By MAGGIE KENWORTHY
Syracuse Holiday Magic provided local families with a festive day full of activities.
Saturday’s events began at the Lakeland Youth Center and later moved to Crosson Mill Park in Syracuse.
The Lakeland Youth Center was a scene similar to Santa’s workshop as children were able to design and create their very own gingerbread houses. Milk cartons covered in graham crackers, icing and countless different candies were produced in abundance. A total of 101 unique houses were created by children of every age.
”I really enjoy seeing the families working together on the gingerbread houses,” said Cheryl Manning, Lakeland Youth Center preschool director.
Manning started the gingerbread event around 15 years ago, and a lot has changed since then, including it’s participation in Syracuse Holiday Magic. During the first few years, only around 30 children participated, while this year over 100 children participated. The event is made possible with donations by the Kiwanis, which goes towards buying the supplies.
Gingerbread houses weren’t the only festive activity to take place at the Lakeland Youth Center.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides were provided throughout the afternoon, and later again at Crosson Mill Park. Key Bank partnered with the chamber of commerce to bring this opportunity to Syracuse Holiday Magic.
Two male horses, Red and Mack, along with their driver, Steve Cornelius, filled Syracuse streets with the sounds of hooves and sleigh bells. Riders were able to experience a wintertime sleigh ride that many only get to see in movies.
Later that afternoon the horses and the festivities moved over to Crosson Mill Park. Here visitors were able to enjoy free hot cocoa and cookies provided by the chamber of commerce. Westmain Tavern provided its own chili to warm up families, for $3.
A live reindeer, Jingle Bell, was at the park for children to pet and get photographed with.
“(Syracuse Holiday Magic) started as a way for the chamber to give back to the community,” said Tammy Cotton, executive director of the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce.
Live entertainment was in abundance at the park. The Syracuse Elementary Choir filled the park with Christmas songs. The half-hour performance consisted of classic holiday songs spiced up with dancing and appearances of students dressed as elves and even Santa Claus. The choir was followed by a dance performance from the Inclognito Cloggers from Ligonier.
After all of the live performances families waited patiently in the rain for Santa’s appearance. He arrived in fashion on the back of a Syracuse Fire Department truck, lights flashing and all.
Upon his arrival, Santa asked for the children’s help in lighting up the town’s Christmas tree.
As the crowd sang their best rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Santa flipped the magic switch and the sky lit up. After the lighting, Santa welcomed children to share their holiday wishes with him.
Syracuse Holiday Magic marked the beginning of the holiday season this year. The rain didn’t keep the families from enjoying Syracuse’s holiday tradition. The Chamber of Commerce estimated that around 300 people showed up this year to celebrate.