ALBANY — Ten Broeck Mansion has hosted its Holiday House since the mid-80s, but it’s never been quite like this year.
The four-acre property, nestled in Albany’s Arbor Hill, has been chugging along since the pandemic began; while the inside of the mansion was closed when COVID-19 restrictions choked the area, the gardens became a hotspot for the neighborhood. Now, Ten Broeck is using the same enthusiasm, but adding some safety measures, to make sure the 2020 Holiday House is safe for everyone.
“We wanted to have several options available so people have a choice of what to do,” executive director Kathryn Kosto said. “We will have the option to go in the mansion, but we’ve moved a lot of our services outside.”
Ten Broeck will host Sinterklaas, the Dutch St. Nicholas, on Saturday, Dec. 13, from noon to 2:30 p.m. on the porch. Kosto said the Sinterklaas visit is formatted so kids stand at the bottom of the porch and talk from there, adding the staff measured the distance to verify it is more than 6 feet.
On the other side of the mansion, a porch sale will take place, where people can shop from the museum’s gift shop. Staff members will have photos on hand of merchandise available, customers will be able to select what they want and staff will retrieve the items. This eliminates the crowding in the gift shop and allows people to still have those keepsakes from the historic mansion. The porch sale will be held from noon to 3 p.m., Friday through Sunday, until Dec. 20.
Ten Broeck will also have a Christmas tree that kids can decorate. The garden will have ornament kits available with a few different designs for parents and children to grab at their leisure while avoiding the crowds.
“The beautiful thing about the mansion is how we are able to utilize the space to keep CDC guidelines but give customers the normal Ten Broeck experience,” Kosto said.
Indoors, tours will take place but customers have to reserve their spots ahead of time. Only five people can go in a group, which will have a 15-minute increment to tour. Kosto said sanitizing stations are located both inside and outside the museum, and the tours are structured so people aren’t maneuvering around one another or artifacts. Kosto said the tour includes a look at different rooms in the house; in many cases, the different facets were either built or enhanced by the servants that lived there.
The mansion also has ropes guiding customers through the tour and prevents people from touching anything. Ten Broeck is asking tour customers to keep their coats on as they move through, as it will help eliminate crowding and keep people moving.
Regardless of activities chosen, masking and social distancing will be enforced. Kosto said she has sent out the rules for the event to ticket buyers so there are no surprises.
“We want to keep this event as safe as possible so people can enjoy the day and know their well-being is so important to us,” Kosto concluded. “We’re really excited to host the event this year, even if it is a little different than in previous years.”
To purchase tickets, visit https://bit.ly/2Vr5Bmj.