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Oswego Lights Up For The Holidays

A youngster pauses for a moment to make sure he remembered everything on his wish list.

A youngster pauses for a moment to make sure he remembered everything on his wish list.

A youngster pauses for a moment to make sure he remembered everything on his wish list.
A youngster pauses for a moment to make sure he remembered everything on his wish list.

OSWEGO, NY – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Oswego, except maybe for the lack of snow.

The Port City officially lit up for the holidays on Saturday.

The 2015 city tree is lit Saturday night.
The 2015 city tree is lit Saturday night.

Hundreds of people throughout the day enjoyed Light Up, Oswego, a community-wide, all-day event that welcomed the holiday season in Oswego at myriad locations.

Santa greeted hundreds of youngsters at the Lake Ontario Conference Center during the Toys for Tots Day of Sharing event and then hundreds more in City Hall during the afternoon, to ensure everyone stayed warm this year.

The Toys for Tots “A Day of Sharing” event was “one of their best events ever,” according to one of the organizers.

Those attending the Toys for Tots event brought a new, unwrapped toy to donate. All donations go to help families right here in Oswego County.

Kayla E. Yacketta, 11, finds a comfortable place to sit while waiting for the festivities to begin.
Kayla E. Yacketta, 11, finds a comfortable place to sit while waiting for the festivities to begin.

More than 300 children took the opportunity to have a personal chat with Santa and ensure he received their ‘wish list.’

The city’s museums, the H. Lee White Maritime Museum and Richardson-Bates House Museum, were also dressed up for the holidays.

The YMCA/Armory was the site of a huge holiday shopping expo featuring many vendors as well as assorted activities for children.

November 28 was also Small Business Saturday.

Several downtown area Oswego restaurants and businesses were open throughout the day. Visitors enjoyed many holiday shopping and dining specials. Shoppers were out in force, especially along West First Street

“It’s nice to see so many people out enjoying the holiday season,” said Larry Rapshaw. “Oswego has so much to offer.”

Olivia Flint, an Oswego High School senior, entertains the crowd with some Christmas classics.
Olivia Flint, an Oswego High School senior, entertains the crowd with some Christmas classics.

Mayor Tom Gillen agreed.

“The organizers did a great job are coordinating all of this. It’s a wonderful day for  Small Business Saturday; I hope many of these shopper come back and visit our businesses in the future,” he said.

Shortly before 4 p.m., the crowd swelled as scores of youngsters marching in the holiday children’s parade arrived in Civic Plaza. They were accompanied by several members of the Oswego Players – advertising their upcoming production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

Mayor Tom Gillen and Santa's Helper Audrey Losurdo push the button to light the tree.
Mayor Tom Gillen and Santa’s Helper Audrey Losurdo push the button to light the tree.

Members of the Oswego Police and Fire departments ensured the youngsters had a safe route. Santa arrived in a fire truck; his eight tiny reindeer resting 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.”

“You’ve made me oh so proud children. My nice list is so big,” Santa told the children as he stretched his arms wide apart. “My naughty is this small,” he added holding his thumb and index finger about an inch apart.

They should be good each and every day, he told them.

The Menorah was lit in front of City Hall on Saturday night.
The Menorah was lit in front of City Hall on Saturday night.

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.”

Santa told the children he might not be able to bring every gift 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.

Members of the Oswego Middle School's Con Brio singers get the crowd into a festive mood while waiting for Santa's arrival.
Members of the Oswego Middle School’s Con Brio singers get the crowd into a festive mood while waiting for Santa’s arrival.

“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.”

The jolly old elf spent more than two hours in City Hall greeting children of all ages.

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. As each youngster climbed (or was placed) on Santa’s lap, they all had specific ideas of what they wanted to find under their tree.

Sharing, Santa told the children, "is the greatest gift of all."
Sharing, Santa told the children, “is the greatest gift of all.”

Santa said he made a mental note of each request and gave each child a candy cane and a bagful of assorted goodies before telling them he see them again, when they were sleeping, on Dec. 24.

It was a brisk late November evening. The temperature lingered near 30, but the wind made it feel like 20.

A large crowd assembled in Civic Plaza to witness the city’s 28th annual Children’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Christmas music started at 5 p.m., courtesy of the Con Brio chorus from Oswego middle school.

Mayor Gillen officiated at the ceremony.

A group of children stands front and center to listen to Santa.
A group of children stands front and center to listen to Santa.

“It’s a great time of year. Happy holidays to everybody!” he exclaimed. “I’d like to thank everybody who made the event happen – especially the volunteers who have done so much to make our city what it is. Christmas is a feeling that is inside of everybody. God bless us, everyone. Happy holidays!”

The Nativity scene and Menorah were lit in the plaza.

This year, the first day of Hanukkah will begin at sundown on Dec. 6.

The winners of the scholastic holiday poetry writing and coloring contests were announced.

The line of children waiting to meet Santa extended out into the plaza.
The line of children waiting to meet Santa extended out into the plaza.

Those who were present, read their award-winning entries and each of the winners received a prize from Oswego County Federal Credit Union.

Earning first place honors for coloring were: Audrey Losurdo, Jade Doran and Alyssa Flores; writing contest winners were: Damien LeBeau, Brody Engle and Gabby Elia.

The mayor then led the crowd in the countdown and Audrey Losurdo (Santa’s helpers this year) pressed the button that set the tree aglow in holiday splendor.

Light holiday refreshments were served by the Lions Club. Oswego Lion Bob Bateman whipped up nearly 360 steaming cups of hot chocolate and an equal number of Christmas cookies.

The holiday events continue in and around the Port City.

Christmas in Mexico is scheduled for Dec. 5.

On Dec. 11 there will be late-night shopping in Oswego.

The H. Lee White Maritime Museum’s annual Christmas at Sea Open House is set for Dec. 13 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Santa will arrive at 2 p.m. aboard a Coast Guard cutter.

For information, call 342-0480.

And, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will be staged Dec. 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. For information, visit www.oswegoplayers.org