Batavia's Christmas in the City judged a success... by most accounts...
Festivities at this year's Christmas in the City were fervid enough to warm the people of Batavia inside and out, despite the frigid winds and snow that whipped down Main Street from time to time throughout the evening.
"It was the best one we've had so far," said Lynn Garlock, owner of Grugnale's deli and restaurant on Jackson Street. "At one point we were so busy, I thought we were going to have to start a waiting list. All the tables were filled up."
Sandwiches, subs and salads were churned out en masse. Clarinets, flutes and a capella vocals were on hand to serenade the diners. All the while, you could hear the steady clop clop as a horse and buggy trotted past the storefront, carting its mittened passengers on downtown.
Garlock was particularly taken with the talents of the Bluebells, a group of about six or seven young female vocalists from Batavia's middle and high schools. In fact, she was so fond of their singing that she has asked them back.
"We liked them so much, we're going to have them come sing during lunch," she said.
Don Burkel told us that this year was a raging success. Burkel is the director of the downtown Business Improvement District, the event's sponsor. No less than 43 vendors came out to set up a table and wares in the Batavia City Centre. Not bad, considering most years the event doesn't draw many more than 30 or so, said Burkel. Add to that all of the downtown shops who stayed put, hosted musicians and held sales.
"We had a record number of vendors," said Burkel. "It was good to see a nice turnout. ... We need to support these business people. That's the key in this economy."
Garlock's praise is typical of the business owners who participated in the event this year, whether they hosted carolers or set up in the mall. Passers-by were treated to a warm cup of chili out front of Adam Miller's Toy and Bicycle.
"We had a great night," said John Roche, the store's owner. "We had a lot of traffic, a lot of people in. And, the chili was really good."
People especially enjoyed the entertainment from the carolers and other musicians who rotated in and out of the store all evening, he said. He didn't spot a single empty seat in the horse and buggy all night.
Of course, you might not know the event was such a success—that is, if you saw the article that ran in the Daily News Saturday. Two photos ran with the article. One depicts a short stretch of Main Street out front of the mall entrance. The sidewalk is empty. The street is lined with parked cars. The caption reads: "Cold temperatures drove people off the streets during the annual Christmas in the City Friday downtown."
That can't be entirely true. A frequent contributor to The Batavian, Daniel Cherry, was not only out in the cold, but documenting the night's festivities—he posted several of his photos to the site. Cherry even snapped a few photos of the horse and buggy, which we're told ran until well after the event officially ended because so many people came out to take a ride.
As for the other photo that ran with the article, a shot inside the mall, the people in the picture are so distorted because of the poor quality of the image, that it is more likely to excite pity than joy.
One Attica resident is even quoted as saying that this Christmas in the City was "terrible." Terrible!? Despite the hundreds of people who were crowded into the mall concourse throughout the evening, she goes on to say that: "There's hardly anyone here." She also laments that there isn't enough "free" stuff.
Not everyone agreed, however. One Batavia resident judged the mall "full" of people. Another felt that "people were more excited this year."
I say we practice a little bit of that gratitude we boned up on over the Thanksgiving holiday. We may be a little too quick to stuff that altruism back down the dirty stocking of the rest of the year. Christmas in the City sure saw a lot of folks come out. There was free chili, free bread, free horse and buggy rides, free entertainment all over downtown. Santa danced around a stage in the mall with his chipper, glittered elves. So yeah, I say it was a success. How about you?