Look for that famous man in the red suit to make some exciting entrances, as Santa arrives by horse-drawn wagon, trolley -- and even helicopter -- in coming days to put everyone in a festive mood at a number of free holiday events around the county.
Here's where the public can attend holiday events in Niagara County communities:
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster will light the City Hall Christmas Tree at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Dec.2 during the annual holiday ceremony, with refreshments provided by The Hard Rock Café.
At 5:15 p.m., the annual Holly Trolley will leave City Hall, carrying young carolers from Harry F. Abate Elementary School and the Niagara River Explorers Boys Choir - and Santa -- to celebrate “Light Up Niagara” at various stops throughout the city, where residents and community trolley stop organizers will gather to greet them. Participants at the trolley stops may donate non-perishable food items, scarves, hats, gloves and toiletries for area organizations serving needy families, or unwrapped toys/check donations for the Niagara Falls Firefighters Christmas Toy Fund.
The trolley will arrive for a brief visit at Gill Creek Park around 5:20 p.m., followed by stops at: Tom Barber Park, Highland Community Pocket Park, Columbus Park, Schoellkopf Health Center, and the Middle Block of Old Falls Street by about 8 p.m., before returning to City Hall.
A Christmas Community Celebration is planned for 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Faith United Methodist Church, 1449 Quaker Road, Barker. The event features a cookie walk ($7 per pound); sub meal ($6); frozen Hall’s Apple Pies pick-up; and holiday shopping with a craft and vendor fair. Musical entertainment begins at 6 p.m., with the church’s choir, Barker Schools students, soloist Anna Atwater, the Barker Community Band and carol singing with Shirley Plummer.
The annual Lewiston Christmas Walk kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec 2 with the lighting of the village tree at Hennepin Park, featuring entertainment and a visit from Santa, to be followed by activities Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4.
All eyes will be on the sky Saturday, Dec. 3, as Santa makes a dramatic entrance by helicopter at 11:30 a.m. at Academy Park. Santa then climbs aboard a horse-drawn wagon and leads a parade down Center Street, singing carols. Look for free carriage rides, outdoor entertainment and refreshments served by Lewiston businesses.
The Lewiston Recreation Department will offer kids three Christmas events in the Red Brick School gym, 145 N. Fourth St., beginning with Cookies and Crafts with Santa at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. Breakfast with Santa will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 3. Both are $5 and require pre-registration by calling 754-1990 or 754-8271. In addition, the gym will be filled to the brim from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 3 when the rec department hosts a free holiday crafts-making session for children ages 4 and older. No pre-registration is necessary. Bring a box to take home original creations.
Children also may bring their written letters to Santa to go to the North Pole and put them in the Santa Mailbox located between You & Me Boutique at 467 Center St. and The Spicey Pickle at 463 Center St.
The Sacarissa Bell Rose Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows will be collecting items for the needy from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Lewiston Opera Hall, 732 Center St. New or gently used hats, scarves, mittens and socks are requested, as are cans of soup with pull tops. Local singer/songwriter Dale Campbell will entertain with Christmas songs on his red guitar.
Newfane’s annual Light Up Parade will feature Santa’s arrival by wagon against a backdrop of colorful, lit trees lining Main Street, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec.2. The festivities begin even earlier, at 4 p.m., with activities in the Snowflake Village in the Town Hall Community Room and a Candy Cane Lane Craft Fair at Newfane United Methodist Church.
The 5:30 p.m. parade will feature floats, horses, dancers, kids, cars, fire trucks, lights, music -- and, of course, Santa. Santa also will greet families at the Gazebo following the parade. In addition, cookies and hot chocolate will be provided.
It's not free, but children have a couple of opportunities to visit with Santa at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda. Visit with Santa on the Carrousel from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec.3, as well as Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 for $6. The event also includes games, treats and entertainment. No reservations are required.
Children also have a chance to have lunch with Santa at 11 a.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 for $10. Reservations are required for the lunch and can be made by visiting: www.carrouselmuseum.org.
The town’s annual tree lighting and Christmas party is planned for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Wheatfield Community Center, 2795 Church Road. Santa will flick the switch to illuminate the trees outside town hall. Holiday games, crafts and other family-oriented activities are planned.
“A Very Country Christmas” is planned throughout the village 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec.4.
Among the many activities are family pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus for the small price of one canned good for the food pantry. Children will also have the chance to enter a coloring competition with three age groups (K-1, 2-3 and 4-5), decorate a cookie, pet a llama, ride a pony, or hop on a hayride. Children, and those active in the armed services, as well as veterans, all have a chance at a drawing, where one child and one military representative will be chosen to light the Christmas tree at 5:30 p.m.
Children can create crafts at the Wilson Library; enjoy hot cider served at the fire hall, where hayrides and pony rides are also available; try bell-playing, Christmas bingo and homemade soup at the Lutheran Church; enjoy crafts and refreshments at the Methodist Church; enjoy an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Wilson House; and participate in a coloring competition, cookie decorating and a petting zoo at the Baptist Church. Kids can also get their faces painted at Down on Main Street.