Returning to Geneseo from Thanksgiving break always carries the extra weight of final papers, final exams, and final averages. With relaxation turning into stress almost overnight, perhaps one of the best things to carry students through the next few weeks is the holiday spirit. For several decades, the townspeople of Geneseo have been kicking off the holiday season with an annual celebration including lights, singing, and hot chocolate.
It's called ChristmaSing, and it's an event that bonds the people of Geneseo once a year in the warmth of the holidays. For Linda Hatheway, a member of the group Supporters of Main Street, "the holiday season is a wonderful coming together of a number of organizations." Hatheway represents just one of the organizations involved. The Village of Geneseo and the Rotary Club co-sponsor and oversee ChristmaSing, while the Geneseo Uptown Merchant Association (GUMA) provides for the forest of Christmas trees in the village park, window decorations, cocoa and cookies, and Santa Claus. The Department of Public Works puts lights on the trees, while the Geneseo Garden Club teams up with the elementary school to make ornaments. Together, the people of Geneseo create an annual event that instills the holiday spirit for everyone who attends.
On Friday, Dec. 8, this celebration will kick off at 6 p.m. in the log cabin of the village park. Here, anyone is welcome to gather together and observe the trees being lit in the park. Hatheway explained that "a lot of people bring candles, and then we walk from the log cabin to Main Street, right through the center of town." Singing along the way, the carolers eventually reach the fountain, in which several more Christmas trees are lit. A platform is set up, and the mayor, among others, leads the group in song. After the singing, Santa arrives on a Fire Engine and shares free hot chocolate and cookies with everyone in attendance outside of Miceli's Deli. According to Barry Sundance, who has been with the Merchant Association for over 30 years, the procession runs like clockwork and draws everyone into the spirit of the event. "It's a matter of tradition," he said. "This is just what we do."
In addition to the celebration, an annual competition is held among the windows of the stores of Geneseo. Those who participate decorate their windows in a festive manner to be judged by the citizens and students in town. Voting ballots will be available in many of the stores, in addition to those printed in the Livingston County News. Anyone can vote and the majority will rule to decide the best window decoration in town. The winner receives a ribbon and an award to display in their store. A few weeks from now, on Dec.16 and 17, Santa will return with Mrs. Claus to visit the stores and people along Main Street.
The next few weeks hold plenty of hard work for all the students at
Geneseo, but ChristmaSing is the perfect opportunity to take a break and be reminded of the holiday spirit. "It's an invitation to all the people of Geneseo to come down and enjoy," said Hatheway. If only to vote for window decorations, sing a few carols, drink some cocoa, and meet Santa Claus, a couple of hours on Main Street next Friday could serve as the perfect remedy for the stress of studies.