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December 7, 2012

Holiday season kicks off with tree lighting

With the push of a button, and the help of some enthusiastic youngsters, Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller lit the Christmas tree Thursday at Muller Plaza. It was part of an evening of family activities sponsored by Main Street Oneonta.

This included a visit to Santa and Mrs. Claus for Brianna Harper, 4, of Wells Bridge. She said she asked him for a doll for the holiday, and that she liked the candy canes. This was the second year she attended, her father, Matt Harper, said.

“It turned out really nice,” he said of the evening.

Amy Pondolfino, of Morris, was waiting on line with her sons Aaron, 7, and Everett, 6, for free hot chocolate and cookies. They regularly attend the event, she said. It’s an opportunity for her husband to sing holiday songs in the chorus, and the family also enjoys the horse-drawn wagon rides she said. The evening is a good opportunity to get the season underway, she said.

Everett said he likes the cocoa and the tree lighting. He said he was hoping for an ant farm for the holiday, while his brother wanted a robot.

Rachel Lutz Jessup is the co-chair for MSO.

“I’m glad so see so many people,” she said. “It seems like every year it (attendance) gets bigger and bigger.”

Oneonta police Sgt. Chris Witzenburg said there are about 500 people at the event.

“It’s a wonderful family event, said Heidi Bjorness of Oneonta. “It’s a great kick off to the holiday season. She was there with her daughter, Addison, 7, who wanted a tool and hair set, and Adam, 7, who wanted a Nerf gun.

They had paused to look at entries in the gingerbread contest that were displayed in a storefront window. Dancers in this year’s production of the Nutcracker by the Fokine Ballet Company were performing in other windows. There were also reindeer and alpacas among the attractions.

Miller said these kinds of events “reinforce everything we feel about the warmth of this place.” It was a “team effort,” with volunteers from Main Street Oneonta doing much of the work.

“This is something we can do,” to bring people downtown to shop, and dine, he said.

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