Hundreds will gather at Paper Mill Island this weekend for a Baldwinsville holiday tradition.
Every year, the Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce works with the village and dedicated volunteers to bring the community a tree lighting ceremony as a kickoff event to the holiday season. This year's event, hosted for the first time by Celebrate Baldwinsville, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday Nov. 25 in front of the Red Mill Inn.
"Each year we have tried to expand the event to get families out for the evening," said Barb Godfrey, president of Celebrate Baldwinsville. "The last couple of years have really picked up."
Highlights of the tree lighting ceremony will include wagon rides around Paper Mill Island (5 to 7 p.m.) donated by the Red Mill Inn, free pictures with Santa, twin magicians (5:30 to 7 p.m.), face painting, refreshments and reindeer (4 to 7 p.m.) courtesy of Celebrate Baldwinsville.
"The reindeer have been a great draw and the event is a great way to visit with people who have been out of town," Godfrey said. "It's a family friendly event for all of Baldwinsville to enjoy."
The Celebrate Baldwinsville committee approached the GBCC about organizing this year's event as another way to give back and enhance the community.
"Any funds we make from the Celebrate Baldwinsville event (held in September), we turn around and give back to the community," Godfrey said. "This was another way to give back."
This is also the first year the tree will not be perched atop the old Harrington Firehouse, since the village is in the process of demolishing the building. Godfrey said she think the change is a good one given the exposure the tree will get.
"I think the tree is a lot more visible in front of the Red Mill Inn," Godfrey said.
This year's program was made possible thanks to the GBCC, the village of Baldwinsville, the Celebrate Baldwinsville committee, Red Mill Inn and Baker Real Estate. Timber Tree Service donated the take down and transportation of the tree to the village. Richard and Wendy Thompson of Rabbit Lane in Phoenix donated the tree.