Category Archives: fun

Old Westbury Gardens Winter Holiday – Now & Then

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
December 23, 2017

Last Sunday, while entering the snowy grounds of Old Westbury Gardens with my friend Bob, I thought back to 2007, when I visited the Gold Coast estate during a biting, heavy snowfall.

Past

That day 10 Decembers ago, I stayed outside capturing photos until I absolutely had to go to Westbury House, beg mercy from staff in the Entrance Hall, take off my gloves and boots, and stand toasty close to the fireplace.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. Dec. 5, 2007. At Westbury House, the Entrance Hall window with black wrought iron grill gives hazy glimpse of snowstorm. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 5, 2007. At Westbury House, the Entrance Hall window with black wrought iron grill gives hazy glimpse of snowstorm. (© 2007 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Slowly defrosting in the impressively elegant wood and marble hall, I imagined myself back outside the mansion, but during the Great Blizzard of 1947, when the John and Margarita Phipps family lived there….

Fantasy ’47

I was a trespasser with a noble mission – wielding my Kodak in the snowstorm to capture ghostlike images of trees – and, alas, flirting with hypothermia.

Without warning, a tall stranger swept me off my numb feet and whisked me to the mansion. As we took off our coats, I noticed he, too, had a camera strapped around his neck.

We sat in front a fireplace surrounded by books, and he put his hand to his chest. “Victor, Victor Hasselblad – a… a husgäst of Phipps,” he said softly and with a melodic accent. “And you, lilla frusen lövsångare?”   

“Oh my,” “I said, “You’re THE Victor Hasselblad!” The genius nodded. “You’ve just GOT to develop a Hasselblad camera for civilians!” I said, then started to tell him why….

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. A lighted Christmas tree decorates the formal dining room of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens during its Winter Holiday event. (Ann Parry/˙ 2017 Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. A lighted Christmas tree decorates the elegant dining room of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens during its Winter Holiday event. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Present

Now I’m at times better about coming in from the cold before losing feeling in my extremities.

But I always do my best to protect my camera. So last weekend when Bob and I arrived at Old Westbury Gardens and stepped out of the car on to slippery icy snow-covered grounds, we headed straight to Westbury House.

Once inside, we heard what sounded like live music coming from the Ballroom just ahead. We were right, for in a far corner of the vast room, pianist ANGELINA FUSCO was playing traditional Christmas music on a Steinway grand piano, backlit by large windows. Capturing the atmospheric scene was a fun challenge.

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Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Pianist ANGELINA FUSCO plays Christmas music on Steinway grand piano to entertain visitors at Old Westbury Gardens museum, a former estate of John Shaffer Phipps, during snowy winter holiday weekend on Long Island's Gold Coast. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. Dec. 17, 2017. Pianist ANGELINA FUSCO plays Christmas music on Steinway grand piano at Old Westbury Gardens museum during Winter Holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

The Main Hall was not to be missed, especially for families with children, since that’s where Santa sat surrounded by a Christmas tree, fireplace that was a great setting for holiday photos, and stairway strewn with stuffed animals looking as if they’d spilled out of Santa’s bag as he made his way up to the Children’s Quarters on the Third floor.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Santa sits ready for visitors next to a Christmas tree on second floor of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens museum during snowy winter holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Santa sits ready for visitors next to a Christmas tree on second floor of Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens museum during winter holiday weekend. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Bob lingered longest in the bedroom with a large-scale model train traveling around the room, disappearing for a while each lap as it followed tracks under the bed.

Children (of all ages) also enjoyed the charming scene in Mrs. Phipps’s bathroom, where deer and penguins watched a fawn take a bubble bath in the green and white bathtub.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. In the Westbury House children's sunny bathroom of Old Westbury Gardens museum, deer and penguins watch over fawn taking a bubble bath. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. Deer family and penguins watch over a fawn taking a bubble bath in Mrs. Phipps’s bathroom at Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens, a Long Island Gold Coast estate. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

As closing time neared, we visited the Porch facing West, with its three walls of windows, and enjoyed hot cider and the panoramic, ungilded dusk view.

