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Be thankful and jolly -- let the season begin!

by jmaloni
Wed, Nov 23rd 2011 12:00 pm

From Thanksgiving to "Black Friday" to holiday music and fairs, it's all starting this week. Here's a few events to add to your calendar:

German Christkindl Market at Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost Lutheran School Parent Teacher League is sponsoring a Christkindl (Christmas) Market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the school, 6630 Luther St., Bergholz.

This event will feature a Christmas Craft Show with about 55 crafters and a German-themed lunch with sausage, sauerkraut, and other homemade favorites. A "Holiday Shop" will feature special Christmas gifts that children can purchase for family and friends from a large variety of inexpensive quality items.

Holy Ghost's version of a Christkindl, or Christmas Market, dates back to a tradition begun in 16th century Germany when craftspeople erected stalls in the heart of German cities with food, drink and entertainment. Christmas markets came into being to meet the demand for Christmas presents after Martin Luther set the fashion of giving presents to children at Christmastime. "Christkindl" takes its name from the Christ Child to whom Martin Luther gave the role of present-bringer.

Sanborn Band plays for the holiday

The Sanborn Fire Company Band will perform its annual Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, at the firehall, 5811 Buffalo St., Sanborn.

Refreshments will be served and Santa Claus will visit. The Niagara County Central Rotary Club will collect non-perishables for the local food pantry. The Sanborn Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary sponsors the night's festivities.

The Wilson Historical Society will present the Sanborn Band in a Christmas Concert, under the direction of Wally Goodman, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Barnum Building. "A Very Country Christmas" will follow the concert throughout the Village of Wilson from 3 to 6 p.m.

'Madness' at mall

Kick off the holiday shopping season in style during the fourth annual "Midnight Madness" event at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls (USA).

The madness will start early with 30 participating stores opening doors at 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24, and every participating mall vendor opening at midnight.

This year, Fashion Outlets is partnering with MasterCard on a gift card promotion. There will be live music, entertainment, prizes, activities and free coffee and Red Bull, while supplies last.

Additional parking will be available at Opportunities Unlimited, 1555 Fashion Outlets Blvd. Free shuttles to and from Fashion Outlets will be available.

A complete list of vendors, special offers and other activities planned for "Midnight Madness" can be found at www.fashionoutletsniagara.com.

Holiday Market opens Nov. 25

The inaugural Niagara Holiday Market, a 37-day winter wonderland in Niagara Falls, opens Nov. 25 and runs through New Year's Day.

The market aims to be on par with the memorable shopping destinations of Europe's Christkindl markets and retail arcades.

Local, regional and national retailers such as Melissa & Doug, Tony Walker & Co. and Biscoff Gourmet have joined Merchant Row on Old Falls Street, while more than 20 independent artisans will showcase and sell their wares through the traditionally online community marketplace, Etsy Studio, as it comes to life in a workshop-style space.

World-renowned musical talent will headline the Holiday Concert Series with the Canadian Tenors kicking off their holiday concert tour on Nov. 26 at the Conference Center Niagara Falls, followed by Aaron Neville on Dec. 1, Elisabeth Von Trapp on Dec. 6-7 and the Buffalo Philharmonic's "A Visit With St. Nick" on Dec. 17. All concerts will be held at the Conference Center Niagara Falls on Old Falls Street, with tickets available at www.niagaramarket.com.

Other events include daily tree lightings; "Taste of the Season" food and wine festival, sponsored by Wegmans; "Marché at the Market," a European-inspired gourmet food hall; "Claus & Co. Santa's Workshop" with activities for the kids; "Tournament of Song" local high school choir competition; and the BlueCross BlueShield Ice Rink.

For more information, visit www.niagaramarket.com.

It's 'Wonderful' at Ghostlight

"It's A Wonderful Life," adapted to the stage from the Frank Capra classic film, will be live at the Ghostlight Theatre, 170 Schenck St., North Tonawanda, at 7 p.m. Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 18.

Tickets are $17, $15 for senior citizens, students and veterans. Tickets can be reserved online at www.starrynighttheatre.com or by calling 743-1614.

The Ghostlight Theatre is collecting canned goods and non-perishables in the lobby during all performances.

Santa on a carrousel

Join Old St. Nick on the carrousel at The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum on Saturdays in November and December. Just make sure you're on the "nice" list.

Start the day with lunch at 11 a.m. Activities start at noon, including decorating your own stocking, making a holiday ornament, and coloring a picture for Santa. Warm up with some hot chocolate and s'mores.

