By Rita J. Egan

Chabad at Stony Brook hosted a menorah lighting Dec. 18 on the lawn of the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn located on the corner of Main Street and Harbor Road. The nine-foot menorah was sponsored and organized by the Chabad.

The festivities began with a parade of cars escorted by the Suffolk County Police Department. Each participant’s vehicle was adorned with a menorah on top, and attendees of the event enjoyed latkes with applesauce, hot cocoa and doughnuts.

Rabbi Motti Grossbaum addressed the crowd before lighting the giant menorah with the assistance of the inn’s owners Marty and Elyse Buchman.

After the lighting, a gelt drop was held, and Grossbaum stepped onto a cherry picker and threw wrapped chocolate coins from 25 feet above for children to collect.

Russian Tea Cakes

By Barbara Beltrami

For me, a highlight of the winter holiday season is the annual cookie exchange hosted by my wonderful neighbor who gathers a bunch of her friends, neighbors and relatives to bake and share holiday cheer. Everyone brings her favorite cookies, deposits them on the dining room table and stashes an empty container somewhere to collect the assortment of cookies from other ovens later. Then we always gravitate to the kitchen to meet and greet, chatter, munch and sip.

As the evening winds down and the anticipation builds up, we adjourn to the dining room and line up with our containers to ogle the assortment of cookies on the table and select a few from each platter.

And what an assortment it is! Spread before us is each woman’s childhood favorite, treasured heirloom family recipe and often her ethnic root ID. Greek kourabiedes, German spritz, Scottish shortbread, English mincemeat tarts, French sables, Mexican biscochitos, Russian tea cakes, Italian biscotti regina, Finnish Finska kakor and Israeli sufganiyot are but a few of the ethnic cookies that over the years have rendered the assemblage of goodies a veritable United Nations.

As I’ve researched recipes for this wonderful but daunting list of ethnic holiday cookies, I’ve discovered that with few exceptions, every cookie, no matter its origins, calls for virtually the same ingredients: butter, flour, sugar and eggs and is really just a variation of another culture’s recipe. Give each of them a different shape and name and you’ll still have pretty much the same delicious cookie! Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could take a lesson from its cookies?

German Spritz Cookies

German Spritz Cookies

YIELD: Makes about 6 dozen cookies


1 cup butter, softened

²⁄₃ cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2½ cups flour

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl mix butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla thoroughly. Gradually work in flour. Divide dough into quarters; fill cookie press with one quarter at a time and force dough onto ungreased cookie sheet in desired shapes. Sprinkle with colored sugar and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until set but not brown. Serve with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, ice cream, fruit punch, eggnog or any liqueur.

Finska Kakor

Finska Kakor

YIELD: Makes about 4 dozen cookies


¾ cup butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups flour

Dash of salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup finely chopped almonds

DIRECTIONS: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, the quarter cup sugar and extract. Sift together the flour and salt and, working it in with your hands, gradually add to mixture. Chill for one to two hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut into 3-inch by 1-inch strips. Brush lightly with beaten egg white, then sprinkle with mixture of remaining sugar and almonds. Carefully transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 18 minutes or until pale golden. Very gently remove to cooling rack until room temperature and crispy. Serve with coffee, tea, eggnog, milk, hot chocolate or amaretto liqueur.

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes

YIELD: Makes about 4 dozen cookies


2 sticks butter, softened

½ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2¼ cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

¾ cup finely chopped nuts

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl cream together the butter, the half cup of confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Sift together flour and salt and along with nuts, stir into butter mixture. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and, while still warm, roll cookie in the remaining cup confectioners’ sugar. Then when cool, roll in the sugar again. Serve with coffee, tea, hot cocoa, milk, fruit punch, eggnog or any liqueur.

