By RAY BALOGH Staff Writer
“Several hundred” Christmastime revelers braved the elements to enjoy a variety of Yuletide festivities offered by Chautauqua-Wawasee Saturday Nov. 30 at Oakwood Park.
For the most part the rain held off. The cold and stiff winds did not. The temperature hovered just above freezing and a blustery 16-mph wind with 30-mph gusts off Lake Wawasee drove the wind chill into the 20s. Still according to Kip Schumm who served on the planning committee, “For our first time I am very happy with the turnout.”
The two-hour celebration ran from 6 to 8 p.m. at various Oakwood venues connected by pathways marked with luminaries and strings of Christmas lights. Mary Moretto announced the lighting of the tree in front of the Oakwood Resort at 6:25 p.m. A crowd of more than 100 helped with the countdown and after the switch was thrown to activate the tree’s 7,000 colored lights the assembly sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” before dispersing to visit other attractions.
Revelers snapped up most of the 1,000 cookies home baked for the occasion and quickly exhausted the supply of 180 cups of hot chocolate available for free. Some visitors availed themselves of a horse-drawn carriage ride while others strolled over to the gazebo to hear The Backyard Brass Band from Syracuse blare out Christmas tunes. Music was also provided by The Chain Gang a barbershop quartet from Columbia City and the Calvary Blend singing quartet based out of Calvary United Methodist Church in Syracuse. The spiritual meaning of Christmas was portrayed with a live Nativity and by Elaine Pearson reading Luke’s gospel account of the Savior’s arrival in Oakwood’s octagon chapel. Also present at the festival were Santa and Mrs. Claus, some elves, Frosty the Snowman, a reindeer and the Grinch.
Chautauqua-Wawasee’s next two events are:
• “The Book of Joy” book club discussion 1 to 2 p.m. Friday Jan. 24 at the Syracuse Public Library 115 E. Main St.
• “Gardening in the Face of a Changing Climate” presentation 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday Feb. 8 in a conference room in Oakwood Resort 702 E. Lake View Road Syracuse.
The success of the Christmas event has prompted volunteerism for the second annual events scheduled for Saturday Nov. 28 2020. “People have already asked if they can help next year” said Schumm. For more information or to volunteer (574)377-7543 or visit www.chqw.org or www.facebook.com/chautauquawawasee.