Lights twinkle like captured starlight strung on every tree down the length of Third Street. Hopeful crowds gather on the sidewalks, burrowing deep in their winter garb to defend against the arctic December air as they eagerly search for their favorite floats. Holiday music drifts through the night, warming hearts and souls as each community organization and business passes through the festive corridor. The greatest treasures of the City are assembled. The 2013 Jamestown Christmas Parade and Holiday Celebration will soon be underway, bringing the delight and mystery of the holidays to downtown Jamestown.
“It’s really a family event – a memory maker,” Tiffani Conti, the Event and Programming Associate of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, says. “I’ve been here since 2006…this will be my eighth parade.” Tiffani is one of many who have been hard at work in a collaborative effort to maintain this great facet of Jamestown culture. Starting in September, a small committee met biweekly to shape the yuletide gala. The City of Jamestown, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, Jamestown Gateway Train Station, Jamestown Lutheran, The Resource Center, Casella Waste, and more bring together the key pieces to create the top holiday event for the area. “It’s a good way to celebrate a successful year in Jamestown,” Tiffani says. “We’ve had community members getting really involved in this.”
The Christmas Parade and Holiday Celebration is a tradition for many residents of Jamestown and the surrounding areas. Adults and children alike flock to one of the city’s largest festivals, enjoying the display of community kinship and seasonal merriment. Third Street is closed off for the event, where people brave the Western New York winter to see the extravaganza unfold. The theme of the 2013 parade is centered on the newly renovated Jamestown Gateway Train Station. The Jamestown ‘Snowball Express’ will be chugging its way through the bustle of holiday cheer.
The parade features many exciting floats and events following the theme of the “Snowball Express.” To kick off the evening, the Jamestown Harmony Express barbershop group will perform at 6:00 pm in Tracy Plaza. Steam Engine #6 will be starting off the parade and will conclude with Santa Clause riding in on Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad’s Caboose #300, both provided by the Gateway Train Station. After Santa makes his eagerly awaited arrival, he will greet the crowd, followed by the Cycle Shop Snow Ball Drop. The “snow balls” that will be dropped are actually ping pong balls donated by the Cycle Shop which feature deals from local businesses. The balls will then cascade from a fire truck ladder over the intersection of 3rd Street and Spring Street in downtown Jamestown. These special treasures will be redeemable at their matching businesses as a special holiday treat. A grand fireworks show is also in the line-up to top off the gala night.
The traditional Christmas tree returns to Tracy Plaza for the Christmas season. Every year, a beautiful conifer is carefully chosen by the City’s resident Arborist, Dan Stone. “It’s quite a project,” he says. “It’s one of my favorite parts of my job.” Dan chooses a tree, following a list of criteria that must be met, including accessibility. Many trees are offered as donations, however preference is given to trees from within the Jamestown city limits. This year, a beautiful 65 ft Norway Spruce was chosen and cut down to 45 ft. It now stands in Tracy Plaza, strung with more than 3,000 LED lights. “We had to buy more lights,” Dan says with a laugh. “It was bigger than last year’s!” The lights will be lit for the first time at the start of the parade, and will remain lit every evening until after Christmas.
For those looking for a little reprieve from the winter weather, Adam Owens, Program Coordinator at Infinity Visual and Performing Arts, extends an open invitation to enjoy hot cocoa and live entertainment in the Infinity Café on Third Street. “We have an annual Christmas Parade and Holiday Celebration performance,” he explains. “It’s a lot of fun in here…we really encourage the community to come, get out of the cold and experience the fun atmosphere of the café.” Hot cocoa with mini marshmallows, coffee and delicious treats are available in the café, with purchases directly benefiting Infinity. The café will open at 6:00 pm. The show runs from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Line-up starts at 5:00 pm between Monroe Avenue and Hallock Street with the parade will step-off promptly at 6:30 pm on December 6th, 2013. The route will take the parade through the downtown area and ends at Tracy Plaza, concluding at 8:00 pm. Parade goers are advised to dress for the weather, keep clear of the parade route and respect the barriers and personnel put in place to protect them. Tiffani Conti urges the public to take part in the event through volunteering, as many are needed to produce such a great event. “We could always use more volunteers…the more the better!” She says. For more information on the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation or the Christmas Parade and Holiday Celebration, look them up on Facebook or visit http://jrconline.org/.