Kids’ Almanac: Attend a naturalization ceremony in Kingston

The Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston. (Julie O'Connor | Almanac Weekly)

The Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston. (Julie O’Connor | Almanac Weekly)

“Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same.”
– Judge Learned Hand, 1944


Naturalization ceremony in Kingston

Forty-seven countries were represented at the recent naturalization ceremony in Kingston at the Ulster County Courthouse. The youngest person swearing to become a US citizen was 24 years old; the oldest, 69. Presided over by State Supreme Court justice Karen Peters, the one-hour-long event included a flag ceremony, patriotic music from the Kingston Community Singers, a few words from local elected representatives, recitation of an oath, some remarks by Judge Peters and a light reception in the hallway afterwards.


I was surprised how full the room was; it ended up being standing-room-only. Photos and videos are encouraged, and anyone can come watch the ceremony, which returned to our area a few years ago. Before that, the closest ceremony was in New York City.

Judge Peters congratulated these newest citizens on “surviving” the red tape of the application process, which she understands firsthand, as a single adoptive mother of a child from India. Judge Peters also shared a moving passage by judge Learned Hand from his speech, “The Spirit of Liberty,” at I Am an American Day 1944 in Central Park:

“What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to Earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near 2,000 years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned but never quite forgotten: that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side-by-side with the greatest.

“And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be – nay, which never will be, except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it – yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America, I ask you to rise and with me pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.”

I found the naturalization ceremony to be a healing balance to the current refugee resettlement controversies. I encourage you and your family to attend one, if at all possible. I believe that the next one takes place in March, but you can learn more from the Ulster County Clerk’s office at (845) 340-3288. Congratulations to our area’s newest citizens!


Grammy nominations

Just as many of us feel hometown pride when we see this year’s Gardiner-sourced Rockefeller Center Christmas tree sparkling in New York City, we can apply those same sentiments to the 2016 Grammy Awards in February, because two local musicians were included in the nominations! Morgan Taylor, the local musician and artist behind Gustafer Yellowgold, was cited for the latest Gustafer album, Dark Pie Concerns. And local musician/producer Dean Jones produced not only Dark Pie Concerns, but also the album Trees by Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly – which means two producer nominations for him, which he can stack up next to his Grammy win in 2013!

Both albums are nominated under the category of Best Children’s Album. Congratulations, Dean and Morgan! For more information about these tremendous Hudson Valley talents, visit and


Hudson Valley gift ideas

More thoughtful gifts from right here in the Hudson Valley!

The Life Is Long album by local musician Seth Davis is a terrific set of songs with energy, soul and stories, and includes local guest artists such as Rhett Miller and Simone Felice. Score major cool points giving this to your high school or college-aged progeny, your officemate or your partner: $14.99 (

Memberships to local hotspots for youngsters like the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum ( or Poughkidsie (, or for all ages like the Mohonk Preserve (, are gifts that enable fun family excursions all year long! Or how about giving your crew season passes to the Splashdown Beach ( or Zoom Flume ( water parks to cool off with unlimited visits all summer?

Donations made in a recipient’s name to a local charity that serves local people can be a meaningful tradition for families. Consider Breast Cancer Options for its excellent support and resources offered for free for all stages of this disease (, or the Sparrow’s Nest, a free weekly local home-delivery food service to caregivers who have cancer and who have children living at home (


Horse camp in Esopus

What is it about horses that fosters a sense of possibility? As we close out 2015, you could provide one more experience for your kids during this last week of the year: winter horse camp at Frog Hollow Farm. From Monday through Thursday, December 28 to 31, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., children ages 5 to 12 years will learn to care for horses, play games and get plenty of time to ride.

Ruth Quinn, a devoted volunteer at the farm, had this to say about Frog Hollow: “Horses for a Change at Frog Hollow Farm is a place with a heart. Not only do they provide a safe haven for abandoned horses (and zonkeys!), but it is also a place that is devoted to horse/human relationships. At the core is a strong belief that horseback riding and horse care develop life skills for students of all ages, abilities and financial means.”

