According to the New York Post, Rochester seems to be a “grim and depressing” place to live. But anyone who loves the Flower City will tell you otherwise — even when it’s covered with that ubiquitous lake effect snow. Although people over the age of 55 are at least four times more likely to suffer a heart-related injury when shoveling the white stuff, many Rochesterians feel the harsh winters are well worth staying for.
Despite the cold and ice, there’s something magical about spending the holidays here. Although the holidays are a stressful time and Americans, on average, argue 19 times per month, there are plenty of fun activities that can actually strenghen releationships. And if you’re stumped on how to celebrate the season, there are plenty of events and activities that can help you appreciate what the city has to offer.
ROC Holiday Village
Only in its second year, this free event promises to be a real crowd-pleaser. In fact, its debut last year actually brought more than 100,000 people downtown to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square. It’ll return for a three-and-a-half-week run starting on Friday, December 6 and will be open from 4 pm to 11 pm on Fridays, 10 am to 11 pm on Saturdays, and 10 am to 6 pm on Sundays through December 31. This year’s Village will feature a larger restaurant and bar, a new gaming room, a live nativity, more food trucks, ice skating, crafts, photos with Santa, and more. ROC Holiday Village will also light an outdoor menorah during the evenings from December 22 through December 30 — and since the average life expectancy of a fluorescent or LED bulb can range from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, organizers may be hoping that their bulbs will last just as long as the oil in the Hanukah story. In addition, the Village will host Kwanzaa and Three Kings’ Day celebrations on December 21 and 28, respectively. Although no permanent construction will be performed (meaning that some of the 8.4 million people employed within the construction industry might not be working on this project), putting the event together literally takes a village.
Lighting the Trees, Poles, and Kegs
The City of Rochester will host its annual Liberty Pole lighting on December 7. Starting at 4:30 at East Main Street and Franklin Street, the festivities will involve and meet-and-greet with Santa, Rudolph, and his elves (as well as local sports team mascots), followed by the lighting at 5 pm. A parade will then make its way to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.
If you want to embrace an unconventional Rochester tradition, head to the Genesee Brew House for their now-annual keg tree lighting ceremony on December 6 at 6:30 pm to enjoy the lights, the beer, the music, and the food trucks. Last year, the event drew more than 6,000 Rochesterians to witness the unique tree created out of 520 kegs. Just make sure that if you attend, you have a safe way of getting home. While there were 5,172 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2017, drunk driving accidents in general become more common around the holidays. Those who choose to drink should arrange for alternate transportation.
Of course, if you’re in the mood for a traditional tree-lighting, there are plenty of options to choose from. You just might need to venture outside the immediate city center to see them. Partake in Pittsford’s Candlelight Night on December 3 and see two separate tree lightings in the village (one at Main and State streets at 6 pm and the other at Label 7 in Northfield Common at 7 pm). Your family can also meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Grinch. Keep in mind that South Main will be closed to traffic and that shuttle service will run from Pittsford Sutherland High School to the village for convenience. You could also venture out to the Greece Community Center for their annual Tree Lighting and Family Christmas Party on December 5. Be sure to arrive early for holiday carols and stay for the tree-lighting at 6:15 (after which the indoor-outdoor party will begin). On December 7, check out the Village of Victor celebration and stick around for the 5 pm tree-lighting ceremony. That same day, you could also attend Fairport’s Come Home For the Holidays Event from 3 pm to 6 pm, which includes a 5 pm tree-lighting ceremony at Kennelley Park on West Avenue. You might also consider attending Little Italy’s second annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration on December 14, which takes place on the front lawn of the Rochester Fire Department’s Engine Number 5 Fire House, at 5 pm. Festivities include Italian cookies, cocoa, holiday music, and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Special (and Affordable) Seasonal Offerings
Kids love getting presents, sure — but there is something about a celebration that adults can enjoy, too. A recent survey showed that 71% of participants love celebrating their birthday, at any age. If you’re looking for affordable ways to celebrate the season with your family, there are a number of events you’ll want to put on the calendar now. There’s Holiday Laser at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, which features holiday favorites with dancing laser lights, running now through January 5 (there’s also a sensory-friendly performance on December 7). The George Eastman Museum is also putting on a Holiday Homecoming Event on December 12, which features live music, cookies and punch, family activities, and festive displays, along with a visit from Santa. The museum’s Sweet Creations Gingerbread Display will also continue through December 15, so families can take advantage of both options with museum admission. Just remember to adhere to the recommended practice of brushing your teeth twice a day if you indulge in any of the sweet treats at these Eastman events. You could also take the family to Christmas with Santa at Springdale Farm (which includes breakfast!) in Spencerport on November 30, December 7, or December 14 or go to Garden Factory’s Holiday Family Fun event on Saturdays and Sundays through December 22. The event includes rides, games, crafts, Santa appearances, and a petting zoo. The Rochester Public Market will host Holidays at the Market on December 1, 8, 15, and 19, which will include holiday carriage rides, cookie decorating, and (you guessed it) appearances by Santa.
