November 27, 2021

Santa is still coming to town

Municipalities find ways to bring holiday cheer amid pandemic

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Mark Schroeder, a firefighter with the Cortland Fire Department, shows the designs on a chair for Santa on Tuesday inside the city owned former state armory in Cortland. The city and other municipalities are finding ways to keep the holiday spirit during COVID.

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane…or the streets of Dryden and Cortland.

That is, with a little help from local fire departments and municipalities, who are finding ways to still bring holiday cheer to residents, especially children, during the pandemic. There are several upcoming holiday events and activities in the greater Cortland area.

The City of Cortland Fire Department has some elves working on a new ride that allows Santa to maintain the recommended 6-foot social distance from people.

Firefighter Mark Schroeder quietly painted a chair red and white, like a candy cane, inside the city-owned former armory on Wheeler Avenue on Tuesday. That’s where he’s been working on Santa’s ride, which will take him to visit families on Dec. 13.

“Santa Claus had sent me a letter and asked me if I could find a way to not go door to door,” he said.

So, Schroeder decided to take a dump trailer and rig it into a new kind of sleigh for Santa to ride on, said firefighter Derek Reynolds.

“We believe the community needs an event like this to still happen,” Reynolds said.

The new ride will have a candy cane chute that separates Santa from kids by 8 feet but allows Santa to still give the kids a gift and candy canes.

Schroeder said the ride should be done by the end of the week and the department will do a trial run next week.

“We’re just ecstatic,” he said. “This is just fabulous.”

The village of Dryden won’t have a public ceremony to light its annual Christmas tree this year. Rather, Santa will hop on a firetruck Dec. 5 and travel through the village before stopping to turn on the lights to the tree, according to Neptune Hose Co. No. 1 of Dryden Inc. and Dryden Ambulance Inc. Facebook page.

The post states that Santa has been deemed an essential worker during the pandemic and has been quarantining in the North Pole.

“We hope you will all enjoy seeing Santa from the safety of your own home or front yard,” states the post.

The city of Cortland is also looking to keep residents’ holiday spirits high by hanging wreaths on the light poles on Main Street — an annual tradition. Mayor Brian Tobin said there will also be a virtual tree lighting ceremony Friday evening, which people can view from their cars in the parking lot of 172-174 Homer Ave. He said Tim Bennett, owner of FunFlicks Indoor and Outdoor Movies, will put up a screen for people to watch the ceremony. Tobin said there will be a holiday video, popcorn and Santa Claus will make an appearance.

It should take about 40 minutes, Tobin said.

The village of Marathon also decorated along Main Street again this year, putting lights on the pole and decorating a tree near the gazebo.

“They’re on until after the holidays,” said Mayor William McGovern about the Christmas lights.

Upcoming events

  • Register for Here Comes Santa with Cortland City Fire Department at Program?category=3
  • Watch the Cortland City Tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday in your car at 172-174 Homer Ave., Cortland. There will be popcorn and Santa Claus will make an appearance.
  • The Cincinnatus Tree Lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the center of town. Masks must be worn and social distancing will be enforced. There will be refreshments, holiday music and a visit from Santa Claus.
  • Santa Claus will pass through Dryden beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. Here’s his route for those who wish to catch a glimpse:

— Depart from Dryden Fire Department at 2 p.m.

— North to Little Creek Park.

— Freeville Road to Poets Landing.

— Lewis Street to Marsh Street, then Greystone Drive

— Rochester to Elm Street, to Wall Street

— West Main to Hilton Road. to Goodrich Way and Highland Road and Crescent.

— West Main to Mill Street to Ferguson Road

— Ferguson Road to Berkshire Drive To Penny Lane and Logan’s Run.

— Route 38 to Weber Street to Lake Road to Lake Street to James Street to Pleasant Street and South Street to Union Street

— Union St past the elementary school and out to East Main Street

— East Main to four-corners take a right on North Street to Elm Street and Lewis Street

— Lewis Street to West Main Street. Then West. Main to the Four-corners and a quick stop to light the Christmas Tree and back to the fire station.