Bundle Up! The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry Comes to Life

Queens Farm Hosts Outdoor Holiday Reading of the American Classic

Grab you fleece, hats, gloves, coats and woolies and throw on your winter boots! Queens County Farm Museum will host a special holiday reading of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. This special admission program scheduled for Saturday afternoon, December 19, 2020 is designed to enrich the holiday season with social distancing built in. Renowned actor and raconteur, Queens native Kevin R. Free will lead story time in the farm’s 3-acre pasture – a first for Queens Farm and Mr. Free.

First published in 1905, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry tells the story of struggling newlyweds so eager to give each other a Christmas gift that each sells the one thing the other holds most dear.  O. Henry penned The Gift of the Magi at Pete’s Tavern, New York City’s longest continually operated bar and restaurant. Since 1905, this story has secured its place among the American literary canon and has become synonymous with the Christmas season. 

The Gift of the Magi encapsulates the best of what O. Henry stories accomplish, a brief lived-in human experience. One that is often, for good, bad, or in-between, given over to an unwanted fate, only to be rescued through a combination of sentimentality and his patented surprise ending,” noted Patrick Sauer, The Smithsonian Magazine, December 23, 2019.

The reading will be held on Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm. The special admission program is free to the public but advance registration is required to manage capacity. The program will be held outdoors in a 3-acre pasture on the farm. Visitors should dress for the weather. It can be cold and windy on the farm in December. Visitors should plan to arrive early to social distance as they enter the pasture. Face coverings and social distancing are required. 

Queens County Farm Museum is one of the longest continually farmed sites in New York State, dating back to 1697. In 1905, when O. Henry wrote The Gift of the Magi, over 35% of Queens County was being used for agriculture. During this period, the Stattel family owned the farm and it was at peak production. It was the 2nd largest farm in Queens based on size but it was the highest producing farm based on dollar value. 

Queens Library and Pete’s Tavern are program sponsors of Queens Farm’s holiday reading of The Gift of the Magi. Pete’s Tavern is located in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park Historic District. Typically, Pete’s Tavern would spend three weeks decorating for the holidays celebrating its connection to O. Henry’s classic tale. This year, it is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.  

“We are excited to partner with Queens County Farm Museum to bring this story to life this year. It’s a challenging year so it’s nice to find a way to connect with the community,” noted Gary Egan, General Manager of Pete’s Tavern. 

“The weather will be a little chilly but our hearts will be warm as we enjoy this reading of O. Henry’s classic American story,” noted Jennifer Walden Weprin, Executive Director of the Queens County Farm Museum. “This is the first time that we are hosting this special admission program. It was developed to embrace our open space and connect visitors to New York City history through the lens of the historic site.” 

“During our 124-year history, the Library has opened new worlds to people of all ages, and has constantly evolved to meet their ever-changing needs,” said Queens Public Library Chief Librarian Nick Buron. “We are excited to partner with the Queens County Farm Museum on this terrific opportunity for helping our diverse community of readers, especially children, access these new worlds.”

York 11004. It is open daily Monday–Sunday; and 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Christmas Eve. Queens Farm is closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Visit queensfarm.org for details. Queens Farm has reduced program capacity to meet NY Forward’s Covid-19 Safety Guidelines. The farm’s Covid-19 guidelines are posted at queensfarm.org and on-site at the farm.

About Kevin R. Free

Kevin R. Free is an actor/writer/director/producer, whose work has been developed in many places, both regionally and in NYC. He is an accomplished voice actor, having created voices for commercials and — most notably — the popular podcast “Welcome To Night Vale.” He has won the Audie Award and Earphones Awards several times in his 20 years as an audiobook narrator, most recently recording the latest of Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries, Dashka Slater’s The Book of Fatal Errors, Joel Bakan’s The New Corporation, and Cassius X: The Transformation of Muhammad Ali by Stuart Cosgrove. He just completed the first American Recordings of a group Eric Carle’s picture books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He is most proud these days of his new virtual Variety Show, The Reparations Show, which he produces with Frigid New York. More info about Kevin’s work at kevinrfree.com or @kevinrfree on Twitter and Instagram.

About Queens County Farm Museum

Queens County Farm Museum is the largest tract of farmland in New York City and one of the longest continually farmed sites in New York State, dating back to 1697. It is a New York City Landmark and on the National Registry of Historic Places. Queens Farm’s 47 -acre historic site is an important service provider to a healthy ecosystem. The farm’s growing fields, farm animals, compost site and garden-style organic, sustainable farming methods optimize the site, making it a leader in the ecological well-being of NYC and a model for teaching and research.