Three Village residents were treated to a local holiday favorite Dec. 10 as the Three Village Holiday Electric Parade traveled down the streets of East Setauket. The parade kicked off at 5 p.m. with a variety of vehicles and floats adorned with lights that added a festive feel to the chilly night. Presented by the Three Village Kiwanis Club, the event featured floats from students from the Three Village Central School District and the participation of Scout troops and various businesses and organizations from the area, including Shine Dance Studios and North Shore Jewish Center. Cheerleaders, pep squad members, athletes and Stony Brook University mascot Wolfie also participated. After the parade, families gathered at the Kiwanis Park next to Se-Port Deli for the chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived in a train replica decorated with colorful lights.

Uniqua holds her two new teddy bears tightly. She received the gifts from members of Mount Sinai's Students Against Destructive Decisions club. Photo by Kevin Redding

Just one night at Mount Sinai High School helped to make the season bright for local families in need.

For Christmas, all 6-year-old Uniqua really wanted was an Elf on the Shelf toy, a gift her mom struggled to afford. But Moniqua McGee, who lives with her daughter at Concern for Independent Living in Medford, knew she had nothing to worry about. She had Mount Sinai high schoolers to rely on.

A family from Concern for Independent Living receive gifts from Mount Sinai children through Hauppuage-based nonprofit Christmas Magic. Photo by Kevin Redding

On Dec. 6, during the Students Against Destructive Decisions club’s Christmas Magic dinner in the high school’s cafeteria, a beaming Uniqua not only got her wish, but two new teddy bears and holiday-themed face paint, too. She even met Santa Claus and Rudolph.

“I’m grateful they’re doing this for the families and putting smiles on the kid’s faces,” said Moniqua McGee, who has been coming to the event the past five years. “It works every time.”

The McGees were just one of dozens of families from the Medford nonprofit enjoying the holiday spirit in the room. An 18-year partnership between the Hauppauge-based organization Christmas Magic and the SADD club, the Christmas soiree served as the ultimate payoff of a shopping spree by the students Dec. 1. Under the supervision of SADD club advisors John Wilson and John McHugh, they spent that day rushing around Smith Haven Mall and Walmart to buy gifts for more than 60 boys and girls from Concern for Independent Living, which provides housing and employment help for struggling families, based on wish lists they wrote to Santa. The school district also raised $8,000 for Christmas Magic.

Members of Mount Sinai’s Students Against Destructive Decisions club watch children open up presents. Photo by Kevin Redding

“I’m happy and proud to be part of a program and district that not only encourages, but fosters this type of activity,” McHugh said. “The students involved display the best we have to offer … we have grown our program every year and that makes me feel great.”

With all the gifts wrapped and labeled, every kid left the dinner with at least three presents given to them by Santa, played by rosy red cheeked wrestling icon Mick Foley, who also posed for pictures. Christmas tunes blared through the cafeteria’s speakers as families ate chicken, pasta and desserts, and SADD club members — some dressed up in costume — went around the room with little gift bags of extra toys for attendees. SADD club members also played games and watched “Elf” with the kids.

“It’s so nice to be able to see all the kids here and see them get the gifts we got for them,” said Allie Garrant, an 11th grader and SADD club member, who picked up a lacrosse stick and Rubik’s Cube for a 13-year-old boy. “Just seeing their faces — it’s a whole different thing. It’s like, ‘Wow, these are real people I’m helping’ and you get to see firsthand the difference you’re making.”

Renato Lugo, whose four children were ecstatic over their gifts, expressed his gratitude to those involved in the event.

Students dressed up to entertain children during a Christmas Magic dinner at Mount Sinai High School. Photo by Kevin Redding

“It’s a beautiful thing to have organizations like these that help out and take care of people in need,” said Lugo, who has been aided by Concern for Independent Living for six years. “The students bring joy and cheer and they make my kids very happy.”

His 12-year-old daughter, Elena, was ecstatic receiving a long-sleeve Unicorn pajama shirt from Santa.

“I think it’s really amazing I got the present I wanted,” Elena said. “And the food is amazing and everyone’s so happy. I love SADD. They’re really like another Santa.”

Kim Dellamura, who’s been at the nonprofit agency for six months, said the event allowed her 4-year-old daughter MacKenzie to have a Christmas.

