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Le Roy resident working to bring joy and a bit of nostalgia to Christmas in the community

By Howard B. Owens
jim delooze cinnamon beat joy of christmas le roy
Jim DeLooze
Photo by Howard Owens

First and foremost, says Jim DeLooze, it's about joy.

Namely, the joy of Christmas, the joy of magic, the joy of wonder.

And then what he's planning in conjunction with St. Mark's Church in Le Roy will also help local businesses by, hopefully, bringing more visitors downtown during the Christmas season.

DeLooze is heading up what he's calling The Joy Project, a plan to bring diorama to St. Mark's based on the old-time holiday radio show, "The Cinnamon Bear," and well as set up displays that recall wonderland that was once Sibley's Department Store in Rochester.

"Step one, is just put people in the Christmas spirit," DeLooze said, "make them happy and really wanting to see it. Number two is that it will be a draw. I plan on drawing people from anywhere between Rochester and Buffalo here to Le Roy. Business is a numbers game. If you own a restaurant, and you've got an additional 1,000 people who come into town, in a community, that's 4,000, that's gonna help your business."

He presented the plan to Le Roy's village trustees at their regular meeting on Wednesday, not to ask for the assistance of the village but to inform the community of the project.  He is hoping for volunteers to step forward to help and for residents to make donations.  

There are two main components to the project.  First is the diorama based on "The Cinnamon Bear."

"The Cinnamon Bear" is an old-time radio show, a serial that was launched in 1937 by a Los Angeles-based marketing company to help department stores attract more of a Christmas crowd.

In an era before corporations owned nearly all of the nation's radio stations, many programs were syndicated to independently owned and operated radio stations. The Cinnamon Bear was picked up by stations in every state, with 26 episodes, each with a cliffhanger ending, airing each evening between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The program is the story of Judy and Jimmy Barton, who travel to the world of Maybeland in search of their missing Silver Star tree ornament.  They are helped along their way through various adventures by The Cinnamon Bear, an assistant to Santa Claus.

The story has proven enduring. There are still radio stations that carry the show each year, and now, of course, it can be streamed online.

"Tony is the son of the person that built it," DeLooze said. "He said he and his mother were very impressed with my knowledge of old-time radio and the fact they thought it was a lot better going to a home here where people would be able to come in and see it free of charge rather than having to pay in an amusement park to see it."

To go along with the diorama, DeLooze is moving one of his other hobbies out of his basement -- his annual Christmas build of a display meant to model the Christmas presentation of the old Sibley's Department Store in Rochester.

For decades, area residents flocked to Sibley's during the Christmas season to take in Toyland and the Magic Corridor and see that animatronic elf along with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

For years, DeLooze has been building his own train set to create a miniature version of what Silbey's offered, and in recent years, he has been posting photos and videos on social media to show his progress and the completed project.

He's always gotten positive feedback for the video, including from a friend in California who once told him, "'Jim,' he goes, 'I gotta tell you, I was in a bad mood when I clicked on this,' he says, 'but literally halfway through, I was smiling and in the Christmas spirit.'"

And that was exactly what Jim said he likes to hear.  He wants to know he's helping to spread joy.  And that is what he hopes to do this year and for many years to come with The Cinnamon Bear and the Sibley's display.

"Our church was really looking for a way to participate in Winterfest," DeLooze said. "Hopefully, this will continue year after year. It will become a Christmas tradition that parents and grandparents will look forward to bringing their children to see, and that's why I've actually wanted to do this project since the early 1980s. That is just about the time that Sibley stopped doing it. My son got to see it. My daughter never got to see it. And I just wanted to be able to bring something like this back so my kids and grandkids can enjoy this."

To pull off all this joy, DeLooze said he and the folks at his small church will need additional help from the community, such as volunteers from community groups as well as community donations. He said the project will cost from $7,000 to $9,000 and that $3,000 has already been raised.  He has a list of items for people to donate and what volunteers can do to help.  For more information, email Jim DeLooze,

Christmas Lights around City and Town of Batavia

By Steve Ognibene
Union Street, Batavia.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
North Street and Naramore Drive, Batavia.
Photo by Steve Ognibene

This is part two of a Christmas lights photo series.  This one features Batavia residents' houses.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Rollin Circle, Batavia.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Rollin Circle, Batavia.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Union Street, Batavia  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Union Street, Batavia
Photo by Steve Ognibene
South Main Street, Batavia  Photo by Steve Ognibene
South Main Street, Batavia
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Edgewood Drive, Batavia   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Edgewood Drive, Batavia.
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Woodland Drive, Batavia   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Woodland Drive, Batavia
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Redfield Parkway, Batavia   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Redfield Parkway, Batavia
Photo by Steve Ognibene
Redfield Parkway, Batavia   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Redfield Parkway, Batavia
Photo by Steve Ognibene

