ONEONTA – The end of the Christmas season will mark the end of an era for a Southside Mall mainstay.
For over two decades, Vera Stewart, aka Mrs. Claus, has been volunteering for the Salvation Army by ringing bells and holding doors at her station outside of JCPenney, spreading cheer to holiday shoppers. Dressed in red velvet with white trim, the Southside Mrs. Claus has become a mainstay of the Christmas season to many visitors young and old.
“When they first asked me to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, I decided to try it.” said Stewart, “I began doing it only on weekends, then I went to five days a week.”
By the end of the first hour, over 120 people had attended the Community Dinner at Oneonta’s First United Methodist Church this afternoon, with more continuing to come in. Visitors like Andrew Winters-Bell, left, could enjoy plates of ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, Chobani yogurt and a wide selection of pies served by Carol Heller, Scott Lewis, Terri Fisher, Ambrose Santiago and other volunteers from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Saturday’s Bread and First UM. The event, usually held on Christmas Day, was early the last couple years so it would not conflict with the church’s Sunday and Christmas services. “Next year, Christmas will be on a Wednesday,” said event coordinator Ann Steen. “So we are excited that next year it will be back on the usual day.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
TREE LIGHTING – 4:30 – 6 p.m. Inaugural ceremony with Otego Mayor Ernie Kroll followed by Christmas tree lighting at the library, then caroling. Bring non-perishable food for Otego Food Bank. Begins at Otego Firehouse, 5 River St., Otego. 607-988-6661 or visit www.facebook.com/harrislibrary/
Handel’s “Messiah,” performed every other year by the Voices of Cooperstown at Christ Church – on Saturday, December 15, this was one of those happy years – brings to front of mind the inevitable light and darkness that is part of everyone’s life.
Amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth that has characterized American life since Nov. 8, 2016 – “dumpster fire” has just been added to Merriam Webster – a whole area of scholarship has come to the fore, compiling the facts that prove: The world is actually becoming a better place.
Here are some of the points Steven Pinker, the Harvard professor and author of “Enlightenment Now,” made in a TED Talk last April:
• For most of human history, life expectancy was around 30 years old worldwide. Today, it is more than 70 years old; and in most developed parts of the world, it’s over 80.
Director of Music John Jurgensen, Oneonta, leads Alan Franks, Rachel Hansen and Dylan Sorensen and other members of the Buckingham Ringers and the Klipnocky Klangers in heir rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Frosty The Snowman” and other holiday favorites at the annual handbell concert earlier this afternoon at the First United Methodist Church. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
“Change your ways!” warns the ghost of Jacob Marley (played by Sean Sansevere, Oneonta) to a stubborn Ebenezer Scrooge (Casey Thomas, Oneonta) during today’s Sunday matinee of Orpheus Theatre’s run of of “A Christmas Carol Musical” at Goodrich Theater at SUNY Oneonta. At right, Bob Cratchit (Jeff Moore, Oneonta) readies to go buy a Christmas turkey at market as Mrs. Cratchit (Dorothy Wisnewski, Oneonta) readies their son Tiny Tim (Lily Flynn, Oneonta) to accompany him. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
CHRISTMAS CONCERT – 7:30 p.m. Concert featuring Frederic Chrislip, performing songs, lute solos. Admission, $10. Tickets available at Cooperstown Natural Foods, The Green Toad Book Store, Eighth Note Music Store. First Baptist Church, 21 Elm St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9371 or visit www.fredericchrislip.com
CANDLELIGHT EVENING – 3 – 7 p.m. Experience magic of Christmas season with a candlelit museum covered in Christmas greenery, horse-drawn sleighs, carolers, bonfires, wassail, theater performances, more. Tickets available at door. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/Candlelight-Evening
HOLIDAY FUN – 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Begin the day with Home for the Holidays Parade down Main St., followed by 3rd annual Gingerbread Jubilee, 2nd annual Festival of Trees, Community Cookie Swap 11:30-3, photo opportunity with Anna & Elsa of Arendelle in Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-432-2941 or visit www.facebook.com/DestinationOneonta/
PRESENTATION – 6 p.m. Otsego Pride Alliance presents “Know Your Rights” with speaker from NYS government on LGBTQ+ rights in NYS, what to do when those are violated. Unitarian Universalist Soceity of Oneonta, 12 Ford Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-3491 or visit www.facebook.com/UUSOneonta/
FAMILY PROGRAM – Noon – 2 p.m. Celebrate Latino Heritage month with Day of the Dead event. Make paper flowers, learn about Mexican traditions, listen to story time, more. Participants encouraged to bring photo of loved one who’s passed away. Designed for children aged 4-12 + family. Light snacks provided. Cooperstown Village Library. 607-547-8344 or visit www.facebook.com/VillageLibraryOfCooperstown/
FUNDRAISER – 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Construct you cat a cardboard castle with Superheroes in Ripped Jeans. Materials provided. Bring goods or monetary donation. 3rd floor, Community Room, Huntington Memorial Library, 62 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432-1980 or visit www.facebook.com/hmloneonta/
HOLIDAY BAZAAR – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ‘Tip Toe Through The Holiday’ features items for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day. Includes gifts, decorations, crafts, more. Lunch available. Elm Park United Methodist Church, 401 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432-6552 or visit elmparkumconeonta.org
CONTRADANCE – 7:30 p.m. Fun social dance featuring music by Tailwind, caller Hilton Baxter. Arrive at 7:15 for introduction to steps. Admission, $8/adult. First Presbyterian Church, 25 Church St., Cooperstown. 607-547-8164 or visit otsegodancesociety.blogspot.com