News of Otsego County



Christmas Day Dinner



DINNER – 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Friends of Christmas, and Saturday’s bread join forces to present holiday dinner for all. Enjoy baked pies, fruit breads, dinner rolls much more donated by the community. Free, takeout & transportation available. First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-435-7188.

That’s A Wrap!

That’s A Wrap!

Annual CSO Gift Wrapping

Returns To Southside Mall

Sarah Patterson, Oneonta, gift-wraps presents for Chrsitmas shoppers at the Southside Mall Saturday afternoon at the gift-wrapping station near Bath & Body Works.  It’s an annual tradition to help benefit the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and will continue until Christmas Eve. Hours are Sunday 12-6pm, Monday 10am-8pm and Tuesday 10am-5pm. (Ian Austin/
Crowd Braves Cold Supporting ‘Impeachment Eve’

Crowd Braves Cold

For ‘Impeachment Eve’

Fifty protesters gathered in Oneonta’s Muller Plaza this evening in support of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, which may be voted on by the House of Representatives tomorrow. Above, Alice Lichtenstein, Becca Brooks, Elayne Moser-Campoli and others flash their signs as passing cars while organizer Amy Pondolfino, right, read selections from Congress’ Articles of Impeachment, which charge the President with Obstruction of Justice and Abuse of Power stemming from charges that he withheld military aid as a means of pressuring Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to perform favors for him. The crowd followed by singing seasonally inspired songs like “‘Tis The Season For Impeachment.” (Ian Austin/

Car Troubles Bring Choir Guests

Car Troubles

Bring Choir Guests

After strange metallic sounds landed their car in the shop for repairs, Liza DiSavino and A.J. Bodnar found themselves on an extended layover and decided to share their musical talents alongside area hand bell choirs for this afternoon’s Christmas in the Catskills Holiday Spectacular at First United Methodist Church. Above, Liza and A.J., as their stage act is known, sing a Christmas song from Kentucky, where they now live after moving from Westford.  At right, Chris Brashear, Oneonta, performs with The Buckingham Ringers alongside his son, Elias, during one of the opening numbers of the concert. (Ian Austin/


Anna & Elsa Bring Magic To Tree Lighting Ceremony


Ice Queen Brings Magic

To City’s Tree Lighting

Oneonta’s Autumn Fox embraces Hill City Ice Queen Elsa, and sister Anna, next to the Christmas Tree in Muller Plaza this evening following the annual Tree Lighting ceremony there. The two led the crowd in songs from Disney’s “Frozen” movies before meeting and posing for pictures with their fans.  Inset, Krystal Poole, 16, a junior at Charlotte Valley High School, sings Christmas carols for the crowd. Poole, nicknamed “The Country Sweetheart,” and is an ambassador for the “Toys for Joy” toy drive, which asks for new toys to be donated as Christmas presents for those in need.  (Ian Austin/

Frigid Temperatures Mark Santa’s Arrival

Frigid Temperatures

Mark Santa’s Arrival

Santa in driven into Oneonta by Jay Chase of Chase-n-Dreams Farm, Oneonta, and his sister horses Molly and Dolly during this evening’s Santa Parade in downtown Oneonta. At right, Andrea Thies, Oneonta, walks her dog Sanabel along the parade route, wishing onlookers Merry Christmas. Temperatures in the upper teens thinned some of the crowd, but didn’t keep hundreds from turning out to welcome St. Nick. After visiting with Santa, families could walk around downtown enjoying cider, cocoa, alpacas and carriage rides as they awaited the Tree Lighting ceremony in Muller Plaza. (Ian Austin, James Cummings/

Mr. & Mrs. Claus Arrive In Renovated Pioneer Park

Mr. & Mrs. Claus Arrive

In Renovated Pioneer Park

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, right, and the rest of the holiday crowd look in anticipation towards the Christmas tree which Santa lit with a wave of his hand this evening in Cooperstown. Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived via horse drawn carriage at their second home in a newly renovated Pioneer Park after being led in by the Cooperstown Fire Department, The Hill City Snow Queen, members of the Cooperstown Equestrian team and the High school band. Their cottage now sits on a small raised area while small pathways built into the bricks helps with the flow of visitors. After greeting the crowd the Claus’ settled in and began hearing the Christmas wishes of the first children of the season.(Ian Austin/
Farewell, Mrs. Claus!

Farewell, Mrs. Claus!

Mrs. Claus, aka Vera Stewart, seen at her post outside of JCPenney at the Southside Mall (Ian Austin/

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to

Steve Hughes, Gilbertsville, gives Mrs. Claus a big Christmas hug.

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.”


Potluck For Christmas


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM – 6:30 p.m. Bring a dish to pass, table service for potluck dinner, followed by candlelight service. United Methodist Church, 2878 St. Hwy. 28, Portlandville.

Christmas Comes Early At Community Dinner

Christmas Comes Early

At Community Dinner

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/

Christmas, Things Better Then Ever – Really!

Editorial for December 21, 2018

Christmas, Things
Better Then Ever – Really!

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.

The Freeman’s Journal – The Voices of Coopers town receives a standing ovation at the end of the Saturday, Dec. 15, performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at Christ Church.

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.

Sounds Of The Season

Sounds Of Season Ring

At Handbell Concert

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/

Spirits Of Christmas

Spirits Of Christmas

Fill Scrooge, The Musical

“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/


Day Of The Dead Celebration


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

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

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103