Christmas moon

By Joanne Beck
Christmas moon
Photo submitted by Frank Capuano of Christmas moon

Christmas Lights around Genesee County

By Steve Ognibene
Red Oiser Restaurant, Stafford, NY  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Red Oiser Restaurant, Stafford.   Photo by Steve Ognibene

This is part one of a two part series featuring Christmas lights around Genesee County.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

Behind the Red Oiser Restaurant, Stafford, NY  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Behind the Red Osier Restaurant, Stafford.   Photo by Steve Ognibene
Fargo Rd. Stafford, NY  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Fargo Road, Stafford.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Memorial Park, Oakfield  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Memorial Park, Oakfield.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Lights by the Oakfield behind the Caryville Inn.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Lights by the Oakfield Park behind the Caryville Inn.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Oakfield resident lights  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Oakfield resident lights .Photo by Steve Ognibene
Darien Center lights.  Photo by Steve Ognibene
Darien Center lights.  Photo by Steve Ognibene

Upstate NY Poison Center reminds public of holiday hazards

By Press Release

Press Release:

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, amidst the festive decorations and merriment, there are poisoning potentials.

Our number one call last December and this December is for pain medicine mishaps for all ages in the 54 counties we serve. That means an unintentional overdose, taking a double dose of a medicine, or a child getting into the wrong medicine. So far this December, our poison center is seeing a high number of calls for exposure to cleaning products and children who have swallowed something they shouldn’t like a battery or toys.

“One way to safeguard against an unintentional exposure this holiday season is by storing purses and coats up high just in case loved ones bring along any medications that could harm little ones. Offer a safe place to store or a medication lock box,” says Mary Beth Dreyer, Upstate New York Poison Center Health Education Program Manager. “Remember, we are available 24/7, even during holidays, to help in times of need."

Common Poisoning Potentials

Decorative Plants: While visually appealing, certain decorative plants can be toxic if ingested. Keep these out of reach of kids and pets: mistletoe, holly berries, amaryllis, Jerusalem cherry, and yew. Remember to call for any plant ingestions to help keep yourself or a loved one safe.

Alcohol & Cannabis: Secure and keep out of reach of children during holiday parties. 

Decorative Lights: Keep batteries and light bulbs away from small children, as they can be harmful if swallowed.

Medication: Keep suitcases and purses out of reach of children and pets. Designate a safe space for coats, purses, and bags.

Dinner Time: Combat food poisoning by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within two hours.

Kids Toys: Many children’s toys contain lithium button batteries (flat, coin-like batteries). If eaten, they can get stuck in the throat or on the way to the stomach and cause a blockage or serious burns. Call our poison center or seek immediate medical attention if you think your child swallowed a button battery.

Household Chemicals: Never mix chemicals, use cleaning products in a well-ventilated area, and store them out of reach from children and pets.

Photos: Light show on Woodrow Road

By Howard B. Owens
light show on woodrow road

Scotty DiMartino, Cassie Piccione and Tom Burke used their stagecraft experience to put on a light show at DiMartino's residence on Woodrow Road in Batavia on Saturday evening.

Photos by Nicholas Serrata

light show on woodrow road
light show on woodrow road
light show on woodrow road

Le Roy First Baptist Church holds 'Blue Christmas' service

By Howard B. Owens
le roy First Baptist Church blue christmas

The season of joy sometimes carries notes of sadness for those who miss loved ones, whether those close to them passed recently or many years ago, and with that in mind, Le Roy First Baptist Church held a "Blue Christmas" service on Wednesday evening.

The service called on those in attendance at the annual service to remember those whom they miss and recall God's comforting love.

"We invite you to reflect on the pain, the loneliness, and the sadness; you may feel an offer to God or healing and transformation,' said Pastor Edris Hitchcock. "We pray that you will find hope and comfort to know that you are not alone."

After a service of Bible verses, poetry, responsive texts, and hymns, people were invited to light candles in remembrance of those dear to them who have passed.

Photos by Howard Owens.

le roy First Baptist Church blue christmas
le roy First Baptist Church blue christmas
le roy First Baptist Church blue christmas
le roy First Baptist Church blue christmas

Photo: Christmas fire truck in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens
scofield roll off fire truck
A fire truck lit up with Christmas lights in front of the Scofield Rolloff offices on Route 5 in Stafford.  The truck appears to be retired apparatus. There are no department decals on it.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Dance Images to host free show Thursday

By Press Release

Press Release:

On Thursday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m., Dance Images will be hosting a free show at Oakfield High School called “You Are Light”. They will be showcasing dancers with diverse abilities and talents, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and representation within our performances.