“It feels good because I don’t know how much I would’ve been able to give her this year,” Dellamura said. “So this really helps out a lot. She loves it.”

For Lawrence Aurigemma, the event is a perfect reflection of what this time of year means.

“This season is all about peace and generosity,” said Aurigemma, a military veteran whose 14-year-old son received Pokemon cards. “These students are just fantastic. They go out of their way to help out the less fortunate people here. It’s a wonderful thing. They knew exactly what to get my son … he’s so happy.”

Smithtown resident and former WWE wrestler Mick Foley dishes out gifts to children. Photo by Kevin Redding

Also at the event was Christmas Magic founder Charlie Russo and representatives of Concern for Independent Living, including case managers Ella Cantave and Julio Villarman, who were excited to see their clients enjoying the holidays.

“It’s a very special day for them,” Cantave said. “It took a lot of effort to make it happen and to make it nice for them.”

As everybody in the room sang “Jingle Bells,” Santa arrived and joined in. Each kid’s name was called out to sit down with the big man in the red suit.

Foley, who has been a volunteer with Christmas Magic since 2000 and officially assumed the role of Santa for the organization in 2014, said he looks forward to the event all year round.

“It’s a great organization — they spread joy and happiness to so many of the less fortunate in the community, and it’s an honor to wear the red suit and represent Christmas Magic,” Foley said before turning his attention to the SADD club. “I make it a point to thank all of them because I think it’s wonderful that they get involved in volunteer work at a young age. They do a great job and it’s really easy for me to show up and get a lot of the credit from children, but the truth is, without them, absolutely none of this is possible.”

Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park held its annual breakfast with Santa Sunday.

A buffet breakfast complete with eggs, Belgian waffles, bacon, sausage, bagels, fresh fruit, juice and hot beverages was served inside the Heritage Center as families waited to take a photo with Santa Claus. Each child also received a favor for attending one of the three sessions Dec. 10.

Following the full buffet breakfast, Johnny Whimple and the kids in attendance filled the room with Christmas spirit with a holiday music sing-along.

Non-perishable food donations were also collected during the event for a local food pantry.

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By Rabbi Aaron Benson


You’re as likely to hear someone bemoaning the commercialization of the holidays as you are to hear someone wish you happy ones. As we enter this festive season, it can be a challenge to properly “get in the spirit” to think of the blessings and good things we have when at the same time we hear constantly the calls around us that we need more of this or that.

Rabbi Aaron Benson

For Jews, there is one way in which the holiday of Hanukkah is supposed to be “commercialized” — or at least “advertised.” Jewish tradition decrees the Hanukkah menorah, the nine-branched candelabra by which we mark the holiday using its central candle to light an additional new candle each night of the eight-day holiday, should be placed in a prominent place so that others can see it. Therefore, you will often see menorah displays in front of synagogues or in the windows of Jews’ home, and in Israel, one will often see menorahs displayed in small glass boxes outside of people’s homes.

The lights of the menorah are meant to remind us of three things. First, they are to be a light in the darkness of winter. Second, they are to remind us of the lights of the seven-branched menorah that was a decoration in the Holy Temple in ancient times, and third, they remind us of the story of Hanukkah, when in the 2nd century BCE the Jews defeated the Greek occupiers of their country and, as tradition would have it, a single vial of pure oil was discovered and lasted for eight days while additional oil was prepared to be used in the temple.

Incidentally, this is where the name of the holiday originates as the word “Hanukkah” means “rededication.” However, it was not just lighting the menorah that was considered sufficient for celebrating the holiday. Our ancient sages decreed that the miracle of Hanukkah must be “advertised,” it must be put on display and shared with others so that the hard-won blessing of religious freedom and tolerance the holiday commemorates could be experienced by all people. This is a Hanukkah lesson we can all share.

We are all blessed to live in a country in which our religious differences are protected and in fact we believe that these and all our many differences are what make the United States such a wonderful country. Let us be proud then, when we see the many lights of this holiday season, for all of them, whether Hanukkah lights or not, communicate the message of Hanukkah — the message of our religious freedom.

