Children and families will have the chance to celebrate Christmastime by joining in a variety of family-friendly activities planned in December.
Town of Niagara
Holiday celebrations will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Town of Niagara for the annual youth Christmas party.
The party, presented by the Town of Niagara Recreation Department, will offer arts and crafts, a magician performance and a visit from Santa, who will bring each child a present.
The party will be offered for two different age groups throughout the day. From 10 a.m. to noon, children age 6 and under are welcome to participate in the party. Then, from 12:30-2:30 p.m., children age 7 and older can attend.
"This is an event we have held for 10 years now and has become a staple for the Town of Niagara," said Amanda Haseley, Town of Niagara recreation director.
Sign-up for the party is mandatory. To sign up, call the Recreation Office at 716-297-5243.
Town of Wheatfield
The Town of Wheatfield's annual Christmas tree lighting and holiday party will take place the evening of Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Community Center, 2790 Church Road.
The family-friendly event is put on with the help of staff from the town's youth and recreation departments, as well as its Community Center.
The evening's festivities will begin around 5:45 p.m., just before Santa arrives in a St. Johnsburg Fire Department truck, with lights flashing and sirens sounding to greet everyone at the ceremony.
After Santa's arrival, children can help Santa flick a giant switch that turns on holiday lights around the Town Hall complex.
"My recreation team spends quite a bit of time installing the lights throughout the entire complex, and this event is the first chance anyone outside of our recreation family gets a look at our stunning display," Wheatfield Recreation Director Mike Ranalli said.
Following the tree lighting ceremony, people can make their way inside the Community Center for the Santa and snowman-themed holiday party.
The party will feature visits with Santa and various holiday crafts, games and snacks, including cookies, popcorn and refreshments. A holiday film will also be shown.
New this year will be a magic show at 7 p.m. by Paul Antonio Magic.
"We have used him before at our town picnic in the summer, but we have never had him at our Christmas party," Ranalli said. "He's very engaging to the children and they will love it."
In addition to offering children's activities and a chance for kids to visit with Santa, Ranalli said the party also serves as a means of introducing residents to the Community Center who may not have visited before.
Ranalli described the Community Center as a "magnificent building" that can be rented out for various events - including everything from meetings to a bridal shower.
Overall, Ranalli said, "This party has evolved into one of our prized events throughout the year and it's a direct result of my staff, each year, setting the bar higher and higher."
Since the holiday party is held exactly six weeks after the town's Halloween party, Ranalli said, "It's always critical we stay on our timeline in order to pull it off."
He added, despite the short timeframe between parties, "We don't take a conservative approach to our planning, so I am thrilled with the progress we made and I am anxious for party day to come. It's going to be tremendous."
Gail Connery, administrative assistant at the Wheatfield Community Center, said, "We always try to make it better. We always want to make sure everybody enjoys themselves and has a good time. It's just a time to celebrate with everybody, young and old."
•Breakfast with Santa will be offered at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the North Tonawanda Senior Center at 110 Goundry St. The family-friendly event includes breakfast, crafts, story time and a small gift from Santa. For more information, call 716-695-8582
•The North Tonawanda Youth Center Christmas party is set to take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, at the NT Youth Center at 35 Grant St. The party, which will be hosted for children in kindergarten to sixth grade, will feature games, activities, crafts, contests, prizes and food.
For more information, contact the North Tonawanda Department of Youth, Recreation and Parks at 716-695-8520.