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Christmas past, present and future

Clay to hold first Victorian Festival to celebrate the season

For the last couple of years, residents in the town of Clay could attend a small holiday tree lighting ceremony, hosted by the Clay Historical Association, at the historical park on Route 31 to celebrate the season.

But when the town decided to host an official tree lighting for the first time since the new Clay Town Hall was built, event coordinator Chrissy Clancy wanted to do something bigger.

Clancy, who works in the town's parks and recreation department and serves as its senior coordinator, wanted to hold a more community-friendly event that would bring people from all over the town together.

"Have you ever known me to do anything on a small scale?" she said. "Or without wearing garb?"

Indeed, this year's Victorian Festival and Holiday Celebration, to be held Sunday Dec. 6, includes more than just a brief tree lighting. The event also features a craft sale, Civil War reenactments, arts and crafts for kids, live entertainment and, of course, a visit from Santa. And it's was all being done in the spirit of the old Victorian days.

"The Victorian era, spanning a great deal of time -- from 1837 to 1901, is so incredibly full and rich and steeped in grand tradition," Clancy said. "It was a time when the holidays reflected the essence of gentle manners, the social graces, family and community. And besides, who doesn't love those beautiful bonnets and men in top hats with a sprig of holly?"

While the outfits are fun, it's the community spirit Clancy is most excited about.

"[I hope this is] the beginning of a time that welcomes town of Clay residents to gather together at their Town Hall and celebrate with traditions both old and new," she said, "and perhaps a return to that old-fashioned sense of community."

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