The author is the rabbi at the North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station.

Zucchini and Carrot Latkes

By Barbara Beltrami

You don’t have to be Jewish to love latkes — those crispy pancakes or fritters made most often from grated potatoes and fried in oil to symbolize the cleansing and rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Syrians some 21 centuries ago. The Maccabees had only enough oil to light the menorah for one day, but miraculously it lasted for eight days.

Aside from this tradition, here’s the thing you must remember about latkes: They must be thin and crisp. In order to achieve that you must first coarsely grate the potatoes and any other vegetables in the recipe, then squeeze those grated veggies as dry as possible and discard the liquid that accumulates. You can add a little flour or matzo meal to the mixture, but that’s optional. A thin coating of oil in the skillet is sufficient for frying them.

While potatoes are by far the most traditional and popular ingredient, nowadays other vegetables such as sweet potatoes and zucchini have made their way into the customary Hanukkah fare. Follow the preparation procedure faithfully and create your own latkes. And you’d better make a lot, because they go fast before they even make it to the table!

Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes

YIELD: Makes 2 dozen pancakes


2 pounds potatoes, peeled and placed in cold water

1 medium onion

1 large egg, beaten

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS: Using a hand grater or food processor, coarsely grate the potatoes and onion. Place in a fine mesh strainer or clean tea towel and hold over a bowl while you squeeze out all the liquid. (The potato starch will settle to the bottom of the bowl; reserve that after you have very carefully poured off all the water.) In a large bowl mix the potato and onion with the starch; add the egg, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly to combine.

Place a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat, pour in a thin film of vegetable oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Scoop about two tablespoons of the potato mixture with your hand or a large cooking spoon, flatten as much as possible, then drop gently onto griddle or into skillet. (Be careful as oil may spatter.) Flatten again with a spatula or the back of the spoon. Continue until griddle is filled but pancakes are not touching each other. Fry until golden, flip and fry the other side. Remove and place on a thick layer of paper towels, then press more paper towels on top of the pancakes to soak up excess oil. Serve immediately or reheat in a 350 F oven. Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Zucchini-Carrot Latkes

Zucchini and Carrot Latkes

YIELD: Makes 2 dozen pancakes


2 pounds zucchini, coarsely grated ½ pound potatoes, coarsely grated

2 large carrots, coarsely grated

1 medium onion, coarsely grated

²⁄₃ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

²⁄₃ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1⁄₃ cup flour

2 eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 garlic clove, finely minced

Vegetable or peanut oil for frying

DIRECTIONS: Drain, press and squeeze the grated vegetables to remove as much moisture as possible. Place in a medium bowl and add the cheese, parsley, flour, eggs, salt and pepper and garlic and mix thoroughly. In a large skillet, heat about ¼-inch of oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Using a large cooking spoon or your hands, scoop mixture and shape into patties; drop gently into hot oil and press with back of spoon to flatten. Over medium-high heat, fry, turning once, until both sides are crispy and golden brown. Drain on several layers of paper towels and press more paper towels on top. Serve with tomato sauce or sour cream.

Sweet Potato-Apple Latkes

Sweet Potato-Apple Latkes

YIELD: Makes 16 pancakes


1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and grated

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated

½ cup flour

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 2 large eggs, beaten

Approximately ½ cup milk

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS: Coarsely grate the sweet potatoes and apple over a medium bowl. Drain, press and squeeze to eliminate as much moisture as possible. In another medium bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the eggs and milk, a few tablespoons at a time, until the batter is stiff and moist but not runny. Add potatoes and apple and mix. Heat ¼ inch of oil in a skillet just to the point of barely smoking. Gently drop the batter in two-tablespoon measures and flatten with the back of the spoon. Fry, turning once, until both sides are golden, about 3 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels and pat tops with more paper towels. Serve hot with applesauce, maple syrup, honey or cranberry sauce.

