The Christmas season in Lewiston officially kicks off today as shoppers head down to Center Street in observation of Small Business Saturday, but that's just the beginning of what promises to be a busy holiday schedule in the village.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce has a full list of holiday events and activities planned over the next couple of weeks, including Ransomville's Festival of Wreaths, the Lewiston Christmas Walk and the Lewiston Tour of Homes.
"It's always fun to celebrate in Lewiston," said Chamber President Jennifer Pauly. "The village is decorated beautifully, the garden club has put out all the greens and wreaths, the Village DPW puts out all of the beautiful Christmas lights, which will be on this weekend, and it's just a very festive atmosphere."
Small Business Saturday will run all day, and Center Street merchants will be showcasing special offers as part of the occasion. The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will have a tent set up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the KeyBank parking lot, 493 Center St., where they will be giving out gifts for early bird shoppers.
The first 50 people who stop by the tent will be given a $15 gift certificate and the first 100 guests to stop by the tent will receive a canvas tote bag with a list of promotions from participating businesses. Free coffee will also be available.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Ransomville will celebrate its annual Festival of Wreaths, featuring a variety of free, family friendly activities throughout the day.
A shuttle bus will run from 12:30 to 5 p.m. to carry guests between different events taking place at venues including the Ransomville United Methodist Church, the American Legion, the Ransomville Free Library and the Ransomville Fire Hall, among others.
Activities will include musical performances, a craft show, carriage ride, a parade, free pictures with Santa and, of course, the wreath contest, which will be held from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the American Legion.
A complete schedule of events for the Ransomville Festival of Wreaths can be found online at www.niagarariverregion.com under the events section.
The holiday fun will continue into the following week as the chamber hosts its annual Christmas Dinner on Dec. 5 at Casa Antica. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and costs $25 per person. RSVPs are required and can be submitted on the chamber's website. Non-perishable food donations will be collected for Inter-Community Services and music will be provided by Joe Webber.
On Dec. 7, Center Street will again be packed with visitors attending the village's annual Christmas Walk. The Lewiston Christmas Walk will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Dec. 7 and 8 and will span the length of Center Street.
The focal point of the Christmas Walk will be the arrival of Santa, who will make his entrance at 11:30 a.m. via helicopter at Academy Park. From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Santa will be available for meet and greets with the Christmas Walk's younger guests.
"That's always the highlight," Pauly said of Santa's tradition of arriving by helicopter. She added that this year, a giant "Christmas chair" has been constructed that will provide a festive photo opportunity for families.
Beloved Christmas characters will be on hand, strolling Center Street and visiting with guests throughout the event and complimentary carriage rides will also be available, starting in front of Northwest Bank, 500 Center St. Children will also be able to send letters to Santa by placing them in the red mailbox located at 463 Center St.
In addition, Center Street shops will all be open during the Christmas Walk and many of them will be running special holiday promotions. For a full list of special offers and activities, visit the event page on the chamber's website.
Also on Dec. 7, the 15th annual Lewiston Tour of Homes will begin and continue through Dec. 8. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., adult guests will be able to participate in the self-guided tour, which will include stops at four homes, all lavishly decorated for the holidays.
Guests can take advantage of the "Polar Express" trolley which will run on a continuous loop around the tour locations. Tickets will also include seven bonus stops, including the Griffon House, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Carmelo's and others. For more information about the tour or to purchase tickets, which cost $25, visit the chamber's website.
Finally, during the weekend of Dec. 14 and 15, there will be a pair of non-chamber events, though the chamber is volunteering at them.
On Dec. 14, the Village of Youngstown will host its annual Christmas in the Village event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Village Center, 240 Lockport St. The event will feature a Christmas marketplace, crafts, games, carriage rides, music, refreshments and a chance to visit with Santa.
On Dec. 14 and 15, the Sanborn Historical Society and the Sanborn Business Association will host their Christmas at the Farm event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at the Sanborn Farm Museum, 2660 Saunders Settlement Road. The event will offer crafts and other activities for children, food, a basket auction and a meet and greet with Santa.