OSWEGO – With temperatures in the upper 40s, visits from “Elvis” and Santa Claus himself made the Port City’s 2017 “An Oswego Christmas” holiday tree lighting a truly magical event.
The chilly misty sporadic rain showers did little to dampen anyone’s spirits.
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.
Hundreds of people throughout the day enjoyed the community-wide, all-day event that welcomed the holiday season in Oswego at myriad locations.
The 30th 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.
Nearby, on the lawn, two live reindeer greeted the children.
Horse and carriage rides were offered throughout the afternoon.
Many had their holiday photos taken inside a gigantic inflatable snowglobe, until technical difficulties brought down the attraction prematurely.
The event also supported the annual Toys for Tots effort in the city.
“This is a great event. It just keeps getting bigger and better each year. This is probably the best one we’ve ever had,” said Brian Chetney, executive director the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. “It’s all about the kids and their families.”
“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, chief elf, told Oswego County Today. “I think the crowd was bigger this year, despite the weather.”
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 nearly three two hours in City Hall greeting children of all ages.
The line of parents and their children trailed down the stairs, 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.
November 25 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.
“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. “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.”
The winners of the scholastic holiday poetry writing and coloring contests were announced.
Coloring Contest Winners
Emery O’Brien, fifth grade from Kingsford Park
Ali Brownell, second grade from Kingsford Park
Ayla McManus, kindergarten from Trinity Catholic School
The residents at St. Francis Commons picked the winners.
Story Contest Winners
Fourth grade from Riley School: Sydney Kroth
Fifth grade from Minetto School: Sadie Pratt
Sixth grade from Kingsford Park: Yedrien Gomez
According to Nate Emmons, MC, there were more than 400 coloring entries and more than 300 story entries.
City Attorney Kevin Carracioli recited T’was The Night Before Christmas and then it was time to light the tree.
At 6 p.m. sharp, the mayor led the huge 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.
The holiday events continue in and around the Port City.
Among the many events are:
• The community is invited to an open skate with the Oswego State men’s and women’s hockey teams for Holiday Skate with the Lakers, 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 10, in Marano Campus Center arena to benefit the local United Way. The annual event will feature holiday music, a visit by Santa Claus, a hockey jersey raffle and concessions provided by Auxiliary Services. Admission is $3 per person. Those interested in renting skates may do so for an additional $3 fee. For more information on the college’s SEFA/United Way campaign, visit oswego.edu/sefa.
• Children and their parents are invited to kick off the holiday season and sport their fleece and flannel PJs for the 10th annual Polar Express Pajama Party. The event will take place at Oswego High School on Friday, December 1, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The special evening will begin in the OHS cafeteria with a visit from Santa, crafts, a book reading and face painting. At 7 p.m., the fun continues with a showing of the original movie The Polar Express in the OHS Ralph Faust Theater. Tickets are $5 per person and are available at the River’s End Bookstore until store closing on November 30. Limited tickets will be sold at the door for $7 each.
• The Oswego County Historical Society will host the annual Victorian Christmas Open House on December 3 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Richardson-Bates House Museum at 135 E. Third St. in Oswego. The event is free and open to the public. “The historic Richardson-Bates House Museum will be fully decorated in the Victorian style,” said board trustee Justin White. The open house will host musical entertainment of traditional songs and unique period-themed ones. Refreshments will also be served. For more information visit www.rbhousemuseum.org or call during regular hours at 315-343-1342.
• Mexico To Light Up For Christmas Season Dec. 2. Christmas in Mexico wouldn’t be complete without the church bazaars, special offers by local merchants, free horse-drawn carriage rides, roasted chestnuts and caroling throughout the streets. New this year will be a Light Up For Christmas in Mexico Parade. The parade will line up at 4:30 p.m. and start at 5 p.m. Following the parade, the tree lighting will take place in front of Cornell Cooperative Extension building on Main Street, followed by pictures with Santa. Also new this year will be Storefront Decoration Contest hosted by the Greater Mexico Chamber of Commerce. Email [email protected] or call 315-806-0251 for more information regarding all Christmas in Mexico information.
• The city of Fulton’s 2017 Christmas Tree Lighting Jubilee will be held on December 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. The official city Christmas Tree is located across from the Fulton Municipal Building at 141 S. First St. The tree will be lit at 6:30 p.m. with photos with Santa following directly after in the Municipal Building Community Room. Following the photos, there will be singing groups performing in the Community Room. For more information call the Fulton Department of Parks and Recreation at 315-592-2474.
• The H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego is pleased to host its annual Christmas at Sea Open House on December 10 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 new 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 boat, but there is no need to have your child wait in a long line to see him, as there will be crafts, festive stories and music to enjoy while you wait. For more information call (315) 342-0480, visit www.hlwmm.org or www.facebook.com/hlwmm.
• The Pulaski Historical Society will celebrate the Christmas season by participating in “Light Up Pulaski” with an open house on Dec. 3 from 2 to 4 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will come and sit in front of the Christmas tree while they meet with the children. In the museum, Bev Rossman will entertain visitors playing Christmas songs on her guitar. “The Night Before Christmas” will be read to the children. During the open house, raffle tickets will be available for a beautiful gilt-framed watercolor painting of “The Arches” by local artist Jan Tighe. The drawing will be held on Dec. 5 at the museum. The Pulaski Historical Society is located at 3428 Maple Ave. For more information, call 315-298-4650, or e-mail [email protected] You can also visit www.pulaskihistoricalsociety.org for a calendar of events, volunteer opportunities, services available and more.
• On Sunday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oswego Kiwanis Club in collaboration with the Youth Bureau and Iheart Oswego will host a Christmas Craft Expo at the Oswego Armory. There will be a lot of crafters with tables. We will also have an arts-n-crafts section for the kids. Food vendor (Moose Shack) will be on site selling food and snacks. Come support the crafters and get some nice Christmas gifts.
• Theatre Du Jour presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) Starring an all-star local cast including Scott Bandla, Matthew Fleming and Derek Potocki. Directed by Sherri Metz. Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. A madcap romp through the holiday season. Presented at: The Eis House, Academy Street in Mexico: Nov. 30; GS Steamers, East First Street in Oswego: Dec. 7; and The Barnes Hiscock Mansion 930 James St., Syracuse: Tuesday December 12. Tickets for the holiday show are available now at dujourcny.com.