OSWEGO – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Oswego.
The Port City officially lit up for the holidays on Saturday.
Hundreds of people throughout the day enjoyed the community-wide, all-day event that welcomed the holiday season in the Port City at myriad locations.
The 32nd annual event featured a variety of activities for children, vendors, food and holiday music.
Many families lined up inside City Hall early to await Santa Claus’ arrival.
New this year, they used the West First Street entrance. This allowed visitors to stay warm as they made their way upstairs to the second floor; crowd into the Council Chambers as they awaited their turn to visit Santa.
Horse and carriage rides were offered throughout the afternoon. A skating rink was set up as well.
“This is a great event. It just keeps getting bigger and better each year,” Mayor Billy Barlow said. “The crowd looks larger than last year.”
“We’re doing a few things different this year,” said Kristen Slimmer of the Youth Bureau, who organized the annual event. “I think the crowd is bigger this year and they appreciate not having to wait in the cold to see Santa.”
Each youngster who visited Santa received a small stuffed bear with a city holiday ornament and a candy cane, provided by Man In the Moon Candies
Members of the Oswego Police and Fire departments escorted Santa to City Hall in a fire truck.
The Jolly Old Elf arrived in a fire truck because his eight tiny reindeer are resting up for their whirlwind worldwide Dec. 24 mission, he told Oswego County Today.
Then, Santa spent nearly three hours in City Hall greeting children of all ages. He 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.
Members of the Oswego Lions Club served hot chocolate and holiday treats inside City Hall.
Slimmer said she had 500 bears and candy canes. By the end of Santa’s visit, they were almost all gone.
“The Youth Bureau did a great job coordinating all of this. Many city departments pitched in as well; it’s just a wonderful community event,” the mayor said prior to lighting the tree.
He thanked all of the volunteers who made the event possible. He then congratulated the winners of the annual holiday coloring contest.
The winners of the scholastic holiday coloring contest are:
Kindergarten Yeishaly Carrasquillo
1st Grade David Isham
2nd Grade Arielle Jodway
3rd Grade Lily-Ann Mantor
4th Grade Yana Paneria
5th Grade Olivia Williams
6th Grade Emily Hooper
There were 700 entries this year, making it very difficult to pick the six grade-level winners explained Nate Emmons, the night’s MC.
At 6 p.m. sharp, the mayor led the crowd in the countdown and Santa’s helpers pressed the buttons that set the tree aglow in holiday splendor. One of the helpers pushed the button for the bottom half of the tree, the other lit the top.
A few moments later, a brilliant fireworks display high above the Oswego River was the perfect finale for the day.