Time for Silver Bells in the City of Salamanca

A young girl visits with Santa and one of his reindeer in front of the Salamanca Area Historical Society Museum during last year’s Silver Bells in the City. This year’s festival includes 14 events from Nov. 16 to Dec. 21.

SALAMANCA — As the fall winds sweep away the falling leaves and before you sleep off your turkey dinner, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the ringing of bells. Wait, Bells?

Christmastime in Salamanca is synonymous with the name Ray Evans and the Salamanca native’s award-winning Christmas song “Silver Bells.”

The annual tradition of celebrating the holidays in the city continues with Evans and his song in mind as the Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce prepares for the Silver Bells in the City Festival.

Soon in the air, there will be a feeling of Christmas as the strings of street lights — even stoplights — will blink red and green. The theme of the festival is a reminder of Evans’ legacy.

The Ray and Wyn Evans Foundation, the Seneca Salamanca Chamber and its members are busily planning and organizing their holiday events to help you ring in the holiday season.

“Each year it gets bigger and bigger, even to the point where this year we’re starting off even earlier,” said John Sheehan, chamber director. “We definitely bring in tourists from all over to visit the events that will take place.”

Festivities begin earlier than ever this year with the Jingle Paws Craft Show at the Allegany Community Center in Jimersontown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get your holiday shopping done locally with a massive variety of crafters and unique local vendors.

The event will also have food, 50/50s, drawings and a huge Chinese Auction. This event is in support of Empire Animal Rescue Society (EARS) Inc.

Once December hits, Swan Street Florist will host its annual Christmas Open House on Dec. 4 with a wide variety of Christmas gift ideas and offerings from 4-7 p.m.

Then on that Friday, Dec. 6, Christmas comes to town earlier with the annual Christmas parade at 6 p.m. After a line of holiday-themed floats and decorated vehicles, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be ushered in at the end of the parade down Main Street to Jefferson Street Park. To enter the parade, contact organizer Donna Raahauge at 378-5468 or email drparades@gmail.com.

At the park, the jolly old elf and his missus will hit the switch to turn on all the holiday lights in the park, officially ringing in the season. Bring the family and enjoy the holiday festivities, music, hot chocolate and the surprises that this magical time of the year can bring.

The next morning on Dec. 7, Santa will be the special guest at Myers Steakhouse & Inn for their annual Breakfast with Santa. From 9-11 a.m., enjoy a yummy breakfast buffet with make-your-own pancakes, table-side visits with Santa and even get the opportunity to take your picture on Santa’s lap. Call 945-3153 for reservations.

Also on Dec. 7 at 1 p.m., the monthly free movies at the Ray Evans Seneca Theater on Main Street with the showing of modern Christmas classic, “Arthur Christmas.”

Then on Dec. 12, Santa will be back in town again for Cattaraugus Community Action’s Santa's Carnival. From 3-5 p.m., children 11 and under can visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus, enjoy games and prizes, gifts, crafts and even Christmas cookies and cocoa. Other special holiday season guests might also stop by to visit.

Then the event-packed weekend begins Saturday morning, Dec. 14, with the Salamanca Area Historical Society Museum welcoming back Santa and his reindeer. From 10 a.m. to noon, stop by the museum on Main Street to pet a live reindeer right on the sidewalk.

Also that morning, the Allegany Community Center will hold its Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees can enjoy native crafts and foods as well as Christmas arts and crafts.

Later that night, Santa will be taking calls from the WGWE office at 945-5801 from 6 to 8 p.m. Then at 7 p.m., the Ray Evans Seneca Theather will open its doors for the Silver Bells Holiday Show.

Rounding out the weekend on Dec. 15, the Riverside Chapel on Broad Street will host the annual Christmas Cantata performance live at 3 p.m.

If you’re still in the mood for more holiday music, head down to the Salamanca High School on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. for the annual student concert where the band and chorus will perform all your favorite holiday tunes, traditional and contemporary.

Rounding out the Silver Bells season on Saturday, Dec. 21, the Ray Evans Seneca Theater will host one more free movie showing with classic holiday cartoons on the big screen from noon until 6 p.m., presented by the new Silver Bells Holiday Shop open at the theater in the storefront at 8 Main St.

“Silver Bells in the City is a draw for tourism all around our area due to the fact that there are so many different events,” Sheehan said. “There’s so many craft shows to go to, concerts to go to and movies to go to that it’s a great draw.”

Details about Silver Bells in the City can be found by visiting salamancachamber.org online, on Facebook by searching “Salamanca Chamber” or by phone at 945-2034.

With so many activities to choose from, there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of the holidays. Join us to hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch and hear those silver bells, for soon it will be Christmas Day.

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)