Tag Archives: Professor Justin Watrel CEO & Co-Founder

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Two Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents “Springfest 2023” at Bergen Community College November 16th, 2022

I constantly try to come up with innovative ideas to promote Bergen Community College with engaging ideas to get students involved the way the four year colleges get their students involved. The courtyard by the main building was just finished being renovated and it is a really nice place for students to gather. There are a lots of places to sit and for people to talk. We have been using it for smaller events when the weather is nice but not in the way to get the whole college involved. I was thinking of ideas of how to get my Introduction to Business students engaged this semester and I had a big group of students (32) to get motivated. Things have changed since COVID started.

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

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

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

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

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

I came up with “Springfest” when I was looking for names of college events and it sounded like a fun name. I thought back to “Dragon Days” at Cornell and how much fun the students had during that week. At Michigan State, we did not have too many of these campus wide when I was there and we created our own when I lived at Wilson Hall. Welcome Week, Winter Carnival, State is Great Week, and Spring Fling were on their way to becoming traditions at our hall.

At Bergen Community College, we don’t have any big traditional events like these since we are commuter campus. I wanted to change that and I challenged the students to come up with ideas that would involve the whole college. In the past semesters we have created an Student Ambassador Program, Welcome Week for new students, Homecoming for students and Alumni and Springfest would be another big student/alumni event. It would be a series of concerts, dinners, a pep rally and an alumni breakfast that students could join in. It would also be a community event and introduce new students to campus.

Springfest would bridge that gap and a way to show off the campus and all its attributes. I also challenged the students to write a school song. This is the third time that I have done this and the students always do a different take on it. I like the different versions of the song that come from each group.

Like my other two classes, my Marketing class was creating “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ-Be a Tourist in your own Town” and my other Introduction to Business class was creating “Caribe Cafe-A Taste of the Caribbean”, I used the Hierarchy system and created an Executive Team with a President, SVP of Operations, Vice-Presidents, Team Leaders and Team Members. Like my other classes, I had a lot of drama with this group.

“Springfest 2023” was to be a three day Spring Festival with concerts every night, a pep rally for all the sports teams, a barbecue, a student organization introduction, welcome to new students, a carnival with games and actors walking around, food trucks and an alumni breakfast. The students made all of this come to life with creative and innovative ideas in their proposal. I was impressed by the ingenuity that the student consultants showed that evening. My President and Senior Vice-President of Operations showed a cool and calm front and the utmost professionals that evening, leading their Team to success in the presentation.

The project was not without its share of problems and it is all things we see in the real world in the workforce. I had Team members I had to constantly talk to about their performances, their lack of input and not communicating with the Vice-President. I swear I had not done this much discipline since I worked at Macy’s. So this is what the modern CEO is going through. I know that cellphones are going to the bain of our society and our modern business world.

Even through all the drama that I had to endure and what challenges I put the Executive Team through, the student executives overcame it and put together one hell of a presentation. In the end though I had to fire three students from the project and I never did that before but again the modern CEO has a company to run and people who will not do the work can’t be part of the results. They need to find another place to work.

Still, I was proud of the students and here is the project “Springfest 2023”:

The proposed Logo for “Springfest”:

The new logo for “Springfest”:

The website for “Springfest”:

https://sites.google.com/me.bergen.edu/springfestbergeccoparc/home

Here is the PowerPoint Presentation of the Project:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1spmWeccPcqw8CHehN5Eb8lBnmOFwhBq8bJyPnplWN1o/edit?usp=sharing

The Talent Team’s Office Presentation:

The Marketing Team’s ‘Springfest’ commercial:

The Marketing Team’s “Welcome to Bergen Community College” Video:

The Marketing Team’s Instagram Account:

The Entertainment Team’s video on the new school song:

See the presentation below

The Presentation of the Paramus Team Project “Springfest 2023”:

In lieu of giving a forth quiz, I gave the Teams the scenario that my Corporate partner, Susan Gonzales Honan, was impressed by the Team’s performance on the project and challenged the four Teams to come up with ideas for the New Brunswick Corporate Christmas Party. The project included creating an invitation, a menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a signature Christmas drink. The Entertainment Team was asked to create an original Christmas song for the company. They came up with a very interesting rap song. Here are the results from each Team.

The Corporate Christmas Party Project-Quiz Four:

The Corporate Christmas Party ideas from the Paramus, NJ Teams:

The Powerpoint Presentation:

The Executive Team’s Ideas for the party:

Merry Christmas from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.!

Advertisement

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Three Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents “Caribe Cafe” at Bergen Community College-Lyndhurst Campus November 17th, 2022

It is amazing how a small conversation about importing gourmet products from the Dominican Republic can lead to such a detailed and interesting project. Every semester these students amaze me and this group of Business 101 students really ‘knocked it out of the ballpark”. I was really impressed by the results of each group as well as all the parents and invited guests were as well.

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

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

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

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

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

How this project was created was when the class was having a discussion importing and exporting. I asked some of the students whose families have either lived or are from the Dominican Republic about food products that manufactured in their country. Could they sell here to non-Dominican customers, or should these vendors cater exclusively to one type of customer? What was the class thoughts on it? I have to say that the class as a whole did not have much of an opinion on this, but it got me thinking.

I had to put together a group project for the students and since one of my classes was already out in the field with the “It’s Wonderful in Westwood” project, I did not want to take any more students out of the classroom. So, we would have to do an in-class project. I approached a group of the students who I had had a discussion with that week on their thoughts on importing products into the country and how they would sell. Again, not many opinions but they thought it might work if it was done in conjunction with either a grocery store or a restaurant. Also, it might be better to use the whole Caribbean as a market.

So, I went home and thought about ideas for a restaurant/gourmet foods Panera type Spanish restaurant concept that might work in the suburbs and “Caribe Cafe” was created under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. “Caribe Cafe” proposal project:

The project was to create the “Caribe Cafe” concept from ground up. The students would be serving as consultants for the company pitching their concepts to future investors. I broke the students up into four groups and they had to create:

*The Floor Plan

*The Menu with a Caribbean theme

*A Gourmet Department with food items from Spanish/Caribbean vendors

*Have a music soundtrack of Spanish/Caribbean artist

*Create design of the restaurant with Spanish/ Caribbean art work from /well-known and. or local artists.

*Design the restaurant with ideas on the color scheme and furniture for the interior

*Set up a Marketing campaign that included Restaurant Opening ideas, a Membership Program, a Coupon Program and Advertising.

*Film a commercial to promote their Restaurant concept

From there, things that they added like staffing, prices, menu breakdown etc. that it takes to open a restaurant would be considered extra credit. How far they wanted to take the project and in-depth they wanted to be in the presentation was up to the individual teams. Then I put the students into their groups and left the last forty-five minutes of each class for them to meet. Then I dangled the prize for the best team, a half grade bump up in their final grade for the class. That got everyone motivated.

For the next five weeks I saw the enthusiasm of the project build and everyone come up with ideas and brainstorm their projects. I also saw by two weeks before the project was due was the grumbling many Team members whose partners were not stepping up the plate and not doing their jobs. The Team Leaders also complained to me of members who would not listen and not meet deadlines. I told everyone that this is why “they were the boss” and that we would have two more meetings before the project was due. Every week we had Board Meetings to check on progress and I reminded everyone that we would be presenting this project on November 17th right before Thanksgiving. They needed to be finished and ready to go the week before.

The Teams presented these ideas for logos to Corporate:

The day of the Presentation, I got in early to set up with the AV representative and set up for the reception. Each of the Teams got there early to set up their Team displays of foods that they would be featuring and getting their Dress Code grades.

The day of the presentation was not without its drama with some students still arguing with one another on the project and the kids who did not want meet the Dress Code standard. Then there were the students who did not show up or did not present that evening. Being the CEO of a company does come with its pitfalls. Still the presentations were excellent and the Food Displays were fantastic. I saw so much creativity with the food selections.

The presentations were all done in English and Spanish and with the amount of visitors including family members and friends who do not speak English well, this project makes them feel more comfortable and part of the business equation. I reminded the students that not every investor would be a English speaker. We are ‘pitching’ this idea to an International crowd of investors.

This is the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. website for the “Caribe Cafe” project:

These videos represent the students ideas and presentations by Team groupings. It also includes their proposals for the Company Corporate Christmas party.

The Project “Caribe Cafe”: A taste of the Islands commercials to promote the restaurant.

Group One’s Commercial for “Caribe Cafe”:

Group Two’s Commercial for “Caribe Cafe”

Team Three’s Commercial for “Caribe Cafe”:

Team Four’s Commercial for “Caribe Cafe”

Team Commercial for “Caribe Cafe”

These are the Team Presentations that were filmed by our AV Department for the class. Each Team presented their proposals to the audience of International investors in English and Spanish. I could tell the students were nervous but watching these videos again even I did not know these were a group of students. They became the Consultants that they were trained to be. I could not have been prouder of them.

The Group Presentations:

Group One:

Group Two:

Group Three:

Group Four:

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Corporate Christmas Project:

I was tired of giving traditional quizzes by this point of class, I decided to do something different for the class. I was so impressed by the competition between the student groups that I created this project where the students had to create a Corporate Christmas Party idea for a Partner who was impressed by their Team project. They had to create a Invitation, a menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and signature Christmas drink. They also had to create a greeting for Corporate in English and Spanish. These are their ideas:

The Corporate Christmas Party Project:

Group One: Not Available

Group Two:

Group Three: Not Available

Group Four:

I swear you could not tell these were students. Their professionalism that night was excellent.

Merry Christmas from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc!

Day Two Hundred and Thirteen: Happy Birthday Dad! January 5th, 2022

I want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to my father who this blog is dedicated to and for inspiring such a walk around New York City.

I have completed more than half the Island of Manhattan and I still sometimes catch a glimpse of him in the corner of my eye walking beside me like he did on all those wonderful afternoons we spent in Manhattan for birthdays and Father’s Day’s.

Whenever I visit a place that we used to go on a regular basis like the MoMA, Little Italy or Chinatown or the Met, I still think “How much dad would have liked this”. This is why I love the complexity of New York City. Things just keep changing no matter how much you want them to stay the same and it can still surprise you.

This is my dedication to those wonderful afternoons we spent together!

Happy Birthday Day Dad!

Blogger Justin Watrel with his father, Warren Watrel, at “Tap O Mania” in 1994 outside Macy’s Herald Square. Appropriate while the blogger is exploring the Garment District.

“Tap O Mania” was a huge tap dance that used to happen outside Macy’s in the summer to break the Guiness Book of World Records every year. My father and I did this up from the time I was an executive at the store until I moved in 2000. The company stopped doing this for security reasons.

Imagine doing this in the era of COVID!

Day Two Hundred and Eleven: From the delivery of trees to the Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY and other Christmas activities that changed in the blink of an eye: Welcome to another crazy COVID Christmas! December 1st-31st, 2021

I cannot believe that another Christmas has come and gone and COVID is still raging around. Talk about having to adapt to a new world a lot wiser and more aware. I have just become more careful over the last year and kept my activities to a minimum (yeh right, I still run all over the place for work and keeping people informed about happenings all over the place). I just try to stay safe. I put my walk of the Garment District on hold for the Christmas holidays and all that came with it.

Christmas started right after I came home from Thanksgiving dinner in Lambertville when the next morning, I had to wake up at 6:00am to get ready to go to the Christmas tree lot for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Drop Off of the trees. We had 390 trees being delivered and it was all hands-on deck.

Setting up the Christmas trees

Who knew that the truck would arrive at 8:00am and we got caught off guard. No one expected it to come until at least 10:30am. So, at 9:00am, over thirty members and their children emptied all 390 Christmas trees off the truck (they shorted us ten trees), got them tagged and ready to sell. We had not even finished tagging the trees and our first tree sold at 10:30am.

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at Christmas tree set up 2021

I stayed on the site until 4:30pm and we had already sold the first twenty-one trees. I could not believe how fast the trees sold that day. The only reason why I left is that I had to help with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Annual Holiday Parade. God did it get cold that night.

The night after Thanksgiving, the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce holds the Annual Holiday Parade and the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department is always a participant from helping Santa enter town in the Parade to setting up the sound system for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I swear it got so cold that night by the time the town lit the tree it must have gone down to 35 degrees. Thank God we bundled up!

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade

After the tree was lit, I never saw a place empty out so fast. People were so cold! Even with all our layers, we were cold too.

I did an about face and the next morning left for Beach Haven, NJ to attend some of Long Beach Island’s Christmas activities. The day ended up being much nicer and was a bit warmer. It is a two-hour trip to the shore and you would think that a beach community is not the place to spend an early Christmas weekend but you would be amazed at the activities they had planned all over the island that day.

