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The Weekend It List: Dec. 21-25

Your time off is precious.

We happen to spend our on-the-clock hours combing through the many options NYC has to offer, so let us help you maximize those days off. Every week, we distill the very best the weekend has to offer.

And, to get the Weekend It List delivered to your inbox Thursdays, sign up at amny.com/weekend.

wish for it.

Bryant Park's Santa Claus is a Q train-riding,
Photo Credit: amNY / Alison Fox

Bryant Park's Santa Claus is a Q train-riding, Nobel Peace Prize-winning pharmaceutical research consultant ... and he's still letting New Yorkers take his knee through Sunday.

Dr. Charles Nuttall, 73, has been working as Jolly Old Saint Nick at Bryant Park for four years and knows how to say "merry Christmas" in about 20 languages.

He's brought joy to children, hope to adults, excitement to dogs -- and somehow has avoided wet nappies. We spoke with the doctor Santa this week, in advance of his big day.

Feeling like you already have what you wished for? Well, since we live in the city to celebrate the holidays, there are plenty of options. You have numerous rinks for ice skating, an array of sweet red-and-green treats, so many pop-up holiday bars, and festive markets for last-minute shopping.

spot it.

In recent months, we have lost our collective
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

In recent months, we have lost our collective mind over the Hot Duck of Central Park.

But here's the T on Miss Wing: There are others. You can spot these unique and drop-dead gorgeous ducks elsewhere in the five boroughs.

In addition to Hot Duck -- may we call you Hot Duck? -- at least 13 Mandarin ducks reside at city zoos, per the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Prospect Park Zoo, for instance, has been home to the colorful fowl since 2001, and currently is beautified by six (three ladies, three gents). And the Bronx Zoo? Yes indeed.

So head out, snap a photo and help give the other dandy ducks out there some social love.

see it.

More than two years and $15 million later,
Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

More than two years and $15 million later, the Nitehawk has a second home in Brooklyn, on the edge of Prospect Park.

Renovating the former Pavilion Theatre after it shuttered in 2016 -- a space maligned for a host of issues, including (shudder) bedbugs -- was clearly no quick task. Carpeting was torn up (the better to show off the marble staircase), brick walls were exposed, a fancy marquee was installed, and a lot of nonsense was hauled out.

"It was like a hoarder had lived here for 50 years and left everything," Nitehawk founder Matthew Viragh, who attended Tuesday's opening gala, said. But the man had a vision.

"I always wanted to do this," he said. "This was the inspiration for the original Nitehawk."

That Williamsburg original includes in-theater dining, with seasonal menus bolstered by dishes and cocktails themed to screenings, a cheeky concept that extends to its Park Slope sibling. A Lamplighter's Lunch of meatloaf and a rosemary popover with your "Mary Poppins," perhaps?

The seven screening rooms were overhauled as well, from leather seats to larger screens. Expect big budget films projected alongside indie offerings, including films from locals. Nitehawk Prospect Park also includes two bars -- one in the lobby, one on the second-floor balcony -- that are open to all, even if you're not seeing a film.

"We want to encourage the area to own us as a neighborhood spot," Viragh said. "We love Brooklyn and we are happy with what we did here."

eat it.

Behind every bowl of ramen is hundreds of
Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger

Behind every bowl of ramen is hundreds of years of Japanese cultural history. And while the satisfying noodle soup took on mass appeal stateside in relatively more recent times, New York City has actively played catch up. The past few years alone have seen an uptick in our options.

"When I first started out, ramen really had no respect," says Ivan Orkin, the owner and chef behind the Lower East Side's Ivan Ramen, which opened shortly after Hell's Kitchen's Ivan's Slurp Shop did in 2013. (These came after he launched two ramen restaurants in Tokyo.) "People were surprised that a fine-dining chef would 'lower himself' to ramen." 

Fast-forward a few years and we are flush with options. Just a couple of examples: Ichiran expanded from Japan to NYC in 2016 -- it now has outposts in Bushwick and midtown and one planned for Times Square in late 2019 -- and the East Village's Setagaya recently opened a food stand in Industry City

"I think in New York, it's taken off almost more than anywhere else," says Orkin. "Besides anything else, ramen is just really fun, and once you have it, you're kind of hooked."

donate it.

One local nonprofit is delivering more than 500
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

One local nonprofit is delivering more than 500 winter coats and gifts like MetroCards, movie tickets and food to families in need on Saturday -- and that's just a start to the giving. Hearts of Gold has actually gifted more than 18,000 coats to children in the past several years and, since 1994, has offered much-needed help to once-homeless mothers and children transitioning into permanent housing.

Coats for Christmas dates back several years: Deborah Koenigsberger, who founded Hearts of Gold, was visiting a homeless shelter and met kids who were kept from school because they didn't have warm coats to wear.

"Something as simple as a warm winter coat is taken for granted," Koenigsberger told us. "Many of us are guilty of having multiple coats in our closet while others have none. I am trying to change that."

And Hearts of Gold isn't the only organization that needs your help this holiday season. New York Cares, the Salvation Army, the Bowery Mission and One Warm Coat are accepting donations of clothing, coats and other contributions now and after the holidays. Our four-legged friends need assistance too: The American Kennel Club is accepting donations of canned and dry food, treats, collars, leashes, toys, coats and pet beds at all six of its Canine Retreat by AKC locations through the weekend.

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