Whitehall preparing for season of glad tidings

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Santa will be appearing in Whitehall at its "The Magic of Christmas" celebration on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The Historical Society of Whitehall is accepting donations for the Christmas memory tree that will be illuminated during the holiday season in the bandstand in Whitehall’s Riverside Park.

Historical society president Bob Mowatt said the society has been lighting a memory tree for about 30 years. “I’d say more than 25 people every year send donations and the names of people to be remembered. Of course, we always have space for more names.”

The tree, donated by society member Gail Chamberlain each year, is put up and decorated with lights by members of the historical society on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

“This year, the bandstand itself also will be decorated,” Mowatt said. “If you drove into the village this evening, you’d probably see most of the lights on in the park. It’s going to be beautiful.”

The Christmas Cheer Committee is responsible for all those lights, said committee coordinator Sue Hurlburt, who is working with park lights coordinator Dawn Usher, parade coordinator Riley Ballard, social media coordinator Barbara Spoor and a crew of about seven more to make certain this year’s Dec. 3 holiday celebration in Whitehall, called “The Magic of Christmas,” which will include the lighting of the memory tree, will be a magical experience for all.

In addition to The Historical Society of Whitehall and the Christmas Cheer Committee, celebration partners include the Whitehall Fire Department, American Legion Post 83 and the Chamber of Commerce.

Riverside Park will have smaller trees lit, arches, and a wreath for the veterans’ monument. “We’re also changing the color of the lighting on the monument from white to Christmas colors,” Hurlburt said.

“The village has been wonderful,” said Hurlburt. “They’ve put in a lot more power boxes to handle all the lights,” she laughed.

On Saturday, Dec. 3, the parade will line up at 4 p.m. and step off from Riverside Park at 5 p.m., following the regular parade route through the village and ending at the park. “We’re still eager for people to sign up to participate in the parade,” said Hurlburt.

“After the parade, we’ll have the tree-lighting ceremony followed by a small ceremony by the American Legion and then we’ll give out awards for the best floats and serve refreshments at the Legion,” said Hurlburt.

The evening also will include caroling by Whitehall High School’s Select Choir and handbell choir, as well as photo ops with Santa.

Hurlburt said, “We freeze as we put up all the decorations and lights, but it’s worth it to see the smiles on the children’s faces.”

She added, “We’ve received a lot of help decorating the park from Whitehall High School Honor Society students as well as members of Students Against Destructive Decisions.” She also acknowledged donations received from too many local businesses to list, including the new Broadway Market.

To contribute to the memory tree, send donations and the names of people to be remembered to The Historical Society of Whitehall, PO Box 238, Whitehall, NY 12887. A list of those memorialized will be published in the Whitehall Times after New Year’s Day.

And for more information on Whitehall’s celebration, visit “The Magic of Christmas” Facebook page at facebook.com/events/441601408025957.

See also photos from last year’s snowy celebration of “A December to Remember.”