Decision leaves Greenport scrambling for new holiday plans

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10/27/2011 11:00 AM |

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive as scheduled in Greenport in a couple of months, but this year’s holiday celebration will be a little less merry and bright.

In a surprise move, the Greenport Business Association, which has sponsored a holiday festival for the past two years, has announced that it’s suspending all activities for the remainder of the year.

That has left the village scrambling to find new activities to help maintain foot traffic in the business district beyond the traditional tourism season.

Mayor David Nyce said tried-and-true holiday observances, such as the holiday parade and Santa’s arrival by fire truck, will continue. But additional events, like the New Year’s Eve party at the Mitchell Park carousel, are on hold.

“Their effort is really going to be missed, but Christmas is still going to happen,” the mayor said.

GBA member Caroline Waloski said the holiday festival suffered from a lack of active volunteers.

“We had great success for two years, but we need help,” said Ms. Waloski, who runs the Sirens’ Song Gallery on Main Street. “There were five people doing everything and we need new blood to carry this forward. It’s too much for such a small group.”

Many of the organizers faced personal or professional pressures that prohibited them from participating in organizing this year’s festival.

Ms. Waloski hoped to meet with members of the village Business Improvement District today (Thursday) to ask for help.

“This is collaborative effort,” she said. “We need the village merchants’ support, not with money, but with time.”
She added, “I don’t know if anything could happen this year, but I’m always optimistic.”

Peter Clarke, owner of Clarke’s Garden, also on Main Street, has agreed to organize the effort to put holiday decorations in the planter boxes and barrels throughout the village.

“We want to keep everything going onward and upward,” Mr. Clarke said. “It’s more important than ever in Greenport’s development that we look at the glass as half full.

He also plans to request BID support and is looking for volunteers to “adopt” planters.

Last year’s festival began shortly after Thanksgiving and continued through New Year’s Eve. The list of events included a holiday pet parade, choral concerts at Brecknock Hall, a play at Greenport School, holiday readings at Floyd Memorial Library, a family movie night and New Year’s Eve fireworks.

The village plans to open its outdoor ice rink for the holidays.

“We hope the weather helps and the rink does what it should do and bring people downtown,” said Mr. Nyce. “We had it open for Christmas last year and it made a huge difference.”

Like Mr. Clarke, the mayor isn’t ready to accept the inevitability of a less festive holiday season.

“Who knows? Maybe something will materialize between now and then,” he said. “Things just sort of happen here. We’ll see what Santa brings us.”

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