By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – Carlene Dunn was flooded with warm, positive feelings last Monday afternoon at the Mount Gulian Historic Site. Some moments were even filled with déjà vu.
The former Beacon resident, Dunn (whose parents still reside in Beacon) finally agreed to her mother’s appeals to take her two children to the Annual Holiday Tea at the site. Spending time at Mount Gulian herself as a girl scout, Dunn couldn’t help but feel an intense aura of nostalgia as well as much more.
“When I came here as a girl scout, we too made the same craft-Palmadors- that the children are making here today,” recalled Dunn. “So when I came down the stairs with my children to make them again, I had a very memorable, special feeling; it really was like coming full circle being here today with them and my mother.”
A once again sold out crowd joined Dunn and her family at the popular Annual Mount Gulian Holiday Tea, something that has become an ongoing, late December tradition for an assortment of Hudson Valley children as well as adults. Providing a formal tea in a festively decorated, authentic historic setting, the event further features good manners, fun interactions with others, historic information, and overall fun with an opportunity to make a Victorian-inspired craft project, this year Palmadors (oranges with cloves.) Inside the Site, two lovely decorated rooms, containing tables with linen and fine china could be spotted.
They were covered with an assortment of teas, breads, dainty finger sandwiches, as well as an ensemble of homemade desserts. Wearing dresses and suits or other formal attire, the children could be spotted smiling, laughing and just plain enjoying the vibe of the unique afternoon with family members and others.
“I have been coming here since 2008; I actually took one of my three grandchildren who is now 19,” said Leticia Hixon of Stormville, who this year was with her nine year old granddaughter, Sera Smith. “I enjoy coming here because I’m a big history buff, and this is a chance to introduce children to a formal tea as well as let them enjoy a new craft each year.” She added, “I love the intimate setting; it’s very relaxed, nice, and everyone is really enjoying themselves.”
Yet another long-time tea participant was Lisa Daily of the city of Newburgh. Attending the Tea for five years, Daily, like so many others, was prompted to register by the multiple features it offers.
“This is a great thing to support; I wanted to bring my granddaughter to high tea and let her learn about the kind of manners we don’t learn about today,” explained Daily, who also came with two of her grandsons to enjoy the authentic, local holiday event. “She asks me every year when we are coming here; it was so wonderful to finally take her and let her experience it.”
That type of enjoyment for the event was apparent throughout the Historic site Monday. Whether it was learning how to pour tea, being introduced to a new type of food, testing creative/artistic skills on a craft, or just taking in their surroundings, children were happily immersed in whatever they chose to do, walking away fulfilled.
“I liked how other kids came up and introduced themselves, and I love the decorations, so pretty and festive,” said Sera Smith, who was celebrating her birthday. “I also really liked the desserts and cucumber sandwiches.” Smiling, she added, “It was a lot of fun.”