Lancaster’s two competing events at Christmas are focus of debate - The Buffalo News
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Lancaster’s two competing events at Christmas are focus of debate

Santa Claus is not expected for months, but Lancaster village trustees are grappling with how the village-run Christmasville can compete for sponsorship dollars with the separately organized Christmasville Fire Truck Parade that benefits the local firefighters history museum.

“We’re hoping to obtain more sponsorships and reduce the tree-lighting cost,” Dawn C. Gaczewski, village director of special events, said this week. Last year’s community tree-lighting ceremony alone cost about $7,000.

“The issue is the parade,” she said. “We cannot use sponsorship money for the fire truck parade,” for the village’s Christmasville event.

Many sponsors want advertising on fire trucks and give money to the parade, which village officials insist is not officially part of Christmasville, even though many people mistakenly think that it is. The parade takes center stage as part of Christmasville’s official kickoff on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, along with the tree-lighting at Central Avenue and Broadway.

The village is seeking broader sponsorship opportunities this year for funding Christmasville, and Gaczewski acknowledged that she is worried about getting enough sponsors for the monthlong celebration that attracts shoppers from across Western New York.

Some businesses that normally donate to the village’s Christmasville now want to sponsor the fire truck parade, Gaczewski said. “Some businesses think they’re donating to the village,” she said.

But any parade sponsorship money is funneled to support the Greater Lancaster Museum of Firefighting History.

Gaczewski maintains that businesses will get broader exposure if they donate to the event.

“We certainly don’t want to take the money away from the fire museum,” she said, “but want to work as a family so the village can continue the event that houses the opportunity for the fire museum to make the money.”

Jerry Enser, museum curator and who spearheads the parade, could not be reached to comment.

The moment that village Trustee William C. Schroeder, himself a Lancaster firefighter and former chief, raised the issue during Monday’s work session, it caused waves.

“We’re getting nothing out of it and providing all the services,” Schroeder said of the parade, noting that the village provides a reviewing stand for the parade. “The fire museum is getting a lot of sponsorships. The fire truck parade really isn’t a village event.”

Trustee Kenneth L. O’Brien III insisted that the parade has nothing to do with the monthlong Christmasville celebration and said that the issue seems to be whether the parade should be part of a community event.

The parade, which when it began in 2008 was held at the end of December, is now included as part of the formal kickoff to Lancaster’s holiday festivities, scheduled this year for Nov. 30.

Village officials say they want the museum to continue pulling in sponsorship money to help the facility, but at the same time, some of them worry about enough sponsorship money being secured to help offset the village’s expenses for Christmasville.

Gaczewski said the village’s cost figures for Christmasville – which include animated window displays and light shows – were not immediately available.

No one is talking about doing away with the event but Trustee Dawn M. Robinson said she would like to learn more about the sponsorship issue. “I would be open to hear some proposals, if it won’t upset the beehive,” she said.

After Schroeder brought the topic up, he later seemed inclined to drop the subject. “Just forget it,” he said to his Village Board colleagues after O’Brien questioned his point.

But Mayor Paul M. Maute said he will form a committee to study the issue. “It may be too late for this year, but we should still discuss it,” Maute said.

In an interview after the meeting, Schroeder said he is concerned because people want to sponsor the parade, and he has no objection to that. However, he said, “it doesn’t help pick up the cost of the whole event.”


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