Caroling at Gramercy Park

Carolers in Gramercy Park (Photos by Ira Fox Photography)

On Christmas Eve, the trustees of Gramercy Park and the Gramercy Park Block Association hosted an evening of caroling, an annual tradition that draws thousands from around the city to the normally private park. The event was hosted by Arlene Harrison, president of the GPBA; Calvary Rector Rev. Jacob Smith and Rector Emeritus Rev. Dr. Thomas Pike. Caroling was led Kamel Boutros, music director at Calvary-St. George’s, with music by Alex Nguyen and Friends.

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THANK YOU: Nearly 250 toys donated to Town & Village holiday drive

Dr. Bonnie Robbins of Mount Sinai Beth Israel says this drive has become more crucial to the families the hospital serves. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as the families utilizing the outpatient clinics run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel by donating nearly 250 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

Gifts for kids of all ages were donated this year including instruments, jewelry making kits, board games, action figures and fashion dolls.

Town & Village’s partners on this longstanding community tradition are Stuy Town Property Services, the management of Waterside Plaza and M&T Bank on First Avenue and 23rd Street, who all provided convenient toy dropoff sites.

Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, has said in recent years it has been more challenging to get enough toys to meet the needs of patients. This has been, she suspects, in part due to the economy but also competition from other drives for donations from individuals and toy retailers.

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13th Pct. Community Council holds holiday dinner at Hane

Event guests, including, in the back, Frank Scala, Community Council president; Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct; and another guest (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The 13th Precinct Community Council held its annual holiday dinner for members at Hane Sushi in Stuyvesant Town on Monday evening.

About 30 regular attendees of the monthly community council meetings were at the dinner, including the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, Executive Officer Ernesto Castro and community affairs officers John Considine and Detective Vincent Arlotta. Community Council President Frank Scala thanked the officers for their work in the community throughout the year and Hellman said that he was looking forward to continuing the work in the neighborhood next year.

“It’s been a tough year but we’re making progress,” Hellman said. “We’ll be focusing on connecting more with the community in the upcoming months.”

Last minute gifts for less than $50 found at Union Sq. Holiday Market

One-of-a-kind leather-bound journals (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Christmas now days away, those who have yet to finish their gift shopping — or start — needn’t panic.

Quality gifts aplenty can be found at The Union Square Holiday Market, which, each year, features goods from around 150 vendors at the southern end of the park. Town & Village recently wandered around in search of last-minute gift ideas and found a bunch, all for $50 or less.

Journals with covers made of leather or wood

New company Bora Ninova (created by one of the three brothers behind Bora Jewelry, a longtime market vendor) makes one-of-a-kind journals, manufactured in Turkey. The covers are made from either wrought leather in rich colors or thin wooden panels with etched drawings and are all priced between $20-$45.

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Santa Con is coming to town on Saturday

Santa Con revelers, pictured in 2016 at the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Love it or hate it, Santa Con is here to stay in New York City with the next yuletide pub crawl scheduled for this Saturday, December 8.

Whether you hope to participate (for a $12 donation to charity) or just avoid the red-and-white-clad revelers, the organization that runs the event has begun listing the participating venues on its website. The actual route isn’t usually revealed until 24 hours before the start of the event, where men and women have made a tradition of dressing like Santa, elves, reindeer and in other holiday-inspired attire.

The venues are mostly clustered in the East Village, as well as midtown, mostly in the 30s with a few in Flatiron and Union Square. Some of the venues on the south end of the route include The Phoenix, Nowhere Bar, Crocodile Lounge, SideBar, Plug Uglies, Coyote Ugly, The Continental, Vazac Horseshoe Bar, Machos NYC. In Flatiron, there’s Taj, 230 Fifth Avenue rooftop bar and Slate. In midtown, they’re Feile, Rattle and Hum, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, Blarney Stone, Jack Doyle’s and Rick’s Cabaret.
For the full list, visit santacon.nyc/route.

Town & Village holding toy drive to benefit Mount Sinai Beth Israel

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in 2016 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Town & Village is holding a toy drive to help make the holidays brighter for children undergoing medical treatment during the holiday season as well as the children of families in outpatient programs run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Gifts will be accepted for children of all ages as long as they are new. Items for older boys are especially in high demand. No toy weapons, please.