Dance Images believes in celebrating the unique abilities of individuals from various groups, fostering an environment that embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities for everyone to share their love for the art of dance. They pride themselves on giving all individuals the chance to share their love for dance with others.

"In this Christmas show, you will see a variety of dances such as individuals in wheelchairs, hip-hop, tap, ballet, ribbon dance, and lyrical" said Amy Pizzi, owner of Dance Images. "I had a studio in Lockport for 22 years and Oakfield has been open for 8 years. I have had so much support from my small town of Oakfield in getting my program off the ground."

"It means so much to have everyone’s support because I’ve grown up in the small town of Oakfield and have made many memories in the school where we will be performing. Many of my dancers who do not have any special needs love to volunteer to help with classes. We are a tight dance family. It has been my passion for years to showcase dancers of all abilities and demonstrate how inclusion can help not only the special needs but also other students who find a passion in helping others."  

For more info, please contact Amy Pizzi at 716-343-3162 or email her at 

Submitted photos by Amy Pizzi.


Northgate hosting vintage Christmas event that includes outdoor movies, campfire, and more

By Press Release

Press Release:

Northgate Church invites the community to its annual Vintage Christmas event on Thursday, Dec. 7, and Friday, Dec. 8. This family-friendly event will be “come and go as you please,” from 6 - 8 p.m. each evening. Enjoy a guided tour of a live nativity through the community prayer walk, complete with cookies and crafts.

Come celebrate the season, and enjoy a few classic Christmas movies on our outdoor movie screen, all while staying cozy around a campfire. There will be a small devotional, presented at 7 p.m., to ready our hearts and minds for the Christmas season, accompanied by a magnificent tree lighting.

This is a free event, open to all ages. Northgate Free Methodist Church is located at 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia. For more information, contact the Northgate office at 585-343-4011 or visit

Genesee Chorale sings in the holiday season with annual Christmas Concert on Saturday

By Howard B. Owens
genesee carole christmas concert 2023

From Medieval times through the Renaissance, the classical period, and into modern carols, Christmas music has changed to reflect the times. On Saturday, at St. James Episcopal Church, the Genesee Chorale will take listeners through that journey in a program entitled "Christmas Through the Ages." 

"We're going to go through the process of the beginning of Christmas carols back in the 1400s and then work our way up," said Musical Director and Conductor Ric Jones. "It's a wide mix of styles and in music, a lot of things that will be familiar, some that there'll be new."

Jones said he expects the audience to find the performance as entertaining as it is beautiful.

"The whole concert begins with Gregorian chants so that's really cool," Jones said. "We have four instrumentalists. They're gonna be joining us on about six different pieces, so they'll really liven things up. We have some great, really cool arrangement of "Jingle Bells." It's a rearrangement of the Barbra Streisand version of Jingle Bells written for choir. That's a lot of fun. And then "Joy to the World," "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending" -- there's some really beautiful, large moving pieces as well."

The concert also isn't without its challenges for the choir, which should also impress listeners.

"The biggest challenging piece is probably "Here We Come A-wassailing," which is a traditional song, but it's super challenging for the choir," Jones said.  "It's seven verses, and every verse gets more and more intricate. So it begins with the choir in unison and as we progress, it gets more and more integrated, and it breaks out into eight different parts of one point. So they're going to do great on that."

Jones said he always looks forward to the traditional Christmas concert because, for him, it signals the beginning of the season.

"You get into the mood and the spirit," Jones said. "Also, they're always well attended. They're always popular concerts because people just people want to hear great music at Christmastime."

The Genesee Chorale will perform Christmas Through the Ages 4 p.m. on Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church. For more information, click here. To purchase tickets, click here.

Photos by Howard Owens.

genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023

Crossroads House lights first Remembrance Christmas Tree at Eli Fish

By Howard B. Owens
crossroads christmas tree

Supporters of Crossroads House were invited to hang an ornament on a Christmas tree to display at Eli Fish for the holiday season, with the tree being lit in a ceremony at the tavern in Batavia on Saturday.

Pinecone ornaments cost $25 each, and Crossroads was able to raise $2,500 to support its operations.

"Our memorial cones are all personalized with a person's name," said Debbie Paine, who chaired the fundraising effort and is secretary of the board of directors. "There are some that honor volunteers or whatever somebody felt that they wanted to buy and remember somebody for. It's a holiday fundraiser that first allows people to memorialize someone and also brings together our community."

This is a first-year event for Crossroads House, which provides hospice care at no cost to people in their final stages of life in Genesee County.

