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Holiday spirit rides in Cortland

Tree lighting offers residents day of activities

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at Cortland’s Tree Lighting event Saturday on a horse-drawn carriage. The public also lined up for free carriage rides, hot chocolate and cookies during the inaugural event.

CORTLAND — The city embraced the spirit of the season and promoted Small Business Saturday with its first downtown tree lighting event.

Crowds lined up on West Main Street for free carriage rides, made Christmas ornaments to decorate a large tree and enjoyed free cookies and hot chocolate served up by members of the Cortland Lions Club.

Before the public got to ride, the white carriage pulled by two black horses delivered Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, who listened to children’s Christmas wishes and passed out gift bags.

Marianne Landfried of Niles said her daughter, Ayva, 6, enjoyed the carriage ride, “and she was excited about seeing Mrs. Claus because you don’t normally get to see her.”

Others were just happy to be at this type of gathering after similar events were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I like the fact that it’s an opportunity for the community to get together,” David Bush of Cortland said while helping his son, Maxton, 8, pick the perfect branch to hang his ornament. “After trying times and all that, it’s good to see people being a community again.”

“We were super excited (when the event was announced),” Elizabeth Moran of Bazetta said. “It’s something to get everybody out of the house and back out there.”

Carrie Shockey of Bazetta, who was there with her daughters Tracie, 16, and Erica, 13, said, “We used to go to Warren’s tree lighting in the past and are glad to see it come to Cortland.

A fine snow blew in the air during the late afternoon. It didn’t turn Cortland into a Winter Wonderland, but the breezy, chilly day gave participants an early taste of winter weather. That presented a challenge for those making ornaments.

Members of the Lakeview Junior Beta Club — Izabella Ash, 14; Kathryn Powell, 14; Linnea Kovac, 13; and Talor Ash, 12 — were bundled up while making decorations

“We’re trying not to freeze,” Kathryn said.

“You have to take your gloves off to make the ornaments,” Linnea added. “But it’s hard to do when you’re hands are freezing.”

Shane and Caitlin Martin of Warren helped their children — Emma, 7; Liam, 4; and Ella, who will be 2 in December — make ornaments in the tent. That and seeing Santa were Emma’s favorite activities. Dad voted for the hot chocolate and cookies.

“This is nice,” Caitlin Martin said. “It’s a cute little thing for the kids to get out and do.”

The Lakeview Teachers Association and the Lakeview PTO donated the ornament-making items, and the LTA and Lakeview Junior Beta Club volunteered in the tent.

Maggie Shackelford, a speech language pathologist at the elementary school, said, “We’re so excited to see all the kids come out and how this has brought the community together. It’s a great way to start off the holiday season with a lot of cheer, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Newton Falls also hosted its holiday tree lighting and parade downtown. Howland and Bristol will host events tonight.

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