December 7, 2009


Tree lighting kicks off holidays in Cortland


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland’s holiday tree lighting event took place Saturday evening on the lawn of City Hall with the Parker Elementary School chorus singing this year’s holiday medley of songs.

Staff Reporter

Several youngsters scampered around in the snow-dusted lawn outside City Hall Saturday evening, throwing snowballs at each other as they awaited the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the tree.
A choir group from Parker Elementary School sang Christmas carols, breaking into “Here Comes Santa Claus” just as the fire truck bearing Santa Claus came rolling down Court Street.
The arrival of Santa Claus pleased youngsters such as 9-year-old Elijah Meyer, who along with his 7-year-old brother Isaiah and 6-year-old brother Miciah, had come to watch the arrival of Santa Claus and the city’s tree lighting ceremony for the second year in a row.
The choir also sang “Jingle Bells” and “The Star,” to an appreciative audience, before being rewarded by a candy cane, given to each of them by Santa Claus.
Eight-year-old Zachary Discenza came to the event with his grandfather Joe Discenza and commented after the ceremony on the delayed lighting of the tree, which lit up a few seconds after the countdown was finished. But Zachary said he enjoyed the ceremony as he eagerly walked next door to the Cortland Fire Station to get hot chocolate and cookies after it was over.
Eleven-year-old Kayla Eaton stood with her mother outside the fire station, clutching a hot chocolate after the ceremony, saying the performance and tree lighting were “amazing.” Her mother, Traci Eaton, said it was their first year coming to the event and she thought it was very nice.
“We will come again, definitely,” she said.
Cortland resident Christine Griffith also came for the first time Saturday, bringing her 3-year-old son Patrick May.
“Every year we plan to go but he ends up getting sick so we tried to keep him as healthy as we could,” Griffith said, adding Patrick had just recovered from the H1N1 flu a few weeks ago, in time to make the arrival of Santa Claus.
Greg and Shirley Marsted stood with their 7-year-old son Geoffrey and 10-year-old daughter Sami sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies in the fire station after the event.
Fifth-grader Sami had sung in the choir and said she enjoyed it.
“I really liked the songs,” she said. Asked if she enjoyed Santa Claus’ visit as well, she said she had, and that she had the candy cane he had given her in her pocket.
Cortland Mayor Tom Gallagher said he was sad to be celebrating his last tree lighting as the mayor of Cortland since his term expires at the end of the year.
“I’ve been doing it for six years,” Gallagher said, saying the event is a way to have the community kick off the holidays together.
Gallagher said he tried to alternate which schools came to sing at the event since the children all enjoy the opportunity to perform.
“They practice in the Courthouse (City Court) before and they come down here and get excited about it,” Gallagher said.
Santa Claus himself said he loves playing the role of “Father Christmas” for the children, some of whom whispered their Christmas wishes in his ear as he delivered candy canes to them.


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