Know any young people with special needs? Frog Hollow Farm has that covered, too! Quinn explains, “The therapeutic riding program is run by a PATH-certified instructor and a group of amazing volunteers, making it a fully inclusive barn.”

Winter horse camp costs $300, and space is limited. Frog Hollow Farm is located at 570 Old Post Road in Esopus. For more information or to register, call (845) 384-6424 or visit



Tours, tales and tea at Beacon’s Mt. Gulian

Mt. Gulian offers some terrific ways to celebrate the holidays with history! You could take in a weekday candlelight tour between 1 and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, December 16 to 18. Tickets cost $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children. Or, if you prefer, you could do the tour over the weekend, on Sunday, December 20 between 4 and 7 p.m., with a special storytelling component by Lorraine Hartin Gelardi at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for children.

Now, while I’ve got your attention: If you enjoy attending teas with your children, grandchildren, godchildren, call now to reserve your spots for the Children’s Holiday Tea taking place on Wednesday, December 30 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Activities typically include a craft for the children, an informative sharing about some of the historical artifacts at Mt. Gulian and of course tea, along with finger sandwiches and sweets. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for children. This event fills quickly, so don’t delay if you’re planning to make a reservation.


Mt. Gulian is located at 145 Sterling Street in Beacon. For more information or to reserve, call (845) 831-8172 or visit



Youth-produced films in Poughkeepsie

Wonder what’s on the minds and in the hearts of today’s youth? The Wintershare community film screening is one way to find out! On Friday, December 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Mid-Hudson Library System Auditorium, see a selection of youth-produced films from the Spark Media Project’s fall workshops and programs. The event is free and open to the public, and I’ll warn you: It could even inspire you or your children to follow suit and create your own videos!

The Mid-Hudson Library System Auditorium is located at 103 Market Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information or to register to attend, call (845) 485-4480 or visit


Meet that cookie-munching mouse at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.” If you recognize this playful introduction to the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, you know the charming mouse never quits, and the entire subsequent chain of events leads you right back to where you started.

How about a chance to meet that mouse? Well, this weekend, you can! From Friday, through Sunday, December 18 to 20 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum hosts a special storytime that includes the costumed character for a meet-and-greet and photos. This activity is included with museum admission.

The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit



Beary Merry Holiday at Bear Mountain

In the mood for a different kind of holiday sweets event? Head over to the Trailside Zoo at Bear Mountain this Saturday, December 19 at 10:30 a.m. to make treats for the black bears, then watch them gobble them up! This Beary Merry Holiday event could be your new family tradition!

The Trailside Zoo is located in Bear Mountain State Park at Seven Lakes Parkway. For more information, call (845) 786-2701 or visit


Rollmaking workshop at Frida’s Bakery in Milton

Give your budding chefs a chance to dazzle the relatives at your holiday meal with homemade rolls and butter by attending this weekend’s cooking lesson at Frida’s Bakery and Café. On Saturday, December 19 at 10:30 a.m., children can learn how to make the rolls and butter, tour the bakery and enjoy some treats afterwards. The cost is $20 for the first child and $15 for siblings.

Frida’s Bakery and Café is located at 26 Main Street in Milton. For more information or to register, call (845) 795-5550 or visit



Living Nativity at Kingston’s Old Dutch Church

Being able to see a live Nativity scene brings the story of Christmas from the abstract to the personal. Give your children sweet memories of the humble beginnings of the holiday by taking them to the 66th annual Living Nativity at the Old Dutch Church this Sunday and Monday, December 20 and 21 at 6:30, 7 or 7:30 p.m.

The Old Dutch Church is located at 272 Wall Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 338-6759 or visit


Erica Chase-Salerno and her husband, Mike, live in New Paltz with their two children: the inspirations behind She can be reached at