Events

Setauket was filled with merry and lights Dec. 9 as hundreds lined Route 25A to catch a glimpse of the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade.

More than 30 participants including schools, Scout troops, musket men, dancers, the Stony Brook University Marching Band and Wolfie, SBU’s mascot, marched along the route or rode in floats decorated with holiday lights. This year John Tsunis, owner of the Holiday Inn Express in Stony Brook, a partner at Tsunis Gasparis, LLP and chairman and CEO of Gold Coast Bank, served as grand marshal.

Residents wearing Santa hats and lighted headgear and necklaces added to the festive mood. At the end of the route, attendees gathered at East Setauket Pond Park near Shore Road for a tree lighting where Santa was on hand to greet children, and Fratelli’s Bagel Express served hot chocolate to help everyone warm up after a chilly night.

The Chabad at Stony Brook hosted its second annual menorah lighting, Chanukah on Main Street, at The Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn in Stony Brook Dec. 3.

Inn owners Marty and  Elyse Buchman were on hand to light the menorah after a speech by Rabbi Motti Grossbaum where he explained the  miracle of Chanukah. The more than 200 attendees were entertained with a fire juggling show by Keith Leaf after the lighting.

The event also included a chocolate coin “gelt drop” from a cherry picker truck, handmade menorahs by children and latkes and donuts.

The Chabad at Stony Brook is located at 821 Hawkins Ave. in Lake Grove. For more information or to learn about the new center at 360 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, visit www.chabadSB.com or call 631-585-0521.

The Vanderbilt Mansion's library is ready for the holidays

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s holiday centerpiece is the mansion of William and Rosamond Vanderbilt, decorated each year by local designers and garden clubs. Their creative touch brings additional charm and magic to the spectacular, 24-room, Spanish-Revival house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

An elegant dining room table setting

Visitors can see the captivating results during guided tours now through Dec. 30 as lighted trees, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons, poinsettias, garlands, toys and elegantly wrapped faux gifts fill the rooms.

Stephanie Gress, the Vanderbilt’s director of curatorial affairs, and her staff decorated the Windsor Guest Room, Lancaster Room, Breakfast Nook and Northport Porch.

“Most of these garden clubs and designers have been decorating the mansion for more than 20 seasons,” Gress, said. “We look forward to seeing them each year, and to how they use their creative skills to bring elegant holiday charm to the house.”

Designers Mary Schlotter and Krishtia McCord put finishing touches on their botanical dress

Centerport designers Mary Schlotter and her daughter Krishtia McCord — who operate Harbor Homestead & Co. — created a spectacular botanical dress that is displayed in Rosamond Vanderbilt’s bedroom. 

“The challenge was to use natural materials for the skirt,” McCord said. “We used dried birch-branch tips and wove in strings of tiny clear lights.” 

“We wanted to give the dress some sparkle,” Schlotter added. “So, we asked friends and family to share their grandmothers’ and mothers’ clip-on earrings and brooches and added them to the skirt. We made a botanical necklace using lamb’s ear leaves and hydrangea petals and accented it with pearls.” 

They also fashioned a long flowing sash with wide, white birch bark-print ribbon and combined the same ribbon design with greenery to decorate the nearby mantelpiece. 

The mother/daughter team made its first botanical dress for the Vanderbilt two years ago. “We like to use materials that will break down and not harm the Earth. We never use floral foam because it takes many years to break down. Instead, like many floral designers, we use chicken wire and thin tape.”

The library fireplace

The two designers used antique chandelier crystals and other glass objects to decorate the fireplace mantel in Rosamond Vanderbilt’s stunning mirrored dressing room, where their original botanical dress is displayed.

Lorri Toth, who made the velvet top of Schlotter and McCord’s first botanical dress, created the dove-gray velvet top for the new dress. Toth, who worked in New York City fashion houses, now has her own design business, Couture Creations, in Huntington Village, and makes lots of wedding dresses, Schlotter said. 

