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Canalside to host sixth annual Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting

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Wed, Nov 30th 2016 06:00 pm

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

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. invites the public to its sixth annual Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting at Canalside from 4-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. This year's free celebration takes place at The Ice at Canalside presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, which opened last weekend 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 KeyBank.

"The Ice at Canalside is an important part of many families' holiday traditions," ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia said. "Whether you skate, ride the ice bikes or curl, the Ice provides hours of fun for people of all ages. We hope to have a great turnout as we ring in the holidays - Buffalo style."

"KeyBank is very proud to sponsor this year's Canalside Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration and play such a vital role in the renaissance of this part of our great city," said Gary Quenneville, KeyBank Upstate New York regional executive. "The holidays are a special time to reflect on the year past. This has been a special year for KeyBank and our community. We thank our customers for all we have accomplished together in 2016."

Santa Claus will arrive shortly after 5 p.m. to light the tree and will stay on site for visits with good little boys and girls until 10 p.m. The 41-foot Canalside holiday tree, presented by KeyBank, will be lit at approximately 5:30 p.m. It will be decorated with more than 6,000 lights and red, gold, silver, white and blue ornaments. The tree will be surrounded by a festive holiday landscape that aims to be a picture-perfect setting for skaters and others looking to enjoy the season.

KeyBank and Canalside will provide mini sapling evergreen trees for the first 300 families that visit Santa. BlueCross BlueShield will be handing out gloves to keep everyone warm and is also treating everyone to an ice skating performance, after the tree is lit, by Amherst's own Jordan Bauth, the 2012 gold medalist at the team event of the Junior Olympics.

"We are ready to skate again!" said Julie R. Snyder, vice president, corporate relations, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. "The Ice at Canalside has become a Western New York winter tradition, and, as the venue's official health plan, we realize our community is getting healthier together because of it." 

Food and beverages will also be available for purchase. Local food vendors will include Buffalo's Best, Flaming Fish, Fun-B-Que, Venus, Lloyd's and Canalside's own Winter Cafe. Liberty Hound and 716 Food and Sport will also be open.

New this year, the Canalside Winter Pavilion has been turned into the Lodge at Canalside by the homestay network Airbnb. Designers from Solid 716 utilized furnishings from Reuse Action and Nickle City Novelties to create an inviting and environmentally friendly "apartment scape."

"By partnering with Canalside - whose year-round world-class programming is beloved by locals and visitors alike - we are honored to support an institution that so perfectly represents the rich history and bright future that makes Buffalo a great American city," said Josh Meltzer, Airbnb head of New York public policy. "In the past year, over 7,500 travelers have discovered Buffalo as a result of the hundreds of Airbnb hosts who share their home, and earn a little bit of extra money along the way."

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 ages 5 and under. Skate rental is $5. Those who bring a nonperishable food item for the Food Bank of WNY will receive a $1 discount on skate admission.

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

About Canalside

Canalside is a growing regional destination and entertainment district, situated on 21 historic acres along downtown Buffalo's emerging waterfront on the Buffalo River. Canalside earns its name from its storied past, when the Erie Canal Harbor was built in 1825 as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. Until five years ago, the land was barren and inaccessible, but the area has been reclaimed by the state's Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., and developed with millions of dollars in public and private investment.

With more than 1,000 yearly events and nearly 1 million annual visitors, Canalside is fast becoming the go-to place for in- and out-of-towners of all ages to learn, play and relax.

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