You better watch out. Better not pout. Sinterklaas is coming to town.
You may be less familiar with the Dutch figure whose characteristic red suit and white beard was adopted into the iconic Christmas figure of Santa Claus. But, a visit to Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany will reacquaint you with this charismatic man of the holiday season.
“Dutch Sinterklass,” said Jillian Alterburg, executive director of the Ten Broeck Mansion. “He charms all the ladies.”
The historic mansion, as in years past, is hosting a bevy of events this holiday season. And, even when there isn’t a gala, concert or tea party, there is a Holiday Shop open each weekday on the second floor. The monthlong activity leads to quite the bustle at the 200-year old home.
“This is the busiest time of year,” said Alterburg.
Preview the mansion’s gracious rooms and halls as they are beautifully decorated for the holidays by community volunteers. A light champagne reception, a silent auction, holiday gift shop and a visit from Sinterklaas are all promised for the evening Champagne Preview Party on Thursday, Dec. 4, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Pre-paid reservations of $70 per person are required.
The holiday season gets a proper kick-off with Ten Broeck Mansion’s Open House. The day is known as Saint Nicholas Day in Belgium, Luxembourg, and neighboring regions of Northern Europe. Stroll through the mansion and ask questions of volunteers. Let the children enjoy holiday crafts and visit Sinterklaas from noon to 2 p.m. The open house lasts until 3 p.m. Price of admission for adults is $5, and $1 for children under 12 on Saturday, Dec. 6.
Rabbi Don Cashman, spiritual leader of the B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation, leads a Hanukkah lecture on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 1 p.m. to discuss the history and traditions of Jewish holiday. Admission is free, and reservations are not required.
The mansion continues to recognize different cultures and nationalities with the Musicians of Ma’alwyck on Friday, Dec. 12. The date marks the first visit for the talented duo, as they play a variety of Christmas tunes of different nationalities and early period music. Festivities begin at 7 p.m. Reservations are encouraged at a price of $25 a person.
Holiday Tea is to be served in the formal dining room Saturday, Dec. 13, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“It is always the most popular of the events,” said Alterburg.
Sit with friends in one of the lovely parlors and then stroll through beautifully decorated rooms and hallways. A pre-paid reservation is required for each of the two seating periods. Seatings are from 1- 2:30 p.m. and 3- 4:30 p.m. for $25 a person ($20 ACHA member price).
Sinterklass returns for the Children’s Story Hour on Saturday, Dec. 20. Stories for children ages 3-10 are shared from 10:30 to noon. Bring your children to hear stories read by the jolly man, play parlor games, crafts, decorate cookies and enjoy simple holiday refreshments. Admission is free.
The list of holiday events is capped off with the Holiday Madrigals, Coffee and Desserts on Saturday, Dec. 20. Afternoon coffee and desserts are served from 1:30-4 p.m. as holiday songs are performed by the full ensemble of the Helderberg Madrigal Singers. Reservations are suggested, and admission of $25 a person will be charged.
The Ten Broeck Mansion was built in 1797 by Elizabeth Ten Broeck for her husband, Abraham Ten Broeck, on land leased from her brother, the patroon Stephen Van Rensselaer. Years later, the home was purchased by prominent Albany business man, Thomas Worth Olcott and renamed Arbor Hill, to which the surrounding neighborhood still bears the name. The house was purchased from the Olcott family in 1948 by the Albany County Historical Association, which has maintained it as a local museum.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.
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