This year’s mansion decorators also include the Dix Hills Garden Club (dining room), Honey Hills Garden Club (Sonja Henie Guest Room), Nathan Hale Garden Club (Organ Room and Yellow Guest Room), Asharoken Garden Club (Portuguese Sitting Room), Three Village Garden Club (William Vanderbilt’s bedroom), Harbor Homestead & Co. (Rosamond Vanderbilt’s bedroom and dressing room), Centerport Garden Club (library), Hydrangea Home of Northport (holiday floral centerpiece) and volunteers from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Program of Suffolk County. Museum guide Ellen Mason contributed her family’s vintage electric train set and accompanying buildings for display around the base of the tree in the library.

The Organ Room in the mansion is ready for visitors.

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum, said “We’re grateful to these generous volunteers who give their time and talent to create an atmosphere of enchanting holiday grandeur and sophisticated living.”

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. General admission is $8 adults, $7 students and seniors and $5 for children 12 and under.  

Guided tours of the mansion are given on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (and Wednesday to Sunday, Dec. 26 to 30 during school vacation) at regular intervals between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. for an additional $6. 

Special Twilight Tours will be given on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 27 and 28, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This event is a treat for visitors, and the only time of the year the Vanderbilt family’s private living quarters can be seen at night. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors and $5 for children 12 and under. 

For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

All photos from Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

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Thousands of people were swept up in a wave of holiday cheer as the Port Jefferson Village played host to 23rd annual Charles Dickens Festival from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

A score of volunteers, all dressed up in mid-19th century garb including not a small amount of chimney soot, walked around the village shaking hands and singing carols as if straight out of Charles Dickens’ classic novel “A Christmas Carol.” Attendees had the opportunity to view the village’s festival of trees, make cookies and ornaments, participate in a gingerbread house contest, ice skate and watch several live music, theater and dance performances, all while walking through village streets with stores all dressed up in seasonal decorations.

The rain stopped long enough Dec. 2 to allow visitors to Stony Brook Village Center to enjoy The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s 39th Holiday Festival.

The festival marked the second year of the Legends and Spies Puppets Procession led by Tom Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft, and a New Orleans-style brass band. The procession puppets pay homage to former notable Three Village residents. This year, two new puppets featuring the likeness of Anna Smith Strong, a member of the Culper Spy Ring, and William Sidney Mount, a famed American genre painter, were added to the parade.

Santa arrived at 2 p.m. to greet visitors and holiday train displays could be viewed at Wiggs Opticians holiday windows and at the WHMHO Educational & Cultural Center.

The event also included the annual tree lighting and the Promenade of Trees competition, where families and community members decorated some 60 holiday trees, which will stay on display through Jan. 2. The public can vote on the winner, who will receive a $150 Stony Brook Village Center gift certificate, usable in all shops and restaurants.

 

 

      The Long Island Explorium, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson is pleased to partner with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society to present an insightful and invaluable Cold Stun Sea Turtle Talk and Workshop on how to save sea turtles that wash up on our shores on Tuesday, Dec. 4 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 
     As summer ends and the cooler fall weather finds its way to New York, the four different species of sea turtles that utilize our waters migrate south to warmer waters. Atlantic green, Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles that fail to move out of our waters before the first cold snap will become hypothermic, stop swimming and eating and may wash up on our shores. When we act quickly there is a chance we can save them.
     Co-hosted by thePort Jefferson Village Center and the Port Jefferson Library, this workshop will provide participants with knowledge and skills needed to prevent these sea turtles from succumbing to the effects of the cold winter.
     To RSVP for the workshop, email Hannah at education@amseas.org. For more information, call 631-331-3277.

A sign in front of The Gift Corner on North Country Road at Mount Sinai invites those passing by to shop Nov. 24. Photo by Kyle Barr

A sign on North Country Road in front of The Gift Corner in Mount Sinai during the Black Friday weekend could be easy to miss. Cars passing by had only seconds to read the words “Small Store Saturday — If you haven’t been here, today is the day!” as they drove on the winding road.

Marion Bernholz, the owner of The Gift Corner, was busy on Small Business Saturday and the entire Black Friday weekend, marked on the calendar by shop owners and customers alike as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. The small space, packed with small decorations and knickknacks, had customers squeezing past each other as they picked out their holiday gifts. Despite the bump in business Bernholz saw over the weekend, she wondered why relatively few people have even heard of Small Business Saturday.