Remember to be extremely careful while driving this winter, as well. In a single year in Texas, there was one person injured every two minutes and four seconds, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. But in upstate New York, where heavy snowfall is a factor, it’s far more dangerous to be on the roads. So drive safe!
If you’re sticking around Rochester for the holidays, there are clearly plenty of reasons to feel jolly. With so many yuletide events going on, you’ll probably have trouble deciding which ones you’ll have to skip this year.
With the holidays starting earlier and earlier each year, there’s a good chance many of you have already gotten a jump on your shopping lists. And if you’re looking for some local gift ideas, this one is for you…
Are you looking for gift ideas this holiday season? Here’s one that’s sure to fill any proud homeowner with good cheer. Local artist Kimberly Kllc DiPietro makes awesome little house ornaments out of Sculpey®! There can’t possibly be a better way to commemorate one’s home than with America’s favorite oven-baked clay…
Having kids has made me see the holidays in a different light. I find myself thinking about my own childhood and all the stuff I used to look forward to each December so I can do those same things with my own kids. Like when my dad would pile us all in the ’78 Caprice Classic and we’d cruise around to find the best—and most ridiculous—Christmas light displays in town. I know I know, not a very eco-friendly ritual; but most of us are gonna do it anyway. So last week on Facebook, I asked you where your favorite local light displays were. You answered. And I’ve begun mapping them all out in one convenient location so you don’t have to spend countless hours (and fuel) driving around Rochester trying to find them yourself…
For the past few days we’ve been doing some holiday window shopping at the old Sibley’s and McCurdy’s department stores. “But, WAIT! What about B. Forman’s?…” you say? Well, I searched around a bit, and though I wasn’t able to find many photos of window displays from B. Forman Co., fear not… I’ve got something you might like. Newspaper ads from December 18 – December 25, 1929! Don’t say I never gave you anything…
Do you remember window shopping at the big downtown department stores? Freezing cold holiday shoppers all pressed up against the plate glass like moths to a porch light. Dreams of sugar plums and reindeer and presents under the tree were fueled by these sparkling menageries of the latest and greatest stuff. The displays themselves were an art form; and drawing people in off the street was the ultimate goal. In all but our largest metros, scenes like these have been lost as retailers gradually moved to suburban malls. Yesterday we went window shopping at the old Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co. department store. Today let’s browse a series of pictures (also from the Rochester Public Library) documenting some of the windows at McCurdy & Co. department store in downtown Rochester more than 70 years ago…
Do you remember window shopping at the big downtown department stores? Freezing cold holiday shoppers all pressed up against the plate glass like moths to a porch light. Dreams of sugar plums and reindeer and presents under the tree were fueled by these sparkling menageries of the latest and greatest stuff. The displays themselves were an art form; and pulling people in off the street was the ultimate goal. In all but our largest metros, scenes like these have been lost as retailers gradually moved to suburban malls. This series of pictures from the Rochester Public Library documents some of the windows at Sibley, Lindsay and Curr Co. department store in downtown Rochester more than 70 years ago…
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
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