Friday night, I went back in time to A Night in Bethlehem, where visitors participated in activities such as grinding olives and making beeswax candles at re-creations of shops from two thousand years ago, and experienced a Living Nativity manger scene with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, complete with animal stable.
A Night in Bethlehem is an annual Advent event, free and open to the public, at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, at Garden City, Long Island, New York, USA. It’s a special Christmas activity for the whole family.
Though the Mohonk Tower was a constant, iconic part of the scenery during my years at SUNY New Paltz, it wasn’t until many years later that I visited its home on the 2,200 acres of Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian castle built in the late 19th Century by its Quaker owners, twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley, whose descendants still own and operate this National Historic Landmark.
Being avid mystery fans, my friends Carolle and Diane and I started going decades ago to murder mystery dinners and weekends – including in NYC brownstones and Thayer House at West Point. So I guess it was inevitable we’d go to Mohonk’s world-famous murder mystery weekends.
During my early years going to Mohonk, Joni Paci and Ron Paci presented the interactive murder mysteries. Joni wrote each campy, lively mystery – as she also wrote the successful play “Murdered by the Mob” – and she and a talented and lively group of fellow actors not only presented set pieces at Mohonk’s balconied Parlor, but also stayed in character throughout the weekend, notably during the meals in Mohonk’s grand dining room with curved walls of sweeping windows looking out over the lake and mountains.
Since one or more actors stayed incognito, blending in as regular murder mystery guests, until the dénouement Sunday morning, it was an extra level of fun wondering who, if any, of our teammates were not who they claimed to be. I tended to be suspicious of everyone I didn’t actually drive to Mohonk with. Happily, my hyperactive wariness didn’t prevent me from becoming friends with delightful fellow guests from around the country – most especially Cindy and Mel Yoken, Carol, Bonnie – and some of the charming actors.
One of the high points of each weekend was the Authors Panel. Famous mystery authors, such as Lawrence Block, Harlan Coben, Ed McBain, and Susan Isaacs, attended the weekends with their families (Coben’s young children were adorable), and on Saturday afternoon would share about their lives as writers and then answer questions in the Lake Lounge.
Friday afternoon during my first Mohonk mystery, an elegant, beautiful woman, with ash blond hair in a chignon, and I sat next to each other in the Lake Lounge during afternoon tea, and when she asked who my favorite author there was, I said, “Well, Susan Isaacs is the only one I’m familiar with, so I’ll say her.” When I asked who her favorite author there was, she explained that her husband was Lawrence Block, so she better say he is. Yikes! Anyway, I enjoyed listening to Block and Coben so much that I bought their books at Mohonk’s gift store, and became a fan of Block’s “The Burglar Who…” series, and Coben’s sports agent character Myron Bolitar.
Since then both of my daughters have joined me for exciting Murder Mystery Weekends at Mohonk.
Mohonk Mountain House has hiking trails, lake boats, lake and indoor swimming, tennis, golf, fine dining, cross-country skiing, ice skating, spa services, horseback riding, and much more. Guests have many options, such as staying for dinner, theme weekends, midweek specials, weddings, reunions, and meetings.
Last Saturday night, after a much anticipated Nikon workshop by Steve Simon in Manhattan, I walked around the block to capture night photos at Bryant Park, whose Winter Village has long been a visual and sentimental favorite of mine.
NYC, USA. 11/9/2013. Bryant Park ice skating rink at Winter Village (Ann Parry/ann-parry.com)
The pink and green shadows each skater cast on the ice immediately caught my attention, and I photographed the festive, energetic, colorful scenes at the Ice Skating Rink and Holiday Shops with my Nikon D4 until around 9:30 that evening, November 9, 2013.
On October 8, 2013, Republican incumbent EDWARD MANGANO, Nassau County Executive, and Democratic challenger THOMAS SUOZZI, former County Executive, had a heated debate hosted and moderated by the Nassau County Village Officials Association at the Wheatley School in Old Westbury.
Our family was on a hay ride at The Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration decades ago, when my young daughter swung her arm to point at something, and the candy apple in that hand flew off the stick and across the field. Her double-take at the traitorous, empty stick – unforgettable.
Old Bethpage, NY, USA. 9/29/2013. Bob Stuhmer holds passes to The Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration. (Ann Parry/ann-parry.com)
Considering the county fair’s popularity, Long Islanders must have countless such fun memories of the event, which has been sponsored by the Agricultural Society of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Inc. since 1842.
And each new fair adds more memories of Civil War era costumes, dances and music; roasted corn on the cob; ribbon-winning needlework, baked goods, flower arrangements and more in the Exhibition Hall; and ponies and horses just about everywhere.
Old Bethpage, NY, USA. 9/29/2013. Pony Ride at The Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration. (Ann Parry/ann-parry.com)
(By the way, when Old Bethpage Village Restoration had a contest on its facebook page last month, the first person to correctly post the month & year OBVR first opened to the public won 4 passes to The Long Island Fair – and guess who won!)
What’s one of YOUR family’s favorite memories of The Long Island Fair?
Three world-renowned street artists – Sonic Bad, MasPaz & Phetus – each used their own distinctive styles to collaborate on metamorphosing the back walls of the Huntington Arts Council into a vibrant vast work of art, during SPARKBOOM’s “Off the Walls” art Block Party, on August 24, 2013.
Visitors experienced this graffiti happening, four bands, performance artist Steven Zaluski in his rolling metal sculpture “Sphere of Hope,” and more. SPARKBOOM Long Island art events showcase talent, present aspiring artists, and give artists opportunities to network.
Plus, that night, visitors at the council’s Main Street Petite Gallery viewed the 12 winning posters for its “Post No Bills” public art contest.
The Coney Island History Project celebrated the past & present of the Brooklyn neighborhood, boardwalk and beach, and amusement park, and visitors were greeted with ocean breezes that helped make the summer day even more pleasant.