by Terry Duffy
Let the celebrations continue.
As has become tradition, holiday festivities are taking over Niagara. From the Electric Lights Parade on Military Road in early November, to Black Friday and holiday shopping at area business strips and malls, to community happenings such as the Ransomville Lighting of the Wreaths last Sunday, the Newfane Holiday Light Up and Parade Friday evening, this weekend's Lewiston Christmas Walk, and holiday Tour of Homes events taking place in Lewiston and Grand Island, the holiday spirit is indeed intensifying throughout the area.
And it continues in the quaint Village of Youngstown. The fifth annual Youngstown Christmas in the Village, presented by the Village of Youngstown, the Youngstown Recreation Department and the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, takes place next from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13.
And there's a host of activities planned - in the village business district, at the Youngstown Red Brick School Village Center, on village streets and in Falkner Park throughout the day. "We believe this will be the best-ever event for the holidays," said Cheryl Butera, co-owner of Anchor Spirits and president of the YBPA.
Butera, who is organizing this event together with village Trustee Tim Adamson, Town of Porter Historical Society President Dottie Riordan, and numerous volunteers from village businesses and throughout the community, welcomes visitors from near and far to experience Youngstown at its finest. "There will be lots for kids, lots for adults" to do she said. "In fact, you can spend your entire day in Youngstown, from 10 a.m. to the Fort at night."
Noting its theme of "Christmas trees and snowflakes," Butera spoke of the preparations thus far in the village in making this event a must-see. "Almost every brick-and-mortar business has live Christmas trees in front of their establishment - the most ever!" she said. "Plus, the Youngstown Business and Professional Association Inc.'s offering this year is to extend the lighted poles with ribbon and snowflakes from Main to Falkner Park, as well as from Main and Lockport all the way to the village offices on Second Street. That being said, this year's fifth annual Christmas in the Village will undoubtedly be the brightest and most festive celebration yet!"
So what does this year's Christmas in the Village have in store for visitors? Well, quite a lot.
•A Christmas Market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Red Brick gym.
•Free horse and carriage rides from noon until 4 p.m.
•Special guests cruising the village, including Olaf from "Frozen," Rudolf, Frosty and assorted wandering musical performers, from noon to 4 p.m.
•A visit from Santa, who will be reading "The Night Before Christmas," along with craft activities for kids from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Red Brick.
•An Old Fort Niagara encampment at Falkner Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
•Refreshments and pastries, presented in a Victorian setting in the Red Brick boardroom from 2 until 4 p.m.
•Free pictures for those with period dress in the historical museum at the Red Brick from 1 to 4 p.m.
•A Christmas performance by Vandy and Bev Van Duesen at Anchor Spirits from 2 to 4 p.m. Complementing it will be wine tastings presented by the Arrowhead Spring Vineyard Winery, also at Anchor Spirits from 3 to 6 p.m.
•Food and beverages served by the Youngstown Lions Club.
•Two Christmas tree lightings taking place at 3 p.m. in Falkner Park.
•Winter games featuring "The Mug vs. The Jug" (Mug and Musket Tavern and the Ontario House) from 4 to 6 p.m.
•Holiday attractions and specials at area businesses, including The Dory Trading Post, Melloni's Market, Victoria's Family Hair Care and Day Spa, the Bistro at the Old Fort Inn, the Mug and Musket Tavern, The Jug, Ashker's Café and Ice Cream, Youngstown Diner and more.
•One neat attraction to check out at Christmas in the Village is the all-new "Trains on Main" in Youngstown, paying tribute to the Great Gorge Railway. The "Trains on Main" hearken back to the days that the Great Gorge Railway trolleys ran on Main Street, bringing people from all over Niagara Falls and Erie County to the public beaches in what is now Fort Niagara State Park.
Participating area businesses with displays include The Dory Trading Post, the Youngstown Village Diner, Victoria's Family Hair Care and Day Spa and Sue Geisler's Studio - all found on Youngstown's Main Street. "Trains on Main" opened Dec. 1 and continues until Dec. 31 in the business storefronts.
•The "Castle by Candlelight" event at Old Fort Niagara, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. For details, visit www.oldfortniagara.org.
•A special Christmas Toy Drive, presented by Lake Ontario VFW Post 313 and WNY Heroes to benefit the children of military families in need in the Lewiston, Youngstown and Ransomville areas will also be taking place at Christmas in the Village. The drive opened Dec. 3 and continues through Dec. 16. Drop-off sites in the village for donations of new, unwrapped toys include: VFW Post 313, Anchor Spirits, The Dory Trading Post, The Village Diner, Victoria's Family Hair Care and Spa, and the Mug and Musket Tavern. For details, contact Gary Zanardi, VFW Post 313 commander, at 716-628-0440 or visit www.wnyheroes.org.
Taking note of the above event, Butera spoke of the impressive spirit of community she's experienced overall throughout the village in helping to make Christmas in the Village a real celebration. "It has to be the most hands-on interest I've seen so far," she said, comparing the involvement seen to that of the annual village Street Dance celebration in the summer. "There are so many eager people, so happy to be involved to do things in Youngstown.
"Putting up the lights. Working together. I see this as a giving back. It's all about giving," she said.
She invites visitors from throughout the area to come up, spend the day and evening and experience the specialness of what Youngstown truly is.
For more information on Christmas in the Village, visit www.youngstownnewyork.us or contact Butera at 716-754-7989.