Author: Jessica Marinelli
“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas. Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. And on every street corner you hear silver bells…” – Written by Jay Livingston / Ray Evans
After leaving the Hyatt Regency’s on a wintery evening, the classic holiday tune “Silver Bells” popped into my head as the perfect expression my feelings. It is the embodiment of the holidays in Buffalo, and the lyrics were written by Ray Evans, a Western New York native who must have spent some time downtown during the holiday season! At this time of year, rarely do I pass someone without a smile or nod, even on a cold, windy night. And nothing captures the holiday spirit more than watching children enjoy holiday traditions for the first time.
On Monday, a group of students from the West Buffalo Charter School experienced some of Buffalo’s beloved holiday traditions for the very first time. In the spirit of the season, the Hyatt invited students from the school’s English Enrichment After School Program to a gingerbread decorating party. Many of the children had never tasted this traditional holiday cookie, as their families come from places like Burma, Thailand and other countries. The Hyatt’s culinary team provided hot cider, cookie cut-outs and all the decorative fixings for the group of new Americans to create their very own gingerbread masterpieces. The children also toured the Hyatt’s decked out halls, which featured the colorful Festival of Trees display. The kids were awestruck by the variety of themes and styles – and of course, all the lights.
West Buffalo Charter’s population comes from all over the world, speaking more than 22 different languages.
West Buffalo Charter School administrator, Andrea Todoro said, “For some of these children, this was a first. Seeing the holiday decorations and eating gingerbread is a new culinary experience.” She also said the event is well-suited to the school’s celebration of different cultural traditions, as West Buffalo Charter’s population comes from all over the world, speaking more than 22 different languages.
The Hyatt Regency’s General Manager, Majed Farah welcomed the children and introduced them to the hotel’s newest addition to its holiday décor – a complete Gingerbread Village – the result of a collaboration with Buffalo’s Chrusciki Bakery. The Village greets Hyatt visitors in the main lobby, and is a must see this holiday season. It features some iconic Western New York neighborhoods such as Canalside’s ice rink with skaters and Shark Girl, Niagara Falls and The Maid of the Mist, and New Era Field with Buffalo Bills and a stadium filled with gingerbread fans.
“Every day of the year we welcome and host people from all over the world,” said Farah. “This event for the students is an extension of our mission to make all our guests feel special and leave Buffalo with a good impression. We’re delighted to introduce “Gingerbread Monday” into the mix of our holiday traditions.”
In addition to hosting the gingerbread decorating party for the school children, the Hyatt’s annual Toy Drive will be earmarked for some of the families at West Buffalo Charter School. “Our entire staff donates toys, games, books and other gifts in the spirit of giving and it’s just one way the Hyatt shows our appreciation to the community,” added Farah.
The gingerbread house originated in Germany, where the elaborately decorated houses quickly became a Christmas tradition.
Gingerbread has been a part of many cultures for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and can be traced back to ancient China, Egypt, and Europe as early as the 15th century. Gingerbread can refer to any dish made with ginger and honey or molasses, and can be the consistency of soft cakes or hard cookies. The gingerbread house originated in Germany, where the elaborately decorated houses quickly became a Christmas tradition. It is believed that the popularity of Gingerbread houses, rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote “Hansel and Gretel,” where the children happen upon a house made of sweets in the forest.
The Gingerbread Village and AM&A’s displays will be on view through December 25, 2016. The Festival of Trees will be on display through December 4, 2016. All are welcome to tour the decorations — holiday cheer is free and in abundance at the Hyatt Regency this season!
Hyatt Regency Buffalo | 2 Fountain Plaza | Buffalo, NY 14202 | (716) 856-1234