GOWANDA - Santa made his arrival in Cattaraugus County, complete with a police escort. Santa rode a fire truck as community members walked behind on Main Street singing "Santa Claus is coming to Town." The man in the red suit marked the beginning of the second annual Christmas in Gowanda Friday evening.
The night kicked off with the tree lighting at Chang Hu Park with special guests, the Gowanda Panthers Superbowl winning football team and cheerleaders. Dave Gabel, master of ceremonies, joked the Gowanda Panthers brought something back to town the Buffalo Bills have yet to accomplish.
Gabel gave a comparison of the village to the town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago. He said both are small communities and if Bethlehem can make a difference in the world, so can Gowanda.
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
McKoy, age 4, sits on Santa's lap during Christmas in Gowanda.
"Just think what we can do as a community," he said.
Lisa Crassi brought her daughter, Ariana, to the event for the first time this year. Crassi knew of the event last year but Ariana, who is now 2 1/2, was too young to attend. The young toddler said her favorite part was all the cookies.
"We saw fliers online so we decided to come," said Crassi. "It was fun."
Gowanda resident Rose Lester-McDonald, said this was also the first year she attended. She said the village reminded her of Pottersville, a fictional town in the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." She was impressed by all the children's activities available throughout the village.
"(Gowanda) is a nice place to live. They really do a nice job for the children," Lester-McDonald said.
Other activities included Christmas carols, movies at the Hollywood Theater, storytime, a live nativity scene by the Ministerial Group, a live reindeer and a meet and greet with elected officials. Christmas in Gowanda will continue next Friday, Dec. 13 with local businesses being open from 6 to 9 p.m. Anyone who makes a purchase from a local business will receive a raffle ticket for a basket filled with merchandise from the shopping district valued at $1,500.
The Hollywood Theater will show "Frosty the Snowman" at 7 and 8 p.m. with another movie, yet to be determined, at 9 p.m. Admission to the movie is free but a non-perishable food item is encouraged for the Gowanda Food Pantry. Free wagon rides will be provided by Misty Ridge Carriages. Events will continue on Saturday, Dec. 14 with holiday movies from 12 to 4:30 p.m. at the theater.
The shop local basket winner will be drawn at 4 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater. Round trip train rides with Santa to Dayton will depart every hour from noon to 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and children 3-11 will be $6. For more information, call 532-3196. Tickets are available for purchase at Jesse's Toy Box on Main Street. For a complete schedule of events, "Like" Christmas in Gowanda on Facebook.
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