I left the house around 8:30am on what started out as a gloomy morning that turned sunny and clear by the time I reached Long Beach Island. I decided to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse first to see if it was decorated with lights like the lighthouse at Montauk Point. That was always impressive the years I went out to visit my friend, Lillian.

The lighthouse was not decorated for the holidays but was finally open to walk in and climb the stairs. It was over a hundred steps up and back down. What a view all the way up. There were small stops on the way up with views on each level landing. By the time I reached the top of the stairs there were only three of us up there and God was it windy. I only lasted at the top of the lighthouse a few minutes before I almost blew off. What views of the waves coming in!

The Barnegat Lighthouse at the tip of Long Beach Island

https://nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/barnegatlighthousestatepark.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d286497-Reviews-Barnegat_Lighthouse_State_Park-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5345

Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.

The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.

Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing

http://www.vikingvillageshows.com/village-info.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d2471201-Reviews-Viking_Village-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.

My next stop was the Long Beach Island Historical Society which sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.

The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society

https://lbihistoricalmuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d11444615-Reviews-Long_Beach_Island_Historical_Museum-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3311

The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.

The Christmas display at the front of the Long Beach Island Historical Society

After my visit to the Historical Society, I went down the road and revisited the NJ Maritime Museum 528 Dock Road right by the water. I had read so much at the shark attacks in New Jersey back in 1916 and wanted to see the exhibition again. I also wanted to see the exhibition on shipwrecks again so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum and then walking down to the harbor to watch the sun set. The sun sets on that island are amazing.

The NJ Maritime Museum at 528 Dock Road

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d1881647-Reviews-Museum_of_NJ_Maritime_History-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5338

For dinner that night, I went back to the Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in the Beach Haven downtown. The food and the selection here is just excellent and the perfect place for comfort foods on a cool night. My waiter could not have been nicer and recommended the White Clam Chowder, which was so thick and rich and you could taste the cream and fresh clams in every bite. God the seafood was so sweet.

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d438676-Reviews-The_Chicken_or_the_Egg-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

For dinner, I started with the New England Clam Chowder and did it hit the spot. Loaded with clams and potatoes in a rich cream soup. It warmed me up inside. I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for the entree, which was delicious as well. Chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables in a flaky crust and a rich gravy. On a cool night by the shore, there is nothing like it to warm you up. Talk about making the perfect choices for dinner.

The Woo Hoo at 211 South Bay Avenue

https://thewoohoo.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d7646259-Reviews-The_WooHoo-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1244

After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The Woo Hoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.

Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021

https://www.facebook.com/events/kaplers-pharmacy/classis-christmas-soiree/284160150273064/

I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?

Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!

After a short trip down to my mom’s for her birthday and two Private Member Nights in New York City at The Met and the Museum of the City of New York (see blog below):

Day Two Hundred and Eight: Private Members Nights in NYC:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20227

it was back to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sinterklaas Parade and Celebration on Saturday, December 4th. I swear I was running from one place to another the whole week but was looking forward to the parade that had been cancelled last year because of COVID.

I travelled back up to Rhinebeck again for the festivities and got there by 10:00am in time to help unload the truck at the Starr Library. That brought back a lot of memories from parades past and it was so nice to walk around the cool air of Upstate New York. What started off as a very gloomy morning cleared up and it ended up being a clear, sunny and mild day in Rhinebeck.

We unpacked the familiar floats and puppets from years past and put together the bees, owls, geese, knights and dragons, horses that would lead Sinterklaas down his route and Children’s puppets that had children hoping for better times ahead. I always enjoy the comradery of the morning of putting the puppets together for the parade. Our theme this year was “Miss Mouse and Mr. Toad get married” so our events were based on the two characters getting hitched.

(I wanted to thank volunteer Jonathan Green for these pictures)

Me (in the jacket and khakis at the set up for the ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ in Rhinebeck, NY

Setting up the puppets for the parade is interesting

All the latest puppets ready to enter the parade

Mr. Toad preparing for his marriage to Miss Mouse

Miss Mouse preparing for her marriage to Mr. Toad in the Sinterklaas Parade

The Dragon is preparing for his duel with the knights of the parade

The puppets were set up in record time and we were finished by 11:45am

After we were done with the puppets, I drove down to Downtown Rhinebeck and parked a few blocks away and walked over to Main Street and joined in the opening festivities at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant was already packed with customers when I got there and the banquet room was full of visitors at the Opening Ceremony.

I had already checked in to my hotel, so I did not have to come back to the hotel until later that evening. This time I stayed at the Marriott Poughkeepsie which was much closer to Rhinebeck than staying at the one in Fishkill. I have to say that both hotels were wonderful when I was visiting the area.

The Marriott Poughkeepsie at 2641 South Road/Route 9

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pouch-courtyard-poughkeepsie/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48443-d93719-Reviews-Courtyard_Poughkeepsie-Poughkeepsie_New_York.html?m=19905

The Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms is always a lot of fun. All the costumed characters are introduced like the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee and the Snow King and Queen. They also introduced the Mayor of Rhinebeck and his wife, who portrayed Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse and reconfirmed their wedding vows in real life in front of the whole crowd. I thought that was very touching and I told her this later when I ran into her at another event.

After the marriage ceremony and the traditional Polar Bear Dance, Jonathan Kruk, a well-known storyteller, told the story of Sinterklaas. Mr. Kruk is a wonderful speaker and knows how to tell a story. He always captivates a crowd. Even though I have heard the same stories for years, I still enjoy listening to him speak.

No one is better at storytelling then Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas

Because I said that I would help with the checking in with the volunteers for the parade, I had to be back to the library by 4:00pm so that only gave me about a little over two and a half hours this time to enjoy the festivities.

What was nice was the policy blocked off the Downtown area so that everyone could walk in the streets and watch the performers do their thing. There were bands on stilts performing rag time music and holiday classics, the Polar Bear danced around and greeted visits with a quick spin on the street and I visited the Toad Stool where Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse greeted each visitor with a bundle of ribbons so that you could give them to strangers for good luck. I had never heard of that tradition before but it was interesting to walk through a giant toadstool.

I also walked around the businesses that were open and admired the store window displays. It was as if each store was trying to outdo the other for creativity and beauty of the Christmas season. My favorite was Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street in Downtown Rhinebeck.

Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street

https://www.facebook.com/samuelsofrhinebeck/

I watched the Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers do their traditional dance, singing groups entertain the outdoor crowds (Keeping COVID safe) and performers with sticks doing their routine. What I liked about Sinterklaas this year is that there were a lot of outdoor venues, so people were not cooped up inside wearing masks.

By 3:00pm I was starved and knowing that I would not be able to eat until way after the parade was over, I stopped at Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street. I love dining here and like their generous portions and the friendly service. I had my favorite Turkey Club sandwich with French Fries which is always good. They roast their own fresh turkey every day for their sandwiches.

Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street

https://www.petesfamous.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

The day started to fall into dusk and the whole town was being lit up. This is when Rhinebeck shows its true beauty as a Christmas village. All the trees in the Downtown are lit with white lights and adorned with paintings of the Sinterklaas Festival and ribbons. Also, all the stores light their windows and it makes the whole town look like a Currier & Ives woodprint.

Downtown Rhinebeck at dusk

Downtown Rhinebeck at night when its magic comes to life

I got back to the library at 4:00pm and assisted the staff in getting everyone ready for the parade, explaining how to work the puppets and hold them and making sure that everyone knew to listen to the marshals who were running the parade when it started.

It had been two years since we had a parade but it felt like time had not even passed by. I love to watch the parade come to life. As everyone lines up, the lights go on at each puppet and the bands get into high gear. Then there is the excitement of walking down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck to the adoring crowds of the parade.

The crowds have tripled in the decade that I have been volunteering for the parade. The first time that I volunteered it was in 2010 with my father on my first trip up to Rhinebeck since being at the Culinary Institute and then I started volunteering again in 2014 when I started working on the Halloween Parade in the City. Just like that parade, excitement builds as the parade starts.

Walking down that hill is an amazing thing as people get so excited to see the floats and hear the music especially at this time with COVID raging on. Things seemed more festive as this is an outdoor event and it was two weeks before the omicron outbreak raged the country. It was a night of revelry and welcoming in the holiday season.

Sinterklaas is a magically evening in Downtown Rhinebeck

Opening Ceremonies at The Beekman Arms

Because the positions in the parade and the puppets were all filling myself and the other person, I worked with on checking people in took the “Follow the Banner in the Parade” banner down the hill to get everyone to the staging area for the conclusion of the parade. We were right behind the drumline of women who concluded the parade and whipped spectators into a dancing frenzy. I watched as people literally danced in the streets happy to be outside enjoying this evening. It was so nice to see families have such a good time.

This wonderful view of the parade that was posted online of ‘Sinterklaas 2021’

The parade ended in the community parking lot with all the characters are introduced and the well wishes to Sinterklaas and his entourage. There was music and the fire eaters showing their talents off to the large crowd who were looking towards a much happier holiday season. It was just nice to see everyone having a festive evening.

After the ceremony was over, I just walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, admiring the beautifully decorated windows and admiring the white lights adorning the trees. I love this downtown at Christmas.

The Downtown Rhinebeck Christmas Tree near the Community parking lot.

I stopped at Village Pizza for dinner and it was nice to just warm up. God is their pizza delicious.

Village Pizza at 19 East Market Street

https://www.facebook.com/RBKVP/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

After dinner, it was another quiet walk around downtown Rhinebeck to admire the lights and the window displays. I love walking around this town.

Downtown Rhinebeck before dusk

Downtown Rhinebeck’s merchants go all out for the holidays

The next morning, I was off early to join some of the other members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association for a modified Christmas hello to all our retired firefighters living in the NJ State Firemen’s Association.

Since our party was cancelled for the residents due to COVID, we gave our gift to the residents the week before (we got each resident a long-sleeved shirt that was monogramed with their name on it which I heard they all loved) and we also had a special Jersey Mike’s lunch for the residents the month before to ring in the holiday season.

Because of COVID regulations, we could only have a few members come but myself and the President of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association talked with our fellow firefighters during ‘Holiday Bingo’ or walked around to greet them and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’.

Santa greeting guests at the NJ Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ in 2019 in better times

It was just for a short time that we were allowed to stay but the members of the home appreciated it. We wanted to let our fellow firefighters know that we did not forget them during the holidays.

Members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home enjoying the Jersey Mike’s dinner we sponsored

Classes took up most of next week for me as we prepared for my Introduction to Business class to make their big presentation to me for their final grade. So, I was running around most of the week working with both my online class and my live class as we were getting ready for final exams.

On Thursday, December 9th, I took a break from all of my grading and went to see the production of “A Christmas Pudding” at Bergen Community College where I work. The students were putting on a Christmas retrospect of songs and readings which was a very nice performance.

The Theater students sang many traditional and contemporary songs from the American songbook with one student singing a very emotional version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Considering everything that was going on with COVID, I thought it was very touching. The students did a good job with the production and it really put me into the Christmas spirit.

The Play “A Christmas Pudding” at Ciccone Theater at Bergen Community College on December 9th

Another thing that put me into the Christmas spirit was all the new songs coming out this year. Did we need some Christmas cheer this year! I wanted to share two of my favorites that came to me via YouTube.

These two songs appeared on the Internet when I was writing this blog and I thought they were very symbolic of what is going on right now during the holidays as we try to resume to a new normal. I wanted to share them with all of you.

John Legend’s new Christmas song: “You Deserve it All”

Nora Jones new Christmas song: “Christmas Calling”

Kohmi Hirose did this great version of “Sleigh Ride” in English

On December 10th, my students presented their Class Group Project entitled “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” and the students did a terrific job with the project.

The students logo to “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”.

Here is the presentation with all the commercials:

Day Two Hundred and Nine on my “MywalkinManhattan.com” blog:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20566

This “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed project was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the film. I had the students watch the film for inspiration and ideas, then put the framework for the project together and they took it from there.

There is a message from me their CEO as well:

A welcome from CEO/Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

I could not have been prouder of my students both in my live class and in my online class who created the individual Class Project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, reopening a 100-year-old candy store with a modern twist.

Here is the project with all the graphics that the students created:

Day Two Hundred and Ten on “MywalkinManhattan.com”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20568

With the major class projects over with, I prepared the students final exams and emailed off my online students their exam first. While they came in, I was able to grade along the way. Taking a break from that over the weekend, I visited Hope, NJ for a Lantern Walking Tour of the town and then a Candlelight Church Service at the Methodist church.

The Hope Annual Moravian Christmas Tour and Church service in Hope, NJ

I discovered this tour when I was traveling out to the Delaware Water Gap when I was updating my blog on “Visiting Budd Lake” and I stopped in Hope before heading to Blairstown, where I had wanted to visit the Blairstown Museum at the end of the day (it had closed by then). I saw this flyer when one of the shopkeepers in town handed it to me and I thought it would be an interesting event. What an eye opener!

