By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — It's a busy weekend in Lewiston as the Lower Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce kicks off the holiday season with the much-anticipated arrival of a jolly fat man and its annual Christmas Walk.
Santa Claus comes to town today and he'll once again step out not on a sleigh with reindeer, but a helicopter landing in the heart of Academy Park.
In what has become tradition in Lewiston, the arrival usually brings smiles to all faces gathered to watch. Even the young-at-heart, chamber President Jennifer Pauly said.
"There's something magical when you see the helicopter come and land and Santa gets out," she said. "No matter how many times you see it, it's mesmerizing. It's just amazing to see the excitement on all the faces of the children. It's really exciting for everybody, for those young at heart as well."
Santa arrives promptly at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and, once he's greeted the crowd, will be whisked away to the Lewiston Peace Garden, located behind the Little Yellow House in the 400 block of Center Street, to sit down with the many boys and girls he'll visit later this month.
While this is certainly a highlight of the events today, it's not the only aspect. There's a number of activities, including a petting zoo from noon to 3 p.m., free carriage rides from noon to 4 p.m. and a tasty treat for crafty folks sponsored by Habitat for Humanity all afternoon behind The Brickyard Pub on Center Street.
Christmas walking isn't just for youngsters, though. Throughout the village's business district, there will be plenty of sales during the two-day event, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both today and Sunday.
Pauly said the sales are great for shoppers coming in, especially those there to see the big guy with their youngsters.
"It's a great weekend for our businesses to capture the attention of those coming to see Santa," she said. "There are a lot of sales and promotions going on and everyone really gets into the holiday spirit."
If looking for Christmas presents or talking to a bearded man in red isn't important, there's always the Lewiston Tour of Homes. Running simultaneous to the Christmas Walk, the Tour of Homes offers outsiders a look inside the homes of a handful of Lewiston residents, from cottages to main houses.
Run by the Historical Association of Lewiston, last-minute tickets to tour can be purchased today and Sunday, as long as they're available, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lewiston Village Hall, 145 N. Fourth St., Lewiston.Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.