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Long Island Family Donates Large Holiday Tree for Courtyard

2018 Tree Lighting in Vanderbilt Courtyard
Vanderbilt Museum photo

Keri Hollander and her family purchased a small live spruce 30 years ago as their first Christmas tree. After the holiday, they planted it in their front yard in Centereach. Now it’s 40 feet high and they offered to donate it to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum for display in the Vanderbilt Mansion Courtyard.

When the Museum holds its 32nd annual Tree Lighting event on Saturday, November 30, the Hollander family will be there to turn on the lights.

Lead sponsor for the event is Northwell Health. Other sponsors include Lidl grocery stores and J.G. Brands Christmas Tree Sales, Inc.

The free family-friendly event, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, draws several hundred visitors each year. Included will be performances by the Northport Chorale and singer Eva Erickson, carol singing, ornament-making for children, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus (a great photo opportunity).

Visitors can enjoy treats provided by Lidl, Long Island’s next new grocery store. Stop by the Lidl food truck for free snack samples.

J.G. Brands Christmas Tree Sales, Inc., of Bellerose, New York, also donated a tree. The 15-foot balsam is standing in front of the arc of thousand-year-old Carthaginian columns at the entrance to the Vanderbilt Estate.

The event includes a raffle basket ($129 value): Vanderbilt Family Membership, a one-hour photo session (plus 10 prints) at the Vanderbilt with Janelle Brooke photography, and lots of Vanderbilt gift items and children’s toys from the Museum Gift Shop.

Holiday visitors who purchase tickets for guided Mansion tours will see the magic created by local designers and garden clubs, who deck the halls each November. This year, in addition to the beautifully transformed rooms, visitors will see a spectacular installation in the lobby of the Museum’s Memorial Wing – Enchanted Flight of the Cardinals by the designers at Ethan Allen in Huntington Station, N.Y.

For many years, the Museum was able to harvest large pines and spruces from the wooded areas of the 43-acre Estate. In September, the Vanderbilt announced it was seeking a local family that could donate a sizeable tree for this year’s celebration. The Museum agreed to cut it down and transport it to the Mansion.

Keri Hollander responded, and wrote an email to Jim Munson, the Vanderbilt’s operations supervisor:

“I believe I have, on my front lawn, the perfect holiday tree for your Mansion’s Courtyard. It’s approximately 30 years old and was our family’s first Christmas tree. We thought it would be fun to buy a tree that we could bring into the house – it was only about six feet high at the time – and then later plant it in our backyard.

“Right after Christmas, we planted it ‘temporarily’ in the front of the yard with plans to move it in the spring. Well, 30 years later, it still stands in the middle of our front lawn. If you will have it, we would be very happy to donate it to the Vanderbilt Museum.”

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt, said, “We’re very grateful to the Hollander family and to J.G. Brands for their generosity. The J.G. Brands tree will welcome visitors at the gate. And the Hollanders’ spectacular spruce will be the delightful holiday centerpiece for the Vanderbilt Mansion – part of the magic of the grand house, which is decorated every year by local volunteer designers and garden clubs.”

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