I never heard of the history of the Moravian religion before and how they founded the town. We toured all the former factories and homes that had been built around the turn of the last century and then heard actors talk about that time during Christmas. Life just seemed slower then.

This is also where the opening scenes of the cult film “Friday the 13th” were shot. The initial scene where Annie arrives in Crystal Lake for her journey to the camp. I included the clip from the opening scene and the what the current locations look like now.

“Friday the 13th” from 1980 filmed in Hope, NJ

The famous opening scene from the film “Friday the 13th”

Friday the 13th (1980) Filming Locations

This is where Annie entered the diner for the opening of “Friday the 13th”:

Hope Junction Antiques at 331 High Street (where the diner was located at the time of filming)

https://www.hopejunctionantiques.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HopeJunctionAntiques/

The inside of the Hope Junction Antiques with one of kind artwork and antiques.

This unique store carries an array of local and regional artists work, the owner’s personal art pieces and a selection of decorative items and antique pieces. It had an interesting selection of holiday items when I visited the town both on my journey through Budd Lake and Route 46 and when I took the walking tour on December 11th. The store was open still right before the tour.

Burgdorff Realty at 2 Walnut Street where Annie enters the truck

https://www.facebook.com/BurgdorffERA/

Burgdorff Realty is where Annie entered the truck in the scene.

The Moravian Cemetery on High Street just down the road from Downtown Hope, NJ

https://www.facebook.com/HopeMoravianCemetery/

The cemetery is the ‘crossroads’ but is actually right down the block from the antique store and the realty company. This is now part of the St. John’s Methodist Church. This is where the Candlelight Services were held.

But I was not there for a movie tour but a cheerful Christmas tour of Moravian history. I met my tour group at the Hope Community Center which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Before the tour started, the Hope Historical Society who was running the tour was selling food and Christmas items as a fundraiser. We started the Lantern Tour from this location.

The Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut Street decorated for Christmas

When we finished visiting some of the old factories, we visited ‘Trout Alley’, where people used to travel to get around the toll booth when they arrived in Hope. The path is now used to get to the antique store at the end of the path.

https://www.hopechristmascraftmarket.com/building-info

Trout Alley

Trout Alley is the path to avoid the toll booth in Hope, NJ.

The Hope Historical Society at 323 High Street

https://www.hopenjhistory.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/6341

The Hope Historical Society was the sponsor of this program and was open the evening of the tour. We got to walk inside and look at old pictures of the town, old maps and artifacts that have been donated over the years by local residents that are part of the history of the town. The small one room building also houses vintage furniture and household and dress items. Please look at my blog at VisitingaMuseum.com above.

Looking down the street from Downtown Hope, NJ to the Inn at Millrace Pond where the Festival of Trees was located.

The house on High Street where we heard about Moravian Christmas traditions

Costumed characters sat on the porch that evening and reminisced about life at the turn of the last century as they prepared for the Christmas holidays. They talked about the hours needed to prepare the decorations and food for the legions of relatives and friends that would be visiting.

It was more spectacular at dusk when it was lit for Christmas

The First Hope Bank and Moravian homes that are now private residences

The bank was called the Gemeinhaus, which was the church/community center of the village. It was built in 1781. The house next door which is part of the bank is the Caleb Swayze House that was built in 1832.

Moravian Residences by the bank

The Caleb Swayze is the house towards the right and it was built in 1832. It is now part of the bank.

The homes and the current bank at dusk lit for Christmas

The Toy Chest Toy Store at 335 High Street a former Moravian home

https://www.facebook.com/thehopetoychest/

I have been to the Toy Chest Toy Store many times on my journey to Hope, NJ and it has the most amazing selection of toys, games and collectibles in the area.

Moravian home where the Manger program was performed and after it was over, we visited many local homes of prominent residents from the area. To end the tour, we visited the back of someone’s garage where there was a live nativity scene performed that evening with actors reading from the Bible.

This interesting little barn/garage is across from the church and I thought looked quite festive

St. John’s Methodist Church at 354 High Street and the former Moravian Church where the Candlelight services were held. The service is posted on their Facebook page below.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Methodist-Church/St-Johns-United-Methodist-Church-1406394686297265/

I attended the Candlelight Christmas services at St. John’s Methodist Church which had once served as the Moravian Church and the service was followed as it would have been at the turn of the last century. The visiting priest had once been head of the church here and gave a very inspirational talk on the holidays that was followed by the lights being dimmed and caroling by candlelight which gave the whole church an interesting glow (you can see the whole service on the church’s Facebook page attached).

Afterwards I took one last walk around Hope to admire all the lights and decorations. After a quick slice of pizza at Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road, I was on my way home through the darkness. It really does get dark on these back roads until you hit Route 80. The little pizzeria is tucked into a small strip mall on the side of the road and has great pizza. It really was a festive and interesting evening.

Hope Pizza and Catering at 435 Hope Blairstown Road

https://www.hopepizzeria.com/

https://www.facebook.com/hopepizzeria/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46518-d19270906-Reviews-Hope_Pizzeria_Catering-Hope_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

For my Christmas present to myself every year, I go to Carnegie Hall for the NY Pops Christmas Concert but it ended up being on the night of my final exam and there was no way to cancel it, so I had to miss it again this year (COVID cancelled it last year).

When I visited the City the Sunday before for the “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I walked back to Port Authority through Lincoln Center and I wanted to see what was going on this Holiday season and I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was performing a one woman show to promote her new Christmas album that Monday night. I was on the Internet that night to see if there were tickets left for the show.

The “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West at 79th Street

https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/sharks

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d210108-Reviews-American_Museum_of_Natural_History-New_York_City_New_York.html

The next night I had tickets in hand and off I went to Lincoln Center which I had not been to in two years since I had seen “Whipped Cream” in December of 2019 for the holidays. It was so nice be dressed up and going to the Met again. The theater was packed with people with the same idea. The City was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights.

Lincoln Center in all its glory at Lincoln Center Plaza

http://www.lincolncenter.org/

What a concert! Talk about being in sync with the holidays and just what the doctor ordered after a long semester. I needed a good concert and this really put me into the holiday spirit. Ms. Chenoweth was really in great spirits that night and brought the house down with these two songs from her album plus playing from Broadway shows and the Great American Songbook. It was a great Christmas concert and I left humming down Eighth Avenue.

This song opened the show at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 13th, 2021

https://www.metopera.org/season/2021-22-gala/kristin-chenoweth-christmas-at-the-met/

This song brought down the house!

I was starved when I left for the theater since I was in a rush to get into the City that afternoon with enough time to make the concert and still grade quizzes that were coming in from my online class at the Cornell Club.

I had a sudden craving for Linguini in White Clam Sauce so off I went to Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street which I had visited over the summer. I ordered their Linguini in White Clam sauce which ended up being a piping hot almost pound of pasta with a quarter pound of clams on top ($10.95) with a Coke. Talk about excellent and the perfect dinner on a cool night. The sauce was so flavorful and the clams were so sweet and fresh. I ate contently and the manager was so happy when I told her the food was excellent. Talk about an end to a wonderful evening.

The Linguini with White Clam Sauce was just superb that night at Amore Pizza Cafe

https://amorepizzacafe.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

For the rest of the week, I had visited the Met and the Museum of the City of New York for private events and while seeing the new “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I went to see the “Origami Tree”, that has been a staple of the museum for years. All of these events really put me in the Christmas spirit and put the ghosts of last Christmas behind me. It was not too last.

The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

I wanted to visit the Hudson River Valley again before the holiday season was over and I saw on the Dutchess County Tourism site that Mount Gulian, a mansion near Beacon, NY was being decorated for the holidays and December 15th was the first day it would be open for touring.

I grabbed my aunt and we decided to spend the day visiting decorated homes and towns for the Christmas season. Our first stop was Beacon, NY to visit some of the stores on my website, LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com, Colorant and Flora a Good Time both located in the downtown area and then off to Mount Gulian, a decorated mansion up Route 9.

Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas

Mount Gulian was the home of the Verplanck’s for generations, the original house burned to the ground in 1938 and this house is a replica of the original sitting on the original home’s foundation. The house is decorated in many of the Verplanck’s family heirlooms donated by branches of the family over the years.

The main rooms on the first floor of the home including the former living room, dining room, sitting room and library were all decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays. The hallways and doorways were also adorned with garland and bows and lights giving a festive and warm appearance to the house.

The tour took about an hour (see my blog on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the history of the house was discussed at various times and how family members called it home. Our tour guide also gave us interesting facts on the family and their connection with the house today. It is so nice to hear that various members of the Verplanck family still take an interest in the home.

Mount Gulian at 145 Sterling Place in Beacon, NY

https://www.facebook.com/mountgulian/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47291-d10701912-Reviews-Mount_Gulian_Society-Beacon_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4103

Mount Gulian decorated in the foyer

Mount Gulian’s Dining Room decorated for Christmas Dinner

The sitting room at Mount Gulian

After the tour was over, the tour guide invited us to enjoy refreshments of hot cider and home baked goodies. Since there were only three of us on our tour, it gave us a chance to discuss the history of the families in the Hudson River Valley, the status of these famous homes and the future of historic sites of the region. It was really an engaging and interesting afternoon and the tour guide could not have been nicer. The whole event really represented what the Christmas experience is in the Hudson River Valley.

Between the Sinterklaas Parade in the beginning of the month, visiting the decorated homes of the region and walking the festive downtowns of the area giving them a “Currier & Ives” look about them. Dutchess, Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties really know how to convey the holiday spirit.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

Our next stop was visiting Rhinebeck, NY which we arrived before dusk. The town was just lighting the trees and all the storefront windows were beautifully decorated for the holidays as they were on the night of the Sinterklaas Parade. The only town I know that can compete with Rhinebeck for the title of ‘Christmas Village’ is Cape May, NJ.

Rhinebeck has a magical look at nightfall

Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street gets into that spirit every year

I love the way they merchandise the store for the holidays and their prices are very fair on their candies and desserts. You have to try their doughnuts.

The delicious candies and baked goods at Samuel’s Sweet Shop

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d3641613-Reviews-Samuel_s-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/187

Our next stop after leaving Rhinebeck was downtown Red Hook, NY which to me represents the best in small towns in the Hudson River Valley with excellent reasonable restaurants, creative store owners and a blend of old and new in architecture. Plus, everyone is so friendly when you shop and dine there.

Downtown Red Hook, NY at Christmas

I have written about my many trips to Red Hook in my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com” and discussed visiting the downtown and its proprietors.

Exploring Red Hook, NY:

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

The Red Hook town Christmas tree is such a great addition to the downtown and it more amazing at night as is the rest of the town when it is lit. When it gets dark in town, Red Hook gets that classic Americana feel to it.

Downtown Red Hook’s Christmas Tree

Downtown Red Hook, NY at dusk is so beautiful

After the walk around Red Hook (most of the stores closed early that night), my aunt and I crossed the Kingston Bridge and visited the ‘Stockade District”, the historical and shopping district of Downtown Kingston, to see how the town prepared itself for the holidays. It really was beautiful even with the light rain.

Downtown Kingston, NY at Christmas

The businesses had garland and beautiful white lights adorning them and the windows were very festive as in the other towns. Large snowflakes decorated the main streets which were lit brilliantly.

Downtown Kingston, NY Christmas tree

The Kingston, NY Christmas tree is right in the middle of the downtown shopping district and gives off such a holiday vibe. It is also so beautifully decorated. It really brightens up this stretch of the street.

Our last stop that evening was visiting Woodstock, NY, where I had spent three wonderful Christmases and is a place that I highly recommend spending the holidays. The Christmas Parade every year is so festive and well organized. The town is also so nicely decorated for Christmas and the square always has the most unconventional Christmas tree. They are usually oddly shaped and decorated and that’s their charm.

By the time we got to town that evening, all the stores were closed for the night and we dined for our early Christmas dinner at Shindig at 1 Tinker Street.

The love the Christmas tree in Downtown Woodstock, NY. It always looks so unusual.

Downtown Woodstock, NY square and Christmas tree

My visits to Woodstock, NY during Christmas meant a lot to me and I always loved going to the town’s Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve night. Santa always makes such interesting entrances.

Christmas in Woodstock in 2015:

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

Christmas in Woodstock in 2016:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/3408

Shindig has the best hamburgers and some of the most delicious mac & cheese. Talk about great comfort food on a cool misty night in the Catskills. We were the last customers to dine there that night, so they did not rush us as they were cleaning up for the night. Don’t miss their Cowboy burger. I highly recommend it.

