OSWEGO, NY – Snow? Oswego didn’t need no stinkin’ snow to get into the holiday spirit. The Port City had the likes of Jennifer Losurdo (chief elf), Nate Emmons (MC and holiday music guru for the event), Kevin Carracioli and their legion of tireless volunteers.
“I really want to put out a big thank you to Keith Kostoroski and the traffic crew, you guys worked so hard to make this great for us! If I had to put a thank you to everyone else I would take up this whole page. I do want to thank the Oswego Lions Club, Oswego Kwainis Club and the Oswego Sunrise Rotary, Lee Reynolds Audlin, Cathy Losurdo, Dawn Susino, Nathan Emmons, Jerry Maher, Victoria Usherwood Gailinas, Steve Yablonski, and anyone else I missed and could not fit,” Losurdo posted on Facebook. “Seriously, without these guys volunteering it would not have been this successful!”
And, it showed.
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.
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.
The day-long event opened at 9 a.m. with the annual Holiday Expo in the YMCA Armory with more than 40 vendors, children’s activities, food and holiday music.
At noon, a new element was added to the event as part of Civic Plaza was transformed into an ice skating surface. Dozens of people, of all ages and skating abilities, enjoyed the rink.
Horse and carriage rides were offered throughout the afternoon.
“The horse and carriage rides are a real big hit this year. I’m glad we have them,” said Brian Chetney, executive director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. “This is a great event that keeps getting bigger and better each year. Really, it’s all about the kids and their families.”
From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. the Oswego Elks hosted a Day of Sharing /Toys for Tots.
Santa greeted youngsters during the event and then hundreds more in City Hall later that afternoon.
The Toys for Tots event was very successful, according to its organizers.
Those attending brought a new, unwrapped toy to donate. All donations go to help families right here in Oswego County.
Their efforts will be bolstered by the upcoming “Tunes for Tots.” The event will take place December 14 at The American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St. from 5 to 10 p.m.
A children’s parade wound its way to City Hall. Members of the Oswego Police and Fire departments ensured the youngsters had a safe route. And, shortly after their arrival, the Oswego Fire Department delivered the guest of honor – Santa Claus.
The Jolly Old Elf arrived in a firetruck because his eight tiny reindeer are resting up for their whirlwind worldwide Dec. 24 mission, he told Oswego County Today.
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. 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.
“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.”
Then, Santa spent more than two hours in City Hall greeting children of all ages.
The line of parents and their children trailed down the stairway and out into the plaza. On both sides of the staircase were large poster boards that “nice” boys and girls (and some adults) could sign to ensure Santa has them on the proper list this Christmas season.
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.
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.
On their way back downstairs, the youngsters were given a ticket they could redeem in the lobby for a bagful of small stuffed animals, candy and other assorted holiday goodies.
November 26 was also Small Business Saturday.
Mayor Billy Barlow encouraged people to shop at the downtown businesses and check out the variety of restaurants the Port City has to offer.
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
“Oswego has so much to offer. It’s great to see so many people downtown, enjoying the holiday season,” said Larry Rapshw.
Mayor Barlow agreed.
“The Youth Bureau did a great job coordinating all of this. Many city departments pitched in; it’s just a wonderful community event,” he said.
Shortly before 4 p.m., the crowd swelled in the Civic Plaza as youngster began to line up outside City Hall in anticipation of meeting Santa. Many more were at the main stage checking out the entertainment.
Performers included Theatre De Jour’s Crumpet the Elf, giving a preview of the Santaland Diaries; Olivia Flint performing holiday songs; performance by several members of Edge Artistic Dance Center; cast members of the Oswego Players’ upcoming holiday production, “Yes, Virginia,” offered a sneak peek of the play; “T’was the Night Before Christmas,” read by Kevin Caraccioli; and vocal performance by singer Kay Burke.
It was a brisk late November evening and the threat of rain loomed over the crowd. The temperature lingered near 40, the wind made it feel like 20. All that didn’t deter the multitude of celebrants that packed Civic Plaza between West First and Second streets to witness the city’s 29th annual Children’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Christmas music started at 4:45 p.m., courtesy of the Chamber Singers from Oswego High School.
Mayor Barlow officiated at the ceremony.
