Niagara Gazette

November 16, 2013

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Shedding light on a new Christmas tradition

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Merry-Makers — Look, nobody ever said we were Lewiston over here, or even Youngstown, and sometimes our eyes roll a little at the I-190 sign advising exit to the “Grand Island Business District,” which is actually spread all over the Island like birdseed.

Nonetheless, we evidently know how to parade and party even as winter’s chill gathers strength and when our Chamber of Commerce last year dared to throw a procession and a lighting contest, some 1,500 people showed up to make merry.

That was enough to inspire a sequel. The second “annual” Light up the Boulevard Electric Parade and Festival steps off next weekend, Saturday, Nov. 23 at 5:20 p.m.

That’s 20 minutes after the “Rudolph Run,” of a little more than half a mile, starting at Marston’s, the lawnmower-snowblower place at 1970 Grand Island Blvd., and winding up at the Chamber itself, which is tucked into a little plaza next to a nail shop at 2257 GIB. Precisely, it’s one kilometer, even within Doug’s range if he didn’t have a commitment elsewhere.

The fun starts Thursday at 6 with the judging of lighting displays. You’ve got to hand it to the Chamber for the effort alone, as our businesses are significantly diffuse, from Island Prescription and Theodore’s, providing heartburn and relief side by side in the shadow of the South Bridge, past Japanese-themed Serene Gardens (with what Doug believes is the region’s best fish fry), through to the legendary Kelly’s Country store on the north end.

The parade has quite a lineup for this time of year, 25 units to date but none, at least so far, from Fuccillo’s (imagine a Billy balloon). Two or three dance units will step lively and everybody must be Christmas-theme decorated. Because of the dark hour, paraders must curb the urge to distribute candy, trinkets and fliers among the route.

When the marching stops, the party begins in the Town Commons, marshmallows roasting to the sounds of Sinatra-revivalist Jack Civletto. Then, at some point, a Christmas-themed movie will be projected onto the side of Town Hall, the original “Miracle on 34th Street,” we’re hoping. That’d be appropriate, because over here, it’s a little short of miraculous that our far-flung entrepreneurs can get together as if it were the Fourth of July, and leave nobody “Home Alone,” besides.

Come visit. Dress warm. No earmuffs, though. Nobody shuts out Old Blue Eyes.

Email Polly and Doug at pollyndoug@hotmail.com

Polly and Doug E-mail pollyndoug@hotmail.com