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Canalside to host fifth annual holiday celebration and tree lighting

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Wed, Dec 2nd 2015 03:00 pm

Festivities include children's activities, visit from Santa, holiday music, discounts on skating with a nonperishable food item, free sapling trees for first 300 visitors and more

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. invites the public to its fifth annual holiday celebration and tree lighting at Canalside from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. This year's free celebration takes place at The Ice at Canalside presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, which opened last week for the winter season. The celebration will feature children's activities, holiday music, dance performances and more. The evening's highlights are the lighting of the Canalside holiday tree and a visit from Santa Claus, both courtesy of First Niagara Bank.

"Another holiday season is upon us and what better way to kick it off than the fifth annual holiday celebration and tree lighting at Canalside," ECHDC President Robert Gioia said. "With so many improvements and new amenities at The Ice at Canalside this year, there's always something unique to experience. We hope you join us for this fun, festive and family-friendly event on the waterfront."

"First Niagara is committed to Buffalo's waterfront revitalization and the growth that is taking place in our city," First Niagara Western New York Regional President Buford Sears said. "We are proud to sponsor the holiday tree lighting and open skate nights at Canalside as our community celebrates the resurgence of our downtown this holiday season."

Santa Claus will arrive shortly after 5 p.m. on a Buffalo Fire Department fire truck and will stay on site for visits with good little boys and girls until 8 p.m. The 40-foot Canalside holiday tree, presented by First Niagara Bank, will be lit at 6:30 p.m. It will be decorated with more than 6,000 lights and blue, gold, silver and white ornaments. The tree will be surrounded by a festive holiday landscape that is sure to be a picture-perfect setting for skaters and others looking to enjoy the season.

First Niagara and Canalside will provide mini sapling evergreen trees for the first 300 families. BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York will provide vouchers for free cups of hot chocolate to the first 500 individuals. Tifft Nature Preserve, Explore & More Children's Museum and Young Audiences Western New York (YAWNY) will be offering children's ornament, holiday card and liquid nitrogen marshmallow making. Dickens Carolers, Theresa Quinn Trio, Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Old School B Boys, Brass Pro and Kickstart Rumble Acoustic will provide musical entertainment. The Foxy Diamondz and Dance Spectrum will perform dance numbers. Sue O'Neil from Star 102.5 will serve as the emcee. Other entertainment includes Nick Presents Magic and Crowns & Gowns (two snow princesses).

Food and beverages will also be available for purchase. A few of the food vendors that will line up at The Ice at Canalside include The Flaming Fish, Buffalo's Best Catering, Taste of Puerto Rico and Duke's Donuts. The new Canalside Winter Pavilion presented by Cricket Wireless is heated and has food and merchandise vendors, including Just Fries (topped and loaded fries), Harborside Mercantile (waffles, popcorn, pizza, coffee), Bubbles & Brews (beer, wine and Pepsi products), as well as Buffalove and Canalside merchandise. Bryce's Winter Café (kiosk at The Ice entrance) will serve coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels and roasted nuts. Liberty Hound and 716 Food and Sport will also be open.

Even though the activities end at 8 p.m., open ice-skating will be available until 10 p.m. The cost is $6 for ages 13-plus, $4 for ages 6-12 and free for 5 and under. Skate rental is $4. Those who bring a nonperishable food item for the Food Bank of WNY will receive a $1 discount on skate admission. Skate Great will be on site for skating lessons. A DJ will also provide music until 10 p.m.

More information on the schedule of events, parking and updates can be found at http://www.canalsidebuffalo.com. Visitors can take the NFTA Metro Rail to the Erie Canal Harbor Station stop; parking is available in adjacent parking ramps and lots.

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