Veterans Weekend, ‘Bright Lights’ Holiday Event, Owl Prowl with Biologist

‘Bright Lights: Celebrate the Season’ Opens November 26

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will open its third annual holiday event, Bright Lights: Celebrate the Season, on Saturday, November 26, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Bright Lights will be open at the same time on Saturday and Sunday, December 3-18, and on Thursday, December 22.

Thousands of warm-white lights will create holiday magic inside and outside the Mansion and illuminate trees, wreaths, garlands, guest rooms, walkways, and the Vanderbilt Library.

The event will include Candlelight Tours of the decorated Vanderbilt Mansion, visits with Santa and friends in his workshop, a children’s scavenger hunt, and a 15-minute Holiday Laser show in the Reichert Planetarium. In addition, the Stoll Wing and Habitat wild-animal dioramas and the Hall of Fishes marine museum will be open for visitors. Also open: the Vanderbilt Café and Gift Shop, located in the Planetarium lobby.

Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, Executive Director of the Vanderbilt Museum, said, “We are thrilled to invite everyone to kick off the holiday season and celebrate with us. The decorated and lighted Mansion and Estate become a winter wonderland. Bright Lights offers evenings of family fun for all.”

On Saturday, November 26, the first night of Bright Lights, the huge, decorated tree in the Courtyard will be lighted at 6:00 pm.

All-inclusive tickets: adults $25 | Members $20; children 12 and under $15 | Members $10; children 2 and under FREE.

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‘Crying the News’: Child Labor and Print Culture

The lecture by award-winning historian Vincent DiGirolamo on childhood labor and print culture, planned for Thursday, November 10, will be rescheduled for spring 2023.

DiGirolamo is the author of the acclaimed 2019 book Crying the News: A History of America’s Newsboys.

In his book, he offers an epic retelling of the American experience from the perspective of the famed newsie, a young man who once hawked newspapers on street corners and contributed to the birth of the American press.


Progressive-Era Comics: Childhood Visual Culture

On Thursday, December 8, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will host Lara Saguisag, a heralded comics and children’s literature scholar from New York University, for Incorrigibles and Innocents, an evening lecture on the visual culture of childhood at the turn of the century. The lecture will take place at 7:00 pm in the Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.


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The Progressive Era (1890-1920) was a period of intense social activism and reform. Committed citizens from this period sought to address a wide variety of problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and political corruption. Although their efforts ushered in profound change, greatly improving the living conditions of the politically excluded or marginalized, culture at large expressed significant anxieties over the new social codes emerging alongside this rapid transformation of everyday life.

For decades, academics have noted that cultural preoccupations play out in the visual culture—comics, movies, photographs, etc.—of a period. When trained correctly, it is possible to “read” these forms of entertainment to develop a more nuanced understanding of what goes unstated in other texts. To better understand the Progressive Era, Lara Saguisag’s research examines the proliferation of comic books headlined by children during that period, including Hogan’s Alley, Buster Brown, The Katzenjammer Kids, and Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Saguisag suggests that popular representations of children in these strips reflect the emerging social codes of industrial society while also prefiguring public expectations about the future boundaries of citizenship, particularly along the lines of race, class, and gender. Saguisag’s study is a tremendous contribution to comics scholarship and an important work for understanding the processes by which social dynamics evolve.

Incorrigibles and Innocents received the Charles Hatfield Book Prize from the Comics Studies Society, the Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Single Book from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, and an Eisner nomination for Best Academic/Scholarly Work.

Lara Saguisag is an Associate Professor and the inaugural Georgiou Chair in Children’s Literacy and Literature in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU Steinhardt. She earned her Ph.D. in Childhood Studies from Rutgers University-Camden; MFA in Creative Writing from The New School; MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University; and BA in English from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Saguisag served on the Board of the Children’s Literature Association from 2019-2022.

