Celebration includes holiday performances, family activities, OFN fundraiser
By Terry Duffy
Holiday celebrations abound in Niagara County.
In our neck of the woods, there's the "Noel at Niagara" holiday lights display ongoing at Veterans Park in the Town of Niagara; a Gingerbread Wonderland, sports tourneys, shopping and more in the Falls; outdoor skating at Academy Park; the ever-popular Lewiston Christmas Walk and Tour of Homes; nighttime holiday displays at Fatima Shrine; plus community celebrations in Ransomville, Sanborn and Wilson.
Yes, the holidays are in full force in northern Niagara. And with all of us having already experienced the season's first real snowfall (and more expected soon), it sets the stage perfectly for the River Region's next big celebration: Youngstown's "Christmas in the Village."
A yearly presentation of the Village of Youngstown, the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, local businesses and scores of community participants, "Christmas in the Village" plays out all day and into the night next Saturday, Dec. 8. A full schedule of events is highlighted by must-see stops at the Youngstown Red Brick Village Center, Old Fort Niagara and Youngstown First Presbyterian Church. In addition, village businesses will be out on the streets and sidewalks.
All told, it promises yet another enjoyable holiday experience for the family.
" 'Christmas in the Village' has always been a 'three-part event,' " YBPA President Cheryl Butera said. "Because it lasts all day and then into the night, it is feasible to spend the whole day in Youngstown!"
Checking out the variety of happenings for "Christmas in the Village," one can see what she's talking about. Events at the Red Brick Village Center include:
•A Christmas market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the gym.
•Festive crafts and games in the Youngstown Free Library, plus entertainment by Step in Time in the gym, both from noon to 2 p.m.
•Visits with Santa from 1-3 p.m. in the Cora Gushee Room, plus cookie decorating and craft making in the Community Room, and still more refreshments and crafts in the Historical Museum.
•Outdoors, visitors will find a variety of treats, including complimentary horse and carriage rides, holiday characters cruising village streets, hot dogs and popcorn served by the Youngstown Lions Club, plus a wide range of shopping and dining options.
"The business district will be active with celebrations, as well," Butera said. "Main and Lockport streets will be part of the horse and buggy rides tour that start at the Red Brick and take riders along the business and residential districts. All of the lights and decorations have been readied to show off Youngstown's quaintness.
"Susan Geissler's studio will be open for visitors to view her incredible works of art. The Village Diner is always open for this event, and Everything Youngstown will be having a ribbon-cutting event on this day with many holiday shopping gift ideas."
Others to check out on the Main-Lockport strip:
•The Mug and Musket will offer a "Customer Appreciation Day" starting at 1 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the Tim Andrews Full Band takes the stage.
•The Youngstown Galley will feature gingerbread pancakes as a special treat to its already fabulous breakfast menu.
•Anchor Spirits & Wines will have an extra special eggnog tasting with live music by Rich Jagow and VanDee Van Deusen at 1 p.m. Jagow returns with Nick Ricciuti with holiday music from 4-6 p.m. Customers are welcome to join in, Butera said.
•Nearby, the Ontario House (aka The Jug) will be open for food, fun and holiday festivities. Next to the Jug, Victoria's Family Hair Care will have in-shop specials as well as free coffee and cookies with a special adult drink just to keep folks warm as they walk the village streets.
Main Street Pizzeria will be open and offer warm single slices available for those who can't get enough pizza. And for those that can drive down to the farm markets, Tom Towers Market, Sanger Farms and Baker Farms will be open for business with holiday goodies, as well.
•Later on that day, Old Fort Niagara will kick off its annual "Castle by Candlelight" fundraiser, with holiday activities taking place from 6:30-8:15 p.m. (This event continues Dec. 15 on the fort grounds.)
OFN will offer hands-on activities and interactive history demonstrations, including exhibits of fur trading, woodworking and silver trading, preparing an 18th century meal, soldiers' activities, Native songs and dance, games, writing with quill pens, and crafts. Music will be provided by the fort's field musicians and local musicians who play period tunes. Historical characters will be everywhere to share history and welcome guests.
" 'Castle by Candlelight' creates an atmosphere that is the epitome of holiday spirit," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. "The decorations, music, activities and re-enactors transform Old Fort Niagara into a Christmas wonderland, and the money raised through admission supports our educational programs in the New Year."
•Over at First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, check out the one-act holiday comedy "Nuncrackers," with performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8, and 4 p.m. Dec. 9 in the church Hall.
"Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with those wacky nuns at the Mount St. Helen's Convent!" said director Claudia Andres. "Featuring Anne DeFazio, Marcia Jones, Katrina Copeland, Mary Belanti, Peter Andres, Leah Truesdell, Maddie Belanti, Mike Riordan, Charlotte Draper and Ryan and Stella Cooper, be prepared to laugh, cry, sing - and maybe wince occasionally!"
Performances are open to the public with open seating. A free-will offering will be gratefully accepted.
"Come and join the Little Sisters of Hoboken during Youngstown's 'Christmas in the Village,' " Andres said.
Butera invited all to visit and check out all this village has to offer. She pointed with pride to its most recent successes.
"A special shout out to The Mug & Musket and The Ontario House, because two years ago we held a dual ribbon-cutting ceremony for each of them and both businesses have made a positive impression in Youngstown," she said. "Then last year we celebrated a ribbon-cutting for The Youngstown Galley, who is now celebrating their one-year anniversary. Rebecca Poletti and her son, Matt, have done so much to develop their restaurant and ice cream shop. Congratulations to all three for hanging in here and making Youngstown a place to find great live music, delicious food items, and especially friendly service to all who come to visit."
Butera said, "The Youngstown Business and Professional Association board welcomes everyone to visit and enjoy 'Christmas in the Village' in Youngstown on Dec. 8."