“How long has this been going on, eight to 10 years?” the gift shop owner said. “It still cracks me up we have people coming in on Saturday and, holy Christmas, they say, ‘What is small store Saturday?’”

Small Business Saturday originally started in 2010, sponsored by American Express, as a way to incentivize people to shop local during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

American Express reported the weekend after Thanksgiving was quite a busy time for small businesses across the nation. Consumers spent approximately $17.8 billion nationally while shopping local, according to data released Nov. 26 from the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from American Express and the nonprofit National Federation of Independent Business. The survey noted 42 percent of those surveyed reported shopping at local retailers and restaurants, just 1 percent down from last year. Still, 41 percent reported also shopping online that same day.

Those small business owners surveyed in the report said they expect an average of 29 percent of their total yearly sales to come through the holiday season, yet the owners of local small stores on the North Shore know they have a disadvantage compared to big box stores and the online retail giant Amazon and the like.

“People should understand how hard it is to run a small business,” Maria Williams, the owner of Sweets N Scoops in Shoreham said. “A small business’ costs are necessarily greater because we can’t buy in bulk like [large businesses] can.”

Business owners across the North Shore reported a range of outcomes from the busy shopping weekend.

Port Jefferson

Outside Ecolin Jewlers in Port Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Barr

Ecolin Jewelers, 14 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson

Linda Baker, co-owner of Ecolin Jewelers, said while most of her sales come in the last two weeks before Christmas, and not the Black Friday weekend, the year overall has been very good for her business.

“This whole year has been better,” Baker said. “This is probably the best in maybe eight years.”

She said she she’s experienced more people coming in toward the end of the year, with the phones constantly ringing off the hook with people’s orders, adding she’s feeling good about her numbers for the season.

“I’m glad to see that people are happy, walking around and coming into stores,” she said.

Outside East End Shirt Co. in Port Jefferson. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps

The East End Shirt Company, 3 Mill Creek Road, Port Jefferson

Owner of The East End Shirt Company, Mary Joy Pipe, said her business participated in the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce annual Holiday Shopping Crawl, offering a free hoodie valued at $20 for those spending $50 in store. She added turnout on Small Business Saturday was comparable to last year, and that has always had to do with the foot traffic and the weather.

“Our Santa Parade brings a lot of people down into the village, and more folks are around for the extended holiday after Thanksgiving,” she said. “We need feet on the ground and nice weather, and we got that on Saturday.”

Pipe’s business has changed with the times. East End Shirt has both a website and brick-and-mortar storefront, but her online component is a comparatively small percentage of her sales compared to her shop, which has existed in Port Jeff for close to four decades, she said.

“Is Cyber Monday or Cyber Week having an effect? — yeah it is,” she said. “People are not coming out, but anything that has a shipping component I know the potential for retail is still there if they can’t get it shipped in time.”

Outside Red Shirt Comics in Port Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Barr

Red Shirt Comics, 322 Main St., Port Jefferson

Joshua Darbee, the owner of Red Shirt Comics, said he had multiple sales going on, including buy-one-get-one-free on new comics, 25 percent off back issue comics, and 20 percent off on most of the toys and graphic novels in the shop. As a store that only opened in 2017, Darbee has been working to build a loyal customer base.

“If people are going to buy on Amazon, they’re going to buy on Amazon,” he said. “There’s really no competing with them.”

The comic industry relies on periodicals, driving customers back monthly for the next issue in an ongoing series, and Darbee said without return customers there is no way his business can thrive. He saw a steady stream of traffic come into his shop during Black Friday weekend — a better turnout than last year — and he hopes those sales, along with his card game and tabletop role-playing events hosted at the shop, will bring in return customers.

“The hope is that people will see the long-term damage [Amazon and other online retailers] can do to the local economy,” he said. “You just have to try to engage with people, be friendly and be part of that community. It’s been awesome to see people go out on weekends like this and support small businesses.”

Shoreham to Mount Sinai

Game On, 465 Route 25A, Miller Place

Tristan Whitworth, the owner of video game shop Game On in Miller Place said his business did well the days after Thanksgiving, this year seeing a 30 percent increase in customers compared to last year. He attracted customers with select sales of up to 60 percent off specific products, which incentivized people to come in and spend time on the few video game consoles he set up around the shop.

