By Terry Duffy
The weather may not feel like it, but the spirit of the Christmas season is surely at hand.
Northern Niagara residents have already experienced it with a host of holiday happenings - the Military Road Electric Lights Parade, the Ransomville Lighting of the Wreaths and Christmas shopping events, including, Black Friday in the Town of Niagara, and Small Business Saturday in a number of communities. This weekend, there is Light Up Main Street in Wilson, the Winter Walk in North Tonawanda and the annual Lewiston Christmas Walk.
And the holiday spirit continues Saturday, Dec. 12, in Youngstown, with the annual Christmas in the Village celebration.
Presented by the Village of Youngstown and Youngstown Recreation, it opens at 10 a.m. and continues all day with a number of fun events at the Red Brick School Village Center and throughout the village.
"We're getting things ready," said Youngstown Village Trustee Tim Adamson, event chair, who is coordinating the village celebration with Trustee Stuart Comerford. "Visit our wonderful business district for shopping and festivities."
Santa visits with children at the Red Brick.
He reports Youngstown's Christmas in the Village 2015 will feature a number of holiday-themed events for visitors of all ages:
•A Christmas Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the gym of the Village Center.
•A special 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting on Main Street marking the reopening of two long-time village establishments - the Mug and Musket Tavern and The Ontario House (Stone Jug).
Presented by the Youngstown Professional and Business Association, a group active with the village promotion of Christmas in the Village, the ribbon-cutting will celebrate the welcome return of activity on what had been an all-too-quiet Main Street strip in recent months, YPBA President Cheryl Butera said.
"It's a welcoming of new faces. Mike (Costello of the Ontario House) is very excited about the ribbon-cutting. So is Catherine Stella (co-owner of Mug and Musket). The YBPA is thrilled to have these new owners as a part of our community," Butera explained.
•Complimentary horse and carriage rides, noon to 4 p.m. throughout the village. Look for Olaf, Rudolph, Frosty and a host of musical performers, including Lew-Port school children who will cruise village streets.
•Christmas crafts at the Youngstown Free Library in the Red Brick, from noon to 2 p.m.
•Visits with Santa from 1-3 p.m., also in the Red Brick. Parents and children are invited to visit, decorate cookies and make holiday crafts. The program will feature a special reading of "The Night Before Christmas" and photo taking with Santa. Hot beverages will be available, compliments of Friends of the Library.
•For those having a taste of historical culture, servings of refreshments and pastries in a Victorian setting by Donna Huggins and Friends will be found in the village boardroom of the Red Brick from 2-4 p.m. Visitors are invited to partake in a wine tasting, and the Historical Museum will be open with exhibits of period dress from 1-4 p.m.
•Village businesses will be open and welcome visitors throughout the day. Among the various activities, Anchor Spirits on Lockport Street is planning in-house entertainment, Youngstown bars and eateries will have dinner and drink specials, and visitors will be able check out some unique offerings in local shops.
"Each business traditionally gets involved with this," said Mark Butera, co-owner of Anchor Spirits, and YBPA secretary.
"It's a little bit of everybody," wife Cheryl Butera added.
•Two Christmas tree lightings will occur at a 3 p.m. ceremony in Falkner Park on Main Street.
•Speaking of lighting, Butera reports village streets will be even brighter this year, with "Light up Youngstown." Twelve new LED snowflake lights have been installed on street poles on Main and Lockport streets and in Falkner Park. The project came to reality thanks to funding availed to business associations from the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, of which YBPA is a member.
"Youngstown is not going to be dark anymore," Cheryl Butera said.
Complimenting the new holiday lighting is a Christmas-themed display now found in local storefronts called "Youngstown Trains on Main." The brainchild of Porter resident Garda O'Keefe, a Youngstown Garden Club member, "Trains on Main" debuted last year in the windows of Main Street businesses "to create something unique as an attraction during the holiday season," said resident Aaron Dey of www.PYRBA.org. "It celebrates the lower Niagara Region's connection to our history of electric trollies and rail transportation - specifically the Great Gorge Route and Railroad.
"Taking her lead and creative energy, businesses set model train displays in their storefronts, or in front of their businesses last year. It continues this year, running from Dec. 5 through Jan. 5, 2016."
Dey reports that, in addition to the "Trains on Main" displays, members of the WNY Garden Railway Society will present a special exhibit and program from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Stone Jug. Families are invited to check out the Railway Society's display in The Jug's events room and attend a presentation by Zack Collister, president of the Historical Association of Lewiston, who will discuss the history of the Great Gorge Route on the Niagara River.
Still more activities to check out at Christmas in the Village:
•Youngstown Lions Club members, in cooperation with the Wilson Lions Club, will offer preschool early childhood eye screening at the Red Brick.
Youngstown Lions members report hot dogs and popcorn will be available for visitors and special mailbox reflective signs will be available for purchase.
•Finally, the YBPA invites all to visit its recently dedicated park bench, located on the east end of the Red Brick Village Center. Cheryl Butera said the new bench stands as YPBA's tribute to Youngstown's beloved mayor, the late Neil Riordan, who passed away in 2011.
"We are very proud of our most recent acquisition," she said. "In cooperation with the Town of Porter Historical Society, a commercial-grade seating bench was purchased for use by visitors and residents. ... This bench has a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of the late Mayor Neil C. Riordan."
She invites all to experience Youngstown next Saturday.
"It's going to be more festive than it's ever been," Butera said.
For more on Christmas in the Village, call the Youngstown offices at 716-745-7721 or visit the Village of Youngstown page on Facebook.
The park bench recently dedicated by YBPA in memory of late Youngstown Mayor Neil C. Riordan.