SANTA ARRIVES IN COOPERSTOWN
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Editor’s Note: The New York Sun’s Francis Pharcellus Church penned this famous response to 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897.
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
115 West Ninety Fifth Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing
on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
SANTA PARADE SLIDE SHOW
•By JIM KEVLIN• The Freeman’s Journal
For years now, you’ve seen Santa Claus around town all year long, perhaps manning the information kiosk in Pioneer Park, volunteering at The Farmers’ Museum, or at one community event or another.
Kids noticed it, too, and it raised questions in their young minds, and that troubled Santa. “They know it’s me,” he said in an interview the other day.
The result, years in the making, is “Santa’s Second Home,” a tell-all book that reveals a never-before-told secret: Cooperstown has replaced the North Pole as the place where the Jolly Old Elf spends most of his time.
For centuries, the icy top of the world was indeed domicile to Santa and Mrs. Claus and their workshop, but “lately, there have been a lot of changes,” the new book relates.
First, the polar ice cap has been melting at “an alarming rate,” making it a less-inviting place than it used to be. Plus, with wooden toys being replaced by “the latest electronic gadgets,” Santa had to mechanize his shop, add robots and computers to streamline orders and production.
“At the same time, Mrs. Claus has been yearning for a little house of her own, away from the bustle of the workshop, where she can have a nice little garden to tend,” Santa writes.
So, like any normal couple, the Clauses began to look for a second home, (perhaps eventually a retirement one, although this isn’t mentioned specifically), that is not too hot or too cold, or too big or too small. Most important, there had to be children, “lots of children.” And lots of Christmas spirit.
And so they happened on Cooperstown, with its “beautiful wreaths, lights and decorated trees.”
Naturally, when the Clauses arrived in town, they joined the Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee, which had come up with the idea of building a little house in Pioneer Park where children could meet the new arrivals every Christmas season.
“It’s been many years now since the Clauses have been spending time away from the North Pole in their second home,” the book reports.
With things running smoothly at the workshop, the couple find less and less reason to return, which is why you – and village kids – can see them year’round: going to church, raking or mowing the lawn at their “Victorian gingerbread” brick home, boating in the summers.
After Christmas, Santa shaves his beard and Mrs. Claus puts his shorn whiskers in the back yard for birds to use in making their nests.
Over the years, the Clauses’ Christmas residence in Pioneer Park, where they arrive in a horse-drawn wagon the day after Thanksgiving, has become more and more popular, with grown children of local folks bringing the grandchildren from as far away as Phoenix, Ariz., to join youngsters from towns around the region in giving their Christmas lists in person to the jolly couple.
The Pioneer Park cabin, in fact, has become a centerpiece of all the Christmas ferment around here, from The Farmers’ Museum Candlelight Evening to Brewery Ommegang’s Belgian Christmas.
While it hasn’t happened lately, Christmas in Cooperstown – the village is always talking about “shoulder-season” tourism promotions – was once more heavily promoted as something special.
A decade ago, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce had a budget line to promote the holiday, former executive director Polly Renckens recalls, and launched such programs at discount Holly Dollars, decorated “Holly Trolleys” that toured people around to see the lights at the various Clark Foundation undertakings, and a Candlelight Stroll, where shops stayed open late and celebrants traversed Main Street in Victorian garb.
“It was a lot of stuff,” said Renckens, but it was a lot of fun. “Once it got organized, we kept in going and added a twist every year to keep people interested.”
The chamber would run TV spots promoting a Cooperstown Christmas. And Destination Otsego’s Deb Taylor, then county tourism director, remembers placing “All Malled Out?” ads in Albany-area newspapers, encouraging people to enjoy a less-commercialized holiday here.
“You need a catalyst,” Renckens said. Who knows? Maybe “Santa’s Second Home” will be just that.
HOLIDAY PARADE – 3 p.m. Celebrate the holidays on Main St. Line up at 3, parade at 4. Main St., Oneonta. Visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE FESTIVAL – 3 – 7 p.m. View Christmas Trees beautifully decorated by area individuals, businesses. Production Center, Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE LIGHTING – 5:30 – 8 p.m. Celebrate the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Muller Plaza, Oneonta.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
When Santa arrived at his Cooperstown cottage on Friday, Nov. 29, he arrived at the brand-new Pioneer Park.
“The last design I could find was from 1965,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. “There haven’t been a ton of changes since then.”
In 2018, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce kiosk was updated with a touch screen, and a bike rack and bike repair station were built as part of the $2 million federal grant Transportation Enhancement Program.
But because the park is considered an “urban park,” Tillapaugh said, applications for funding direct upgrades to the space were ignored.
“It doesn’t have a swimming pool or anything,” she said. “So it wasn’t a priority for the state parks department.”
In all, the redesign cost $165,000, and went to bid in June. “When I was chair of the (village) Parks Committee, I built up a reserve of funds,” said Tillapaugh. “This year, we put the remainder of the balance into the budget.”
