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Homegrown Holidays

This weekend I got a chance to see what sort of holiday spirit Downtown Buffalo is offering this season. It started on Friday evening when we took a stroll down Main Street on our way to the Sabres game. It was the first time that I had a chance to see the various decorated display windows featuring the original AM&As early-robotic characters. It was an impressive array of moving parts and elegant backdrops. It was also nice to see that there were other windows carrying on with the festive scene, and even the street twinkled in kind as curious onlookers took turns spying on the elaborate sets… all this while the Electric Tower and One HSBC Center colorfully broadcasted that the holidays had arrived. 

Hundreds of skaters flocked to Fountain Plaza on Saturday night to partake in the 2010 Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration. It was quite a scene, as throngs of onlookers huddled together to view the activity on the ice throughout the evening. I wandered away from the festivities to see what else was going on, and was surprised to find that indeed there was all sorts of action along Main Street. The coffee shops were hopping – remember that it was only recently that Coffee Culture and Dunkin’ Donuts happened upon the scene. I ran into a bunch of errant strollers who were having a hard time locating the AM&As window displays – a lot of people assume that they are in the old AM&As windows, but instead they can be found all around Shea’s Theater (both sides of the street).

The Metro Rail was the transportation of choice for the evening as it continued to deliver people right to the heart of the plaza. I bumped into ‘colorful glam mime fellow’ Jim McLaughlin (see slide show) who was out caroling with fedora and cane. As I spoke to Jim about his act, I noticed that a group of carolers had congregated underneath the Shea’s marquee and were attracting a host of onlookers, as the massive holiday toy soldiers stood guard overhead.

From there I walked over to Theodore Roosevelt Plaza, which was very disappointing to find completely unadorned. Seeing that the plaza is in such close proximity to Fountain Plaza, it would be a welcome addition if some downtown business were to sponsor the park next holiday season. I was visually drawn across the street to The Hyatt’s atrium where Festival of Trees was still mostly intact. The premise behind the event goes like this: a number of businesses lavishly decorate Christmas trees that are then auctioned off to raise money for Women and Children’s Hospital. A few of the displays had been broken down, though for the most part the atrium was filled with beautifully decorated wreaths, trees and even a life-sized gingerbread house. I highly suggest attending this event next holiday season. I grabbed a coffee at the Atrium Bar and Bistro, sat down for a few moments and then headed back to Fountain Plaza to catch the lighting of the tree.

I am aware that this is a massive undertaking each year, but with that said, I would like to add a couple of things to next year’s wish list. First, decorate TR Plaza. Next, I would hope that even more building owners would get into the holiday spirit by decorating their windows. It was a bummer to see the LL Berger windows empty, among others… of course we’re off to a great start this year, but now people are walking around looking for the all of the different windows, meaning that there are missed opportunities for additional sponsored windows if the property owners cooperate. I would think that the tenants of The Ballasario would enjoy seeing the windows in their building decorated. Additionally, it might behoove someone to look for lost souls looking to find their way around downtown. Other than that, I feel that this year’s celebration and kick off was superb. Good work Buffalo Place, Rotary Club and all others involved.

*Lead photo: Joe Cascio. Slide show photos – Queenseyes. Slide show music is by Jonathan Hughes. The local holiday song is called ‘It’s Robot Holiday Time Again (Affirmative, Affirmative)’ – see Robot Holiday post. Be sure to head to The Sportsmen’s Tavern tonight to catch the fun song performed live along with many other robot songs. The non-traditional holiday fun starts at 7:30pm this Sunday,
December 5th, at the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst Street). Admission
is $10, with your entry fee benefiting the Food Bank of Western New

Written by RaChaCha


RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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