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Christmas comes to Long Island museum this weekend for drive-in movie event

A mailbox intended for early "Letters to Santa"

A mailbox intended for early "Letters to Santa" will be available to children attending the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum's "Christmas in July" drive-in movie event this weekend. Credit: Sarah Beutel | Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum

Santa Claus is coming to town … in July. 

Kids may have missed out on a few holiday celebrations so far in 2020, but the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport is helping them get an early jump on one of the biggest of the year. A "Christmas in July! A Night at The Movies" drive-in movie theater event is aiming to bring the magic of the holiday season to the summertime.

The former estate-turned-museum is hosting the public for a showing of the holiday film “Home Alone” on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

It's more than a drive-in movie, however. Santa Claus himself will be hosting the events. He will arrive in his decorated Jeep and be decked out in vacation-inspired clothing and sunglasses.

“He will visit each car to say hello and hand out candy canes,” says Vanderbilt Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan. “We encourage children to bring an early letter to Santa and place them in a special mailbox marked ‘Letters for Santa.’ This is a wonderful opportunity to come together in a fun, safe way.”

Attendees are also invited to decorate their vehicles in holiday lights, with prizes awarded for décor deemed the best. Museum representatives also confirm a Mister Softee ice cream truck will be on-hand to sell sweet treats.

All who participate are reminded to observe all current public health practices and safety guidelines. The film soundtrack will be broadcast on 87.9-FM. 

The film begins showing at 8:45 p.m. Admission to the drive-in is $40 per car ($34 for museum members). Tickets are available to purchase online in advance; payment will also be accepted at the gate with either a credit card or exact cash, as no change will be given.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium is located at 180 Little Neck Rd.; 631-854-5579. Visit for tickets.

The Vanderbilt has also reopened its grounds for visitors, though tickets must be reserved in Advance. Select indoor exhibits, including the Marine Museum, the first floor of the Hall of Fishes marine museum, the Habitat and Stoll Wing animal dioramas and the first floor of the Memorial Wing, have reopened. 

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