by Terry Duffy
Holiday celebrations are seemingly in full swing in the northern Niagara area. They led off with Ransomville's Lighting of the Wreaths on Thanksgiving weekend and moved to Lewiston's Christmas Walk this weekend. Interspersed have been holiday theater, dance performances, concerts and more.
On Saturday, Dec. 14, the celebrations move down river to Youngstown with Christmas in the Village. And this is shaping up to be a good one.
Presented by the Youngstown Business and Professional Association together with the Village of Youngstown, Youngstown Rec Department, local historians, plus Old Fort Niagara, the activities in planning are many, reports Cheryl Butera of Anchor Spirits, who serves as YBPA president. "We're trying to encourage people to literally spend all day in Youngstown," she says.
And with good reason. On tap are a number of holiday-themed activities of interest, with appeal to visitors of all ages. Included will be sidewalk caroling, carriage rides to area businesses and eateries, historical trolley tours, entertainment, visits with Santa, a tree lighting, an inspiring evening event at Old Fort Niagara and much more.
"We've been working in concert with the village, the Rec Department and others on this," adds Butera. "We work hand in hand" to make it all happen.
Set to run from 10 a.m. and continuing to past 8 p.m. on Saturday, events will take place at the Red Brick School Village Center, 240 Lockport St., Anchor Spirits, 113 Lockport St., a number of village locations, plus Old Fort Niagara.
Christmas in the Village opens with the annual Baskets of Caring in the Red Brick gym, an event to benefit the area's needy. And it continues with daylong village activities, including:
•Children's crafts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Youngstown Free Library.
•An Artisan Christmas Market from noon to 4 p.m. in the Red Brick gym. Featured will be crafts and baked goods, plus jewelry, historical goods and more by area vendors.
•A children's Christmas party with Santa from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Cora Gushee Room at the Red Brick. Look for holiday craft-making activities, servings of tasty cookies, face painting, balloon animals and more for the little ones.
•Daylong entertainment at Anchor Spirits, with live Christmas music by Monte and Marsha Jones, Michelle and Nicholas, electronic violinist Rich Jagow, and Don and Anita Harless of Step in Time.
•A Victorian tea, from 2 to 4 at the Red Brick.
•Horse-drawn carriage rides, offered free of charge by Lewiston's Tour d'Elegance from noon to 4 p.m. outside the Red Brick parking lot.
•1812 Heritage Trolley Rides featuring Porter historian Gretchen Dueling and interpreters from New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, from noon to 4 p.m. from the front of the Red Brick on Lockport Street.
•The Town of Porter Historical Museum Founders Day exhibit and display of the completed commemorative quilt by Marilyn Harbison of Ransomville from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Red Brick.
Several hundred Porter residents signed the quilted squares in celebration of Porter's 200th birthday, reports Town Historian Suzanne Simon Dietz. That day, Porter Town Supervisor Mert Wiepert will offer a toast at 3 p.m. and presentation to the Youngstown village officials of the souvenir book "From Flames and Four Flags - the Town of Porter Yesterday and Today" by Dietz. Refreshments will be served and the public is invited to attend.
•The village tree lighting at Falkner Park at 4 p.m. featuring appearances by Rudolph, Frosty and the Grinch.
•Old Fort Niagara's "Castle by Candlelight," opening at 7 p.m. at the fort and continuing to 8:30 p.m. that Saturday.
To take place both on Dec. 14 and on Dec. 21, "Castle by Candlelight" will treat visitors to Christmas of yesteryear at OFN, including candles twinkling in the windows of the 287-year-old French Castle. Outside the imposing stone structure, lanterns will line OFN's walkways as soldiers in cocked hats and wool coats prepare their muskets to perform a grand "feu de joie," a firing of joy, in honor of the holiday season. Fifes and drums will play traditional music and artillerists will prepare their cannons to join in the salute.
In addition to the outdoor activities, there will be plenty to see within the walls of the great stone house. Cooks will prepare traditional holiday fare, including wild game, while period characters entertain visitors with tales of winter in the 18th century. A Recollect priest will recite the Christmas story in the traditional Latin in the fort's chapel while fur traders and French soldiers downstairs pass the winter evening in more boisterous pursuits.
Elsewhere, Native Americans and frontier residents from 250 years ago will discuss how they survived the long Great Lakes winter. Visitors will also witness demonstrations of woodworking, horn-smithing, and the preparation of traditional hot chocolate and will have the opportunity to write with a quill pen and play a traditional game.
The castle will also feature holiday decorations created by the Youngstown Garden Club. Each year, the Garden Club creates a new array of traditional decorations to lend the Great Lakes' oldest building a festive air.
The event takes place from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. each night. Visitors can arrive anytime between these hours. The grand "feu de joie," featuring the rolling fire of muskets and cannons, will be performed by the massed garrison at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. The fort's log cabin will also be open, offering hot beverages and live holiday music.
Admission to the event is $8 per person with proceeds benefitting the fort's educational programming. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, wear walking footwear and bring a flashlight.
Commenting on the whole slew of daylong holiday treats, Butera sees Christmas in the Village as a "must do" for area residents and visitors. "After the Lewiston event, we hope they will come to Youngstown for the day, enjoy the events, sing carols, patronize our establishments and enjoy the experience."
Sounds like a plan.
For more on Christmas in the Village, visit the event's page on Facebook, contact Kim Cudmore at Youngstown Rec at 531-1216, or online to Old Fort Niagara at www.oldfortniagara.org.