By Rita J. Egan

Forget the elves! This year Santa will get a little help from members of the Culper Spy Ring when the Three Village Holiday Electric Light Parade makes its way through the streets of East Setauket on Dec. 10.

The grand marshals of this year’s parade will be the patriots that made up George Washington’s Long Island spy ring — portrayed by residents including Three Village Historical Society Historian Beverly C. Tyler as Abraham Woodhull. The grand marshals will lead the annual local favorite featuring floats and vehicles adorned with electric lights mixing the area’s historic roots with modern merriment.

Insurance agent Billy Williams took over the reigns of the parade after its cancellation in 2015. As a volunteer with the Setauket Fire Department, he heard the committee ran into some glitches that year, and while it was too late to do anything at the time, he and others joined forces to light the way for the procession in 2016.

In addition to Williams, the parade committee includes Cheryl Davey, Andrew Galambos, Michael Owen, Denise Williams, Sharon Philbrick, Andrea Allen, Scott Sanders, Julie Watterson, Carmine Inserra, Dawn Viola and Laura Mastriano.

Above, a scene from a previous Electric Light Parade

“We picked up the pieces and put the parade back together,” Williams said, adding that he was happy when the group was able to organize the parade again this year, and that Davey and Owen, who both worked on the event in the past, offered to continue to help. Williams and other committee members had fond memories of bringing their children to the parade every year, and he participated in it as a volunteer firefighter. “It’s good for the community; it’s good for everybody. So we said let’s try to organize it and give it another go, and that’s what we did.”

Davey, who has been coordinating the parade for approximately seven years, said she was thrilled when it got a reboot in 2016. “I was hoping that if it went away for a year, maybe people would miss it and realize how special an event it is for the entire community,” she said. “I was hoping that there would be a public outcry — “bring back the parade” — and there was. And then, everybody stepped forward and said they could help. We put together a wonderful committee of amazing people who have great ideas and great networking contacts, and they rolled up their sleeves and went right to work.”

Galambos, who has attended the parade for more than a decade, said he was also delighted to see it revived last year. He said the parade is an opportunity for residents to experience something special for the holidays right in their neighborhood and for local groups and businesses to work together, adding “The parade really is a collaboration of the entire town, and all the various organizations.”

Galambos said he is looking forward to this year’s grand marshals and thinks it’s a wonderful way to educate residents, especially young ones, about the local history, adding “This parade is something that is very special because it is a celebration that is uniquely us.”

Williams and Galambos said attendees can look forward to seeing floats from the Three Village Central School District and the participation of Scout troops and various businesses from the area, including Shine Dance Studios. Both said cheerleaders, pep squad members, athletes and Wolfie from Stony Brook University will also be marching, and the parade will feature the Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Players Drum Corps, which is composed of musicians with special needs.

Participants will begin lining up at 3:30 p.m. at the Village Green by Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. For Davey, this is her favorite part of the entire event. “When they all start showing up with their floats, you’re just overwhelmed with Christmas spirit,” Davey said.

The Three Village Kiwanis Club will present the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade Dec. 10 starting at 5 p.m. The procession heads south on Main Street, turning left on Route 25A and ends at the Kiwanis Park next to Se-Port Deli. After the parade, Santa will be available to hear children’s wishes in the park’s gazebo. For more information, visit

All file photos by Greg Catalano

The community came together in Port Jefferson Village over the weekend to embody a famous quote from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

Dec. 2 and 3 marked the 22nd annual Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jeff, an event that brings out locals and visitors to take part in a weekend full of events, activities, performances and parades. Attendees were treated to ice skating, cookie decorating, a display of decorated Christmas trees with various themes, street performances by actors portraying people from the Dickens era, horse-drawn carriage rides, toasted marshmallows, Christmas carols and much more.

Every year the organizers of the event select honorees and dedicate the festival in their name. This year, George and Karen Overin, two long-time Dickens Festival participants and volunteers, were recognized.

“Perhaps there are no two people that better represent the joy, the feeling of family, and, indeed, the magic of this cherished weekend that has captured the imagination of people from around the globe,” the dedication to the honorees read in part.