Shindig at 1 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY (Closed June 2022)

http://www.woodstockshindig.com/

https://www.facebook.com/shindigwoodstock/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

We had such a wonderful time visiting all the towns with their Christmas decorations and beautiful window displays. The Hudson River Valley is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Who knew with all this Christmas cheer that all hell would break loose two days later.

Thank God I did all these events when I did because by Friday, December 17th, the night of my final exam, there was panic all over the country with the spread of a new variant of COVID, Omicron. All of a sudden, this new variant from South Africa started to move like wildfire all over the country and New York City was inundated by it.

I had to stay home all weekend and grade final exams because grades had to be posted by Tuesday. All I heard on the Internet and on TV was the rapid spread and the almost panic mode that everyone went into. I hauled up in the house and concentrated on school and getting the students emailed with their grades so that they could relax and enjoy their Christmas break.

I posted all my grades by Monday night and had to drop off all the paperwork on Tuesday at the college. I was just glad that they had not cancelled classes on Friday night when I was giving my exam. That would have been too much on me scrambling to get the exams done. Since I was the only one teaching on a Friday night, I was hoping they just forgot about me and the class would just happen which it did. Thank God!

Tuesday afternoon, we had a sparsely attended Faculty Party which I thought was very nice considering what was going on all over the country. We kept our masks on while we were walking around the room and enjoyed a lot of finger foods made by our Culinary Department and soft drinks. It was nice to just talk to people through our masks and catch up with people I had not seen all semester.

On the Sunday, December 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held its Annual “Santa Around Town”, one of the highlights of the holiday season for both the town and the department. Last year because of COVID rules, we could only drive down each street slowly waving at residents.

This year we were able to go back to making stops and greeting each resident and taking pictures with children and their families. Even a family dog decked out in its Christmas jacket joined in the fun. It was nice to see people outside and engaging with their neighbors.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s ‘Annual Santa Around Town’

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s “Santa Around Town” 2021

By Monday, December 20th, it seemed that the whole country was going crazy with the new COVID variant. Flights were being cancelled, people were putting get togethers on hold and families were abandoning their plans for the holidays. Our family seemed fine until one by one, things kept happening the whole week and everything was derailed by Christmas Eve.

First my brother’s flight was cancelled and he could not get another flight until late Christmas Day so he nixed coming to Delaware for Christmas. Then a family member got sick so my mother cancelled all Christmas plans including our family dinner. She did not want anyone at the house who was not vaccinated. This derailed the plans even more as family members and friends were not vaccinated so no one was going to visit her house that day.

So when my mother called me to tell me that everything was being cancelled, I immediately looked into going back to Woodstock, NY where I had spent many happy Christmases. These plans were abandoned when my other brother’s flight was fine and he was coming for Christmas and he did not want to spend it alone in Rehoboth Beach.

So, I changed my plans again and booked a room at the Chalfonte Hotel’s Southern Quarters and Thank God was able to book the last room at the resort. The main hotel was closed for the season but the Southern Quarters is the small B & B concept they have next door, which serves guests all throughout the winter months (the main hotel will not reopen until May).

The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street

https://www.chalfonte.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

This was the weird part about the eve before Christmas Eve, it snowed overnight which it was not in the forecast and it looked like we would have a white Christmas. Since it was supposed to rain all day on Christmas, I looked at the weather and thought ‘great having to walk around with wet weather on Christmas’ but like the rest of the holiday season, Christmas Day brought its own surprises. After paying my respects at the cemeteries, it was off to Cape May to start the holidays.

My Christmas Eve was spent as it had three years earlier, going to dinner at the Boiler Room at The Congress Hotel for dinner. I love their coal-burning oven pizzas and their fresh salads. The dinner was really amazing and the restaurant was pretty busy all things considered. I guess some people were not going to be spooked by everything going on around us, myself included. I figured I was fully vaccinated and if I wore my mask every place, I needed to I would be fine.

The Boiler Room Pizzeria at The Congress Hotel in Cape May, NJ at 200 Congress Place

https://www.caperesorts.com/congress-hall/boiler-room

https://www.facebook.com/boileroom/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d10289837-Reviews-Boiler_Room-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I had the most wonderful dinner. I started with a Mixed Green salad with Balsamic dressing and chopped strawberries which had the most complex flavor with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off the Balsamic vinegar. The greens were so fresh that they crunched when I bit into them. For the entree, I had the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with fresh mozzarella. Talk about a crisp pizza and the sauce could not have been more delicious with the fresh tomatoes and olive oil.

After dinner was over, I walked all over The Congress Hotel which is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. The halls are lined with white lights and garlands and a fire roaring in the fireplace in the main hall. Outside on the lawn, there a colorfully decorated tree and decorated tables with pool heaters for people to sit under.

Seeing the casual and engaging conversations the other guests were having you would have never known that there was a major outbreak going on. Most people walking around the hotel were not even wearing masks.

The Congress Hall Hotel at Christmas

https://www.caperesorts.com/congress-hall

https://www.facebook.com/congresshall/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g46341-d92337-Reviews-Congress_Hall-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.

The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May

After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).

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

http://ladystarofthesea.org/

My TripAdvisor:

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

It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.

Christmas services at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church

The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.

If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.

https://www.mystore411.com/store/view/24532701/Wawa-Convience-Store-North-Cape-May

My review on TripAdvisor:

WaWa really does have a good breakfast!

The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.

After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!

By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.

After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.

Dos Locos at 208 Rehoboth Avenue

https://www.doslocos.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Restaurant/DOS-LOCOS-78133849014/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34048-d396081-Reviews-Dos_Locos-Rehoboth_Beach_Delaware.html?m=19905

Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.

My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner

To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.

My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk

We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.

My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth

My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach

Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach

The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background

It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.

I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.

When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.

The Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street

https://www.facebook.com/uglymugcm/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d393818-Reviews-Ugly_Mug-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.

With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.

The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!

I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.

The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.

The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition

https://capemaystage.showare.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CapeMayStage/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d1582818-Reviews-Cape_May_Stage_Professional_Equity_Theater-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.

After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.

I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.

You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once

https://www.facebook.com/SunsetbeachNJ/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.

The Cloisters at Christmas time

https://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/met-cloisters

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d106609-Reviews-The_Met_Cloisters-New_York_City_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/680

I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.

I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.

New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Chinese-Restaurant/New-Golden-Star-103332598081909/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10926156-Reviews-Golden_Star-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.

After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.

Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4416394-Reviews-5_Estrella_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.

I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.

Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway

https://www.nycgovparks.org/news/media-advisories?id=13217

Actress and Activist Ilka Tanya Payan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilka_Tanya_Pay%C3%A1n

New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!

This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.

The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:

Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping

I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:

I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.

Day Two Hundred and Ten: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents the creation of the case study: “Market Street Candy & Confections” December 16th, 2021

The Creation of the Case Study Project “Market Street Candy & Confections”:

I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down and reopening in a different business environment, I think some of my students thought it was an unusual time to open a business. This is when you need to test your entrepreneurship when times are tough.

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 COVID and online learning, these projects become impossible to do as a group so each student got the opportunity to create their own store.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo

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

In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations.

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Consultant Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

While my other class worked on their case study project, “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”, a full-blown Group project for my live class, I had my online class create their own business with the project “Market Place Candy & Confections”, a artisan candy and dessert shop that is a 100-year-old business they bought and are now reopening with a modern twist.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Presents: “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20566

The concept of the project was to reopen a traditional candy shop in a town or city that had recently closed and the furnishings and decorations were sold off for profit to pay bills, so the building and store were now gutted and had to be rebuilt and redesigned with a modern twist and concept. They had to now had to know their target market, stock the store with product and prepare it for opening by hiring staff and creating an ad for the “100th Anniversary Celebration” of the store.

The students now had the store and name of the store but little else to start with other than a past reputation. Here I had the students use their creativity to remake the store from the ground up. Our textbook for the class “Understanding Business” by Nickels & McHugh broke the way you start a business chapter by chapter and that is what I had the students do to open the store.

We start the project by Chapter Five in the book “How to form a Business” when talking about starting a business as a “Sole Proprietorship or Partnership” and then to Chapter Six “Entrepreneurship and Starting a Small Business” with logos and Brand Recognition. I challenge the students to show me what they want their store to represent and what type of imagine that they want to portray to the customers. I remind them that this is the first thing that the customers will see and remember them by.

The logos for “Market Street Candy & Confections”:

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo One

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Two

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Three

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Four

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Five

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Six

Market Street Candy & Confections: Logo Seven

We next covered Chapter Seven “Management and Leadership” where we worked on the goals and objectives of a business. This is where the students worked on their strategic planning of the business. When we talk about who we strive to be as a business, this is when we form the Mission Statement, which is an outline of the fundamental purposes of an organization.

The Mission Statements:

Mission Statement: One

Mission Statement: Two

We discussed in Chapter Eight “Structuring Organizations for Today’s Challenges”, where we talked about the hierarchy of a corporation and then Chapter Nine “Production and Operational Management”, where we learned about concepts of Facility Location, where we have to select the location for the company’s operations. When creating the concept, I also have them design what the inside of the store should look like to the customer.

The Market Street Candy & Confections Store Design:

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design One

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design Two

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design Three

Market Street Candy & Confections: Store Design Four

Chapter Thirteen “Marketing: Helping Buyers Buy” with selling concepts of merchants. We talked about target markets, geographic segmentation and consumer marketing. I was trying to get the students to how to reach out to customers.

We started by advertising the store for its “100th Anniversary Celebration” is a way to bring more customers into the store to let them see the new developments they would be making. We built this even further in Chapter Fourteen “Developing and Pricing Goods and Services”, when picking or creating product lines for a company.

The Market Street Candy & Confections Bundling & 100th Anniversary Ads:

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad One

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Two

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Three

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Four

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Five

Market Street Candy & Confections: 100th Anniversary Ad Six

When discussing Chapter Fourteen, I also had the students create a Bundling promotion of putting two or more items together and promoting them at one price but I have no artwork for that. With Chapter Sixteen “Using Effective Promotions”, I asked them how this anniversary event might promote new items at the store and what classic candies they might want to carry.

The last project that unfortunately I was not able to give them because of the Thanksgiving Break and the way it fell was from Chapter Eleven “Human Resource Management: Finding and keeping the Best Employees”, the Job Description project, where they would create an ad for hiring new employees. The deadlines for the project just got too close.

By the end of the semester, about a third of the class successfully opened their store for business with a location of the town where they bought the business, their created image, the product that they wanted to sell and the people they wanted to hire. They were then ready for opening day for the “100th Anniversary of the Store”.

It always amazes me what these students are thinking and where they want to take their businesses. Some of them look ready to open the store in real life. That is when this project gets to be interesting and fun.

This was an interesting project that I want to share with other College Professors who might want to rework and use the project if they teach an Introduction to Business class as well:

The Classwork for the Project:

The Class Participation Questions:

The Papers for the Project:

The Quizzes for the Project:

Good luck in your class as well!

The project was based on two local candy/ice cream stores we have here in Bergen County, NJ:

Conrad’s Confectionary at 107 Westwood Avenue in Westwood, NJ:

https://conrads1928.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Conrads1928/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/82

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Bischoff’s Confectionary at 468 Cedar Lane in Teaneck, NJ:

https://www.bischoffsicecream.com/

https://www.facebook.com/bischoffsicecream/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/847

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46862-d2346537-Reviews-Bischoff_s_Ice_Cream_and_Candy-Teaneck_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Day Two Hundred and Nine: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents: “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” December 10th, 2021

The students of my Business 101 class keep dazzling me.

The Creation of the Case Study Project “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”:

I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” 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.

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 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.

What I discovered later on is that we were the only class on campus that night and it was pretty gloomy walking the halls all by myself late on a Friday evening. The upside of all of this is that we had the whole campus to stretch out in and later in the class I changed rooms to a more formal lecture room for the presentation. I thought this was more COVID safe for the students.

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

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

In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations.

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Consultant Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

My welcome to Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. from the CEO of the company:

While my other class worked on their case study project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, a 100-year-old candy store concept, “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”, a project promoting Bergen Community College to the Alumni got off to the ground running.

The project “Market Street Candy & Confections”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20568

In a class that has to stay socially distanced and met only once a week it got difficult.

Our Logo from the novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by author Ronald Dahl.

“I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College”

Every semester it is the same thing with the students. Some take the project seriously and some think it is a chore and go back to looking at their cellphones the whole semester. As usual, those are the students whose work shows it and gets the lower grades.

When I put my executive team together this semester, I found a nice combination of students who really worked well together. How I choose my executives is the same way any CEO would, I get a copy of their resume which serves as my first paper for the class. I work with the students to be sure that their resume is ready for future job interviews and internships or transfers to another four-year school. This is where I can see where the students experience lies and what skills they can perform.

