Utica’s Christmas tradition to light up tree and faces

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 1, 2015

 Hayley Giardina, 10, of Shelby Township, thinks about what she wants for Christmas while visiting Santa at the Utica Fire Department following the city’s tree-lighting ceremony last year.

Hayley Giardina, 10, of Shelby Township, thinks about what she wants for Christmas while visiting Santa at the Utica Fire Department following the city’s tree-lighting ceremony last year.

File photo by Sean Work

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UTICA — The sounds of carolers, sleigh bells and Santa’s belly laugh will fill the streets of downtown Utica beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

The city’s annual Christmas and tree-lighting program will feature the arrival of the jolly old saint on a fire truck, and together he and Mayor Jacqueline Noonan will light the decorations at Utica City Hall.

There will be a craft table set up for children to make a holiday decoration, and everyone will be invited to enjoy hot cider and doughnuts at the Utica Fire Department, located at 7609 Auburn Road.

Children also can visit with Santa and tell him their Christmas wishes.

The Utica High School Chieftains marching band will play festive tunes, and the city will provide handouts with the lyrics for a group sing-along.

“It’s definitely family-oriented,” Noonan said. “Santa helps us turn on the lights and the holiday spirit — all at the same time.”

Utica Deputy Clerk Nancy Carter said the event usually attracts about 200 people. She said the majority of the events take place inside the fire station, but people wander out when it is time for Santa and the mayor to do the official tree lighting.

“I love seeing the wee ones — a lot of them come all dressed up — and also bumping into neighbors I haven’t seen in a while. And, of course, the doughnuts,” Carter said. “Everybody is in such a good mood, and it’s just nice that everybody gets together.”

The event, she said, doesn’t normally last longer than an hour and a half or two hours, so families can get home at a decent time.

For more information about the event, call Utica City Hall at (586) 739-1600 or visit www.utica-events.com.

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