By Chelsea Hutt, Contributing Writer
HANNIBAL, NY – This past weekend, local merchants in Hannibal participated in ‘A Country Christmas.’
During the weekend before Thanksgiving, the businesses have a series of open houses showcasing sales for the Christmas season.
Hannibal IGA, Travis’ Floral, Beckwith’s Tree Farm, have participated in the open houses for the past seven years.
This year, the IGA had Santa and Mrs. Claus greeting children, Travis’ displayed numerous Christmas trees and ornaments and other Christmas décor, and Beckwith’s was offering wagon rides around the farm.
The Hannibal Fire Auxiliary hosted a Sunday Morning Breakfast with Santa at the Firehouse.
After the first year of ‘A Country Christmas,’ Linda Remig of the Hannibal Library, had an idea for an “outreach program” for the library called the Festival of Trees.
It soon became part of ‘A Country Christmas.’
Remig’s program was a silent auction where small trees and wreaths could be donated by local businesses and others who wish to decorate them.
There is a special tree every year. This year, one was decorated with silverware. Yes, a 20-piece set for four of Oneida Flatware is attached to this tree’s branches.
If that was not enough, various gift certificates from surrounding restaurants were added.
Each certificate was valued for $20, $25, or free plates of food from Uly’s Seafood, Canale’s, Vona’s, Wonton House and the South Forty.
Many of the other donated trees and wreaths were valued at $45 – $60.
Some of the keynote donors were the Hannibal Historical Society, Hannibal Post Office, Village Pizzeria, Mayor Fred and Maria Kent, Oswego County Legislator Terry Wilbur. Even Remig donated a wagon decorated with a miniature Santa and tree.
“This is the largest fundraiser of the whole year (for the library),” Remig said.
And it is sure to help a great deal. By Saturday afternoon, there were already many substantial bids on the beautiful trees and wreaths.
On Sunday, the Hannibal Historical Society sponsored the annual tree lighting in the village square.
The Port Byron Brass played various songs of the season while villagers gathered in the square.
Carol Newvine, vice president of the historical society made sure the event ran smoothly and announced the speakers of the day, Legislator Wilbur and Mayor Kent.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived by fire truck to surprise the children gathered, and each child took an ornament to hang on the tree.
Legislator Wilbur spoke of the village recently turning 150 years old, and the Hannibal Fire Department 100 years.
Wilbur grew up in Hannibal, attending the high school down the road from the square.
“This showing right here is what small town America is all about,” he said.
He also thanked the veterans and asked for a moment of silence for those fighting overseas.
Susie’s QuickMart sold coffee, hot cocoa and cookies while the crowd enjoyed the brass band.
‘A Country Christmas’ drawings followed and four of the merchants in town gave away prizes: the Hannibal Free Library, Travis’ Floral, Beckwith’s Tree Farm, and the Hannibal IGA.
Next, it was the children’s time to have fun.
They lined up for the children’s parade led by Santa Claus.
Candles placed by the Boy Scouts lit the way as the band played and the children marched over to the tree.
Many snapshots were taken by mothers and grandmothers when they proceeded to put the ornaments on the large tree in the middle of the square.
The tree was finally lit and Mayor Kent came on the microphone, signaling the end of the event and thanking all of those involved in helping with the tree lighting.
The tree in the square shined in the night, warming hearts in the cold, almost wintry, weather.
The sixth annual tree lighting was a success and heralded the start of the holiday season in the village of Hannibal.