Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — What do you want for Christmas? And better yet, did you tell Santa Claus?
Hundreds of people lined up to do exactly that Saturday during the annual Christmas Walk in the Village of Lewiston, after, of course, the symbol of the season arrived by helicopter on a brisk but sunny morning.
The experience as a whole has become tradition for many of the people who line the safety perimeter to see the helicopter land and wave to Santa as he exits.
“We came last year and it was a lot of fun,” Colleen Uschold said. “I just love the excitement on the kids’ faces.”
Uschold made it a family affair with her son, Michael, 4, by her side. Michael’s aunt, Kathy Occhino, and cousin, Matthew, also 4, joined them from Rochester to see the event. Occhino said they’ve made the trip to Lewiston each of the past three years.
As for the children, they knew exactly what they wanted from Santa come Dec. 25. Michael said he wanted a toy train set, while Matthew is wishing for Nerf gun, capable of shooting small arrows.
Waiting for their turn to say hello to the village’s special visitor, Shawn Carr, of Lewiston, and his two children gathered their thoughts before stepping up to the man’s lap. His daughter, 7, said she’d be asking for Rainbow Loom, a jewelry-making apparatus to create rubber band bracelets and more.
His son, 2, said he wants Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fun this Christmas, but appeared to get cold feet just before visiting Santa, asking Dad to tell him instead.
Of course, the Christmas Walk is more than just a chance to see the jolly elf. It’s also a chance for the village’s various businesses to take advantage of a larger-than-normal crowd of foot traffic. And, despite the sub-freezing temperatures, many were taking full advantage.
At Angel to Apple Clothing Boutique, 451 Center St., this means it was time once again to break out the windpipes. The store’s owner, Jamie Symmonds, has made it tradition to make her customers earn a 10 percent discount coupon throughout her establishment each Christmas Walk by singing their favorite Christmas carols on the sidewalk.
Together with Taylor Nisbet and Emily Sembert of Lewiston Music, the sidewalk was rocking and rolling through renditions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and many others.
“Some people are a little shy,” Sembert said. “But everyone’s a good singer today.”
As for inside, Symmonds said there’s more to her store than just the singing. This year, she’s raffling off a pair of boots to anyone who wants to register. She’s also serving complimentary refreshments. Both are available through the end of the Christmas Walk, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today as well.
“We’ve been busy because the weather’s been cooperating,” Symmonds said. “It’s been great turnout.”
Other offerings around the village include a chowder and craft sale at the Lewiston No. 1 Fire Co., free carriage rides from in front of The Brickyard Pub and Santa’s continued presence for youngsters inside the Lewiston Peace Garden behind the Little Yellow House in the 400 block of Center Street.
As for Santa, he’s happy to see those smiling faces and eagerly awaiting his chance to once again shine bright in the lives of his biggest fans.
“It’s great to be back in Lewiston,” he said after stepping from the helicopter. “I love to see the children. They’re wonderful. I just can’t wait for Christmas to be here.”ONLINE See Santa Claus land in Lewiston by going to www.youtube.com/hotspot917. Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.