FALCONER - Despite the mild temperatures and lack of snow, Santa Claus was greeted by hundreds on his annual trip to Falconer.
On Saturday afternoon, the village of Falconer and the Falconer Business Association hosted the annual Santa Parade. The parade was led by Color Guards from the Henry Mosher Post 638 American Legion and also included the Falconer Central School marching band, the Fenner Elementary School fifth-grade chorus, Boy Scouts along with various children's groups and several local fire departments. Grand marshals were Mayor Dave Krieg and Chautauqua County Legislator Larry Barmore.
Spectators lined the streets along the parade route, which started at Falconer Central School and traveled down Main Street, made a left on Davis Street and looped around in front of the Falconer Fire Department to Coleson Drive. The parade concluded when special guests Santa Claus and his wife, Mrs. Claus, arrived at the Santa House on Coleson Drive, across from Tops Friendly Markets.
Upon his arrival, Santa was met by a gaggle of children, who were lined up in front of the Santa House. The children were given an opportunity to meet with Santa, tell him their Christmas wish list and have a free picture taken by Maria Johnson of CVS.
"I think the parade went off well and we had an excellent turnout," said Sam Ognibene, superintendent of Falconer's public works department. "I would guess that there were about 500 to 600 people. I would like to thank the Falconer Business Association. (The parade) is such a great thing and we're very pleased that we have the opportunity to do this every year."
In conjunction with the parade, craft shows were held by the Falconer Fire Department Auxiliary and the Falconer Ross Grange at the fire hall on Davis Street and the Falcon's Nest Banquet Hall on East Main Street, respectively.
Cookies and cocoa were provided to parade participants by Tops markets. Also on hand was Mike Morton's petting zoo, which was set up in front of the Santa House while kids were waiting to meet Santa.
According to Ognibene, Falconer's Santa Parade is the first Christmas parade of the year to take place in the area, and it makes for a festive atmosphere in the village.
"This is my favorite time of year," he said. "I love the way (the Christmas season) makes people feel and it's nice to know that even with everything going on in the world, people will still come out for a parade. I always pride myself in knowing that even though we don't have the biggest Christmas parade, at least we have the first one."