Tag Archives: The Mills Mansion

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

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

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

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

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

Hyde Park NY Farmers Market

The Hyde Park, NY Farmers Market

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.stmargaretsepiscopalchurch.org/

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

The Staatsburg Library was originally the church and then the chapel

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

The stained glass windows here are hundreds of years old

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

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

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

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

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

Department Store in Staatsburgh

The old department store in Staatsburgh now is a sail shop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walkway Over the Hudson

The views over the Hudson River were beautiful

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

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

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

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

The Walkway Across the Hudson and the historical surrounding neighborhoods

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

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

Little Italy and the Historic Downtown are being gentrified quickly

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

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

The Historic Downtown of Poughkeepsie has its Victorian charms

Downtown Poughkeepsie

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

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

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

Yum! Their pizza is excellent!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first stop on the cruise is the Roundout Lighthouse

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

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

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

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

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse

The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse sits majestically in the Hudson River

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

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

Wilderstein from the Hudson River

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

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

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

Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing

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

The history of the shipping and trade on the Hudson River

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

The shipping industry has been extensive

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

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

Apple Bin Farm Market

The Apple Bin Farm Market is typical Upstate Hudson River Valley

The market is really nice

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

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

Jan Sawka’s ‘Mother in Law portrait

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

Local Hudson River Artists 2020 exhibition

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

Staatsburgh State Park-The Mills Mansion

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

The duo “Acute Reflection” performed that late afternoon.

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

Acute Reflections video

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

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

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

Giacomo's Pizza is really good!

Giacomo’s Cheese pizza is really good

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

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

Places to Visit:

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

75 Mills Mansion Drive, US 1

Staatsburgh, NY 12580

(845) 889-8851

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

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The Walkway Across the Hudson State Historic Park

Walkway West

87 Haviland Road

Highland, NY 12528

Walkway East

61 Parker Avenue

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

(845) 834-7245

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

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

Fee: Currently Free, please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Hudson River Cruises

1 East Strand Street

Kingston, NY 12401

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

Open: Please check the website for cruises and dates

Fee: Please check the website for cruises and dates

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Hudson River Maritime Museum

50 Roundout Landing

Kingston, NY 12401

(845) 338-0071

http://www.hrmm.org/

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz

1 Hawk Drive State University at New Paltz

New Paltz, NY 12561

(845) 257-3844

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

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

Fee: Suggested $5.00 donation

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Places to Eat:

Del’s Dairy Creme

6780 Albany Post Road

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 516-4800

https://www.delsroadside.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

La Deliziosa Italian Pastry Shop

10 Mt. Carmel Place

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

(845) 471-3636

https://www.ladeliziosany.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Apple Bin Farm Market

810 Broadway

Ulster Park, NY 12487

(845) 339-7229

http://theapplebinfarmmarket.com/services

Open: Please see the website during the seasons

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Village Pizza III

7514 North Broadway

Red Hook, NY 12571

(845) 758-5808

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

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Emiliano’s Pizza

111 Main Street

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

https://www.emilianospizza.com/

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

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

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

Giocomo’s Pizza

1 Spakenkill Road

Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

(845) 462-5555

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

https://www.giacomospizzaexpress.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Staatsburgh State Historic Site (The Mills Mansion) 75 Mills Mansion Drive Staatsburg, NY 12580

Don’t miss visiting the Mills Mansion during the Christmas holiday season and check out their website for their special events.

Mills Mansion Dining Room

The Mills Mansion Dining Room at the holidays

Mills Mansion Christmas

The Mills Mansion lobby at Christmas time

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

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.

I have been a Friend of the Mills Mansion for about five years and have attended many special events at the mansion including their Afternoon Tea & Lectures, the Annual Meeting and Talk, The Holiday Party and the Isadora Duncan Dance and Reception. Their events are a lot of fun and are very engaging. It also includes a…

View original post 1,038 more words

The Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY

Day Sixty: Participating in the Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY December 3rd, 2016

I have been participating in Sinterklaas since 2010 when I went up to Rhinebeck with my father to meet Jeanne Fleming, the artist who runs the parade for an article I was writing and  to participate in all the activities and get involved in the parade. That year my dad and I held the banner at the end of the parade to let people know to meet at the end of the parade.

A lot has happened since then and this is the third time since that I have been involved with the parade . I had participated in two fundraisers to start the planning process, one the “Star Party” in Rhinebeck in November and the other “Sweets & Treats Party” in Kingston. Both were a lot of fun and it was nice to get to know people within the organization. It was a plus to raise money for the event.

I had stayed in Rhinebeck after a holiday fundraiser at the Mills Mansion and got to the parade route at 10:30am in the morning to help unload the floats and props out of the truck for the parade. It is interesting to see how a parade comes to life.

Mills Mansion Christmas III

The Mills Mansion at Christmas time for the party

Most of the people I worked with had been working on the parade for years and really knew their stuff. They know exactly where things get placed and the condition of the props for the floats. We were lucky that the weather held out and it was a nice day as mostly everything is Paper Mache  and two years ago could not be used or else it would have fallen apart.

We unpacked the ballerina, Mother Earth and various bees, penguins, turtles, horses and this year’s mascot, the Owl. All the other animals had made appearances in the parade in other years when they were the mascots. I remember last year when we put the bees together for the parade. We put all the final touches on each of the puppets and the floats that needed extra parts added to them.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018 III

The Mother Earth Float at the Sinterklaas Parade

Our mascot this year was the Owl, which was prominent in all the artwork and in the giant puppets that were created for the parade. They were the stars at the middle of the parade. For most of the morning, we put together most of the puppets that people would be handling for the parade including stars, bees and horses. That’s when I found out that I would be the back of the dragon puppet that would fight a knight.