Photos by Howard Owens

crossroads christmas tree
crossroads christmas tree

Nativity display, warm soup and cookies, the story of St. Nicholas to offer a taste of tradition

By Joanne Beck
Roula Alkhouri and Liz Salih
The Rev. Roula Alkhouri, left, and Liz Saleh get ready for Bethlehem Walk with St. Nicholas & Community Dinner at Batavia First Presbyterian Church as they set up a nativity display Friday at the church. Saleh is holding up a mobile from India. 
Photo by Joanne Beck

Liz Saleh held up the tiniest of nativity scenes that she has acquired over the years as one of nearly 100 in her vast collection.

The piece — a polished brown exterior with a white interior resembling ivory — has been carved out of a tagua nut from the South American Amazon rain forest. It represents one of several countries in a display that will be opened to the public next week. Her collection began with a merged nativity set from the childhoods of her and her late husband, David, dating back more than 70 years. 

Ever since then, she just kept amassing more of the iconic Christmas scenes, typically featuring a manger, Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and animals.

“I just loved them, and people started giving them to me. Once they know you like something, they keep giving them to you,” Saleh said while setting up her pieces Friday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church. “And I just started collecting them.”

Bethlehem Walk with St. Nicholas & Community Dinner will feature nativity scenes from Saleh and fellow Batavia resident Laura Dommer. The event will also include a meal of bread, homemade minestrone, Italian wedding soups and Advent-themed sugar cookies, and a visit from the traditional St. Nicholas. It is free of charge and is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia.

Most likely, you’ve either grown up with a nativity scene in your home or you have seen one somewhere, and they are steeped in deep history from St. Francis of Assisi, who more than 800 years ago wanted to remind the world that the season was about more than just giving or receiving gifts; it was about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Though, certainly, many nativity scenes have included the three wisemen bringing gifts to Jesus, all of them have not depicted that aspect. 

The set that Saleh has, for example, from Assisi, is very simple, with a modest manger, and the key characters of Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and a few animals arranged in front of it. A colorful metal display from Mexico, on the other hand, more brilliantly shows the wise men holding up their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Each country seems to tell a slightly different story in how the nativity is portrayed through materials, colors, simplicity or complexity, and the presence of animals as an important piece to the story. 

Saleh’s collection also includes a trifold-certified painting of Byzantine art using tempera paint — with egg yolks mixed in for a rich golden cast — from a museum in Boston, and materials of pottery, wood, hand-spun lambswool, a milked, anise star, sticks, grapevine wreath, pieces of cloth and other items from Mother Nature. 

There are sets from countries including Indonesia, Ecuador, Peru, Africa, Jerusalem, Germany, Portugal, Venice, Vietnam, Armenia, Italy, Bangladesh, India and the United States. 

As Saleh unpacked items, she talked about how dear friends made something for her or gave a set to her, and each unpacked box sparked more memories. She unwrapped a second one from Mexico, with small, intricate details painted onto the figurines. 

“I fell in love with this,” she said. “I think it’s beautiful, it’s hand-painted.”

Dommer has 108 nativity sets, mostly given to her as gifts, she said. She usually keeps about three favorites out while the remaining are tucked away in storage — a Peanuts Charlie Brown set, Fisher Price, and part of a Fontanini Village collection. 

A nativity goes beyond an aesthetic decoration, Dommer said.

“To me, it means I really understand what Christmas is about, it’s about the birth of our savior,” she said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what people say (about the collection). Some are very, very unique. I think they might say how did you find this or where did you get this. I do have one over two feet tall.”

Her grandmother used to work at Bethany Ridge apartments, and they were cleaning out the attic and discovered the two-foot nativity with the intent to throw it away. Grandma said no, she knew of a better home for it, Dommer said.

During the evening, St. Nicholas will be reading the story of his namesake — the actual story of St. Nicholas, a bishop in Turkey who heard about impoverished parents who were going to sell their daughters into servitude. St. Nicholas threw a bag of gold coins down the chimney to help them out and alleviate the need to sell their daughters. 

That has served as the foundation for Feast Day of St. Nicholas and a tradition of giving chocolate coins to children, which will also be part of the event, the Rev. Roula Alkhouri said.

“That’s the whole spirit of this, people can come and share in this and the story of how love evolved in different ways, and how people have imagined it in different ways,” she said. 

Parishioners will also be bringing in their nativities, and a nativity tree is decorated with dozens of Saleh’s nativity ornaments. 

Liz with tagua nut
Liz Saleh shows one of her smallest nativities carved out of a tagua nut from the Amazon rain forest.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Nativity from Mexico
Nativity from Peru
Liz with byzantine art
Liz Saleh holds up a piece of Byzantine art that used tempera paint with egg yolks, from a Boston museum. 
Photo by Joanne Beck
Nativity from Mexico
Nativity tree and Liz Sale
Tiny nativity

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