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. At Westbury House, two Christmas trees flank the Porch facing West, with panoramic view of snowy grounds during Winter Holiday event at Old Westbury Gardens. (© 2017, Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Old Westbury, New York, USA. December 17, 2017. At Westbury House, two Christmas trees flank the Porch facing West, with panoramic view of snowy grounds during Winter Holiday event at Old Westbury Gardens. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

And when it was time to go, we made our way through the snow once again.

Old Westbury Gardens Winter 2017:  SLIDESHOW | GALLERY

“American Grit” Contestant Chris Edom has Backyard Viewing Party

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry  (ann-parry.com)
July 8, 2017

“American Grit” Season 2 contestant Chris Edom lives right here in North Merrick!

Merrick, New York, USA. 11th June 2017. In backyard of

Merrick, NY, USA. 11th June 2017. “American Grit” contestant Chris Edom (lower left) walks up to where the TV show’s logo appears on the large screen in his family’s backyard during their Viewing Party. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Chris – who described himself on the Fox reality TV show as being bullied and picked last for teams when he was a kid – invited every adult neighbor on both sides of the block his family lives on to the Viewing Party he and his wife Joan hosted for the premiere of the new season.

Merrick, New York, USA. 11th June 2017.

Merrick, NY USA. 11th June 2017. “American Grit” reality television show contestant CHRIS EDOM and his wife JOAN EDOM host backyard Viewing Party for Season 2 premiere. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

The night of the party, when I parked my car, slung my camera across my chest, and walked across the dead end street, I thought back to the 1960s when it was actually a mostly-dead end (as Miracle Max from Princess Bride might put it).

Back then, its rounded end had a limited outlet that brought extra cars and pedestrians, including my best friend Judy and me walking to and from school each day.

Merrick, New York, USA. 11th June 2017. At bottom left, CHRIS EDOM,

Merrick, NY, USA. 11th June 2017. At bottom left, CHRIS EDOM, “American Grit” TV contestant, hosts backyard Viewing Party for Season 2 premiere. On screen are 3 of the 4 “Cadre” team leaders: (L-R) JOHN CENA, JOHN BURKE, and RIKI LONG. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Eventually the outlet closed altogether, and now curbside basketball hoops bloom each summer, and it’s common to see families chatting, children playing….

But that Sunday night, the block felt – uncommon. The air itself seemed charged with some special energy that grew stronger when I joined the crowd at the Viewing Party.

Merrick, New York, USA. 11th June 2017.

Merrick, NY, USA. 11th June 2017. “American Grit” TV contestant CHRIS EDOM (at bottom right, wearing white GOT GRIT? T-shirt) sits with his wife, JOAN EDOM as they host backyard Viewing Party for Season 2 premiere. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

What a turnout! About 60 of Chris and his wife Joan’s family, neighbors and other friends filled the Edoms’ backyard to watch the first episode.

Before the episode started, Chris had the biggest smile as he told everyone how close the contestants have stayed, how many will be getting together to watch a future episode, and how they’re his American Grit family.

Then the words “American Grit” filled the huge inflatable screen borrowed from a neighbor. The show began. Guests cheered when Chris appeared on screen, held their breath when challenges got tough, and waited in suspense to find out: 

Will Chris be picked for one of the 4 teams — or will “the last kid picked for teams” be the first contestant “ringing out” of the competition and the chance to win the cash prize at end of “American Grit”?

Merrick, New York, USA. June 11, 2017. American Grit TV show contestant CHRIS EDOM (wearing white

Merrick, NY, USA. 11th June 2017. During “American Grit” Season 2 premiere Viewing Party at contestant Chris Edom’s backyard with large TV screen – Edom (center below) plunges into lake after pulling rip cord. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

  • UPDATE July 16, 2017:  Chris made two important decisions during tonight’s episode, and still is a contestant on American Grit.
  • UPDATE August 6, 2017:  Chris Edom did Merrick proud by coming in 5th Place during tonight’s Season 2 Finale!   —  At the Open House Viewing Party held at ‘Cadre’ Rikki Long’s gym in Copiague, fans joined ‘Cadre’ John Burke and some contestants, including Chris with his wife Joan. The two fans from my family who were there enjoyed cheering for Chris and meeting such friendly cast members.

Chris Edom’s twitter:  @chris_edom

“American Grit” Viewing Party:   SLIDESHOW |  GALLERY

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