Roman Zavada: ‘Résonances Boréales’

Roman Zavada, Résonances Boréales. Résonances Boréales is an exceptional 360° dome show featuring Zavada’s piano performance, performing live in the planetarium theater for one night only. Saturday, November 12th, 5:30 and 7:00pm. Presale: Individuals $30, Members $25. At the door: Individuals $35, members $25.Roman Zavada will perform, Résonances Boréales, piano compositions inspired by the spectacular aurora borealis in the Reichert Planetarium Theater on Saturday, November 12, at 5:30 and 7:00 pm. He describes the performance – accompanied by stunning video images on the dome – as a dialogue between a single piano and the northern lights.

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With an upright piano anchored to the rock of the Canadian Shield, at the edge of the taiga, Roman Zavada created piano compositions inspired by one of the most spectacular and majestic phenomena on Earth: the aurora borealis of the Northwest Territories. Acclaimed by critics and audiences alike for its beauty and originality, Résonances Boréales is an exceptional 360-degree dome show featuring Zavada’s piano performance. This immersive experience takes the audience on a journey above the 60th parallel as Zavada translates the spirit of the North in a dialogue between the piano and the pulsing energies of the astonishing northern lights.

Roman Zavada is a self-taught Ukrainian and Québécois-born pianist whose creative direction is based on instinct, spontaneity, and improvisation. His first piano experiences go back to early childhood. As he got older, he quickly developed a passion for showmanship and improvisation while breathing new life into the silver-screen classics of the past and became a silent-film accompanist. He improvised musical narration in real time, which made the musical notes of the soundtrack seem part of the film. He later returned to his personal compositions with an all-new large-scale project: Résonances Boréales.

Inspired by the Northern vibes and the splendor of the aurora borealis, Roman Zavada continued the composition of nine evocative titles over two years. Each piece, based on twenty hours of improvisation in the middle of Prelude Lake’s boreal forest in the Northwest Territories, reflects deeply the sensibility felt beyond the 60th parallel. Résonances Boréales is an album rich in emotion with a strong pianistic and artistic personality.

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‘Child’s Life at Eagle’s Nest’ for Grades K-4

The Vanderbilt will offer A Child’s Life at Eagle’s Nest, a program for children in grades K-4, on Saturday, December 10, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Learn about life at the Vanderbilt mansion, play games, listen to the music of the 1930s, and make a dreamy snow globe.



Beth Lazer-Limmer, Associate Director of Education, said, “children love having the mansion all to themselves. They play games in the halls and listen to old radio shows and jazz and make something that will remind them of the fun they had.”

CEED Biologist-Ranger Leads Owl Prowls

Biologist and ranger Eric Powers, co-founder of the Center for Environmental Education & Discovery (CEED), plans three Owl Prowls on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Estate and Museum – at 6:00 pm on Saturday, November 12, and Friday, November 18.

After a presentation on the owls of Long Island, Powers will lead a walk on the estate grounds, during which he will attempt to call in nearby owls. Flashlights are not permitted. Sturdy footwear is recommended as the trail is uneven and it will be dark.

Tickets: Members, free; non-Members, $12.

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CEED, based in Brookhaven, Long Island, is a nature center that inspires connections to the joys of nature through education and experience. CEED serves children, youth, and adults through public nature programs and events, school and community-based environmental education, conservation projects, live animal ambassadors, and more.

Veterans, Active Military Invited as Museum Guests

The Vanderbilt will thank veterans and active military personnel and their families for their extraordinary service when it invites them as guests on Veterans Day weekend, Friday, November 11, from 12:00 to 4:00, and on Saturday and Sunday, November 12 and 13, from 11:00 to 4:00. Sponsored by Northwell Health.

The Museum will offer them free general admission plus guided Mansion tours and Planetarium shows. (Veterans’ proof of military service, or active-duty military ID is required for complimentary guest admission.)

Veterans Day – which commemorates the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day – honors veterans of all wars.

