on the lawn of the Beekman Arms
I looked over all the puppets like they were close friends seeing these puppets over the years and watching them being created by our puppet masters, Alex and Sophia, who have been running this part of the parade for years. Their ingenuity is what creates these masterpieces every year. Everything was wrapped in plastic waiting to see if the rain would clear for the evening (it did and was a clear and starry night).
Mother Holly welcoming children to her story house
With the parade set up wrapped up, I did not have to be back to help until 4:00pm, I decided to head back down the hill and join everyone else in all the celebrations around Rhinebeck. The weather was slowly clearing and I could see some blue peeking out of the clouds.
The Parade under wraps
The Owls awaiting for their parade
Getting ready for the parade
The bees are buzzing for the parade
The Dragon awaits opening
The stars are kept under wraps
When I left the library, the weather report said it was going to clear and when I reached downtown, the blue of the sky was there. More people started to show up for the activities. Not like last year but people were crowding the sidewalks and enjoying the festivities.
I decided to head to the ‘Porcupine Grove’ where a mysterious woman was doing the reading of the porcupine. It was an unusual home and place to visit but the creativity of the person who designed it was immense. We were told the story of the Porcupine, the representative of this year’s parade.
The Porcupine Grove ceiling to his home
The porcupine’s mushrooms were our seats for the talk
Here we heard the tail of “The Porcupine” by a wise woman
I was lucky that I got to the porcupines home first because as soon as I exited the line to get in was twenty deep and counting. It looked like I was the first one there with my group of visitors.
After the talk in the porcupine’s home, I walked all over Downtown Rhinebeck as the festivities were starting and decided my next stop would be at the Reformed Church to see the “Into the Light” show that I had not seen in years. The church location had changed and it was now in the Reformed Church Sanctuary. This is where I met up with my ‘cousin’ Marc Schuyler, who was working the door to control crowds. We got to catch up on the Halloween Parade that I was not able to attend because of classes that night at NYU.
Myself and Marc at the Halloween Parade a couple years ago
I had not seen the show in a couple of years and stared at the girl who was performing the lead role. She a little too developed to play the role of a young girl in the play. Come to find out this was the same girl I had seen in the show ten years earlier and she was still playing it.
The Reformed Church on Route 9
“Into the Light” is the story of a young girl’s journey throughout the world searching for the light. It features giant puppets and music. The kids did a nice job on the show.
The “Into the Light” show
The “Into the Light” show at the Reformed Church
The “Into the Light” show
The cast taking their bows
After the “Into the Light” show, I said my goodbyes to Marc and told him I would see him (if I do not have class that night) on October 31st, 2023 for the next Halloween Parade. I was off walking to my next stop, the United Methodist Church to hear the brass bands play. What was ironic was that most of these groups had been at the Dutch Reformed Church the night before in Kingston so I got to hear them perform again.
People were dancing in the aisles at the United Methodist Church to the brass bands
There were also musical groups outside the church as well
As the weather cleared during the afternoon, outside the church got lively.
I was only able to stay for two shows and then I had to head back up to the Starlight Library to help with the set up of the parade route and help get volunteers to where they needed to go. The streets got more lively as the weather got sunnier and clear. There were all sorts of musicians walking around, the Gumpuses were performing before the crowd (many of these guys I have seen over the years), angels on stilts dancing to the bands, our friend, the Polar Bear, was dancing around everyone. It really lively on the Main Street.
The Gumpuses dancing around town
The Polar Bear dances to the musical beat
The Angel’s on stilts lead the magical forest around town
Musical bands played all over the main street
Different bands were playing all over the downtown area as the weather cleared
I walked up to the library after watching all the bands perform and every one was having such a nice time. As the weather got better, the crowds really started to arrive and I guest people figured with the weather getting better and the parade night clearing up, it is a perfect time to come out and see it.
I loved how decorated the town was for the event. Downtown Rhinebeck is one of the most beautiful downtown’s during the Christmas holidays. All the merchants and home owners decorate to the hilt and the whole town is covered in garland, bows, white lights and Christmas decorations that give it a festive appearance and put you in the holiday spirit.
The homes and businesses were beautifully decorated
I always admire this house on my walk back up to the Starlight Library
When I got to the Starlight Library, all the volunteers were preparing for the rest of the parade volunteers to arrive. We got to eat some dinner provided by the Parade committee and then we had to get to work making sure everyone was where they needed to be. People wanted to test out their puppets and walk around. I have never seen an evening zoom by so fast and soon it was time to start the parade and get lined up and ready to go. It is always exciting to take that trip down the hill.