“I’d like to thank everybody who made the event happen, the Youth Bureau, the city council, all of the city departments that participated and especially the volunteers who have done so much to make our city what it is,” he said.
The Menorah was also lit in the plaza. This year, the first day of Hanukkah will begin at sundown on Christmas Eve.
The winners of the scholastic holiday poetry writing and coloring contests were announced.
At 6 p.m. sharp, the mayor led the crowd in the countdown and Santa’s helpers pressed the button that set the tree aglow in holiday splendor.
Members of Oswego Sunrise Rotary Club were outside at Civic Plaza serving hot cocoa and donuts.
Meanwhile, light holiday refreshments were served by the Lions Club inside City Hall. Oswego Lion Bob Bateman whipped up close to 400 steaming cups of hot chocolate and an equal number of Christmas cookies. There were also approximately 400 goodie bags at a nearby table.
The children’s Christmas lists, of course, included many hi-tech items and other hot toys of the season.
Eight-year-old Zachary asked for a phone. His mother said Santa would “have to think about that.”
Another youngster said she wanted some new books, “because I like to read.”
When Oswego County Today asked one child what he wants for Christmas, he answered succinctly, “Santa already knows.”
The holiday events continue in and around the Port City.
• TDJ Brings Santaland to the Port City Dec .9 “The Santaland Diaries” will be presented: (Part of the Quality Inn / GS Steamers Dinner Theatre Series) on December 9 (Part of the Barnes Hiscock Mansion Dinner Theatre Series) on December 11 and (Part of the Eis House Dinner Theatre Series) on December 15. For more information, visit dujourcny.com.
• Polar Express Chugs Back To Oswego A magical journey will once again take place this Christmas for students of all ages. Children and their parents are invited to kick off the holiday season and sport their fleece and flannel PJs for the annual Polar Express Pajama Party, at Oswego High School on December 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., the fun continues with a showing of the original movie The Polar Express in the theater. Tickets are $5 per person and are available at the River’s End Bookstore until store closing on December 1.
• Victorian Christmas Open House at Richardson-Bates House The Oswego County Historical Society will host the annual Victorian Christmas Open House on December 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Richardson-Bates House Museum. The event is free and open to the public. “The historic Richardson-Bates House Museum will be fully decorated in the Victorian style,” said Justin White, president of the board of trustees. “We welcome the community to join us in celebrating the holiday season in the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas.” This year’s open house will host special musical entertainment by Con Brio, a select chorus of the Oswego Middle School, directed by music teacher Paul Brewster. The performances will begin 2 p.m.
• Christmas at Sea Open House, Model Train Village Set The H. Lee White Maritime Museum will host its annual Christmas at Sea Open House on December 11, from 1-4:30 p.m. Come and celebrate the holiday season in Oswego’s Historic Maritime District, located on the West First Street Pier. In addition to enjoying homemade cookies and punch, visitors are encouraged to enjoy the museum exhibits, view maritime themed holiday trees and see the model train village exhibition courtesy of the Oswego Valley Railroad Association and Museum. Santa Claus will arrive at 2 p.m. via US Coast Guard cutter. For more information, call (315) 342-0480, visit www.hlwmm.org or www.facebook.com/hlwmm.
• Players To Present ‘Yes Virginia’ Director Jenn Snow will present the upcoming Oswego Players’ holiday production of “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.” The play tells the story of how little Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to a New York newspaper, “The Sun,” and the subsequent reply she received in the newspaper. “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” will be performed in the Frances Marion Brown Theater of the Oswego Arts Center at Fort Ontario on Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. The theater is a drop off point for Toys For Tots and patrons of the play are invited to bring along a toy for Toys For Tots.
• ‘Tunes’ Supports Toys for Tots Toys For Tots of Oswego County will hold its annual Tunes For Tots December 14 at The American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St. from 5 to 10 p.m. Special guests John McConnell, Vitamin-X, The Billionaires, Dirtroad Ruckus and Off The Reservation will be performing live. According to Michael Coon, event coordinator, Toys For Tots’ sole purpose is to provide brand new un-wrapped, non-violent toys and new books to the many children of the community. For more information, contact Coon – [email protected] or Carol Dawson – [email protected]