FULTON, NY – On December 1, with the official countdown to Christmas under way, the city of Fulton held its annual tree lighting event to kick off the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Families bundled up to watch the large tree across from City Hall be lit up in colorful lights by none other than Santa and Mrs. Claus while free donuts, popcorn, and hot chocolate played a part in keeping guests warm.
The crowds then moved inside to warm up and listen to musical entertainment in the Municipal Building or do crafts and have their face painted in the All Saints Episcopal Church next door.
“It’s a pretty large contingency, over 50 volunteers we have involved to make this happen,” said Barry Ostrander, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation. “It involves all different sectors of our community. The churches are involved, local businesses, the school district, it really involves every part of our community.”
The ten-person Christmas Tree Lighting Committee is led by Ostrander and is responsible for hosting the event and finding the many volunteers that donate their time to make it happen.
These individuals paired with numerous local sponsors including Dunkin Donuts, Fulton Savings Bank, Fulton Alliance Church, Fulton CYO, Fulton Rotary Club, Fulton Athletics Boosters, Catholic Charities, YMCA, Girl Scouts, Johnstons LP Gas, City of Fulton, Mimi’s Drive-In, Uniforms Etc., and the Marine Corps Auxiliary League, make the event a success year after year.
And year after year, families show up to partake in the fun.
Joleen DiBartolo said her family has come every year since her son was born seven years ago and has been continued as a family tradition each holiday season including her 2-year-old daughter now, too.
“It’s nice, a good community event. The kids really like to see Santa and it’s really how we kick off the holiday season every year,” she said.
With so much happening, it’s no surprise the kids in attendance enjoy their time.
Santa and Mrs. Claus make a grand appearance each year in a Fulton Fire Department fire engine to lead the crowd in a countdown to lighting the city’s big tree, a tree originally planted years ago across from City Hall for the sole purpose of the Christmas tree lighting, Ostrander said.
Free arts and crafts, snacks, hot chocolate, music, and pictures with Santa are all best sellers for the kids, with some extra excitement from seeing the whole Christmas gang including Frosty, Rudolph, and plenty of elves throughout the evening.
“I think my favorite part is the arts and crafts,” said 8-year-old, Kiesha.
Keisha and her family attend the Christmas tree lighting every year as well, “it’s like a ritual for us,” said her mother, Tabitha.
“My favorite part is when Santa comes!” said seven-year-old, Austin DiBartolo.
Happy kids and families is the end result that shows Ostrander and the Christmas Tree Lighting Committee their hard work has been worthwhile.
“It’s fantastic. Every year it’s amazing and comes together very well, we couldn’t do it without the support of our sponsors and volunteers,” said committee member, Norman Foster.
An event that started rather small according to Ostrander, has grown into a family tradition for many families in Fulton. “I’m pleased with it,” he said.