The Angels on stilts were exciting about leading the parade
As darkness came, it was time to light up the puppets and get the parade started. It is the most exciting time of the night as the puppet prepare for the lineup.
The Star Puppets lead the way each year and light the path of the parade
The Christmas Dove in the parade
The serpents leading the way both at the Halloween and Sinterklaas Parades
The Dragon lighting the way
The Bees have been lighting the way for years
The wise old owls enter the parade route
Miss Mouse enters the parade
The Star puppets lead the way down the hill to Downtown Rhinebeck, NY
The Start of the Parade at the Starlight Library. You can see me holding the banner at the end of the parade.
Because of the weather earlier in the morning, we did not have the crowds we had last year and in 2019 but still everyone lined the Main Street on the way to the community parking lot on our way to the Closing Ceremonies. People were so excited when the parade came down the hill. It is quite a event with all the lights and music and puppets dancing around the streets.
I was behind the stars and the dove and had the drummers behind me. I could not hear for most of the parade.
The parade moving down the hill towards downtown
The parade in the heart of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY is really exciting!
The parade slowed down as we entered the Community Parking lot as the puppets were being dropped off and the Closing Ceremony started. By the time I got to the parking lot, everyone had pretty much dropped off their puppets but the Stars and Bees who lingered a bit longer.
Than we started the Closing Ceremonies where all the main characters are introduced one more time before they make their exit from the parade awaiting next year. Everyone was so excited and the stage really breemed with artists having a good time.
The closing ceremony with Sinterklaas and his court of people helping him that day.
The Grumpuses perform their last dance of the day on stage.
The Polar Bear was leading the dance at the end of the parade
Hansel and Gretel singing and dancing at the parade.
The band plays on at the closing ceremonies
The flame throwers performed at the end of the Closing Ceremonies.
The stage after the performances were over. It was really creatively done.
After the Closing ceremonies, I walked around the downtown area and spent time admiring the window displays at the stores and admiring the artwork around the trees. It got very quiet in Downtown Rhinebeck. Within an hour of the parade, you would have never known there was a parade.
The merchants in Downtown Rhinebeck really decorated their stores to the hilt for the holidays
The display windows in Downtown Rhinebeck were amazing
Merchant’s window at Christmas
Merchant’s windows at Christmas
Merchant’s windows at Christmas
The night had cooled down but you could see all the beautiful stars in the sky when the weather cleared and in the background I could hear the saxophonist who always plays at night. The Christmas songs he was playing really put me in the Christmas spirit.
I ended the evening with a couple of slices of pizza at Village Pizza. I can’t tell you how good that pizza tasted at the end of the evening. I was talking with the staff there and they said they were consistent that day but not like the two previous years when they did not sit still. The rain at the beginning of the day put a damper on everything.
Village Pizza at 19 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY during Sinterklaas
After dinner, I walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, which to me outside of Cape May, NJ is one of the beautiful town’s to spend Christmas in. The whole downtown was beautifully decorated and the Christmas tree was amazing.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY after the Sinterklaas Parade
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas time
The Christmas tree in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY
The angels in the alleyway
The angel in the alleyway
I got back to the hotel and went right to bed. I slept so soundly that evening. Between the heat of the room and how comfortable the bed was I got one of the best night’s sleep in a long time. With all the stress of school and having to bring work with me, I just needed this evening to relax.
The view from my room the next day. It was sunny and warmer.
After breakfast the next day, it was off to Boonton, NJ to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home to volunteer for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Christmas Party. It was the first time in three years we had had the full party with entertainment and dropping off presents. The members had time before the party to socialize with each other and I even got better acquainted with the Firemen’s Home resident dog, Wells.
Our article on the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association website:
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Executive Board, Tom Simpson, George Heflich, Justin Watrel, John Kinner.
Vice-President Justin Watrel with resident dog, Wells.
Member Jerry Naylis’s daughter and grandchildren were part of the entertainment again this year and really charmed the residents.
The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association gathered together for our annual membership picture after the party was over.
After the entertainment was over, we handed out our presents to the residents which was a beautiful red fleece jacket with the residents name on it. I could tell that all the residents were touched by the gift and it really meant something to all of them to be remembered at the holidays.
Our Christmas present to the residents
While the entertainment carried on for the next 45 minutes, some of the members stopped for dinner at the Columbia Inn in Montville, NJ and just relaxed. It had been a long day for everyone and a good meal was a nice way to end the day. I had the most wonderful Chicken Rollatini special that really warmed me up on this cool early evening. It was nice to catch up with the other members before the holidays went into full force.
It had been a long weekend and when I got home, it was getting ready for classes again, finishing my White Page for my Trends in Tourism class, my Metaverse paper for Innovations in Tourism class and our Mapping project for my Data Analytics class. This on top of all the work I had to finish in my own classes at Bergen Community College. It was going to be a long next three weeks before Christmas and both colleges would keep me busy.
The Hyde Park Historical Society is going through a type of rebirth as it has reopened with a fresh approach towards not just the history of Hyde Park, NY but the area in general and life here over the last two hundred years. The society is taking a new direction and revamping their efforts on the displays and on the history and activities of the museum. The museum is housed in what was once the Hyde Park, NY Fire Department building.
The museum is broken down into sections by displays. When you enter the museum there is an display of bicycles and recreation items that would have been used over the years…
Just as New York City is starting to open back up slowly to visitors and tourists, the Hudson River Valley has opened its restaurants, farms, wineries and historical sites to visitors who need some fresh air and escape from their worries. It has been a tough last couple of months for everyone all over the country and especially in New York City that depends so much on their office workers and tourists to keep the economy of the City thriving.
The Hudson River Valley started to slowly open back up in June and sites have been cautious about keeping everyone socially distanced and keeping events to a smaller scale. Of course you have to wear masks to everything so it does make it difficult to be outside sometimes. Still it was nice to pass people stopping at farm stands to buy fresh produce, visiting farmers markets to see all crafts people with baked goods, prepared foods and artworks. It was just a nice change of scenery.
After finishing the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, my first neighborhood visited since the City reopened on June 10th, 2020, I wanted to visit the sites of the Hudson River Valley. The Staatsburgh Historical Park and the Friends of the Mills Mansion put together a series of smaller events for members and their guests over the weekend so I travelled up to Staatsburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Red Hook to visit historical sites and see the farms. There was a lot I wanted to cover that I was not able to visit last year because of my schedule.
I started on Saturday at 9:00am in Hyde Park, NY where I have once lived while attending the Culinary Institute of America in the late 1990’s. I had plenty of time to visit since my tour was not until 10:00am in Staatsburgh so I visited the Hyde Park Farmers Market. They had just finished setting up when I got there and having a whole hour before the tour of ‘Historical Staatsburgh’, I decided to stop off and visit the market.
It was a cool morning when I arrived but most everyone had already set up their booths and it was a nice selection of baked goods, fresh vegetables and fruits, homemade items like pickles and jellies and a lot of crafts and skin care products. Apples are just starting to come in and there were all sorts of varieties available.
It was nice talking to the merchants about their wares and about business. The COVID pandemic has really affected the farmers markets like everything else and people are just getting used to walking around with masks on even in outdoor spots. The customers like myself put on the their masks and start exploring the booths.
One bakery I stopped at, Tom’s Heritage Bakes Goods & Jam by baker Tom Green, made a pastry that was cross between a pocket and turnover filled with fresh peaches, blueberries and cream cheese. It was $5.00 but it was amazing. The fresh fruit and the buttery pastry was a great combination. Another merchant was selling beautiful wooden snowman and Christmas trees and his wife was selling hand products. I was blown away by the craftsmanship of both of them. It was nice just being outside talking to people who looked happy to see another adult outside the house.
Don’t miss Tom Green’s fruit pockets at the Hyde Park Farmers Market
After the Farmers Market, I headed to Staatsburgh State Park and downtown Staatsburgh (which is about six buildings) to take the walking tour of “Historical Staatsburgh” that the park and the Friends group were sponsoring. While I waited for the tour to start, the local Episcopalian church was having their monthly soup and baked goods sale from 9:00am-12:00pm. It was not even 10:00am, they were almost all sold out. The weather had changed over the weekend and it was about 50 degrees when I got to Rhinebeck and had not warmed up that much. It was soup weather.
St. Margaret’s Church was having a wonderful Soup Sale before the tour
Also before the tour, I got to visit the Staatsburgh Library which is housed in the old church chapel. That was a really interesting library. It was lined with beautiful light fixtures and had a nice selection of books that was well organized and had a cosy Children’s Room that was off to the side for the kids. They also had public bathrooms which was very convenient before an afternoon of touring.
The Staatsburg Library was originally the church and then the chapel
We just outside the church at 11:00am and then started our tour of Staatsburgh. We started our walk at St. Margaret’s Episcopalian Church and were lucky enough to be allowed inside. We had to keep socially distanced but got to see the graceful woodwork and the beautiful stained glass windows. The Mills family had donated them to the church and were parishioners here.
The stained glass windows here are hundreds of years old
On the tour through the town, we got to see the homes of various servants and merchants who worked with the Mills family. What I was impressed with was how well the Mills family compensated their employees so that they could have a nice and comfortable life. The homes the servants lived in were really nice even by today’s standards. I could see why everyone stayed with the family a long time.
Many of the homes have been renovated since but still you could see how nicely they were designed and built. The gardens of these homes were in full bloom with zinnias and daisies so the colorful rock gardens accented the homes nicely.
Staatsburgh up until the end of WWII was a factory and industry town that mostly closed down after the war. It was explained to us that when Route 9 was built and bypassed the town, it went from a large working community to the sleepy little town it is today which I did not think was such a bad thing. Staatsburg has such a nice hometown feel to it now.
As we walked through the neighborhoods, we walked past the railroads where society would stop in their Pullman cars and attend society events at the Mills and other Hudson River families homes. It was mostly in ruin now but once this is where High Society gathered before they arrived at their summer homes or as guests.
The last part of the tour was visiting what was left of the small downtown which included a Coach facility for horses and an old elegant department store which now is a store that sells sails for sailboats. A real sign of the times how much a town can change.
The old department store in Staatsburgh now is a sail shop
After the tour finished, I took a ride around the side roads of the old town and admired the houses and gardens one more time. I liked the combination of stone gardens and old homes that make up this part of town. It gives it such a classic Hudson River town look about it.
For lunch after the tour, I went back to Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Albany Post Road for lunch. What a nice place for a relaxing lunch. The old ice cream stand has been renovated and the food here is excellent. I had their Roadside Burger which is a simple burger made with freshly ground beef with lettuce, pickle and tomato on it. God, was it delicious. You could taste the richness of the beef with the fresh vegetables. The Pint of Fries were freshly cut potatoes that had deep fried and salted to perfection. The only disappointing part was the milk shake made out of vanilla soft serve. It had no flavor to it.
Del’s Dairy Creme has the most amazing burgers and ice cream
I sat at one of the many tables on the lawn behind the stand. It was cool that afternoon so I wanted to get as much sun as I could. I also noticed all the families that were eating there that afternoon who looked they needed to get out of the house too. The kids ran around and played corn hole while their parents talked.
After the tour, I rode to my next stop the “Walkway Over the Hudson State Historical Park”, an old bridge in Poughkeepsie that you can walk the span of the bridge and see the views of the Hudson River and the surrounding valley.
The “Walkway Across the Hudson” was originally opened as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, the first train crossed in January 1889. Known as “The Great Connector,” the bridge linked the industrial Northeast with the developing Midwest and at one time the span was the longest in the nation(Walkway Over The Hudson pamphlet). It was a beautiful sunny day and the view was amazing.
The views over the Hudson River were beautiful
You can cross the river both on the Highland NY and Poughkeepsie, NY and I parked on the Poughkeepsie side. Please be careful when parking in the parking lot with all the bumps and pot holes.
The walk across the walkway was just breathtaking. You could see all the way up and down the river and the views of the riverside with the foliage changing. This on top of watching sailboats going by the bridge and there were some kites in the air on this cool, windy afternoon. You really have to take your time to walk both sides of the bridge. On the Highland side, there is a beautiful park with trails.
The beauty of the Walkway Across the Hudson needs to be appreciated on both sides of the bridge.
After I exited the Walkway, I decided to take a walk around Downtown Poughkeepsie, which I had not visited in almost 25 years since I went to college in Hyde Park. It was being gentrified then and now is going through another wave of gentrification right before COVID hit the country.
The Walkway Across the Hudson and the historical surrounding neighborhoods
The Little Italy section of Poughkeepsie must have been greatly reduced since its heyday. While walking around the Mill Street section of the neighborhood, all that is left is two restaurants, a bakery, a hair salon and a pizzeria. The pandemic has closed several businesses.
Still some of the food establishments stand out. Don’t miss La Deliziosa, an Italian pastry shop at 10 t. Carmel Place. I had an eclair that was delicious. It had a rich creamy custard filling with a thick chocolate icing topping that was a pleasure in every bite. I know that I had a big smile on my fact when I was walking back up Mill Street.