An extra highlight each afternoon is a special holiday performance at 1 p.m.: Nov. 26, holiday stories with Tiger Tom Walsh; Dec. 3, holiday concert with Matt James' "Cool Music for Kids"; Dec. 10, holiday concert with Glenn Colton; Dec. 17, holiday stories with Lorna Czarnota

The cost is $8 for lunch or $5 for the afternoon activities only. Reservations and prepayment are required for lunch. Call 693-1885 to register.

The museum is housed in the historic Allan Herschell Company Factory building at 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda.

Breakfast with Santa

Better watch out and better not cry, because Santa Claus is coming to the Conference Center Niagara Falls from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, for a jolly holiday buffet with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and home fries.

Also join in on all the fun with a kids craft area, cookie decorating, face painting and pictures with Kris Kringle himself. Bring a pair of mittens or socks to receive $1 off your picture with Santa.

The event, along with the clothing donations, will benefit the United Way of Greater Niagara.

To purchase tickets, call 278-2100 or stop by the Conference Center Niagara Falls. Cost is $8 for children and seniors and $12 for adults ages 13 and up.

Best times to cross Niagara bridges this week

Several methods are available this week so motorists crossing the three bridges the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission operates between Canada and the U.S. can obtain up-to-date information about traffic flow.

With American Thanksgiving on Thursday and Friday's traditional start of the holiday shopping season and other events on both sides of the border, this is a time of peak traffic. The commission and other border-crossing agencies offer a host of information sources via the Web, Twitter, toll-free phone lines and radio broadcasts.

To help ensure smooth and rapid crossings of its three Niagara River bridges this week, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission officials reminds motorists to take advantage of NEXUS - including a new NEXUS-only lane going to Canada at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge - and choose non-peak travel times as often as possible.

The commission operates Lewiston-Queenston, the Rainbow Bridge and the NEXUS-only Whirlpool Bridge - which operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in both directions. Officials anticipate elevated numbers of crossings, with peaks in the late morning-early afternoons into the U.S. and late afternoons and evenings returning to Canada.

The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge entering Canada will have 10 inspection lanes available, with six passenger and four commercial lanes entering the U.S. When busy, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will use up to three of the commercial lanes to process cars.

At the Rainbow Bridge, the number of car inspection lanes - 18 into the U.S. and 15 into Canada - remains the same as 2010.

"We always want the word to get out that if you can travel at off-peak hours, even by an hour or two, you can help speed your crossings said NFBC General Manager Lew Holloway. "Traffic is generally heavy during the morning and early afternoon into the U.S. and late afternoons and evenings back to Canada. Having proper identification and receipts for purchases ready to pass to the customs officer will help move people through faster."

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a U.S. law, requires all travelers to the U.S. to present a valid passport or another approved secure document at the border. Acceptable forms of identification for both U.S. entry and re-entry into Canada that also meet the requirements of the WHTI include a passport, a NEXUS card, a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card and an enhanced driver's license.

Unlike last year at this time, the Buffalo Bills are away Sunday. The Buffalo Sabres play home games Wednesday and Saturday. On the other hand, the downtown Niagara Falls, N.Y., Holiday Market opens a 36-day run on Friday, with the Canadian Tenors performing Saturday.

"The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission works closely with customs on both sides of the border to speed the flow of travelers as much as it can," Holloway said. "We must all keep in mind duty, tax and security considerations and be patient when crossing. People should know that we're doing all we can to make our bridge operations as efficient and effective as possible."

"It helps everyone if travelers plan to cross at off-peak hours," he added.

Travelers Tips:

•Calling the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's toll free number at 1-800-715-6722 or call 511 for the latest traffic updates

•Tuning to radio station 1610 AM.

•Visiting any of the following websites: http://niagarafallsbridges.com/traffic_conditions.php3,www.cbp.gov, www.cbsa.gc.ca,www.nittec.org, www.peacebridge.com

•Noting the NITTEC highway dynamic message signs with posted delays beyond 30 minutes

•Registering at www.mynittec.org to receive a free personalized email or text notification of border and regional traffic information.

•Accessing Twitter at www.twitter.com/niagarabridges.

•Have a passenger use a cell phone to access travel information at wap.gc.ca or www.gc.ca.

Handling holiday stress

The Dale Association's Outpatient Counseling and Treatment Center at 89-B River Road, North Tonawanda, is offering "Managing the Stress of the Holidays," as part of its "Healthier You" groups session from 10:30 a.m. to noon Dec. 1 through 22.

Learn to manage the stress of holiday family dynamics, holiday budgeting and finance, grief and loss during the holidays. This group is reimbursable through most major insurances and open to adults 18 and older. Call 693-9961.

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