Michael Haas, Delta Engineering, Endwell, was selected as the architect. “He designed the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater at The Fenimore Art Museum,” she said. “He had done urban parks in Corning as well, so we were very familiar with his work.”
The work began Labor Day weekend – “We never do any work in the summer season,” said Tillapaugh – with Kevin Green of Epic Landscaping doing the work.
“Everything had to be done by Nov. 8,” she said. “That would give us time to clean up and for the 4Cs to decorate for Santa’s arrival.”
And Santa was a big consideration for the design of the park. “We consulted with The 4Cs,” – the Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee – “And we made sure they were in the loop as we did the design.”
Santa’s Cottage, once at the front of the park, has been moved towards the back to allow for more space in the park for the line to form. “Before the move, people would line up on the sidewalk,” she said. “It allows for better flow and for the whole park to function better.”
There is also a ramp to the new stage, which allows greater accessibility to Santa’s Cottage, and a hidden PVC pipe that allows them to set the tree up with ease. “Before, we were just digging a hole and putting the tree in there, then covering it up with dirt when we were done,” she said. “People would trip over it, so now, there’s a manhole cover.”
The stage is also a new addition, proposed in 2018. “Before, we just had blue flagstone space that musicians would set up,” she said. “So we built a stage with a ramp and more outlets for our Music on Main programming.”
And the park will also host a Keith Haring-style mural next summer, in conjunction with an exhibit of the late artist’s work at The Fenimore.
New plant beds with granite borders were installed, and new plants to fill them. “We planted two birches, and we have a London Planetree that we will plant in the spring,” she said.
A water fountain with a bottle fill station was placed in the park with a temporary concrete pad, but has been removed for the winter and will be replaced in the spring with permanent brick pavers.
“It’s not just about Santa,” she said. “The whole park is greatly improved.”
HOLIDAY CONCERT – 4 p.m. Wonderful works by Mozart including Missa brevis, more with The Voices of Cooperstown. Christ Episcopal Church, 46 River St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9555 or visit www.wearecooperstown.com/events/voices-of-cooperstown-concert/
ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.
HOLIDAY KICK-OFF – 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Enjoy historic village, holiday spirit. Includes Shoppers Rally & Raffle, artisan demos, ornament making, refreshments, tree lighting, more. Many shops participating. 192 Main St., Sharon Springs. Visit www.facebook.com/themostwonderfultimeoftheyearsharonsprings/
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – With a labyrinth, an orchard and a 40-foot slide set in the hillside, Stimson Landscape Architects, Cambridge, Mass., presented their plan for Huntington Park during a Zoom meeting this evening.
“This really is a bright spot in a difficult era,” said Huntington Memorial Library executive director Tina Winstead. “It’s a design I believe Henry Huntington would be proud of.”
Phase One was detailed during this evening’s meeting, with the plans for the Playland and the Literary Gardens.
Emcee “Big Chuck” D’Imperio, right, stands high above a packed crowd that gathered on Main Street this morning to welcome Santa back to Oneonta with big cheers and happy smiles during the annual Santa Parade. Santa will spend the afternoon in his cottage in Muller Plaza, hearing good boys and girls’ Christmas wishes. And once you’ve seen Santa, you can go down to Foothills to see the Gingerbread Jubilee and join in the cookie fun. At right, Brittany Boyke, Davenport, helps her little penguin – daughter Alexis Merwin – decorate a delicious holiday treat. The fun at Foothills continues until 3 p.m.
Mason Rice, 9 months, and sister Arianna, 3, were relating their last-minute Christmas wishes a few minutes ago to Santa Claus in his cottage at Pioneer Park, Cooperstown. The children’s parents are Lindsay (Rowley) and Tim Rice, visiting the grandparents in Cooperstown from South Carolina. With just 32 hours left to Christmas, their was much anticipation in the queue outside, too, as Phoebe Squadrito, 3, and Madison Kane, 4, and her brother Daniel, 8, in photo at right, waited their turns to see Santa with, from left, Kristin, Shari and Riley Crane, all of Richfield Springs. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in their Cooperstown cottage 1-4 p.m. Saturday for a last time this season. In Oneonta, Santa Claus finished his season today at Southside Mall and Muller Plaza. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
What do you call a line of men waiting for a haircut?
Why was the turkey in the pop group?
Because he was the only one with drumsticks!
What do you call a boomerang that does not come back?
HOLIDAY RUN – 10 a.m. Race through Cooperstown in your ugliest holiday sweater. Runners receive free coffee/hot chocolate upon completion. Registration 8:30 – 9:30. Cost, $25/individual. Start at Santa’s house, Pioneer Park, Main St., Cooperstown. 607-547-2800 or visit www.clarksportscenter.com/events/2019-rockin-around-cooperstown-ugly-sweater-runwalk/