“It’s making sure the customer knows that we’re there to give them a good shopping experience,” Whitworth said. “I always try to keep it so that it’s not about customers rushing in to make a sale. People were there for an hour or two even though it was Black Friday.”

Whitworth said he knows there is a huge market for used video games online, but he always tries to make his business about the customer service.

“You can get every single thing we sell online, so it’s really about having the experience of going to the shop and buying stuff, talk to the guy who owns it about what game you should buy or try out,” he said. “That’s what you need.”

Sweets & Scoops in Shoreham. Photo courtesy of Sweets & Scoops Facebook page

Sweets & Scoops, 99 Route 25A, Shoreham

While Maria Williams, owner of dessert haven Sweets & Scoops, said most of her business occurs just before holidays, rather than afterward, but she was pleased with the sales she had for people ordering custom chocolate arrangements and other party favors.

She said she sees the importance of local business as a means of giving vitality to an area.

“People need to stop shopping on Amazon,” Williams said. “If they stay local and shop local in small business we do well, and we can hire more people.”

The sweets shop owner said the best product she and other small businesses can offer people is something unique. She said she tries her best to make items customized for the individual, products that one cannot get anywhere else.

“It’s eight years now that I’ve been in business and thank god it became a success because of its uniqueness,” Williams said. “[Large corporations] don’t have that extra touch, and everything is so commercial with them. Here no two things are ever alike.”

Outside The Gift Corner in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Gift Corner, 157 N. Country Road, Mount Sinai

Bernholz said last year’s Black Friday weekend was one of the busiest in years, with lines going out the door of her small North Country Road gift shop. This year was also good for her business.

“We did well on Friday, but Saturday was awesome,” Bernholz said. “It was very packed all day, and so many people came in that are my regulars — really showing their loyalty.”

Bernholz business has been around for close to 30 years, but she said she is not very active on the internet, nor is she proficient with technology in general. She still relies on her dedicated customers, some of whom bought holiday gifts from her as kids and continue to buy them as adults.

Her dedicated customers even advertise for her. The Gift Corner has signs along Route 25A promoting her shop, but it was one put up for free, without even originally letting Bernholz know they were there.

“I don’t advertise, I have never advertised,” she said. “A customer does that on their own … It’s unbelievable.”

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce will light the tree on Dec. 1.

Centereach

The Centereach Civic Association invites the community to its annual tree lighting on the lawn of Capital One Bank, 2100 Middle Country Road, Centereach on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 8 p.m. Enjoy caroling, hot cocoa, candy canes and a visit from Santa. Rain/snow date is Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. 

Cold Spring Harbor

Santa Claus will light the Christmas tree at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. Cookies, tea and hot chocolate will be served. $10 suggested donation. Call 516-692-6768 for further information.

Holtsville

The Town of Brookhaven will host its annual tree lighting at the Holtsville Ecology Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on Friday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. Enjoy entertainment, hot chocolate and character strolling while waiting for Santa to arrive by helicopter. Call 631-451-6100.

Kings Park

The Kings Park Chamber of Commerce will host a tree lighting at Veterans Plaza, 1 Church St., Kings Park on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

Lake Ronkonkoma

Celebrate with a tree lighting at Raynor Park, Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma on Dec. 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. Hosted by the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce. Call 631-963-2796 for further details.

Mount Sinai

Heritage Park, 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road, Mount Sinai invites the community to the annual lighting of its community tree on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. With hot chocolate, a performance by the Mount Sinai Middle School Jazz Choir and a visit from Santa. Call 631-509-0882.

Nesconset

Join the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce for its annual tree lighting at Gazebo Park, 127 Smithtown Blvd., Nesconset on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Call 631-724-2543 for details.

Port Jefferson

Join Danford’s Hotel at Bayles Park on East Broadway in Port Jefferson for its 3rd annual tree lighting on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. Featuring live holiday music, hot chocolate and holiday cookies. Call 631-928-5200 for more information.

Port Jefferson Station

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual tree lighting at the Chamber Train Car, corner of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway, on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. Enjoy holiday music, refreshments and a visit from Santa. Call 631-821-1313.