Interior designers, garden clubs deck the elegant halls

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. Visitors can see the captivating results from now through January. The decorators create magic in the rooms with lighted trees, boughs, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons, garlands and elegantly wrapped faux gifts.

Decorating the mansion this year were the Asharoken, Dix Hills, Centerport, Honey Hills, Nathan Hale and Three Village (Old Field, Setauket and Stony Brook) garden clubs; Harbor Homestead & Co. Design of Centerport; and gardeners from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

Stephanie Gress, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, said “Most of these garden clubs and designers have been decorating the mansion for more than 20 seasons. “We look forward to seeing them each year, and to how they use their creative skills to bring elegant holiday charm to the house.” Gress and the curatorial staff decorated the Windsor Guest Room, Breakfast Hallway, Lancaster Room and Northport Porch.

Christine Lagana and a group of friends from the Dix Hills Garden Club decorated the large tree in the mansion library and placed gifts beneath it. They also added garland and ornaments as well as white poinsettias and red ribbons to the mantelpiece over the large fireplace and artful groups of large, mirrored ornaments on side tables.

Mary Schlotter and her daughter, Krishtia McCord — who operate the Centerport design firm Harbor Homestead & Co. — decorated Rosamond Vanderbilt’s mirrored dressing room and the arcade that connects the nursery wing with the front entrance of the mansion. They decorated a live tree in the Sundial Garden off the arcade and hung icicles and silver-sprayed vines, harvested locally, from the arcade ceiling beams.

For Mrs. Vanderbilt’s dressing room, using a dress-form mannequin, they created a skirt with green boughs. “Our friend, dress designer Lorri Kessler-Toth of Couture Creations, created a fitted turquoise-blue velvet cover for the dress-form torso,” Schlotter said. “We added a necklace of chandelier crystals and a pendant and embellished the skirt with teal ornaments, champagne ribbon and filigreed poinsettia leaves. This is a dressing room, so we created a Christmas dress.”

Schlotter and McCord added chandelier crystals and champagne poinsettia leaves to the bough that decorates the mantelpiece on the marble fireplace. The crystals on the mantel complement those that hang from the sconces in the mirrored, hexagonal dressing room.

The Asharoken Garden Club, returning after many years, decorated Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom with colors that reflect her love of pearls, Gress said, including copper, cream and gold. The Centerport club embellished the guest room of Sonja Henie (three-time Olympic skating champion, movie star, and family friend) and William Vanderbilt’s bedroom. The wreaths, garlands and large golden ornaments in Mr. Vanderbilt’s room were highlighted by pots of elegant red amaryllis, a stunning seasonal flower. They also placed garland and tall, thin trees, hung with ornaments, on the mantelpiece.

The Nathan Hale club, which decorated the Organ Room, clipped old-fashioned candles with brass holders and wax-catchers on the branches of the tree. Members added garland and cherubs to the carved mantelpiece and placed arrangements of gold-sprayed pine cones and scallop and whelk shells on tables.

In the Portuguese Sitting Room, in the original wing of the mansion, the Honey Hill club placed Tiffany packages beneath the tree and added small holiday touches around the room. The Cornell Cooperative Extension gardeners worked outside, adding flourishes to the mansion windows with live wreaths, trimmed with flowers, fruits and ribbons. “These generous volunteers use their time and talent to create an atmosphere of charming holiday grandeur and sophisticated living,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum. “We’re grateful to them for bringing magic to this historic house.”

Visiting the Vanderbilt Museum:

Now that the Vanderbilt mansion and its halls are decked elegantly for the season, the public is invited to see the home at its most magical time. Guided tours of the decorated Vanderbilt mansion continue each Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. — and on Tuesday, Dec. 26, through Saturday, Dec. 30. (Visitors pay the general admission fee plus $6 per person for a tour.)

Special Twilight Tours will be given for two days only: Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 27 and 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (62 and older) and $5 for children 12 and under.

The Vanderbilt Museum and Reichert Planetarium will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 26 to 30 and will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit