OSWEGO – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Oswego; except, of course, for the lack of snow, and no one is really complaining about that.
The Port City officially lit up for the holidays on Saturday. The air turned colder and the threat of rain loomed just before sunset, but it did little to dampen anyone’s spirits.
Hundreds of people throughout the day enjoyed the community-wide, all-day event that welcomed the holiday season in Oswego at myriad locations.
The 31st annual event featured a variety of events and vendors, children’s activities, food and holiday music.
Many families lined up outside City Hall hours early to await Santa Claus’ arrival. The line stretched from City Hall across the plaza for nearly three hours.
On the lawn, youngsters enjoyed holiday miniature train rides. Nearby were huge ice sculptures, including a giant replica of the mayor’s chair.
Horse and carriage rides were offered throughout the afternoon.
“This is a great event. It just keeps getting bigger and better each year,” Mayor Billy Barlow said as he welcomed the huge crowd awaiting the tree lighting.
“I want to give a big thank you to all the city departments who worked so hard to make this great for us! Without all the volunteers, it would not have been this successful!” said Jennifer Losurdo, who organized the annual event, told Oswego County Today. “I think the crowd was bigger this year, despite the cold weather. It was a little light early, but got larger the cloer it got to tree lighting time.”
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. The guest of honor – Santa Claus, was helped out of a fire truck and escorted to City Hall to greet the youngsters.
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.
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 nearly three hours in City Hall greeting children of all ages.
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.
Members of the Oswego Lions Club served hot chocolate and holiday treats to the folks waiting in line.
Oswego Lion Bob Bateman whipped up close to 400 steaming cups of hot chocolate and an equal number of Christmas cookies.
On their way out, the youngsters were given a candy cane, a cup of donuts and a bagful of assorted holiday goodies.
Losurdo said she had prepared about 450 goodie bags. By the end of the afternoon, they had all been handed out.
Members of various SUNY Oswego men’s and women’s athletic teams served as ushers and “elf helpers” at the many outdoors activities.
“The Youth Bureau did a great job coordinating all of this. Many city departments pitched in; it’s just a wonderful community event,” the mayor said. “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.”
“There are so many people and organizations to thank. It takes a tremendous amount of works from a lot of people to put on a successful event like this,” Losurdo told Oswego County Today.
She said she’s thankful for Kay and the Miracle Cure, Wal-Mart, Oswego County Federal Credit Union, Stewart’s, Dunkin Donuts, Ollie’s, Burger King, Lighthouse Lanes, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, Nate Emmons, all the volunteers and especially the traffic department.
Also: Wheelock Rides, the Ice Farm, CNY, Stables, Endeavor Entertainment, the Oswego police and fire departments, all of the SUNY Oswego student athletes – and of course Santa Claus himself.
The winners of the scholastic holiday poetry writing and coloring contests were announced.
Those who were present, read their award-winning entries and each of the winners received a prize from Oswego County Federal Credit Union and Wal-Mart.
Coloring Contest Winners
Hollie Jermyn, Riley School – 5th grade
Grace Filkins, Trinity Catholic School – kindergarten
Ali brownell, Kingsford School – 3rd grade
Story Contest Winners
4th grade – Mia Murphy from Leighton School
5th grade – Tristan Leavens-Flores from Minetto School
6th grade – Victoria Marino from Kingsford Park School
“T’was the Night Before Christmas,” was read by Kevin Caraccioli just before the tree was lit.
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.
A few moments later, a brilliant fireworks display high above the Oswego River was the perfect finale for the day.
“No solid plan yet for 2019, but it’s in the works in my mind!” Losurdo said.