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OFF MAIN STREET

Christmas spirit is alive and well

For all you naysayers, here's proof that Santa Claus is alive and well and, apparently, a big Buffalo Sabres fan.

Bob Fahey of Snyder took his two sons, Daniel, 10, and Joseph, 5, to a recent Sabres game and noticed a man sitting in the row behind them.

The man never spoke to Fahey or his boys. But, at one point, he left his seat and returned with two bags. He handed the bags to Fahey's two sons.

"Merry Christmas," the man said, and walked away.

Inside the bags were two Sabre jackets worth $100 apiece.

Fahey asked if anyone around them knew this modern-day Santa. No one did.

"It's kind of a nice Christmas story," Fahey said. "Whoever the guy is, it would be nice to thank him. Maybe he'll read this and feel good about it."

When asked to describe the guy, Fahey assured us that, no, he didn't have a long, white beard and, no, he never heard the words, "Ho, Ho, Ho."

Still, it makes you wonder.

No lack of diversity here

He may not be as colorful as Frank Sedita or Jimmy Griffin, but Tony Masiello can jab with the best of them.

Masiello was standing outside his office last week when he noted to a reporter that two of his top aides, Tony Hazzan and Lenny Sciolino, bring a certain ethnic flavor to City Hall.

"The next time someone suggests my administration lacks diversity, remind them that I have two Lebanese guys working for me," he said.

The mayor then looked at Sciolino, who's probably a foot shorter than Hazzan, and said:

"Well, maybe one and a half."

Taking shots at the Bills

The Buffalo Bills may be rebuilding, but that carries little weight with the folks at the Hertel-Parker Liquor store.

Over the past few months, the North Buffalo store has featured a weekly sign poking fun at the Bills demise.

The latest?

"Will the parents of the 11 kids playing on the field take them home. They are beating the Bills 28-3."

Odd bedfellows in Amherst

Don't look now, but the 'burbs are rivaling Buffalo for political weirdness.

Amherst Republican Thomas Loughran is leaving the Town Board, but fellow Republicans were less than passionate in their farewell last week. In fact, Democrats were the ones who gave him the big send-off at his last board meeting.

Keep in mind, the GOP passed over Loughran, an incumbent, for re-election. Loughran stayed in the race but lost.

All those bad feelings were evident last week as Republican board members Jane Woodward and James Hayes politely applauded during one ovation for Loughran. Neither made any remarks.

Not so with Democrat Peggy Santillo. She hugged and kissed Loughran. Democrat Michael McGuire and maverick Republican Bill Kindel also lauded Loughran, calling him a friend and praising his service.

Democratic Supervisor Susan Grelick even gave Loughran a commemorative plate from the Amherst Museum.

"I certainly made history," Loughran said. "I'm the shortest-tenured council member ever in Amherst's history."

All they want for Christmas

Off Main Street traveled all the way to the North Pole for this exclusive: an interview with the Santa Claus hired by the Buffalo Bills to cheer up the home crowd at Rich Stadium last week.

Santa left with his work cut out for him. It seems Bills fans aren't asking for Star Wars toys, Sing and Snore Ernies or Beanie Babies.

"The major requests were for a new quarterback, a new coach, a new offensive coordinator," said Santa, "and one girl whose nose was all red wanted a dome stadium."

Claus also reported that he was hit with one snowball on the sunny, blue-sky day.

Is nothing sacred?

An alarming 'ribbet'

Holiday gift idea No. 4.

In this age of heightened home security, most people turn to an expensive security system or the canine population for personal protection.

But alas, there's a new product on the market -- a 12-inch long "Watch Frog." The manufacturer assures us that this four-legged green monster will greet friends and startle foes.

"This life-like, giant pop-eyed frog stands sentry in your yard or home and lets out a loud 'ribbet, ribbet,' " says the catalog.

Imagine for a moment, an army of these green babies stationed on every street corner in Buffalo. You can almost feel the drug dealers trembling with fear.

Off Main Street is written by Phil Fairbanks with contributions from Patrick LaKamp and Gene Warner.