St. James

Enjoy holiday music, pictures with Santa and light the BIG tree on the great lawn of Deepwells Farm County Park, 2 Taylor Lane, St. James on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. Hosted by St. James Chamber of Commerce. Call 631-584-8510.

Stony Brook

Santa arrives at the Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main St., Stony Brook on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. atop the Stony Brook Fire Department’s 3000-light float for the annual tree lighting ceremony on the Village Green. Call 631-751-2244.

Wading River

East Wind Long Island, 5720 Route 25A, Wading River invites the community to its annual tree lighting with Santa at The Shoppes on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. Call 631-929-3500.

Children enjoy last year's Menorah Lighting in Stony Brook. Photo by Peter DiLauro
Happy Hanukkah! Celebrate the Festival of Lights at the following events:

Centereach

The Centereach Civic Association invites the community to its annual menorah lighting on the lawn of Capital One Bank, 2100 Middle Country Road, Centereach on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 8 p.m. Rain/snow date is Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. Visit www.centereachcivic.org.

Dix Hills

The Chai Center, 501 Vanderbilt Parkway, Dix Hills will hold its annual outdoor grand menorah lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 5 starting at 4:30 p.m. Enjoy latkes, doughnuts, hot chocolate, music and a special performance by comic hypnotist Ronnie Baras. RSVP by calling 631-351-8672.

Farmingville

Join the Town of Brookhaven for a menorah lighting at Town Hall, One Independence Hill, Farmingville on Monday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. followed by entertainment, hot latkes and doughnuts in the second floor cafeteria. Call 631-451-6100 for more information.

Kings Park

The Kings Park Chamber of Commerce will host a menorah lighting at Veterans Plaza, 1 Church St., Kings Park on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Visit www.kingsparkli.com.

Lake Ronkonkoma

Celebrate the holidays with a menorah lighting at Raynor Park, Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma at Sunday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. Hosted by the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce. Call 631-963-2796 for further details.

Mount Sinai

Temple Beth Emeth will host the annual Heritage Trust Menorah Lighting at Heritage Park, 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. Questions? Call 631-928-4103.

Nesconset

Join the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce for its annual menorah lighting at Gazebo Park, 127 Smithtown Blvd., Nesconset on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Call 631-724-2543 for details.

Port Jefferson Station

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce will host its annual menorah lighting at the Chamber Train Car, corner of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway, on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 5 p.m. Rabbi Aaron Benson of North Shore Jewish Center will perform the blessings/prayer for the first night of Hanukkah. Call 631-821-1313.

St. James

The community is invited to the St. James 2018 menorah lighting ceremony at The Triangle, Route 25A and Lake Ave., St. James from Dec. 2 to 9 at 5:30 p.m. (Friday night lighting at 4:30 p.m.) Call 631-584-8510.

Stony Brook

Join Chabad at Stony Brook for a Hanukkah on Main Street celebration at the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, 48 Main St., Stony Brook on Monday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. with latkes, donuts, giveaways, a fire juggling show and music followed by the lighting of a menorah. Call 631-585-0521.

Don Law has carved more than 5000 decoys over the years. Photo from LIM
Sarah Broadwell

Take a break from all the holiday preparations and come on down to Stony Brook for the Long Island Museum’s Open House and Decoy Day celebration on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m!  The day includes decoy carving demonstrations, a discussion about fishing on Long Island and live music.  You’ll meet:

  • Captain Don Law a full-time charter boat captain from Hampton Bays who began carving decoys in the 8th grade!
  • George Rigby, Jr., a descendant of baymen who settled on LI in the early 1900s.
  • Don Bennet, whose family has worked the LI waters for more than 100 years.
  • Sarah Broadwell, a full-time fishing captain with the Viking Fleet based in Montauk, who works with students, teachers and recreational fishermen, lecturing about responsible fishing.
  • Stuart Markus, a fixture on Long Island’s folk and acoustic scene.
  • Traditional folk singer Larry Moser.
  • Max Rowland, banjo master and folk musician, who’s family history includes several sea captains.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND MUSIC FROM 1 – 4 P.M.
Free admission all day.
The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

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