Paul Brown: New Paltz holiday favorite things…

paul-brown-SQIt is a clear sign that the holiday season is upon us when posters advertising the annual Christmas time benefit concert at the New Paltz Redeemer Evangelical Church begin to appear around town. Knowing that 100% of the donations will directly benefit Family of Woodstock adds to the joy of the season. Knowing that this year we will be treated to performances by the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School Youth Choir, Betty and the Baby Boomers, Big Joe Fitz, the community vocal group Bloom and Redeemer’s very own Tobias Anderson, makes attendance a no brainer. Light refreshments will be served during intermission, and a suggested admission donation is $15 for adults and $5 per child over twelve. The concert will take place this Friday, December 11 at 7 p.m.


A few more holiday favorite things

Members of several New Paltz social media groups graciously responded to my request for their holiday favorites. Here’s what they had to say:



Local resident Mark Rosen’s annual Rockin’ Christmas Eve radio show is entering its 33rd year and still going strong. Mark told me that this Christmas Eve, beginning at 7 p.m. on ROCK 93.3, we can expect to hear a number of hand-picked traditional favorites, along with his own quirky mix of songs by the likes of El Zez, the “Mexican Elvis,” the group Drop Kick Murphys doing “The Season’s Upon Us” and Art Carney reading “Twas the Night before Christmas.” No radio? You can live stream the event at Mark told me that another local resident, Kevin Hodgkiss, deserves the credit for coming up with much of the material for the always-entertaining and thought-provoking playlist.


New Paltz School Board member Steve Greenfield has a special affection for the song “XMAS @ CBGB” by a group named The Immortal Porpoises, saying: “Here’s my favorite Christmas song. It was inspired by actual events.” Steve should know, he was a member of the band 18 years ago, and you can see what he looked like then by visiting the Porpoises’ Facebook page.


And my personal favorites: Wham’s version of “This Christmas,” Bryan Adams singing “Christmas Time” and Band Aid’s 1984 “Do they know it’s Christmas?”



“Love Actually,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story” [the “You’ll shoot your eye out!” movie], “Almost any version of “A Christmas Carol” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” with Mickey Rooney.”

The 1951 original version of “A Christmas Carol” starring the incomparable Alistair Sim — no one has since done it better. As for Santa … I think Edmund Gwenn (1877–1959) from “A Miracle on 34th Street” wins hands down. These older films, a brandy and my humble tree lit up and fully dressed for the season, make our family gatherings all the brighter, with just a hint of tradition.”


Memories past and present

“Before Stop & Shop … before Ames … before Kings … there was Barkers. They would make the whole back warehouse a Santa’s workshop. The night they would have the tree lighting in the plaza, they would drop Santa in by helicopter.” [I remember this fondly. I also remember that Walt Paradies piloted that helicopter on more than one occasion.]

“The tree lighting at what is now the Stop & Shop Plaza, back when it was Ames!”

“Just uncovered seven boxes of colored Christmas tree ornaments bought at Barkers for 99 cents a box.”

“The beautiful storefront windows at Rambling Rose.”

“Jack Wyman, my former New Paltz High School principal retired, grew a long white beard and long hair and was a favorite Santa to so many kids at the Huguenot Nursery and holiday fair. His wife even dressed as Mrs. Claus.”

“Jack Wyman was the perfect Santa!”

“Norah’s Cottage lit up for the holidays.”

“Gordie Kreth from the Locust Tree Inn dropping in at our house on Christmas Eve dressed as Santa.”

“Buying presents at the Little Red House of Gifts on Main Street. Still have a few items I gave to my mom and dad all those years ago.” [Murphy’s Restaurant & Pub now occupies this location.]

“We did not have disposable income to purchase a Christmas tree. We would simply cut one down in the nearest untended forest and drag it home. Voila, instant Christmas tree!”

“Watching “A Christmas Story” over and over. Plus the annual reading of “Twas the Night before Christmas” by Dad.”

“Sledding down the Mohonk Golf Course; ice skating on the pond at Moriello Pool.”



“Pies from Ferrantes’ Wallkill View Farm.”

“Hot cocoa and rugelach at The Bakery!”



“Midnight mass at St. Joseph’s.”

“Candlelight service at the New Paltz Dutch Reformed Church.”

“I have to say the candlelight service at the Dutch Reformed Church was a highlight. Also, ice skating on the Hasbrouck’s pond behind the Flavin’s. Mr. Flavin sharpened our skates and kept the ice groomed. We had a bonfire one year when the ice was really thick.”

“The Chanukah party at the Jewish Congregation of New Paltz. The men make and serve the latkes at this event and clean up afterwards. Kids have a blast, and funds are raised for Family of New Paltz. We also love the decorations on Main Street.”


Thanks so much to everyone who contributed, and happy, safe and peaceful holidays to all.

There is one comment

  1. Butch Dener

    Since this seems to be “The Season to Give”,
    Please consider giving a generous donation to our Community 9-11 Memorial.
    $500 or more guarantees your family name will be engraved in our Walkway.
    Tax-Deductible checks may be sent to:
    New Paltz Fire Department
    P. O. Box 841
    New Paltz NY 12561
    Please put 9-11 Memorial in the memo space.
    Thank you Neighbors
    Merry Christmas

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