Little Italy and the Historic Downtown are being gentrified quickly
I could see the borders of the old neighborhood but I noticed was that the artists and ‘hipsters’ were moving into the neighborhood. Art galleries and studios were moving into the neighborhood as well as the old Victorian homes were being or had been renovated back to their glory days. The nearby Barrett Art Center is the hub of activity.
I walked from Little Italy to the Historic Downtown with its cast iron and stone carved on the first four blocks which are now housing art galleries, new restaurants and clothing stores. I could see by the new windows and sandblasting that the buildings have already been flipped and the artists are turning these into loft. This part of downtown will soon look like Downtown Beacon, NY soon. It looks like the artists are escaping the City and settling up here.
The Historic Downtown of Poughkeepsie has its Victorian charms
The Cast Iron buildings of Downtown Poughkeepsie are being made into lofts
After my tour of the historic part of Poughkeepsie, I took a drive up to Downtown Red Hook for a slice of pizza before I headed home for the evening. I love going to Village Pizza III for dinner. They make the absolute best red sauce that they use in their pizza and entrees. After having such a big lunch, I just settled on a slice of pizza and a Coke. I then walked around Downtown Red Hook before the trip home. Most of the stores were closed but it was fun to just work off lunch and dinner before I left for home. I would be back the next day for a tour of the Hudson.
Village Pizza III in Downtown Red Hook, NY is outstanding for pizza
The next morning, I made my way back to the Hudson River Valley for the Hudson River Cruise in Kingston , NY at the Kingston Roundout. It was a quiet morning in Kingston as I got there about an hour and a half earlier than the cruise. It was also much colder than the day before and I learned my lesson from the day before and wore long pants on the cruise.
Hudson River Cruises run through the end of October and should not be missed
Before my 11:00am cruise, I got to walk around the Kingston Roundout, the riverfront section of the City of Kingston. This area of the City has seen a lot of action lately as the exodus out of the City up to Kingston has been tremendous. On another trip I took to Kingston one of the women at the Trolley Museum told me that they have 11,000 new residents in Ulster County.
I have to admit that it was not the greatest day to go out on the Hudson River. The temperature really dropped over night and even at 11:00am it was still only 48 degrees. It did warm up a little as the cruise went one but it was still cool the whole trip.
Don’t miss a trip on the Rip Van Winkle II before it closes down at the end of October
The boat, the Rip Van Winkle, was not that full at 11:00am in the morning, there were about 50 of us on a boat that normally holds about 200. So there was plenty of places for us to ‘socially distance ourselves from one another on the boat and most of us chose to sit on the top deck.
Even though it was cold, at least it woke us all up. When we pulled out of the Roundout, the first thing we saw as we exited to enter the Hudson River was the Roundout Lighthouse at the mouth of where the canal meets the Hudson River. Talk about picturesque.
The first stop on the cruise is the Roundout Lighthouse
There was a tape recording of the history of the lighthouse and the people that lived there. It seemed that the lighthouse keeper died on the way back to the lighthouse and his wife carried on the job for many years.
As we passed the lighthouse, continued south down the river until we started to see the mansions along the Hudson River like Wilderstein and the Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh. I have seen these estates many times from land but never from the view of the river and now know why they built the houses where they did. What views! Also the foliage was just starting to change Upstate and the colors were so vibrant.
The foliage is just starting to change in the Hudson River Valley
Our next point of interesting was the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse further down the Hudson River where we heard a recording of that lighthouse keeper as well. The lighthouse was built in 1871 and has been going through renovations and upgrades over the last several years. Sitting in the middle of the river with a backdrop of the foliage made the whole effect picturesque.
The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse sits majestically in the Hudson River
As we rounded the lighthouse, we heard the history of the lighthouses place in the Hudson River before automation and the changes in shipping over the next hundred years. Even though the Hudson River is still a major place of commerce and shipping it is not to the extent it was a hundred years ago. The coming of the railroads and then airplanes changed all that.
We headed back to the Roundout with a history of the mansions that lined the Hudson and our last home was the beautiful Wilderstein, the home of Daisy Suckley who was a relative and confident of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Queen Ann home sits on a buff with a beautiful view of the river.
Wilderstein sits on a buff with a beautiful view of the Hudson River
We made our way back to the Kingston Roundout by 1:00pm and it gave me plenty of time to explore the neighborhood. The Kingston Farmer’s Market was still going on when we returned and I do not know where these vendors get their prices. $5.00 for three cookies and a small bundt cake for $8.00? Were they kidding us? These prices were higher than the Farmer’s Market in Hyde Park and more inline with Union Square in Manhattan. Bypass this one folks!