The second paper I have the students write is “What would I do Better?”, a two-page paper on a situation on a job or extra-curricular activity that went terribly wrong and how they might have fixed it. The paper always shows me how the student would handle adversity under pressure. It also shows me the student’s character. This is how I pick my executives plus I use my gut instinct on how they act in class. Almost 95% of the time, I am correct.

The students I chose for my Executive Team were all Bi or Tri-Lingual, all were pretty ambitious and I thought had a sense of creativity. One of my Executives went AWOL after the second class and one of his Team Members took over the VP roll. I could not have asked for a more prepared student of the role of Vice-President. This is when students can surprise you with their flexibility and creativity under pressure.

So, every week we had Board Meetings to check progress and see how each Team was performing and getting their work done. I always have my procrastinators but for the most part everything was handled on time and towards the last two weeks I saw the students ban together to get the work done. Still, I had a few students either go AWOL or just drop the class and that was it so there was some rearranging to do along the way. This is what happens in a real corporation, so it was just like real life.

The night of the presentation, it was nice to see the students all dressed up. All the women looked so professional in suits, skirts, slacks and dresses while most of the men were in either suit and tie or jacket and tie. I few I will have to teach how to iron a shirt or tie a tie correctly.

I could not have been prouder of my student executives on their presentation. They put together a wonderful presentation in promoting Bergen Community College to Alumni and students, promoting our Athletic program with student athletic and parent events with Alumni attendance and meals that would bring Alumni together in the “Bulldog” tradition. All throughout the presentation we kept the “Willy Wonka” theme in all of our events.

What really impressed me was the touching dedication to the late Gene Wilder, the star of the original 1971 film from the Executives to both him and his widow, Susan Wilder. I think that showed the heart of the project of how much this film means to people.

Congratulations everyone on this excellent project and Happy New Year!

*Please watch and read the different parts of the project to see its progress.

The Project:

“I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. website for the project:

The Video of the Presentation:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

The Commercials:

Welcome to the Alumni back to Bergen Community College:

Welcome to the Students Athletes to Bergen Community College:

Welcome young Alumni to Bergen Community College:

A very special dedication of the project to Mrs. Susan Wilder (Gene Wilder the star of the film’s wife):

I want to thank all my students in my “Introduction to Business 101” class for all their hard work on this presentation.

Sincerely,

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO/Co-Founder

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

Day Two Hundred and Three: Walking the Borders of the Garment District from Fifth to Ninth Avenues from West 42nd to West 34th Streets September 6th, 2021 (revisited December 11th, 2022)

I finally felt well enough to continue my walk around Manhattan. I had not been into New York City in six weeks and had really missed my walking around the island. I had finished exploring the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood before I pulled my back and decided to keep my adventures closer to home (Exploring Downtown Boonton-Day One Hundred and Two). I just was not up to coming into the City.

The Garment District once home to many designers and manufacturers in the New York Fashion Industry is not what it was when my Grandfather was an officer in the Ladies Garment Union back in the 1950’s and 60’s. It is not what it once was with the showrooms that were located there when I worked for Macy’s in the 1990’s. Cost of real estate, rezoning for commercial and residential during the Bloomberg Administration and cost of doing business in the area has shrunk the manufacturing of clothes that this area once prided itself.

Still in the core of the district many manufactures and shops still cater to the business and you will still see button shops, fabric stores and wholesale merchants next to new coffee shops , boutiques and small hotels that now dot the area.

Technically the area can stretch as far down as West 25th Street and around the Fashion Institute of Technology but the area with its real estate cache for names consider this area now ‘Chelsea’ and even east of it what is left of the ‘Flower District’. In the era of COVID, this area is still pretty quiet with manufacturing still shut and the Fashion Institute not yet open for the Fall semester (it has since opened and the area is full of students). I was amazed by the lack of people still not walking around the area.

I started my walk just outside the Port Authority which is on the very edge of the neighborhood and walked out the door and around the building to Ninth Avenue. Even though it was Labor Day, there were not a lot of people walking around the streets. It looked like everyone was either still away, recovering from the recent storm Hurricane Ida that flattened the area with rain and wind or just getting ready for school to start the next day. It seemed like a quiet day in Manhattan.

Pre-COVID the Port Authority between West 42nd to West 41st Streets from Eighth to Ninth Avenues was going through a face-life renovation and the facility started to move out all the older stores and restaurants for higher end takeout places and an art gallery. It looks now that it has been put on hold until people start to return.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue

https://www.panynj.gov/bus-terminals/en/index.html

Since I returned to Manhattan to resume this project last June, the traffic going through the Port Authority has not changed much even though there are more people on the bus. The afternoon I came into the City it was sunny and 66 degrees. More outdoor dining was in play and more people were outside enjoying the weather.

I started my walk exiting the Port Authority at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street, a corner that still needs a lot of work. Pre-COVID this was a bustling area of theaters, shops and restaurants and one of the biggest McDonald’s in the country. Most of it is closed down now and the homeless have taken back over this area. Surprisingly though, it still remains clean a result of the Partnerships established in the mid-1990’s. This area is swept all day long.

This was nice for me as the sidewalks were empty and the streets were quiet and it was nice to just walk around and not be bothered. Being Labor Day, there seemed to be a huge police presence in Times Square just north of the neighborhood so I did my best to blend in.

Ninth Avenue is in the process of change again as many of the old tenement buildings are being knocked down for new condo complexes and office buildings. Still there are many old named businesses in the neighborhood and the Garment District is home to a lot of the restaurants mentioned in my blog, https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/. There are many ‘Mom & Pop’ restaurants and deli’s that are really reasonable and the food is outstanding.

Walking down West 42nd Street from the entrance of the Port Authority down to Ninth Avenue shares the border with the ‘Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West’ neighborhood and even now new restaurants are beginning to open in places that had been shut during the COVID pandemic. The pandemic is still going on but like any other city, New York City is adapting to it and there are many changes going on all over the neighborhood. It has not stopped the spirit of the neighborhood from progressing and moving forward.

What I have always liked about Ninth Avenue near Midtown is the character of the neighborhood. There are still old tenements and brownstones along the Avenue from 42nd Street down into Chelsea. Here and there old restaurant and provision shops sit along side newer delis and retail shops that show the change in the make up of the neighborhood. Still with the rezoning of the area I am not too sure how long this will last.

Ninth Avenue not only offers an array of many interesting ethnic businesses but many reasonable and interesting delis, take-out places and restaurants that won’t break the budget. Many of the dining establishments featured on my DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site are found in the Garment District on its borders and streets that will save you money and the food is wonderful.

Starting right at the border of the neighborhood right across the street from the Port Authority is Capizzi Pizza at 547 Ninth Avenue. Their delicious small pizzas are all homemade down to the sausage made for the toppings. When I ate there a few years ago they were noted for their small pepperoni pizza which was excellent. The service was very friendly and very authentic. It can be pricey though but the quality is excellent.

Capprizzi Pizza at 547 Ninth Avenue

https://capizzinyc.com/

A block down and across the street from the Port Authority is the original Two Brother Pizza at 542 Ninth Avenue. This place has been around for years and has one of the best $1.00 slices of pizza in Manhattan. This is my ‘go to’ place when I need a quick snack and want something substantial. To my knowledge, it is one of the original dollar slice places in the City.

The restaurant is in a rather shady section of the shadow of the Port Authority. During the day it is okay but the later at night you get it does attract some interesting characters especially if you eat outside on one of the cocktail tables. The pizza is really good and is one of the few dollar pizza places where the pizza tastes like something. Most places I find in the City the pizza is just something to fill you up.

Two Brothers Pizza at 542 Ninth Avenue

https://www.2brospizzanewyork.com/

Across the street from Two Brothers Pizza and our ‘go to’ place for breakfast during the Christmas holidays was Hell’s Kitchen Deli, a relatively new place to the neighborhood. This is where I ordered Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwiches. The place is really clean and has a nice selection of snacks and sandwiches.

Hell’s Kitchen Deli at 535 Ninth Avenue has the best breakfast sandwiches

https://www.seamless.com/menu/hells-kitchen-deli-535-9th-ave-new-york/727443

Though most of the housing in this part of the neighborhood is old tenement housing, you can look up from a distance and see some unusual carvings in the buildings. The building at 510-508 Ninth Avenue has some strange faces staring back at you from above. The building was built in 1920 (Apartments.com/StreetEasy.com).

508-510 Ninth Avenue

The faces at the doorway stare back

https://www.apartments.com/508-ninth-ave-new-york-ny/z9017ex/

When walking down Ninth Avenue, you will see the signs of the past not just in the architecture but in former restaurants and provision stores that used to line the Avenue. First there is Esposito Meat Market at 500 Ninth Avenue which has been in business since 1932. You can see the selection of meats and different cuts from the window. The one time I walked in you could smell the aroma of the freshly cut meats. The store prides itself on always delivering quality (Esposito Meat Market website).

Esposito Meet Market at 500 Ninth Avenue

http://espositomeatmarket.com/

Years ago I did an article on Manganaro’s Grosseria Italiano at 488 Ninth Avenue when owner Seline Dell’Orto still owned and worked at the store. The famous Italian provision store closed about ten years ago after years of squabbling but the sign is still there. It is now Tavolo Restaurant.

Manganaro’s Grosseria Italiano at 488 Ninth Avenue in 2011

Enjoy the article I wrote on Manganaro’s years ago:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/a-trip-to-manganaros-in-chelsea-for-a-great-lunch

One of the places that had inspired my dining site, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC” is the 9th Avenue Gourmet Deli (Formerly the AM/PM & Juniors Deli) at 480 Ninth Avenue. This amazing little deli has it all, a nice grocery department, cold drinks and wonderful hot and cold food section that never ceases to amaze me.

The 9th Avenue Deli at 480 Ninth Avenue

https://m.facebook.com/115798258443108

The breakfast platters here are heaping with eggs, pancakes and sausage and the sandwich platters fill the take out containers. Everything is freshly cooked and delicious. Their burgers are cooked perfectly and they don’t skimp on the fries. The best part is that they are open 24 hours.

Another great place that I love to stop at is Kashmir 9 at 478 Ninth Avenue. The cuisine of the restaurant is traditional Bangladesh and Pakistani food with all sorts of baked goods and entrees. I have had their Lamb Kebobs, Chicken Patties, Potato Cutlets and the Vegetable Samosas are out of this world.

Kashmir 9 at 478 Ninth Avenue

https://www.facebook.com/kashmire9newyork/

When you walk in the whole restaurant has the wonderful smell of curry and spices with the hustle and bustle of many languages being spoken. There is even a prayer rug in the back section of the restaurant for those on their breaks which I thought was a nice touch for their busy customers.

The kebobs here are delicious

As I passed all the restaurants, I walked down Ninth Avenue to a small park that I never really noticed before. At least that it was a park. This little park called “The Canoe” Plaza is part of the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance and is at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 37th Street. This was the creation of the design team of Design Wild and was convert the block to a flowery heaven right at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel (Hudson Yards Alliance/Design Wild).

The Canoe Plaza designed by Design Wild

http://www.designwildny.com/canoe-plaza

https://www.hyhkalliance.org/about-the-bid

The unique statue that graces the garden is by artist Jordan Baker- Caldwell called “Ascension”.

“Ascension” by Artist Jordan Baker-Caldwell

Jordan Baker-Caldwell is an American born artist from New York City and is the youngest artist in the history of New York to have a permanent public sculpture. The artist’s work has been noted as evoking questions about gravity, structure, balance and the human body in relation to space (Artist’s bio).

Please watch the video of the artist describing his work in the park

https://m.facebook.com/mrjordanbc/posts

As I turned the corner of the border of the neighborhood at West 34th Street, I saw a familiar restaurant from Christmas time, Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue. This is where we ordered in our Christmas dinner. I have to admit that their fried rice is really good but the rest of the meal was okay.

Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

Walking down West 34th Street brought back memories of my years at Macy’s. It is truly amazing how the City keeps changing. When I worked in the City in the early 1990’s, West 34th Street was not a place you wanted to walk at night or sometimes even during the day. From Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue was particularly sketchy. Now it is all new office buildings with most of the old neighborhood from Eighth to Seventh Avenue either completely knocked down or renovated.

Still there are a couple of old standbys still left. One of them before you arrive at Macy’s is the Hotel New Yorker on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street at 481 Eighth Avenue. The hotel was designed by architects Sugarman and Berger and designed in the Art Deco style. The hotel was constructed in 1928 and opened in 1930. The hotel now managed by Wyndam Hotels put the hotel through a full renovation in 2006 to bring it back to its glory years now reflected the resurgence of the neighborhood (Hotel New Yorker History website/Wiki).

