’Tis The Season

Co-chairpersons Shelly Susi and Nancy Sonney burned the midnight oil in transforming the firehall into Santa’s Workshop for Findley Lake’s Christmas Through the Village. Photo by David Prenatt

FINDLEY LAKE — The weather outside was frightful on Saturday, but beautiful on Sunday as Findley Lake celebrated its annual Christmas Through the Village.

Shoppers who have come to this event in previous years found many things to make their return worthwhile. And for those who came for the first time, the experience of a small town celebration awaited them.

“My goal is to always make it grow,” said event chairperson Nancy Sonney. “Each year we try to come up with new attractions so visitors will continue to enjoy this event.”

A town crier made certain visitors didn’t miss any happenings. He rang his bell in the streets and announced each event.

One new item that surely delighted both young and old was the expansion of the Visit with Santa venue. This year’s Santa experience took place in the Findley Lake Fire Hall and consisted of four stations for children to enjoy, as well as a wonderland of decorations.

Emma Nguyen-Ness was one of nearly 100 children who came to see Santa at Findley Lake’s “Christmas through the Village.” Photo by David Prenatt

Santa, of course, was available to have children sit on his lap and to have their pictures taken with him. Just beyond Santa’s chair, one of his elves crafted balloons according to each child’s preference. Further along another elf helped children make a bird-seed pine cone to take with them,. And at the final station in Santa’s workshop, a young elf painted wreaths or Christmas trees on children’s faces.

In former years, parents could purchase a picture of their child with Santa for $2, but this year all experiences were free. “It was difficult for some of the parents who had 5 or 6 children with them,” Sonney said. “This way all of the kids could get their picture taken and take part in all of the activities.”

Instead of charging, donations were accepted for the Findley Lake Fire Department. “The donation amount was left up to the parents,” Sonney said. “And it all goes to the firefighters who donated the use of the fire hall.”

Sonney and Santa Workshop Co-chairperson Shelly Susi burned the midnight oil getting the fire department building ready for Santa, but they said the work was well worth it.

“It was awesome. We had everyone at a station and kids just kept coming through,” said Sonney. “We do this whole thing so the kids can enjoy Christmas Through the Village.”

Susi, a.k.a. Mrs. Claus, agreed with Sonney. “It was absolutely worth it. The little kids are so precious. One girl asked Santa for a jump rope and I thought that was so sweet.”

Santa himself said he loves Findley Lake because they always have such a nice venue for him. At the end of the day, he said about a hundred children sat in his lap, and while some were shy or frightened, many of them were eager to see him. “One girl was so excited she came running up and gave me a big hug. She was about three.”

Other additions to this years’ celebration included live music from noon to 2 o’clock at the Secret Cubby of Antiques, where visitors can peruse thousands of square feet of antiques.

There were book signings by local authors at the September Moon Art Gallery from 10 am to 2 pm on Sunday. One of the authors, Judy Sharer, who wrote Settler’s Life said she thinks Findley Lake is “a very quiet little town with a lot to offer and is one of the best kept secrets in the area. Christmas Through the Village is an opportunity for the region to appreciate the small town feeling with something for everyone,” she said.

Leanne Becker, owner of September Moon said “we had a beautiful day for people to come out. I enjoy hearing about where they come from. A lot of lovely people were in my gallery.”

Sonney said she was pleased with this years’ experience. “I think the whole town event went really well,” she said. “Each year I think we are going to grow more. We hope to make Santa’s workshop the center of the event and keep improving it.”