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NEWS IN BRIEF

Officers will patrol shopping districts

About 14 police officers from the Flex Unit will be patroling Buffalo's shopping districts during the holiday season, authorities said.

Starting Sunday, the uniformed officers will be disbursed throughout heavy retail areas and patrol in marked vehicles. The shopping areas include the Elmwood Avenue strip, Broadway-Fillmore Avenue, Grant-Ferry streets, Clinton Street-Bailey Avenue and Kensington-Bailey avenues.

"We want to encourage people to come out here and shop in the city,and hopefully we'll discourage any criminal activity," said Larry Ramunno, the Buffalo Police Department's chief of patrol.

The program will end Jan. 1.

Holiday tree lighting ceremony set

Forever Elmwood and the Elmwood Village Merchants will have their annual holiday tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday at Lafayette Presbyterian Church, Elmwood and Lafayette avenues.

Holiday caroling will follow, and Santa Claus will be on hand. Hot cocoa will be provided by the church.

Horse-drawn carriages will tour Elmwood from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6, 13 and 20.

Delaware Ave. closed for Turkey Trot

Unless you're wearing a pair of running shoes, don't plan on using Delaware Avenue to reach downtown Buffalo between 8:45 a.m. and noon Thanksgiving Day.

Downtown-bound lanes will be closed to make room for the 107th Annual Delaware YMCA Turkey Trot, which is expected to draw about 4,500 runners and 10,000 spectators.

Both the north and south lanes of Delaware Avenue will be closed between Hinman Street and Hertel Avenue, with only the southbound lane closed from Hertel Avenue to Church Street. Franklin Street also will be closed to vehicular traffic from Church Street to Huron Street during the event, which finishes on Franklin Street in front of the Buffalo Convention Center.

The eight-kilometer (4.97-mile) race will start at 9 a.m.

Villa Maria will hold open house

Villa Maria College, 240 Pine Ridge Road, Cheektowaga, will hold an open house for prospective adult students from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Adults who want to start college or return to college are invited.

Information will be given on admissions and financial aid. Faculty and students will be available to answer questions. Tours of the campus and the on-campus child care center will be offered.

A free seminar, "Moving From Desire to Decision," will begin at 7 in the M&T Conference Room in the College Main Building and will cover a variety of topics for adult students.

Villa Maria offers several evening class options and programs leading to an associate degree. Adult students can be considered full-time while taking no more than two classes at a time. For information and registration, call 896-0700 or visit the Web site at www.villa.edu.

Thruway gears up for holiday travelers

From toll collectors to highway maintenance crews to state police patrols, the Thruway will be fully staffed when Thanksgiving holiday traffic kicks in this afternoon, Thruway Authority officials said.

The Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving traditionally are two of the busiest days on the Thruway, officials said. Heaviest travel periods typically occur between noon and 8 p.m. on those days.

Locally, the Lackawanna and Williamsville toll barriers are among the heavy traffic areas in the state.

St. Stephen's Church plans bake sale

Presale orders are being accepted for the bake sale sponsored by St. Stephen Serbian Orthodox Church, 177 Webber Road (at Abbott Road), Lackawanna.

The sale will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14. The deadline to pre-order is Sunday. To place an order, call Shelly at 646-1028, Babe at 824-8258 or Vera at 822-3724.

Walk-ins are welcome at the sale.

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