The Hotel New Yorker at 481 Eighth Avenue

https://www.newyorkerhotel.com/

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

I continued walking down West 34th Street to Seventh Avenue I arrived at Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street. Things have changed so much in thirty years. The whole area has gotten so much better. It was so run down when I worked there. Also the retail scene was so much different with new retail stores lining this part of West 34th Street that used to be discount retailers.

Where the H & M store at 1293 Broadway is now used to be Herald Center, an upscale mall that never did well and the concept closed two years later when I returned to work in the buying offices. The only thing that survived was the food court on the top floor.

RH Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street

https://l.macys.com/new-york-ny

Before 1965, this was home to Saks 34th Street before its move to its current Fifth Avenue location. The store was founded by Andrew Saks and opened its doors in Herald Square in 1902 just five weeks before Macy’s opened their doors. The store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Classical style. The store was bought by the Gimbel family in 1923 and that is when it was moved to its current location at 511 Fifth Avenue. The original store is now covered with new siding to give it its modern look for H & M (NYC Circa). The building stretches from West 34th to West 33rd Street along the Broadway corridor.

Saks 34th

The Saks 34th Street Building on the corner of West 34th Street and Broadway at 1293 Broadway

https://en.wikipedia-on-ipfs.org/wiki/Saks-34th_Street.html

Next door to that was the old Gimbel’s Department Store building that closed in 1986, a year and a half before I started at Macy’s. Gimbel’s had always been considered our rival for years but I think because of the sheer size of Macy’s I have a feeling that we beat them in sales. Gimbel’s had come to New York City by way of Philadelphia by the Gimbel’s family. It was founded by Adam Gimbel in 1887. The store in Herald Square opened in 1910 in the classical style by architect Daniel Burnham (Wiki). The store stretches from West 33rd to West 32nd Streets along Broadway.

Gimbels Department Store

Gimbel’s Department Store at Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street

There are still traces of Gimbels Department Store

https://ghosts-of-retailers-past.fandom.com/wiki/Gimbels

When the store closed in 1986,  it was renovated and was called A & S Plaza when that store moved into the space. When A & S closed in the mid 1990’s when it merged with Macy’s, the store was renovated again and now is called Manhattan Mall. It is mostly office space now (Wiki).

In the middle of this former shopping district and just south of Herald Square is Greeley Square named after Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune. The square was acquired by New York City in 1846 and turned into the park. The statue that dominates the southern end of the park was designed by sculptor Alexander Doyle in 1890 (NYCParks.org).

Greeley Square was named after Horace Greeley, who published the first issue of The New Yorker magazine and established the New York Tribune. He was also a member of the Liberal Republican Party where he was a Congressman and ran for President of the United States after the Civil War.

Horace Greeley

Publisher and Politician Horace Greeley famous for his quote “Go West, young man, Go West”

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Horace-Greeley

The Horace Greeley statue is located in the park just south of Herald Square in Greeley Square.

The statue was created by artist Alexander Doyle. Alexander Doyle was an American born artist who studied in Italy with several artists. He is best known for his marbles and bronze sculptures of famous Americans including many famous Confederate figures that have come under fire recently.

http://www.askart.com/artist/Alexander_Doyle/61138/Alexander_Doyle.aspx

Reaching the border with Murray Hill to the east is the former B. Altman Department Store that closed in 1989 and in the other corner is the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world.

B. Altman & Co. II

The B. Altman Building at 361 Fifth Avenue was built by Benjamin Altman for the new location for his ‘carriage trade’ store. The store was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance Style” in 1906. The palatial store was home to couture clothing, fine furniture and expensive art work.

The B. ALt

The former B. Altman Department Store at 361 Fifth Avenue

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._Altman_and_Company

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-b-atlman-co-bldg-no-361-fifth-avenue.html

As the shopping district left Sixth Avenue below 23rd Street, the former “Ladies Shopping Mile” (read my Victorian Christmas Blog on the shopping district) gave way to stores opening between 34th Street to 42nd Street and eventually to the Fifth Avenue locations between 50th and 60th Streets where what is left of the great stores stand today.

The Ladies Shopping Mile on the Sixth Avenue corridor at the turn of the last century

My blog on the Ladies Shopping Mile and a “Victorian Christmas”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8117

Across the street from the old B. Altman’s building is another impressive building also under scaffolding 10 East 34th Street, The Ditson Building. The impressive building with it intricate details was built in 1906 and designed by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in the Beaux-Arts style for Charles H. Ditson. Mr. Ditson ran the New York division of his family’s company, Charles H. Ditson & Company, a publisher and musical concern (Daytonian).

10 East 34th Street-The Ditson Building

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2012/05/1907-ditson-building-nos-8-to-12-east.html

https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/10-E-34th-St-New-York-NY/16111124/

Crossing Fifth Avenue, I continued to walk down West 34th Street once a major shopping district lined with shops and department stores. The most impressive and well known building in the neighborhood is the former tallest building in the world at 102 floors, the Empire State Building at 2-20 West 34th Street.

The Empire State Building is probably the most famous building in New York City outside of maybe Rockefeller Center and one of the most prominent. The building sits on the side of the former Astor Mansion and the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel before the current one was built in the 1930’s on Park Avenue.

The Empire State Building was inspired during the “Race to the Sky” movement in New York City during the 1920’s prosperity with builders vying for the “World’s Tallest Building” title. This was going on in cities all over the US at a time of great innovation in building. The building was conceived in 1929 long before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 as 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were being constructed (Wiki).

The Empire State building at 20 West 34th Street

https://www.esbnyc.com/

The building is known just by its appearance and is probably best known for the movie “King Kong” back in the 1930’s and most recently “Sleepless in Seattle” in the 1990’s. The movies don’t do the building justice from its sky decks with views of Manhattan and beautiful Art Deco details on the elevators and in the lobby. The 102 story building is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ and was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center opened in 1970 (Wiki). It is now the second tallest building in New York City.

The famous Empire State Building scene from “King Kong” in 1933

The building is a major tourist site and it was so strange to see no one in line for the now open sky ride to the sky decks where you can see across the whole City. The lines are usually really long down West 34th Street but there were just a few people talking to the guards the days I passed. If you get a chance to walk around the lobby it really is beautiful but that was pre-COVID. You have to have preassigned tickets to get into the building.

As I continued down West 34th Street, I saw the old Ohrbach’s Department Store building at 7 West 34th Street. The store was still open when I started to work at Macy’s in 1988 but it closed about a year later to be followed by B. Altman & Company in 1990. That left Macy’s alone on West 34th Street until a branch of the A & S opened in the Gimbel’s building in the 1990’s (that would close when A & S merged with Macy’s in 1995).

7 West 34th Street-McCreeyers/Ohrbach’s Department Store

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohrbach%27s

What I did not know was the building has an older past by its original owner James McCreeyer & Company, a luxury department store that had started in the 1860’s and had closed this location in 1953 due to changing styles and business. Ohrbach’s bought the store in 1954 and ran it as a moderate department store until it closed in 1988 (Wiki and Defunct Department Stores).

Another impressive building on the this former shopping street is 19 West 34th Street, The Martin Building. The building was built and finished in 1907 for the Revillon Freres, a leading manufacturer of furs and accessories. The building was designed in the Italian Renaissance style with Beaux Arts features. The company moved out of the building and further uptown in 1918 and leased the building out (Daytonian). The building now serves as offices on top and retail on the bottom.

17-19 West 34th Street-The Martin Building/Revillon Freres Building

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-1905-revillon-freres-bldg-nos-19-17.html

https://streeteasy.com/building/17-west-34-street-new_york

Another standout building I saw was 31 West 34th Street the former Oppenheim, Collins & Company Department Store building. The store was built in 1907 for the Oppenheim, Collins & Company wholesalers when they decided to open a retail store in the location. The former department store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Beaux Arts style. The store existed until 1963 when it was merged by the owner of the store with Franklin Simon & Company Department Store and the name disappeared. The store closed in 1977 (Daytonian).

31 West 34th Street-The Oppenheim, Collins & Company/Franklin Simon & Company building

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-oppenheim-collins-co-bldg-no-31.html

https://streeteasy.com/building/31-west-34-street-new_york

The last building I noticed for its beauty was on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 34th Street, 47 West 34th Street (1378 Broadway or 2 Herald Square) the Marbridge Building. The Marbridge Building was by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in 1909 in the Classical Beaux Arts style and has been used as an office building since its opening (Wiki/Photo/Street).

47 West 34th Street-The Marbridge Building

https://streeteasy.com/building/28_47-34-street-astoria

It is funny that in all the years I had worked at Macy’s Herald Square, I either never noticed these buildings on all my walks along 34th Street or never gave them a lot of though. When you realize the rich architectural history of the neighborhood and the role it played in the retail history of New York it really amazed me how prominent a shopping area this once was between 1900-1960. This growth came about as the retail district moved further uptown from the Ladies Shopping Mile district on Sixth Avenue below West 21st Street.

I finished my walk of the borders of this neighborhood with a quick break by relaxing in Greeley Square again and using one of the few public bathrooms in the area (the other being Macy’s lower level Men’s Department) and just sat back and admired the Horace Greeley statue. I wondered how many people passed this statue and never gave it any thought. I wondered what he might of thought of the changes here in the last 100 years. The neighborhood is so rich in history of the development of the business sector in New York City.

As I walked up Fifth Avenue, the western border of the neighborhood, I was struck by all the other beautiful buildings that must have housed fine retail stores as the shopping district moved to this area.

At the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 36th Street is 390 Fifth Avenue that was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White for the Gorham Manufacturing Company of fine silver products in 1903. It was designed in the “Italian Renaissance Style” and was used for manufacturing and their showroom. It later became Russeks Department store and has now found other uses.

390 Fifth Avenue The Gorham Building

390 Fifth Avenue-The Gorham Manufacturing Building

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/390_Fifth_Avenue

https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/390-5th-Ave-New-York-NY/17368347/

Another standout building is 383 Fifth Avenue. These two interesting twin buildings were built in the mid-1800’s as private homes and then converted to office space in the 1890’s.

381-383 Fifth Avenue

381-383 Fifth Avenue

https://www.realtyhop.com/building/381-5th-avenue-new-york-ny-10016

Further up is the dazzling 373 Fifth Avenue which was built in 1800’s for the home of Charles H. Russell when the area was dominated by great mansions. As one by one the mansions were razed for commercial use, the home was razed in 1906 and architects Hunt & Hunt built the current office building in 1906 for  Joseph Fahys & Company and for silversmiths Alvin Manufacturing Company (Daytonian).

373 Fifth Avenue

373 Fifth Avenue-The Alvin Building

https://www.uhotelfifthavenue.com/

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2011/12/hunt-hunts-1906-alvin-building-373.html

Walking further up Fifth Avenue into the 400 block, more unique buildings fascinated me. The first that has always caught my eye is 401 Fifth Avenue, the old Tiffany & Company building. The building was designed for the company by Stamford White of McKim, Mead & White and was completed in 1905. The building was used by the jewelry store until 1940 when it moved to its new location further up Fifth Avenue. The building was inspired by the Palazzo Grimani de San Luca in Venice, Italy (Wiki).

401 Fifth Avenue-The Tiffany Building

401 Fifth Avenue-The Tiffany Building

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

Another standout building further up is 411 Fifth Avenue with its interesting trim and sculpture along the sides and top of the building. This building was built in 1915 again by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore with what was considered baroque trim  that included urns, flowers and heads with facial reliefs (Daytonian). The building was used for small luxury manufacturing for things like millinery, lace and silversmiths. Today it is used as an office building.

411 Fifth Avenue

411 Fifth Avenue

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-unique-1915-no-411-fifth-avenue.html

https://www.loopnet.com/Listing/411-Fifth-Ave-New-York-NY/18139464/

Approaching the New York Public Library again, I passed what were some of the great department stores along the Fifth Avenue retail corridor that once dominated between 34th and 42nd Streets.

The former Lord & Taylor headquarters store that opened in 1914 just recently closed with a sale to the now imploded We Works company and was just sold to Amazon for 985 million dollars. This former ‘grand carriage trade’ store replaced the former headquarters store at Broadway and 20th Street by Union Square and opened at this location at 424-434 Fifth Avenue. The 11 story building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vleck in the ‘Italian Renaissance Revival’. The store closed for business in January of 2019 after over one hundred years in the location.

424-434 Fifth Avenue-Lord & Taylor

424-434 Fifth Avenue The Lord & Taylor Building

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_%26_Taylor_Building

Lord & Taylor Department Store

Lord & Taylor was founded in New York City in 1826 and has moved around the City several times in its long history. I will miss walking around the store and wondering through the store at Christmas time which was always magical in the store’s heyday. I like everyone in the City will miss their Christmas windows.