The museum than covers the creation of the Erie Canal and the immense changes to shipping down the Hudson River and the growth of New York City due to shipping. It then covered the modern times with sailing, boating and rowing and its use today.
Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing
My next stop was the Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing right next to the cruise ship dock. This interest museum covers not just the nautical aspect of the Hudson River but its history from it’s creation by the glaciers and its indigenous population by the Lennape tribes and their life on the Hudson to the the coming of the Dutch settlers and the changes of population.
The history of the shipping and trade on the Hudson River
The museum also covers the development of industry and pollution on the river and how environmentalists have worked to clean it up. There is so much that has happened on the river and its history is extensive. There are also simulated rooms that had been once shipping offices and the complete history of the pleasure rides up and down the Hudson River in steamships. I was at the museum for over two hours.
The shipping industry has been extensive
After another quick tour of the Kingston Roundout shops and restaurants (which I may add are getting more expensive), I left Kingston for a quick trip to SUNY New Paltz to the Samuel Dorsky Museum. The campus had been closed since March and it was the first time since last year I was able to visit the museum.
In between both museums, I stopped for a snack at the Apple Bin Farm Market at 810 Broadway in Ulster Park, NY. This cute little farm stand is right next to their orchards and has all sorts of produce, gardening supplies and grocery products to purchase.
The Apple Bin Farm Market is typical Upstate Hudson River Valley
I stopped and had a apple turnover which was pricey at $3.50 but was out of the world. It was loaded with apples and cinnamon and topped with a thick icing that I gobbled down in the parking lot. I will be visiting here again soon.
The SUNY New Paltz campus was open on a limited basis and the museum had just reopened. The Dorsky Museum was having a two exhibitions at the time that were carried over from the Spring when the school closed. Artist Jan Swaka, a local artist who had moved from Poland to the Hudson River Valley, was being featured. His works had the influence of change and turmoil coming from a Communist country.
Jan Sawka’s ‘Mother in Law portrait
The other exhibition called “Local Hudson River Artists 2020”, that featured local artists that really showcased the developments in the local art world. It was quiet at the museum and I had the galleries to myself. The campus was quiet during the weekend.
After I toured the museum and part of the campus which there was no one around, I headed to the Mills Mansion for an outdoor concert that the were having for members. It was the first social event we had had since the Afternoon Tea for Masked Balls in February. I have been taking walking tours around the mansion recently (see VisitingaMuseum.com) but this was really nice.
The park and home are the former home of Ruth and Ogden Mills and is a really nice place to tour when it is open. We had the concert out on the portico in the front of the house. It was nice nice to see some of the other members again some since last Fall and some since the winter. We were treated to a concert by the duo ” Acute Reflections”, a jazz duo who looked like they were freezing in their costumes. It had dipped down to 50 degrees at this point and was going in the high 40’s by time the sun went down.
The duo “Acute Reflection” performed that late afternoon.
The concert was really nice as people were bundling under blankets to keep warm or enjoying light snacks that were provided by the Friends of Mills Mansion. The concert went on for about an hour with classic hits from Cole Porter and other known artist from that era plus some original songs they wrote. The duo had a lot of light banter between the two of them during the concert that we were picking up on. Still they were terrific.
Acute Reflections video
It was nice to see the sun set behind the mansion and admire the foliage. It was a nice way to end the evening and then watch the sun set over the Catskills in the distance.
After I left the mansion that evening, saying goodbye to other member of the Friends group, I stopped by Giacomo’s Pizza at One Spakenhill Drive by the Marist College campus for a slice of pizza. Talk about not socially distancing! Marist students were coming in and out all night and the place was packed with people ordering pizza and taking it back to campus.
There was not much of a selection that evening as their normally is so I just had a quick slice of Cheese and went on my way.
Even in the era of COVID, many of us are finding ways of adapting to what is going on in the world. With me, I just throw a mask on and go about my business. This is what life is all about just living it.
I will be making more trips to Upstate New York before Halloween.
Places to Visit:
The Staatsburg State Historical Site (The Mill’s Mansion)
I have visited the childhood home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt many times over the years. It is an interesting part of not just Hudson River Valley history but of American history.
Parts of the house were built in the late 1700’s and added on later by the families who lived in the house. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s father bought the house and continued to add on to it. Most of the estate is still intact as well as the homes that the President built separate from the main house to give he and his wife some privacy from his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, who owned the home until her death.
Visiting Springwood is like a step back in time. Unlike the grand mansions of the Mill’s…