The Vanderbilt salutes veterans and active military personnel in honor of the Vanderbilt family’s 132-year participation in U.S. military history – from the War of 1812 through World War II. William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), an accomplished sailor and yachtsman, served in the Navy during World War I and later was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

In 1941, the U.S. government had purchased Mr. Vanderbilt’s Sikorsky amphibious plane for wartime duty. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the horrific destruction of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought Mr. Vanderbilt’s support to help defend the nation.

Mr. Vanderbilt gave his 264-foot yacht Alva to the Navy, which converted it to a gunboat, the USS Plymouth. (Before the war, he moored the Alva near the mansion, in Northport Bay.) The Plymouth was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on August 4, 1943.

‘Wildman’ Steve Brill Leads Foraging Event

Environmental educator and author “Wildman” Steve Brill, who gives wild food and ecology tours, will offer Foraging with the ‘Wildman’ on the estate grounds of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum on Saturday, November 19, from 9:00 am to noon. A 60-minute indoor presentation will precede a two-hour tour, which will be followed by a book signing.

“With cultivated areas, fields, thickets, woods, and the seashore, the grounds of the Vanderbilt Museum is a bonanza for wild foods in late fall, and everything the group will be finding is renewable,” Brill said.

“Cold-tolerant wild greens will be thriving in sunny areas and along trail edges. We’ll be looking for chickweed, which tastes like corn on the cob, lemony sheep sorrel, garlicky garlic mustard, spicy hairy bittercress, and pungent field garlic. The sour leaves of curly dock will be back, and its relative, bitter dock, will have leaves large enough to roll up with a stuffing like that of stuffed cabbage, or even filled with fruit and nuts.”

Participants should bring plastic bags for veggies and herbs, a paper bag for rmushrooms, which spoil in plastic, and a plastic container in case they find autumn olive berries. Digging implements such as small hand shovels are recommended, as roots will be in season.

Brill urged participants to wear closed shoes, long pants, and long sleeves for protection from poison ivy and ticks, plus an extra layer of clothing in case it gets cold. Smoking and vaping are not allowed.

Children are welcome. Adults and children 12 and older $10, children under 12 free. Members $9.

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Brill’s books include Foraging in New York (Globe Pequot Press, 2017), on the state’s best edible plants; Foraging with Kids (Brill is author, artist, and publisher, 2014), a wild foods guide with science, folklore, history, recipes, games, and activities, for teachers, parents, and grandparents to use with kids; and The Wild Vegan Cookbook: A Guide to Preparing Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Foods (Harvard Common Press, 2002).

Other books include Shoots and Greens of Early Spring in Eastern North America (self-published with his illustrations, 1986) and Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not-So-Wild) Places (Harper Collins, 1994). Brill also has created an app, Wild Edibles Forage.


Long Island Chamber Music: Bach, Ravel Under the Stars

Long Island Chamber Music will present a performance by a string quartet on Friday, December 16, at 7:30 pm in the Vanderbilt Reichert Planetarium. The program will include pieces by Bach, Ravel, Sibelius, and others.

The music will be accompanied by beautiful panoramic imagery of the stars projected onto the 60- foot planetarium dome.

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LICM was founded in 2020 by husband-and-wife team Eric Huckins and Gergana Haralampieva alongside composer Nick DiBerardino. Their mission is to make world-class classical music readily accessible to Long Island communities. The group provides classical music concerts, educational programs, and private lessons for communities across Long Island year-round.

LICM musicians are drawn from Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Astral Artists, and several other of the country’s most prominent musical institutions. In addition to being leaders in their artform, LICM musicians are teaching artists, entrepreneurs, and socially minded advocates for classical music.

Give Vanderbilt Museum Memberships as Gifts

Looking for gift ideas? This holiday season, give the gift of discovery, exploration, and Gold Coast wonder  – an individual or family membership to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum. Benefits include unlimited admissions, Mansion tours, and Planetarium shows.

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