Spencerport's Christmas on the Canal celebrates 10 years
A 10th year celebration of Christmas on the Canal will be held in Spencerport the afternoon of Sunday, December 4, on Union Street in the village, from 2 to 6 p.m. The afternoon's events are planned to encourage people to come early and stay through the Candlelight Caroling Stroll which is the culmination of the event. Elaine Spaziano, chairperson of the event since its inception, says that the cold weather usually plays a role in the length of time that folks spend enjoying the festivities, but encourages visitors to dress for the weather to have fun making new memories with family and friends.
It was Spaziano who first conceived of the idea to have a small winter event that would bring the families and community of the Ogden/Spencerport area together during the holiday season for a bit of festiveness. This was meant to be a time in which all could take a breather from the business of the season and appreciate the meaning of Christmas in a very special, yet simple, way. Over ten years ago, she had attended a similar type of program at Niagara on the Lake and was impressed with the warmth, beauty, and friendliness that it brought during an otherwise cold and blustery time of year. One year later, with the help of a very small committee and groups of local volunteers, she began the first Christmas on the Canal in Spencerport, in December of 1996.
As the event has evolved, so has the vision of bringing a wholesome type of Christmas celebration to a small village and town on edge of the Erie Canal. Although it is not necessary, those who wish to do so may dress in festive or colorful seasonal clothing; from knickers and caps, to perhaps even capes, hats, and coats that come from other eras in time. One of the features of the day, as in a bygone era also, will be a hayride that allows families to snuggle together as they sing and listen to the bells on the harnesses of the horses that pull the wagon.
During the course of the afternoon, as one walks along Union Street, there will be the opportunity to stop and visit some of the shops; warm up with hot drinks, and various refreshments. Families and friends alike will be touched as they stop to watch the entertainment which consists of school aged children and local adult talent as they sing, dance and carol in the street.
In reverence of the Christmas holiday, there will be a living nativity which will feature live animals along with a representation of the holy family. The narrated program will repeat every ten minutes from 2 to 6:15 p.m., as the story of that special night in Bethlehem and the birth of Christ is told.
Christmas is a special time for the little ones, so as always Santa will be spending the afternoon on the steps of Spencerport Floral Design, passing out candy canes and listening to the dreams and wishes of good little girls and boys. Also for the children, there will be a free Children's Activity Tent near the canal bridge, filled with all the makings for fun Christmas crafts.
As the daylight softens, and evening starts to fall, the "candle ladies" will be selling the stroll candles for $1 on Union Street, and also at the hayride. These candles will light the way for the traditional one mile Candlelight Caroling Stroll. Hundreds of lit luminaries will come to life at dusk. At 5 p.m. at the tolling of the church bells, it will be time to gather at the gazebo by the canal for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony and this year, in commemoration of the 10 year celebration, there will be a six minute ground display of fireworks, adding a bit of sparkle and glitter to the night. Veterans will help with a flag raising and pledge of allegiance in honor of soldiers who were in service to the country and to those who are in service now.
Around 5:30 p.m., carolers will begin the stroll from the gazebo as the horse drawn wagon leads the way. The route consists of these four blocks: Union Street from the canal, west on West Avenue, north on Evergreen Street, and east on Amity Street, back to the gazebo. It takes about one hour. The horses and carolers stop at the nativity for Silent Night, and then in front of the Wedgewood Nursing Home as they pause to carol for the residents there.
Project N.O.E.L. - Or Night Of Evening Luminaries, is a new ideas Spaziano devised this year and hopes it will continue in the years to follow as well. She encourages all of the Spencerport/Ogden community to help light up the night, not only beginning on the eve of Christmas On The Canal, but through the entire season as well, by placing lit luminaries on steps or porches. Residents along the stroll route are asked to place them on their steps and porches as the carolers walk by for the stroll on December 4 especially. Luminary kits each containing two tea light candles, two white bags, and sand, will be available for $1 purchase at the following locations through Christmas: Bella Salon, The Unique Shop, HSBC bank, and Pineview Restaurant.
The Christmas On The Canal committee also urges homeowners and merchants to use a "Snowman" decorating theme that could be enjoyed by anyone passing through the village or town this holiday time.
In conjunction with this year's event, the Port of Call Community Players will present a staged storytelling: "Mrs. Coney - A Tale At Christmas" on Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Canal View Elementary School. Tickets are available at the door and cost $3 adults; $2 children.
For general information and to volunteer contact Elaine Spaziano at 352-0240.