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New York City for Christmas, December 14-17, 2017

by Jenny and Charlie Plesums

Thursday December 14

This was a travel half-day... hard to believe with no date line or passport required. We flew from Austin directly to JFK in New York arriving Thursday mid-afternoon. The return flight on Sunday evening was delayed multiple times by the repercussions of the power failure in the Atlanta airport, even though we were just flying near, but not connecting, at Atlanta.

Thursday evening we wandered Rockefeller Center to see the tree and lights. The tree is huge with countless lights, but is slightly lost among the skyscrapers. The base of the tree is probably 2 feet in diameter; notice the people near it.

Saks Fifth Avenue has an amazing animated light and music show on the front of their store, facing Rockefeller Center.

I recorded about 1½: minutes of video to give an idea what the light show was like.

The inside of stores were as elegant as the outside.

And more... this one rotated and was animated.

If you don't have room for a tree outside your building, why not just make your building into a tree?

Jenny was intrigued with Dr. Bones, a dressed up skeleton, in the stores.

As I recall, it was 1,600 purses that gave up their lives in the creation of this dragon in the Coach Store.

If no giant tree, how about some giant ornaments?

Friday December 15

We got tickets to the early show of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes. We have had many opportunities over the many visits to New York City, and have never done this before. Bad Mistake. It was wonderful. We will go again at every opportunity. Better than any Broadway play.

Even the lobby was amazing, with a 50 foot tall 4 ton crystal Christmas tree hanging in the center.

The auditorium is spectacular. The snowflakes on the ceiling were animated. There was an organ concert before the show with two organists at separate consoles

The stage elevators and smoke made the 36 Rockettes appear, dressed as reindeer

Santa magically appeared, and the 36 Rockettes hitched up to pull him onward. That evolved into a 3D show of Santa flying through and over New York City. Very well done.

One of their numbers involved bubbles - on stage, over the stage, and huge animated bubbles that flew around over the audience. I never could figure how they did that.

One skit was on a tour bus that moved around the stage in front of a model of the outside of the theater. By the time the Rockettes got off the bus, they had all changed costumes, on the bus.

One act that has been part of all the shows "forever" is the soldiers gradually falling. It takes a full minute for the slow motion fall and requires LOTS of rehearsal.

Yes, Christmas was part of the Christmas Show. The Rockettes became shepherds, wise men, and other participants - only Mary and Joseph were not dancers. I can count three live sheep in this picture; at another point there were two live camels as well.

In this finale you get a hint of the stage elevators, which are so massive that they were copied as aircraft carrier elevators. During World War II the stage was a defense secret - guarded so the enemy would not learn the elevator technology. In 60 years of use, there has never been a failure.

After the show we took the separate back scenes tour - a very interesting 75 minutes.

One of the many items of the tour was the costume shop. The size of every Rockette ever is on file here.

We didn't see the elephant climbing the stairs, but we used the stairs he was on.

Even though the fountains were active, they were also frozen.

One of the goals of this trip was to meet my godchild, Virginia Austin Stellato, who had been neglected for over 50 years. The last time I saw her for more than a couple minutes, she was hiding behind a curtain as a toddler. We had a nice evening with her and her husband Mark. She is no longer as shy.

Saturday December 16

We decided to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

You may recognize this statue of General Sherman at the Southeast corner of Central Park. Jenny said it wasn't far to the museum - about a mile. At this mid-point we had over a mile to go. Ask Mark about how Jenny plans a walk of "about a mile." He was scarred in his youth, and I was with them back then on Jenny's "only a mile" walk.

One of the special Met exhibits was bamboo - not just small woven baskets but also large sculptures

Another exhibit was a Christmas tree with antique ornaments, and a different theme on each side.

There was a study of what something was worth when it was made - gold and silver changed value, currency fluctuated wildly over time, but they found one thing that kept constant value... a milk cow. So things were priced in units of cows (or fractions of a cow).

This very elaborate gold and jeweled chalice was valued at 255 cows

This board game, made of ebony, ivory, bone, horn, and gold wire, with exquisite craftsmanship, was valued at 12 cows. There were other items valued at 1/2 cow, 1/12 cow, etc.

In Lima Peru we were thrilled to find a museum that had their storage, behind glass, open to the public. We found a similar area at the Met, row after row of items, on the Mezzanine.

For example, would you like a chair for one of the exhibits? Rows and rows of chairs available. Some ready to show, some needed repair or reupholstery.

Or perhaps you would like a tall clock? Note that the top of the 5th clock is on the floor in front of the 4th clock, perhaps because it was too tall. Oh well, this is storage.

Or would you like to choose from some silver - or pewter from a different row, or dishes from another, etc.

On Saturday Night we got tickets to Wicked, a very highly rated play. It is overrated. The music was fairly good, but the set was largely unrelated to the thin story line, and not worth the cost of the ticket. Buy the CD - more for your money.

Sunday December 17

We went to church at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Their almost life size crèche had the usual sheep, camel, angels, and shepherds, but also had a dog. I have never seen a dog included before.

Almost across from St. Patrick's Cathedral is St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Their altar is so stunning with carved details that I had to include a picture.

There was no heat wave as we walked around.

Creating these travelogues are fun, but a lot of work. I would love to hear from you, with comments such as too much/too little ____, too many/few opinions, errors, bad attempts at humor, etc. Send e-mail comments to Charlie@Plesums.com

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