Partnering with Town & Village on this effort is:

Stuyvesant Town Property Services, accepting toys in bins located at Resident Services, 276 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop Road and the Peter Cooper Village kiosk at 22nd Street and First Avenue

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Glowing sculpture debuts in Flatiron

“Happy,” the seasonal installation at the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership officially debuted the public art installation “Happy” to kick off the holiday festivities in the neighborhood this past Monday evening.

Architect Benjamin Cadena designed the installation through the fifth annual Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition with the Department of Transportation arts program and the Van Alen Institute.

Cadena said that he wanted to design something that felt warm during the colder months but also that would cheer up passersby suffering from the winter blues.

“With the cold winter, I wanted to make a space that looks and feels warmer but I also wanted to project a positive object that makes you feel good,” he said. “I also wanted to do something a little different from the past installations and define a specific space, embracing the whole plaza.”

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Flatiron BID presents ‘23 Days of Flatiron Cheer’ event series

The rendering shows “Happy,” a soon-to-be unveiled holiday installation at the Flatiron Plaza. (Rendering courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership BID)

On Monday, November 19, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District will launch its seventh annual “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming and unveil, in partnership with Van Alen Institute, a vibrant public art installation – “Happy.”

The event series will kick off on Monday, November 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Flatiron North Public Plaza, 23rd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

The event will offer a preview of “23 Days,” which runs from Saturday, December 1 to Sunday, December 23 and features free, holiday-themed events. This year’s “23 Days” also will include a food drive, free fitness classes, and an ongoing series of food features with top chefs in the district.

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THANK YOU: Generous T&V readers donate over 400 toys to holiday drive

Dr. Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, with some of the donated toys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as well as other children in need by donating 406 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

The toys will be distributed throughout the pediatric department of Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where some young patients are awaiting surgery, as well as to the children of patients who utilize the hospital’s network of opioid treatment centers. The vast majority of the patients are low-income.

“These toys mean so much to our families, many of whom struggle during the holiday season to make it a special time for their kids,” said Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “These gifts go a long way to giving our children a truly happy holiday.”

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Installation on Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza debuts for the holidays

On Monday night, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership (BID) celebrated the launch of “23 Nights of Flatiron Cheer,” an upcoming series of free events at the pedestrian plaza with the unveiling of “Flatiron Reflection,” an architectural installation. The installation was created by the firm Future Expansion, the winner of a design competition held by local nonprofit Van Alen. (Pictured L-R) Nicholas McDermott and Deirdre McDermott of Future Expansion; Jessica Lax, Van Alen Institute; Emily Colasacco, NYC DOT Art; Isabel Meisner, Van Alen Institute; Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID; Jorge Parreira, New Motor; Kurt Cavanaugh, Flatiron BID; Amanda Eldridge, GMS; David Messineo and Stephanie Darna, New Motor

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The weather was appropriately windy and wintry for the kickoff of the Flatiron BID’s annual holiday festivities, known as the “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” on Monday.

The series, offering free performances, fitness sessions, prizes and hot beverage giveaways, officially begins on December 1, but the launch this week gave a preview of the offerings to come and also served as the debut of the newest art installation on the north Flatiron Plaza, “Flatiron Reflections.”

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The history of Rolf’s Christmas crowd pleaser

It’s almost impossible to get into Rolf’s German restaurant in Gramercy around holiday time unless you’ve made your reservation in October. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

It’s almost impossible to get into Rolf’s German restaurant in Gramercy around holiday time unless you’ve made your reservation in October. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Rolf’s, a German/Bavarian restaurant in Gramercy, has been known for years for its stunning display of antique dolls complemented with rows and rows of Christmas ornaments and lights strewn throughout the space during the holiday season.

But few know the history behind the tradition, which began 35 years ago and has since made the venue world-famous.

It was in 1981 when the original owner of the restaurant, Rolf Hoffman, died due to lung cancer at the age of 49.

Robert Maisano, who now owns the place, knew Hoffman and recalled how he very much wanted to keep the place a German restaurant, serving up heaping plates of schnitzel, sausages and potato pancakes.

Maisano hasn’t strayed from this mission, though the emphasis on transforming Rolf’s into a winter wonderland each year is his own.

