Historic Van-Riper Hopper House in Wayne Celebrates Holidays of New Jersey’s Past

Historic Van-Riper Hopper House in Wayne Celebrates Holidays of New Jersey’s Past

By Dawn M Chiossi

     With the holidays on the horizon, celebration will soon be in the air. For people everywhere, the feeling is palpable with all of their senses engaged: It all screams holiday:  People see decorations, hear carols,  inhale wonderful scents, taste cinnamon and sweet treats, and it all feels cozy, like being wrapped in a fleece blanket.

     That time of year should make people tingle with anticipation, but for so many that feeling is marred by commercialism and hyperactivity. Holiday time then can so easily make people feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and out of sorts.  But with the “Holidays of New Jersey’s Past” sponsored by Wayne’s historic Van Riper-Hopper House, the public is invited to leave all of that behind and embrace nostalgia and history instead.

     Considered one of the oldest buildings in New Jersey, the Van Riper-Hopper House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. According to Museum Coordinator, Carol D’Alessandro, this Dutch Colonial House is, “a living history center.”

     Step back in time, take a deep breath, and become enveloped in a different era in New Jersey’s history. With this program, visitors will see how the Dutch Americans celebrated their holidays.  

     This program will be held on December 5th through the 14th.

     The Van Riper-Hopper House Museum is located at 533 Berdan Avenue in Wayne.

     Time will be from 11:00 am with the last tour starting at 3:30 pm.

      Prices for admission will be Adults $4.00, Children $1.00, Senior Citizens and College Students $3.00, Active military and five family members are free.

     Proceeds from this festive event will benefit the Wayne Historical Commission.

      For 15 years, the Wayne Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with the Wayne Historical Commission has been sponsoring “Holiday’s Of New Jersey’s Past,” emphasizing the history of Dutch American historical holiday traditions. Here in New Jersey, The Dutch American culture was rich long before the British took over in 1664.

     Explore the world of 1786 and beyond when Uriah Van Riper built the home for his bride, Maria (Polly) Berdan. The Van Riper-Hopper House was so named in honor of the children of Uriah Van Riper’s great granddaughter Mary Ann and her husband, Andrew Hopper.

     With this program, people are invited to celebrate the holidays of New Jersey’s past recreating New Jersey Dutch holiday traditions from 1786 to 1928 when the Van Riper-Hopper family lived in the house for generations.

     On the weekend, December 7th, 8th, and 9th, visitors can enjoy hot cider and Dutch sweets. The Pines Lake Garden Club decorates the historical rooms, so visitors can immerse themselves in the sights and scents of holidays past.

     There’s so many delights to enjoy, including a house tour and history alive program. Additionally, children are invited to play with replica toys from the 1700’s. In each room people can see exhibits of artifacts illustrating how Dutch Americans celebrated St. Nicholas Day as well as Christmas and New Year’s Day.

     With this program, there’s so much to engage the imagination.

     Through “Holidays of New Jersey’s Past,” people will be delighted to learn about some wonderful Christmas traditions, details, and tidbits of Dutch Americans: Who was St. Nicholas (Sinter Klass)?  How did the legend of Santa Claus “down the chimney” begin?

     Intrigued? Attend “Holidays of New Jersey’s Past” to find out.

      “This event is very popular with the public,“  D’Alessandro tells. “People repeatedly tell us that it is a welcome virtual trip to a quieter, simpler holiday experience. That it’s a nice break from the holiday rush and commercialism.”

     Warm and enthusiastic regarding the program and the Van Riper-Hopper House itself, D’Alessandro states that their holiday program is so popular that this year they are extending both dates and hours for everyone to enjoy. “This year the staff is expecting attendance in the hundreds,” she enthuses. “We are hoping that everyone enjoys some aspect of the program to make their holiday season bright.”

     The magical holiday atmosphere is contagious, and like so many out there, D’Alessandro shares that her favorite part of the event is the feeling of goodwill and togetherness that it brings.  “What stands out in my mind the most is the congenial atmosphere here during both the preparations and the event,” she enthuses.  “So many volunteers are involved, from college interns doing publicity, to individuals baking historically accurate Dutch cookies.  The Pines Lake Garden Club plans all year, and they have a different theme each time. In just one day a team about 20 people come and transform the museum into a historic winter wonderland!”

     This is a great activity for folks of all ages, creating lasting memories, apart from the tension of the rest of the season. Parents are sure to want to share going to the Van Riper-Hopper House with their kids, possibly making it an annual tradition.

      Holidays of New Jersey’s Past isn’t just an event that draws only local interest either. The idea of gentler, nostalgic holidays resonates with so many people at large– even those outside of this little local corner of the world.  “Visitors come from nearby bringing guests from other states and countries,” D’ Alessandro prides.       

     For further information or details on this great annual program, please contact the Van Riper-Hopper House at 973-694-7192.

     Enjoy everyone!

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