Lord & Taylor Christmas Windows

I’m not sure if Amazon will continue this tradition

Another great retailer was at 452 Fifth Avenue, the former home to Knox Hat Company which was incorporated into the HSBC Tower in 1984. The glass tower was built around the Beaux Arts building for the HSBC and it was considered an architectural marvel when it opened. The Knox Building was built in 1902 and is considered on of the finest examples of ‘Beaux Arts style’ in Manhattan.

452 Fifth Avenue-The Knox Hat Company Building part of the HSBC Building

The beautiful details of 452 Fifth Avenue

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/452_Fifth_Avenue

The Knox Hat Company was considered one of the finest hat companies for men when it was founded in 1838. It once had 62 retail stores and was sold in all the finest stores. It did not survive the Great Depression and was merged with three other companies in 1932 to form Hat Corporation of American (Hat Co) (Bernard Hats history).

The last interesting building I saw before returning to the library to relax by the fountains again was 454 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, the old Arnold Constable & Company department store.

Fifth Avenue at 40th Street-Arnold Constable & Company Department store

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Constable_%26_Company

http://www.thedepartmentstoremuseum.org/2011/08/arnold-constable-co-new-york-city-new.html

The building opened in 1915 and closed when the company went out of business in 1975. It is now part of the New York Public Library. Arnold Constable & Company was founded in 1825 and was considered one of the oldest stores in New York City. The building was created as the shopping district moved further uptown. The company closed for business in the 1990’s.

I reached Bryant Park by the afternoon and it was just beautiful that afternoon. The park has gotten more crowded with each month that the City has opened. The tables and chairs are ‘socially distanced’ and park patrons did their best to stay away from each other. It also has the nicest and cleanest public bathrooms in Manhattan so it is worth the wait in line.

Bryant Park was busy that day

https://bryantpark.org/

Bryant Park during the late Winter

Years ago when I worked in Manhattan in the early 90’s, Bryant Park was only used for drug dealing and criminal activity and was best avoided. What twenty years and a major renovation can do to a park. Today you can walk along the flowering paths and think you are in Paris. In the past there have been concerts and movies in the park but because of COVID-19, you can just sit in the park on a chair or bench and enjoy the sunshine and admire the flowers.

Bryant Park Summer II

Just walking along the paths of Bryant Park can make you forget your troubles

I continued my walk of the Garment District passing the New York Public Library admiring the stone carvings and statuary that is part of the entrance of the famous library. The library had just had a recent refreshing and looked magnificent with the fountains flowing and patrons filling the tables outside the building.

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library guards the borders of Murray Hill from Fifth Avenue

https://www.nypl.org/

This famous iconic building was designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and opened its doors May 23, 1911. The founding for this important library came from patronage of the wealth members of society who believed in the value education and opened it to the people.

The famous lion statues that grace the entrance of the library were designed by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter and they were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, American stone carvers whose business was based in the Bronx.

The Lion Statues

Edward Clark Potter is an American born artist who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Academie Julian in Paris where he studied ‘animalier’, animal sculpture.

Edward Clark Potter artist

Artist Edward Clark Potter

https://allfamous.org/people/edward-clark-potter-18571126.html

The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of stone carvers and artists in their own right who were from Massa, Italy and owned a business in the Bronx. There were responsible for many famous statues all over the City including the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle and the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park.

Artist Atillio Piccirilli

Artist Attilio Piccirillo , one of the most famous from the family

http://exquisites.org/exquisite-family/Piccirilli-Brothers-001.html

Another feature of the famous building and I had never noticed before was the elegant fountains that flank the entrance to the library. I did not realize that these fountains had just been restored in 2015 after thirty years of not functioning. They were restored with a grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust (NYPL Site).

The fountain “Beauty”

The fountain “Truth”

These beautiful fountains were designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies, an American born artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Frederick MacMonnies artist

Artist Frederick MacMonnies

https://americanart.si.edu/artist/frederick-macmonnies-3059

I relaxed under the trees and took a break from the walking. It is a funny thing that I have noticed at the park and it seems like no one is ever working. Everyone is either eating or talking. It has been so different since COVID started. You never see dressed businesspeople in the park taking a break. It looks more like it is full of tourists visiting.

Enjoy the opening scene of “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library:

Enjoy this scene from “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library

The opening of the film “Ghostbusters” was shot inside the New York Public Library

Still when the park is in full bloom there is nothing like it. It is surrounded by classic architecture and beautiful buildings. They even were bringing back the “Bryant Park Film Festival” by the end of the summer. One Monday night I took a break from walking and watched the film “Moonstruck” which I had seen outside once at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Even tough I had seen it hundreds of times since it came out I never tire of watching the film.

There have been many changes around Bryant Park in the last twenty years. Most of the older buildings of Times Square have been long knocked down and the area rebuilt which needed it. Now the impressive Bank of America building at 1111 Sixth Avenue (or also known as One Bryant Park) graces the corner of West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue (trust me, no one in New York City calls Sixth Avenue “The Avenue of the Americas”).

This innovative building was designed by architect Rick Cook from the firm of Cookfox Adamson Associates. The building was designed with a clear ‘Curtin wall’ and several diagonal planes for wind resistance. The building was also awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for sustainable ‘green’ architecture (Wiki/Durst website).

Bank of America Building at 1111 Sixth Avenue

The Bank of America Building at night

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_America_Tower_(Manhattan)

https://www.durst.org/properties/one-bryant-park

The further you walk down West 42nd Street, the more you see how the block has changed in the last thirty years. All the older theaters and office buildings were knocked down and cleared out back in the 1980’s when Times Square went through urban renewal. The more historical theaters and old hotels have since been refitted and renovated.

Across the street in Three Bryant Park’s plaza is an interesting statue entitled “The Guardians: Hero” by artist Antonio Pio Saracino. This unique sculpture in made in layers and created from marble set in precision stone. The statue is done in repeated planes of marble . The sculpture is a modern representation on Michelangelo’s “David” Stoneworld/APS Designs).

“The Guardians: Hero at 3 Bryant Park

https://www.stoneworld.com/articles/87858-guardians-sculpture-in-new-york-city-is-example-of-one-of-a-kind-fabrication-on-display-in-manhattan

Artist Antonio Pio Saracino

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

Home

Artist Antonio Pio Saracino is an Italian born artist currently working in New York City. He is a graduate of Sapienza University of Rome and works as an architect and designer. He has had shows all over the world (Wiki).

At the corner of West 42nd Street and Broadway is the Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square. This hotel has had many incarnations over the years including an apartment house. As the neighborhood has improved, the historical buildings in the area have been renovated back to their former selves.

The Knickerbocker Hotel was built by John Jacob Astor IV and it opened in 1906. The hotel was designed by the firm of Marvin & Davis in the Beaux-Arts style. The outside of the hotel was built in red brick with terra cotta details. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015 (Wiki).

The Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square

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

One building that stands tall in Times Square is One Times Square known as 1475 Broadway. Once the home headquarters for the New York Times was opened in 1904. The building was designed by architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz. The original fa├žade was of stone and terra cotta but this has been mostly stripped and is now home for mostly advertising. The ball still drops from the top of the building every New Year (Wiki).

One Times Square

One Times Square with the ball lit

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

https://www.jamestownlp.com/properties/one-times-square

What is left of the old ’42nd Street’ Theater District has been renovated and refitted of its historic theaters. The rest of the block was knocked down and new office buildings were built starting in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s. This is still a major gateway to the City especially from the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority (NYCEDC/42nd Street Redevelopment Project).

The original 42nd Street Redevelopment project (NYCEDC)

https://edc.nyc/project/42nd-street-development-project

In the early 1980’s to the early 90’s until Mayor Rudy Giuliani took office, this area was being touted for redevelopment. It had started before the 1987 Stock Market Crash and then stalled for almost eight years. In the early 1990’s, the whole block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues along West 42nd Street were torn down, the theaters started to get renovated and new office buildings were built. If someone left New York City in 1990 and came back today, they would not recognize the neighborhood to the changes made.

The 42nd Street Renewal Plan (NYCEDC)

https://edc.nyc/project/42nd-street-development-project

Some of the changes has been the renovation and restoration of three beautiful theaters, the New Victory Theater at 209 West 42nd Street, the New Amsterdam Theater at 214 West 42nd Street and the former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire Theater at 234 West 42nd Street. Each of these architectural wonders used to be major theater houses before they became porn theaters and are now back to their original glory.

The New Victory Theater was one of the first theaters to reopen under the new plan.

New Victory Theater at 209 West 42nd Street

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

https://www.facebook.com/newvictorytheater/

The New Victory Theater was built by Oscar Hammerstein I in 1900 and was designed by architect Albert Westover. It opened as the Theatre Republic in 1900 and showed live stage shows. It did not become a movie theater until 1942 and by 1972 it became a porn theater. it resumed legitimate theater by the 1990’s when it was refurbished in 1995 and was the first theaters renovated in the 42nd Development plan (Wiki).

New Amsterdam Theater at 214 West 42nd Street

https://newamsterdamtheatre.com/

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

The New Amsterdam Theater is one of the oldest theaters in the area having been built between 1903 and 1904. The theater was built by Klaw and Erlanger for live theater and was designed by architects Herts &Tallant with a Beaux Arts exterior design and an Art Deco interior. The embellishments and details on the outside are quite elaborate (Wiki).

The theater was home to the Ziegfeld Follies from from 1913 to 1927 and hosted the elaborate shows of their day. It then was converted to a movie theater in 1937 until 1983 when it was leased to the Walt Disney company and renovated between 1995 and 1997. It is now operated by Disney Theatrical Productions for their live shows (Wiki/Walt Disney Company)

AMC Empire 25 Theater

The detail work on the AMC Empire 25 Theater

https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/new-york-city/amc-empire-25

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_Theatre_(42nd_Street)

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/255

The former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire 25 was built in 1912 for producer Al H. Woods and was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in the Beaux Arts style. The theater was for live stage performances until 1943 when it was converted into a movie palace. It closed for good in the 1980’s as the area declined (Cinema Treasurers).

In 1998, the theater was moved from its location at 236 West 42nd Street and moved down the street to its present location at 234 West 42nd Street. The exterior was largely kept intact and the present theater interior was built inside of it enhancing the beauty of the present building (Cinema Treasurers/Wiki).

These theaters showed the testament of time and this type of architecture now is appreciated and being refitted to modern uses like the buildings I had seen in NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and in the Flatiron District.

A lot of the businesses on West 42nd Street heading back to the Port Authority have started opening up again. Sidewalk cafes were out with the warmer weather and customers were milling around. I saw this happening on my walks into the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton section just north of the border of the Garment District.

One of my favorite Chinese restaurants from the 1990’s, Ollies at 411 West 42nd Street had not just opened their dining room but their outside cafe dining. Ollies had once been a popular restaurant in the Theater district at the corner of West 46th Street off Broadway and one of my favorite places to eat after work. It is still popular but the chef has since changed.

Ollies at 411 West 42nd Street

https://ollieseats.com/ollies-sichuan

One building that stood out amongst the smaller tenement buildings of West 42nd Street was the Holy Cross Church at 329 West 42nd Street, which was decorated by plantings of many flowers that gave it a festive appearance.

Holy Cross Church at 329 West 42nd Street

https://christinthecity.nyc/

The building has a interesting history. The parish was established in 1852 and the original building was built in 1852 but it was outgrown so a new building was built in 1854. This building was hit by lightning in 1867 and the current building was built in the same spot in 1870. It was built by architect Henry Englebert and is the oldest building on 42nd Street (Wiki and Holy Cross History).

Once I got back to Port Authority it was back for a bathroom break as there are not many public toilets in the neighborhood. Then I made the walk around the second time around the perimeter of the Garment District admiring the buildings and businesses walking the other side of the street. I could see by the traffic that the east side of Eighth Avenue was very quiet near the now closed theaters.

This area was hit hard by COVID pandemic and it is rumored that Broadway theaters should open between September and December (at the time of this writing of this blog, some of the theaters started to open up and some closed immediately). Slowly over the past month and a half the night foot traffic has increased with the opening of live theater and the loosening restrictions at the movie theaters. This has lead to the restaurants in the area reopening as well so there are lights on now on these blocks at night. They have also gotten cleaned up more.

The changes of the Upper Part of the Garment District along with Hell’s Kitchen have changed tremendously in the last thirty years with completion of the 42nd Street Redevelopment projects, more new hotels opening and the rezoning of the area under the Bloomberg Administration. We will start to see even more changes in this area as development post COVID starts to open. The funny part is that even when I entered the City again last June, it never stopped.

This part of Manhattan keeps moving forward with new buildings, new restaurants and new ideas.