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Stuy Town Christmas tree lighting

On Saturday, about 70 Stuy Town residents gathered at the Oval fountain for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Christmas Carolers kicked off the evening before the arrival of Santa Claus who led a countdown to the tree lighting with a “ho, ho, ho.”

Guests enjoyed free cookies and hot chocolate and cider and also picked up free necklaces and stuffed reindeer toys. Children got to take pictures on Santa’s lap nearby in the Oval Studio.

A Menorah lighting will take place on December 28.

Photos by Maya Rader

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Pictured:

Santa with Peter, a two-year-old resident

Flatiron gets in the holiday spirit with SantaCon

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SantaCon participants got creative with their costumes as usual, including a group with real pine trees in their backpacks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Revelers donned their best Santa, elf and reindeer costumes for the annual SantaCon pub crawl last weekend, which started in the shadow of the Flatiron building this year. Neighborhood residents let their opposition be known when the Santas gathered on the plaza at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and while the NYPD said there was no record of an arrest, NBC News noted that a handful of the protesters were escorted out of the plaza by police.

The NYPD also noted that no drunk or fighting Santas were arrested as in previous years, and while many in the community were not convinced of their noble intentions, organizers seem to be attempting to clean up the event’s reputation. Organizers on the plaza this past Saturday could be seen picking up bits of trash while the crowd started clearing out by late morning and one Santa berated a photographer climbing onto a planter, yelling at her not to be disrespectful of public property.

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Great gifts at the Holiday Market

Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Union Square Holiday Market, which, every year, takes over the south end of Union Square Park for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, has now been around for over two decades.

But UrbanSpace, the company behind the long-running event, has made some changes this year, including putting in two stages for performances, an area for children’s activities, and a new section called Urban Provisions for packaged food items. There’s also been an expansion to a recently introduced section called Little Brooklyn, with many additional booths run by craftspeople and merchants from that borough. Aesthetic changes include more lighting and tree branches fashioned into archways and logs placed here and there to give the market a more woodsy feel.

Taking a T&V reporter on a stroll through the market earlier this week to explore some of the new additions was Mick Joseph. Joseph, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, is a market veteran, having operated a booth for DezignMind, the company she runs with husband Claus Ronnex-Printz for the past 14 years.

For that company, the couple works with families in different countries, in particular Bali and Thailand, to produce items Joseph designs, from wooden percussion animals that make surprisingly accurate noises when brushed with a baton or used as a whistle to fragrant clove boxes and ornaments to decorative masks.

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THANK YOU: Readers donate hundreds of toys to T&V holiday drive

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, stands by some of the donated toys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, stands by some of the donated toys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Each year during the holiday season, Town & Village holds a toy drive benefitting a local hospital and, thanks to our generous readers and other community members, hundreds of new toys were donated.

All of the toys (we stopped counting at 300 but there were plenty more) were brought to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel last Friday. As always, the toys are given to kids who are stuck spending their holidays in hospital rooms as well as the children of patients of the hospital’s outpatient programs and clinics. In many cases, those patients can’t afford for shop for presents for their kids.

For this drive, Town & Village partnered with Stuyvesant Town management, Waterside Plaza management and M&T Bank on First Avenue, who all provided convenient donation dropoff sites.

The drive, which began in mid-November, ended last Thursday. However, it was during the last week when many of the donations were made, including, in one case, an entire truck load at once. (This was after a Stuy Town family held a party at which guests were each asked to bring a donated gift.) The haul included Barbies, Lego sets, remote control operated helicopters, tricycles, sports equipment, jewelry making kits, board games, books, action figures, toy instruments and stuffed animals.

Bonnie Robbins, Ph.D., the coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, noted that the variety of donated items means it’s that much easier for hospital staffers to match gifts to kids’ interests.

While sorting out the toys at her office, Robbins said, “This year the community has really outdone itself in terms of its generosity and words cannot express how appreciative we are.
“The toys,” she added, “really make a difference between our kids having a happy holiday or not. Sometimes the presents they get from the program are the only gifts they receive. When they see them, their faces just light up and we want to thank each and every person for their thoughtfulness and continued support of what we do.”

The staff of Town & Village would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our readers for their generosity as well as to CWCapital/CompassRock, Waterside and M&T Bank, for their participation.
We also wish all in the community a Happy New Year.