OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Port City officially lit up for the holidays Thursday night.
The temperature slipped into the 30s and the threat of rain hung over the crowd.
The precipitation held off until after the tree was lit. And, spirits remained high as hundreds of people huddled in Civic Plaza to witness the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 22nd annual ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.
While waiting for the festivities to get under way, many youngsters walked around the city’s live holiday tree, which was adorned with many handmade ornaments.
Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman welcomed the crowd and thanked everyone involved in the event for making it a success again this year.
“Luckily, it stopped raining. If it was 20 degrees cooler today, we’d be standing in about a foot of snow,” the mayor said
Rabbi Yossi Madvig officiated over the lighting of the menorah to welcome the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. This year, the first day of Hanukkah begins at sundown on Dec. 11.
The winners of the scholastic holiday poem writing contest were announced. The first place finishers read their poems to the large crowd.
Earning first place honors were Arlo Olson, a fourth grader from Leighton; Rachel Leotta, a fifth grader from Kingsford; and Kelci Somers, a sixth grader from Minetto.
The winners received savings bonds from Pathfinder Bank.
Santa Claus made his arrival a few moments later aboard a city fire truck – his eight tiny reindeer rested up for their whirlwind worldwide Dec. 24 mission
He asked the children to help him increase the size of his “nice” list and make the “naughty” list as small as possible.
Santa told the children they had made him very proud because his nice list was so big and the naughty list so small.
They should be good each and every day, he told them. He asked them to stop fighting, share their toys and they should help out around the house. “The vacuum cleaner doesn’t bite and you won’t get dishpan hands,” he said.
“When you’re done with your toys, children, put them away. That’s not mom’s job,” he added.
Santa told the children he might not be able to bring everything they asked for. He needed to be sure he had enough gifts for every child in the world.
On Christmas morning, if they find they haven’t received everything they asked for, Santa told the children to smile and say thank you for the gifts they didn’t receive.
“For these are the gifts that (the children) shared with others so that they too may have a merry Christmas,” he said. “Sharing is the most precious gift of all.”
With the help of a Mackenzie Mulcahey, the mayor led the crowd in the countdown; she pressed the ‘magic button’ and the tree was aglow in holiday splendor. The lights danced as the winds blew the tree back and forth.
Santa then invited the children to come into City Hall and visit with him after the tree lighting ceremony.
The line of parents and their children snaked down the stairway and out into the plaza. Santa paid close attention to every child as they visited with him and shared their Christmas wish lists. More than 700 people waited in line to visit with Santa.
Children’s lists included everything from books and board games to the latest high-tech gadgets.
As each youngster climbed (or was placed) on SantaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lap, they all had specific ideas of what they wanted to find under their tree. Some, however, needed a little parental prodding to talk to Santa.
Santa said he made a mental note of each request and gave each child a candy cane before telling them he see them again, when they were sleeping, on Dec. 24.
Youngsters who visited Santa didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to leave right away. The Common Council Chambers were transformed into Elf Land with plenty of holiday activities for the youngsters.