Sinterklaas

The Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY

We got done with the basic set-up for the parade in about an hour and that gave me a chance to join in the activities. I was able to make the opening ceremony at the Beekman Arms in downtown Rhinebeck. There we met the people who ran the parade and many of the characters who would be walking around town including Mother Holly (who was feeling Jolly), the Owl Queen and her companion, a mouse, the Queen Bee (our hostess last year when the Bee was our mascot), the Pocket Lady, who showed her pockets of gifts, The Polar Bear and his trainer, who dances when you sing a song to him and several other costumed characters who would walking around town and the parade.

Sinterklaas Parade 2016 II

The Owl Floats in 2016

Jonathan Kruk, the famous storyteller, started his program telling stories of the Legend of St. Nicholas and life in Dutch New York, a story on Hanukkah and then a story on the Wise Old Owl Take. Mr. Kruk I have heard several times over the years in both Rhinebeck and Tarrytown and he is amazing at telling a story. He really captures an audience. He just has that type of voice that commands a room. Everyone was spell-bound by him as he knows how to tell a story. The Legend of St. Nicholas and he became Sinterklaas and eventually Santa Claus is very interesting and parts of it can be seen on YouTube.

Johnathan Kruk

Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas

The rest of the afternoon was spent at various sites all over Rhinebeck seeing college choirs and quartets from Bard, Vassar and SUNY. There were story tellers on the streets, the Wish Lady was walking around talking to people, the Grumpuses were dancing around town performing in parking lots and on lawns. There were musicians on stilts in costume playing their instruments to the crowds and all over the sidewalks charitable organizations were selling baked goods and other holiday treats. The most interesting prop they built for the event was the Coo Coo Clock in the alley in the downtown area that really worked and you could meet the Owl court.

I heard the church choir at the Third Evangelical Church and then had my lunch  in their basement room. Now I have been to the other church that served lunch and I am sorry that $4.00 for Mac & Cheese and $3.00 for a hot dog is ridiculous. Those are a rip off in New York City but for upstate New York?

When I ate at the Lutheran Church you could get a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot dog with all the Christmas cookies you could eat with the meal for $1.00 each and they accepted it as a donation. Needless to say, I have eaten here since 2010. What’s nice is that all the parishioners bake their favorite cookies and that makes it even more special. The people who volunteer here could not be nicer and can really cook.

The Lutheran Church in Rhinebeck, NY

Third Lutheran Church Rhinebeck, NY

After an afternoon of concerts, story-telling, musicals, shopping and touring the town, it was time to get ready for the parade. It is always exciting getting ready for a parade but this one is very hometown. It still is a local crowd even though people are beginning to come up from the city to see the parade. We met back at the Star Library up the hill and got ready to line up for the parade.

The weather dropped a bit. It was still cool but as cold as it could have been at this time of the year. I was assigned to hold a puppet and I held the back part of the dragon (Yes that is me on the back of the dragon puppet on a few YouTube videos). It is not the same as the balloons I used to carry in the Macy’s Parades back in the 90’s but it still took some work to carry the dragon puppet down the hill to the downtown area. I still got a kick at the guy who ran the front of the puppet. He got to engage with the crowd with the head of the puppet and get the face into the crowd. I just followed behind.

I could tell by the crowds that Sinterklaas is becoming  more popular as the crowds that lined the main street of Rhinebeck were about ten deep. People were very excited watching the floats and puppets ride by them. People were spreading out all over the street by time we made it to the heart of the downtown. I wish they had better crowd control as they narrowed the path to the point where they could walk right up to us. I could tell by the big smiles and the excited yells that people really enjoyed the parade.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018

The Parade in full swing

As we progressed  through the crowd and I ran from one side of the street to the other chasing after the front of the dragon float, we exited to the town parking lot to the 6:30pm Pageant & the Children’s Star Ceremony. Here the crowds met with all the characters in the parade. The crowd got to meet Sinterklaas, the Owl Queen, the Snow Queen. the polar bear with his trainer, the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly and the Grumpuses. It was followed by a fire juggler performance that excited the crowd and a musical performance. it was a magical night to everyone in the crowd.

I ate at Pizzeria Posto at 43 East Market Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most amazing thin-crusted pizza with sausage. The sauce is flavorful with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil with local sausage.

Pizzeria Posto II

Pizzeria Posto is a pretty restaurant

The pizza and the service is excellent. They let me stay after the restaurant closed for the evening. That was service and they could not have been nicer.

Pizzeria posto

The pizza is excellent at the restaurant

It is a fun parade to be part of and I am looking forward to participating in Sinterklaas 2017. It is held the first Saturday of December but all year-long there are events to prepare for the event.

Just walking around Rhinebeck in its picturesque look can put anyone in the holiday mood. It looks like a village in a Currier & Ives print. There are white lights in the trees,  costume characters that walk around the town and after the sun falls, there is a sax player that plays Christmas songs.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Rhinebeck at Christmas

Again magical.

 

Places to Visit:

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.

 

Rhinebeck, NY

The Sinterklaas Parade

Every first Sunday in December

Please check their schedule online by August when most events are posted

Home

Sinterklaas Festival Day in RHINEBECK

 

 

Places to Eat:

 

Pizzeria Posto

43 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-3500

http://postopizzeria.com/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Tuesday-Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d3642490-Reviews-Pizzeria_Posto-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

 

The Church’s have their own food service during the parade time.

 

This was the Sinterklaas Parade that I participated in 2016. Look for me holding the back of the dragon. I credit this YouTube video to the attached contributor.