Christmas is coming, and one only needs to look toward Dunkirk's city hall for a reminder.
The city set its annual Christmas tree aglow for the first time Friday evening, drawing a crowd of onlookers as well as Santa Claus himself, who arrived by fire truck.
Children had an opportunity to give Santa early notice on what they'd like for Christmas and received likely their first candy canes of the season as well. Even though a snowfall hasn't lasted on the ground yet this season, many were still quite ready to get into the Christmas spirit, including Robin Campbell of Deer Street, who showed up with reindeer antlers and a red nose.
Dunkirk Tree Lighting
"I just thought this would look good because I figured why not? It's a Christmas tree lighting."
The lack of snow was also a plus for Caroline Barrett, who was born in Dunkirk but now lives in August, Ga. Barrett said she visits her family in Dunkirk every summer during the fair, but does not usually travel up during the fall or winter because of the weather. This was her first time at the tree lighting ceremony.
"At this time of the year it's a whole lot nicer because right now there's no snow and usually there is, and you get to see a different part of the world where it's really cold," she said. "Where I come from, it's like 60s, 70s."
OBSERVER Photo by Matt Panebianco
This year’s Christmas tree was donated by Mary Ann Corsoro in memory of her husband, Sam, who passed away this year.
The tree this year was donated by Mary Ann Corsoro in memory of her husband, Sam, who passed away this year. The tree was taken from the Corsoro's front yard and, according to Mary Ann, had been planted by her husband 18 years ago.
"It's wonderful that he's honored," she said "It's a great honor."
After a countdown, Mary Ann switched on the strings of lights that wrap the tree, bathing the area in a mild blue glow.
The lights are not set in sync with music this year; officials choosing to give the feature a break to consider other potential surprises.
"We've done away with the musical situation at city hall, but we are going to move into something different this year; take a step back and maybe take a lot at it again next year," Mayor Richard Frey said. "We just didn't want to beat it into the ground."
Another change in the future may be the planting of a permanent tree in front of city hall, which would eliminate the need to take down other trees as well as stand up stronger to the occasional windstorm. Frey noted, however, that the tradition of local tree donations would be compromised.
"We have a club that might be interested in donating a six- or eight-foot tree to be planted in the ground and then we won't have to cut any more trees," Frey said. "But you know, we have a great history over the 9 years of the trees we had donated to the city and the people who had the privilege and the honor of lighting them for us."
Those who attended the tree lighting this year received raffle tickets to vie for gift certificates from local businesses and restaurants.