BEMUS POINT - Santa surprises travelers stopping at the Chautauqua Lake Rest Area on I-86 a couple miles past the Chautauqua Lake Bridge in the eastbound lane.
Being caught up with his Christmas duties, Santa, portrayed by volunteer Patrick Harvey, can be seen around this time of year Sunday mornings as he volunteers at the Information Center.
As the Information Center winds down for 2013, the 40 volunteers that staff the Center year round 7 days a week reflect on the tourists and travelers they have assisted over the year, helping them locate area businesses, attractions and activities. Many of the volunteers are Retired Senior Volunteer Program members and enjoy helping the tens of thousands of people passing through the area.
Patrick Harvey, a volunteer at the I-86 Rest Area Information Center, dons Santa’s hat to welcome visitors during the holiday season.
With the busy summer season activities behind us now, the volunteers will provide travelers with information about skiing, snowmobiling, the Lake Erie Wine Country, and such activities as Chautauqua Institution, the Lucy-Desi Center among the many other sites throughout the County and other areas of New York State. More than 170 participants have promotional brochures or travel guides at the Information Center. Their information is available 24/7 year round. Real Estate information joins the dining, lodging and historic sites as a popular request.
Throughout the year the Information Center, managed by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, provides display space at no cost for the purpose of promoting upcoming events, the many museums, tourist sites and programs. Current displays include the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and Center for Comedy, Jamestown Arena, area snowmobiling and the Lake Erie Wine Country.
Also displayed is information about the New York State Move Over Law. The Rest Area now being an official NYS "Text Stop", has had free Wi-Fi availability throughout the facility and parking areas the past several years.