30th annual ChristmaSing to warm hearts with holiday cheer

On Dec. 4, the Village Park and Main Street of Geneseo will be brimming with holiday cheer and joy when the 30th annual ChristmaSing takes place.

The procession will begin in Village Park at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the trees surrounding the historic log cabin.

"We encourage everyone to come," said Sharon Miceli, owner of Miceli's Deli.

According to a press release from 1993 submitted by Bill Mulligan, the history of the ChristmaSing in Geneseo dates back to 1911. The caroling tradition in Geneseo began when Carol Holland, a member of the music faculty at what was then the Geneseo Normal School, organized an event where groups of college students walked through village streets caroling. After walking, the students then met up with village residents at the fountain for combined caroling. This became an annual and popular tradition considered special to Geneseo.

The press release also said that in 1979, Ray Sherman and the late Aline Wallin revived the general idea when they organized a "ChristmaSing" through the Geneseo Downtowners, an organization of Main Street merchants prior to the formation of the Geneseo Uptown Merchant Association (GUMA). It has continued in the heart of downtown each year since, with sponsorship later picked up by the Rotary Club.

Following the lighting of the trees, the Geneseo High School chorus will also perform. Miceli said she invites students and community members to participate and bring a candle, as the merry congregation will carol its way down Main Street to the Bear Fountain to wait for Santa Claus at 6:45 p.m.

"We get all of the food merchants on Main Street to donate cookies, cinnamon buns, fried bread dough and hot chocolate," Miceli said.

According to Miceli, "Hop" Manapol coordinated and set up all of the lights in Village Park. "He did a great job decorating the four Christmas trees around the cabin," she said. "We gave him the supplies and he did the work and finished up." Hop is married to Kathy Trainor, staff associate to student and campus life.

Miceli said that Dennis Dawson, a member of Geneseo Rotary, and Mayor Richard Hatheway will lead the caroling.

Main Street will be blocked off from the park to the fountain in order to heighten the Christmas glee. "Everyone can mingle and sing," Miceli said.

Merchants on Main Street have also been encouraged to decorate their stores with lights. According to Miceli, the village crew has been rigorously working away to decorate the trees surrounding the fountain, which will also be lit on Friday.

Miceli advises everyone to come, even if they cannot make the beginning of the ceremony. She estimates that ChristmaSing will wrap-up around 7:30 p.m.

Barry Caplan, owner of Sundance Books, also invites all college students to join in the festivities. "It's always good to have everyone in the community participate in something we call a community event," he said.

"We enjoy the more people we have singing and congregating," Miceli said. "Bring a candle. Invite all sororities and fraternities."

Sarah Kosloski, a sophomore, attended the ChristmaSing last year and found it be a heartwarming experience. "I think that students usually associate home with the holidays," she said. "Home is where the Christmas trees and wreaths are and I think that the town's decorations make Geneseo feel a bit more like home."