Walker’s, a quarter-life crisis and a holiday tradition that spans decades

I’ve always thought Walker’s was especially festive at the holidays. (We’ve had a couple Washington Market Park board gatherings there and my husband and I named a December baby, who turns 18 in a few days, there, using the paper and crayons on the table as a scratch pad.) So when I met pals for a holiday drink at the bar in early December, I asked about the decorations. Turns out there’s a classic Tribeca story behind it all.

Bartender Steve Wallace sent me (via email) to Anne Reeves, now a casting director at Central Casting who lives in Sunnyside, but who was a server at Walker’s starting about 15 years ago and who worked alongside Linda Anthonijsz, a Walker’s legend who retired in 2019. (The bar has been open 36 years) I will let her take it from here:

Here’s the nutshell. I started working as a server at Walker’s in college, circa 2009. I stopped working fulltime after graduation and got a 9-to-5, but kept a weekend shift on and off in my back pocket.

In November of 2012, I lost said 9-to-5 and my boyfriend dumped me days before the Thanksgiving we were supposed to spend with his family. My family lives in Ohio and I didn’t have the funds to fly back last minute so Linda asked me I if I would help decorate the restaurant instead of wallowing.

We started the process the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and worked through to about mid-day Thanksgiving Day, one of the only days the restaurant is closed. With two people, it’s about 17 hours of labor. People don’t realize how heavy those garlands are!

Working through the night, bar flies filter in and out and watch the rooms transform. Regulars would walk by on Thursday morning, some as early as 6am (ahem, Elvis Duran) and have a quick chat or be put to work in exchange for cosmos at 7am (Duran). One year he brought us a bottle of Dom that some star left at his studio, which Linda and I drank as he unwrapped lights for us on our break.

Linda and I would laugh, talk, yell curses at the stapler when it wouldn’t catch the garland and the whole thing would fall. We would break around 11am and head to Gee Wiz or the Square Diner and refuel to finish hanging ornaments.

Every ornament that’s not a ball was made by hand by Linda. There are hundreds.

So what began for me as a project to help take my mind off a quarter-life crisis ended up becoming my favorite day of the year.

During the pandemic, Linda went into retirement and that was the only year we didn’t decorate. (The photo above is our last decorating venture together, November 2019.) I made sure to do a sweep of the basement where the decorations are kept and rescued all the handmade ornaments and left with four shopping bags full. I kept them until 2021 when I “demanded” that Scott Perez (the owner) let me decorate the place again. Linda was enjoying her retirement, so I was on my own. Linda started the whole process; I’ve had the honor to continue.

I’ve added a few things to jazz it up a bit, but the layout is the same. I start Wednesday evening and finish around noon on Thursday. I’ll add last bits and finishing touches on Saturday. It takes about 21 hours.

I love this tradition, I love the joy it brings to the customers and staff, I enjoy the whole process. I love spending holidays with my family in Ohio, but Walker’s has also become family.

My relatives now want to spend Thanksgiving with me and help decorate. They didn’t do the full overnight, but my parents helped sweep and clean up last year.

Do I get paid? Yes, but I would do it for free (DON’T TELL SCOTT). It’s a night where I don’t have to think about anything other than hanging up twinkle lights.

And I love that it brings people joy.



  1. ‘This the season of giving and you help make it special for regulars, walk-ins, and tourist. Thank you- your effort is appreciated. Loved your historic write- up. Now to come and visit during the season instead of skiing in the Rockies!
    Enjoy your holiday with family in Ohio.

  2. Walkers has always been a very special place, this wonderful story just adds to the magic.

  3. Beautiful job Annie! You have lots of talents but never knew you were such a fine designer of Christmas Decorations! Will have to come back again during Christmas and see your handiwork in person💕

  4. Fantastic story! thanks for sharing this.

  5. Wow what a story!!!! I’m so glad I read this. It’s a heartwarming tale of old TriBeca and I’m so happy to know it’s still alive. Can’t wait to stop in Walkers now and see the decorations with a whole new appreciation!

  6. Thank you for reminding us all and we former Tribecans
    of the great charms created by you and so many others!
    So much Beauty!

  7. Great backstory! I love Walkers!

  8. love Walkers and this story!!

  9. What a great story, thank you so much for sharing.. Just another reason to visit Walker’s during the holidays!! Will make a tradition of checking out the decor during the holidays!!