While Christmas at Meadow Croft is quite the premier event of the season, sadly, it had to be canceled this year for the pandemic, as the guidelines and restrictions would not have allowed for the merry event to go on as the cozy, crowded soiree it’s meant to be.
This, however, did not stop the Bayport-Blue Point Heritage Association from creating other community events to celebrate and incorporate the former Roosevelt mansion into the tidings of the season.
“I think more people have learned about Meadow Croft this year more than any other year,” said Mary Bailey, president of the BBP Heritage Association.
Weekend tours of the home, limited to a maximum of 13 guests per tour, were held and gained a newfound popularity as other stately homes on Long Island were forced to close to the public.
One of the Heritage Association’s board members dressed as Santa Claus and took pictures around the estate, which were then placed all over town (13 in all) for people to find, each with their own unique QR code that would bring them to the Heritage Association’s website, where facts about Meadow Croft and the holidays were found.
One of the facts focused on President Theodore Roosevelt, a regular guest at John E. Roosevelt’s estate and staunch conservationist, who forbid fresh Christmas trees in the White House, as he thought it cruel to cut down trees for decoration; another fact revealed that 1901 was the first year for an artificial tree.
“They were hidden in plain sight, so you could come across them at many local establishments,” said Bailey.
As there were not any fundraisers held this year, Bailey and vice president Leanne Berg had to get inventive about a virtual fundraiser. “The community businesses were so generous,” said Bailey, “that we were able to have 13 baskets to raffle off this year.”
For $10, raffle ticket buyers would have a chance at each of the 12 regular baskets and the grand prize.
The drawings were filmed at Meadow Croft and streamed online via Facebook with a special theme each time. In one drawing, Bailey and Berg dressed in period costume with frocks harkening back to 1906.
Typically, Karl Auwaerter, of Bayport Flower Houses, donates Christmas trees to Meadow Croft, which he then transplants to Memorial Park after the season.
This year, Bailey decided to have the gifted tree brought directly to Memorial Park and decorated it with lights, as has been tradition for over 30 years.
“It felt empty, though, with just lights,” said Bailey, who then came up with the idea of having the community decorate the tree.
The response was overwhelming and people from all over town brought ornaments, some homemade with the Bayport-Blue Point credo of “Two towns. One Community.”