Please check out my other blogs on the Garment District:

Day Two Hundred and Twelve: Walking the Avenues of the Garment District:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/20968

Day Two Hundred and Fourteen: Walking the Streets of the Garment District:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/21352

The Garment District Alliance:

https://garmentdistrict.nyc/

Theaters to Visit:

New Victory Theater

209 West 42nd Street

New York, NY

(646) 223-3010

Open: See Website

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

New Victory Theater

New Amsterdam Theater

214 West 42nd Street

New York, NY 10036

(866) 870-2717

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

https://newamsterdamtheatre.com/

Open: See Website

AMC Empire 25 Theater

234 West 42nd Street

New York, NY 10036

(212) 398-2597

https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/new-york-city/amc-empire-25

Open: See website for scheduled times

Walks of the Bordering neighborhoods of the Garment District:

Check out the other walks of the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West on this blog:

Walking the Border and Avenues of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Four:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/17414

Walking the Streets of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Seven:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/17711

Walking the Borders of Hell’s Kitchen (Western Side) Day One Hundred and Ninety Nine:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/18087

I had to split the neighborhood into two parts separated by 10th Avenue as there was so much to see and the complexity of the neighborhood changes on each side.

Walks in the surrounding neighborhoods of Murray Hill and Kipps Bay:

You really do learn something new every day!

Check out my other blogs on Murray Hill as well:

Walking the Avenues of Murray Hill on August 14th, 2020:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14465

Walking the Streets of Murray Hill from September 4th-6th, 2020:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14568

Don’t miss my blogs on the Turtle Bay neighborhood just north as well:

Walking the Streets of Turtle Bay-Day One Hundred and Forty:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9245

Walking the Borders of Turtle Bay-Day one Hundred and Thirty-Eight:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9125

Places to eat:

Capprizzi Pizza

547 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(646) 746-5120

https://capizzinyc.com/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-3:30pm-5:00pm-10:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-3:30pm-5:00pm-11:00pm

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1902953-Reviews-Capizzi-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Two Brothers Pizza

542 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 777-0600

https://www.2brospizzanewyork.com/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-12:00pm/Monday-Wednesday 11:00am-1:00am/Thursday-Saturday 11:00am-4:00am

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2200990-Reviews-2_Bros_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/356

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 629-6570

Open: See Website

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

9th Avenue Deli Foods (formerly AM-PM Deli)

480 9th Avenue@37th Street

New York, NY  10018

(212) 695-6204

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 Hours

My reviews on TripAdvisor:

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

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Kashmir 9

478 9th Avenue

New York, NY  10018

(212) 736-7745

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

Free Delivery

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4519138-Reviews-Kashmir_9-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1133

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor.com:

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

Places to Visit:

Bryant Park

Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

https://bryantpark.org/

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bryant-park

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136347-Reviews-Bryant_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html

Greeley Square

Between 32nd and 33rd Streets between Broadway & Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/greeley-square-park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3529407-Reviews-Greeley_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html

The Canoe Plaza

Ninth Avenue at West 36th Street

New York, NY 10018

Day One Hundred and Ninety-Five: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents: The Creation of the Case Study for the shop “Scoops & Sundaes” May 14th, 2021

The Creation of the Case Study “Scoops & Sundaes”:

Every semester when I am teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College, I have my class create a major class project in which the whole class becomes part of an Executive team of a mythical company. This way the class benefits from getting to know one another and starting to form their connections with each other both professionally and as a student body.

In the past we created Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc., my main company that I have used for the last three semesters, Orion Malls Inc., a Mall design firm and Buscomonzefi.com, my Tech company. Each was an example of how a business team needs to interact with one another and create their part of the business. It has been tough since we took our live classes to online classes so I refigured the project to an individual basis and asked each student to create one project from their standpoint.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

I had the class work on their project “Scoops & Sundaes”, an artisan ice cream shop. While my other class worked on their business project “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest” (See Day One Hundred and Ninety Six), the members of this class created an interesting shop many carrying homemade ice cream, baked items and gift products.

Day One Hundred and Ninety Six-“Mother Goose’s Toy Chest”

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/17707

Using the textbook “Understanding Business” by William Nickels and James and Susan McHugh as our guide, we covered chapter by chapter on how to build a small business. Each student was asked to create their own store concept by reading Chapter Five “How to Form a Business” and Chapter Six “Entrepreneurship and Starting a Small Business”. We started the project when I assigned the concept and the first extra credit project by creating the logo for the store.

Here is some of the creativity of the logo’s for the store:

Logo One: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Logo Two: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Logo Three: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Logo Four: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Logo Five: “Scoops & Sundaes”

When we studied Chapter Seven “Management & Leadership” I had them create their Mission Statement to tell me who they were as a store owner and as a company. We then studied Chapter Eight “Structuring Organizations for Today’s Challenges” and Chapter Nine “Production and Operations Management”, I had them design their store layout and how they would show how it would work.

Store Design: “Scoops & Sundaes”

I gave a long lecture on Chapter Ten “Motivating Employees” and Chapter Eleven “Human Resources” to help the students understand that they can’t do it all themselves. There will be a point in the business where they will need to hire a few part timers for the Summer and Christmas holidays months when things get busy. Who are they looking for? What characteristics do they want in an employee? This lead to me asking them to create an ad for a Job Description. Looking for the perfect employee can be tough.

In Chapter Fourteen “Developing and Pricing Goods and Services”, I had the students think about promotions and how to sell multiples to help increase the bottom line and then in Chapter Sixteen “Using Effective Promotions”, when we studied ‘word of mouth’ and ‘sampling’ I had the students work on a Bundling Ad top promote their goods for sale as a promotion. This helped them understand how to increase sales in a tough COVID economy. I also had create a menu for their store as well. How will you stock your store and with what items?

Some of the menus they created were very clever:

The prototype for Menu One: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Menu Two: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Menu Three: “Scoops & Sundaes”

Some of the promotions for the “Bundling of Products” were highly effective. I had to explain to the students that Bundling is taking different products and promoting them a certain price point to make them seem more cost effective to buy in a grouping as McDonald’s does with their “Extra Value Meals”. Try to imagine if you had to buy the products on an individual basis.

Their ideas were very clever.

Bundling Ad for “Scoops & Sundaes”

The students earned extra credit for creating their Logos , The Mission Statement, their Menu, the Store Design, A Job Description and a Bundling Ad. Some students took full advantage of the project and the extra credit and it resulted in good grades.

To finish the project, I assigned their final two papers to discuss how they developed the project and then what they learned from it. For the most part the class understood and had a good time building their business.

Who knows, we may see a “Scoops & Sundaes” chain in the future.

Here is the supporting work for the project:

The Class Participation Questions to help build the project “Scoops & Sundaes”:

The Quizzes that also built onto the Project:

The Papers that showed their final results of the Project:

Day One Hundred and Ninety-Six: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents: The Creation of the Case Study for the shop “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest” May 14th, 2021

The Creation of the Case Study Project “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest”:

I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” 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, I think some of my students thought it was an unusual time to open a business. This is when you need to test your entrepreneurship when times are tough.

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 COVID and online learning, these projects become impossible to do as a group so each student got the opportunity to create their own store.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo

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

In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations.

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Consultant Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

While my other class worked on their case study project, “Scoops & Sundaes”, an artisan ice cream shop (Day One Hundred and Ninety-Five), I decided to have this group of students create a shop based on the increases we are seeing in the toy industry of traditional playthings. It seems in the era of COVID, people want puzzles, board games and dolls and stuffed animals again. I have watched my Mattel stock double and Hasbro has been increasing as well.

The “Scoops & Sundaes” case study project: Day One Hundred and Ninety-Five:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/17700

I created the concept of the toy store, “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest” based on the all the wonderful little artisan toy stores I have visited over the years, showcasing one of kind merchandise made by local artists and specialty manufactured goods by small companies. I also asked the students to think about imported goods handmade from other countries and add in supporting small manufactures here in the states. I wanted to promote American made products.

Using the textbook, “Understanding Business” by William Nickels and James and Susan McHugh, we studied and covered every chapter in the book. By Chapter Five “How to Start a Business”, I had the students start the project and introduced the store concept. I gave a WebEx lecture on starting a business and my expectations for the project. Then I assigned the first extra credit project for the assignment, creating a logo for the store.

Here are some of my favorites:

Logo One: Mother Goose’s Toy Chest

Logo Two: Mother Goose’s Toy Chest

Logo Three: Mother Goose’s Toy Chest

We then moved onto Chapter Six on “Entrepreneurship” and I asked the students what types of products they would like to sell in the store and how they might want the store designed. I then asked them create a ‘Mission Statement” to tell me as a consumer who they wanted to be in the marketplace.

Chapter Seven had the students thinking about ‘Management and Leadership’ skills. Who did they want to be as a business owner? What type of leadership skills would they need? Chapter Eight had the students studying about “Production and Operations Management” and I then had the students create their store layout.

We next moved on to who your staff would be in Chapter Ten “Motivating Employees” and Chapter Eleven “Human Resource Management” and how you would recruit them? I then had the students create a Job Description to find the perfect employee for the store that they needed when it got busy or during the holiday season.

I had the students thinking about merchandise for the store in Chapter Thirteen “Marketing: Helping Buyers Buy”. I asked the students to create a Birthday Party/Summer Camp Registry” for the store so that children could pick out things for their events and get the items they want for each.

In Chapter Sixteen “Using Effective Promotions” I had the students create a ‘Bundling Ad’ to promote a grouping of products for sale at the store. How could they use a grouping of products at a discounted price to promote the store.

To explain the concepts of “Sexual Harassment” on the job, I used the movies “9 to 5” and “How to Succeed in Business without even Trying” as examples of how to deal with and recognize these issues.

“A Secretary is not a Toy” is the clip that I like to use to explain this.

By the end of the class, I saw many different ways of looking at the business that was created as each student put their own touches on it. Some had their businesses in New York City, some in the New Jersey suburbs, some went to malls or strip malls and some opened in local downtowns. Others went out of town to places like Orlando and San Jose, CA.

Their selection of toys went from the classics such as board games, Barbies and puzzles to more upscale selections of handmade and one of kind objects. I had to remind them that they had to be realistic as they needed to make a profit to pay the bills.

On their final exam, I had them look at the famous scene from the movie “Big” to ask how the use of “Product Placement” of FAO Schwarz Toy Store in the famous film promoted the store. It got some interesting answers.

The famous “Piano” scene from the movie “Big”

I thought this scene would motivate the students.

Overall I was impressed by their projects but was surprised by how many students did not take advantage of the extra credit projects as I would like to have visually have seen what the students were thinking in their ideas.

It was another wonderful project under the independent “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.” banner to promote Entrepreneurship and a sense of business creativity.

The Project “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest”:

The Class Participation Questions and Quizzes I used:

The Final Papers I assigned to finish the case study:

Bronx Zoo Light Show

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Tree sales

The trees were really nice this year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

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

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

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

Bill O'Shea's Florist VIII

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

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

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

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

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

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

Heights Flowers V

The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store

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

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

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

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

The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

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

Steuben House BCHS

The Steuben House at Christmas

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

Linda Russell Lecturer

Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society

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

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

Campbell-Christie House Xmas

Campbell-Christie House at the end of the tour:

My blog on The Bergen County Historical Society:

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

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

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

My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:

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

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

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

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

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

Beach Haven Beach

The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon

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

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

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

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg

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

Chicken or the Egg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bud N' Mud logo

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

My blog on the “Bud N’ Mud” project:

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

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

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

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

My blog on “Santa Around Town” 2020:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY:

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

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

The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

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

AC Hote

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

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

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

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

Rockefeller

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

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

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

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

9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue

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

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

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

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

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

As the day wore on by 5:00pm, the rest of the City came back to life and more restaurants and stores opened up. Christmas morning and afternoon were now over and I could tell that people wanted to get out of the house (probably to get away from the family celebrations).

Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue

When Maricel returned, I ordered in dinner from Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue, one of the few neighborhood restaurants open and we our dinner in the room. The food was okay. It was nice to just eat in the room and relax.

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

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

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

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

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

Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion at Christmas

The Mills Mansion in the winter time

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

My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

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

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

Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ

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

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

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

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

The Bronx Zoo Light Show

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

Bronx Zoo Christmas tree

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

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

My blog on the Bronx Zoo:

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

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

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

The holidays were just different this year.

Places to Stay:

AC Hotel New York Times Square

260 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

(844) 631-0595

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Places to Eat:

9th Avenue Deli

769 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 258-2600

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232/736-4004

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 594-3393

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

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

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Staatsburgh State Historic Site(The Mills Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive

Staatsburgh, NY  12580

http://www.facebook.com/staatsburghSHS

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

TripAdvisor Review:

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

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

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The Bergen County Historical Society

1201 Main Street

River Edge, NJ 07661

(201) 343-9492

http://bergencountyhistory.org/

Open: Special Events and weekend hours check the website site

Fee: Depends on events/donations

TripAdvisor Review:

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

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

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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