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Falls lights Hyde Park for the holidays

The city will light up the trees in several parts of Hyde Park tonight and host carriage rides under the lights next Saturday.

Also today, a park tree lighting ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. in Sundial Park, at Hyde Park Boulevard and Pine Avenue, where Christmas carolers will entertain and free refreshments have been donated by Tim Hortons.

The following areas of Hyde Park will be lighted each evening for the rest of the season: Sundial Park, Robbins Drive from Pine to Linwood Avenue, the Duck Island bandstand, the Rose Garden and the Oasis area.

City Hall has dubbed the event, "Hyde Park for the Holidays," and Mayor Vince Anello said he hopes the lighting of the park will be the beginning of a new tradition for the city.

"We've talked with National Grid about increasing outlets for next year," Anello said. "This has been done through the efforts of city employees and will be paid through the parks budget."

John Caso, the city's Neighborhood Services Division manager, said employees from the trades department installed electrical connections at the park while parks laborers strung the lights.

Next Saturday, the Hartland Carriage Co. will give carriage rides from the John Duke Senior Center along Robbins Drive from 5 to 9 p.m. The cost is $5 per adult, $3 per child or $10 per family. Santa Claus will be at the senior citizens center and a Girl Scout troop will sell refreshments.

Theresa Kasper, a principal account clerk for Neighborhood Services, said the whole division banded together to work on the event. She shares Anello's hope that it could be an annual event that may grow into something more.

"The Festival of Lights started downtown with a string of lights over the street," Kasper said. "You have to start little."

Councilman Sam Fruscione said the Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board had recommended lighting trees on Robbins Drive to City Hall, and he would like to see the cost of the event in future years be paid through local hotel occupancy taxes or local casino revenues.

e-mail: gfranklin@buffnews.com

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