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LIers enjoy a Dutch Christmas tradition

William Kretz, 7, and his younger brother, James

William Kretz, 7, and his younger brother, James Kretz, 5, of Sayville sit on St. Nicholas' lap during the Dutch Christmas event at Meadow Croft Estate. (Dec. 4, 2011) Photo Credit: Ursula Moore

Kristine Kretz and her sons, William, 7, and James, 5, haven’t missed a Dutch Christmas at the Meadow Croft Estate in four years. The annual event has become a family tradition for the Sayville residents.

“It’s beautiful here and the kids get to see local history,” said Kristine Kretz on Sunday.

Eager to sit on St. Nicholas’ lap, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, St. Nick looked up the boys’ individual names in his ledger to find out who’s been naughty or nice. They were happy to walk away with their candy canes.

In its 10th year, the event at the estate owned by Suffolk County on Middle Road in Sayville is hosted by the Bayport Heritage Association, which gives tours of the house, and by the county Department of Parks.

Gene Horton, local historian and coordinator for the Dutch Christmas, said the event is a way to bring individuals to the 75-acre property. The Meadow Croft is the 1891 estate of John Ellis Roosevelt and family. The Roosevelts were of Dutch ancestry.

“The Meadow Croft is not as well known as Sagamore Hill, for example. There is a lot of wonderful history here,” Horton said. “We thought it would be a great idea to decorate the home with the Christmas theme and put it with John Ellis Roosevelt’s Dutch ancestry.”

With furniture in the 40 rooms being showcased dating back to the 1890s, hundreds of people that walked throughout the house were impressed. Learning about the past was interesting to Rachel Mihlstin, 12, of Bay Shore.

“I learned that the ladies had their own room to relax and the men had their own room to hang out and smoke cigars and drink brandy,” she said. “I like this place.”

The estate displayed beautifully decorated rooms adorned with poinsettias and wreaths from local organizations and businesses. The event featured electric trains, wood carvings and music played on the original Roosevelt grand piano.

“The people that come here love to see the holiday decorations and learn about the history of the Roosevelts,” said Horton.

Pictured above: William Kretz, 7, left, and his younger brother, James Kretz, 5, of Sayville sit on St. Nicholas' lap during the Dutch Christmas celebration at Meadow Croft Estate. (Dec. 4, 2011)

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