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Christmas in the Forks to happen, differently

AuSABLE FORKS — The Christmas in the Forks Committee has finalized plans for the event’s 16th year.

Chairwoman Helen Wirt Kennedy announced that the 16th annual event has been scaled down considerably for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our all volunteer committee is saddened that we cannot provide the community with the entertainment that we normally provide,” Kennedy said in a press release. “However, we have come up with a scaled-down plan that is sure to put smiles on everyone’s faces.”

The plan begins with the Christmas tree, donated by the Santa Mariah family in memory of Betty Santamaria, being placed at the Community Time Square Saturday, Nov. 28. Numerous volunteers are helping set the tree under the direction of Northline Line Utilities CEO Jamie Atkins and local business owner Tracy Kennedy. The tree will be lit on this day but without any public participation. Normally the tree is lit after a parade, followed by a fireworks display on the first Saturday evening in December.

“It breaks our committee members’ hearts that we will not be providing any of the normal annual Christmas in the Forks activities, but we promise a return next December with lots of new surprises,” said Randy Douglas, who usually emcees the event along with Susan Richards.

Due to the cancellation of the parade, public tree lighting and fireworks, the committee has come up with Santa’s Holiday Tour, organized by committee members Kevin Zaumetzer, Norm Hatch, Dale Walton Sherry Valenze and Amanda Whisher. The tour will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, lining up behind the community center and proceeding onto Church Lane, AuSable Drive, state Route 86 to the village green, John Fountain Road, Glen Road, Stickney Bridge Road, Sheldrake Road, Burt Lane, Broad Lane, Main Street, North AuSable Street, Palmer Street, McRae Street, state Route 9N and back to community center.

The procession will be led by Essex County Sheriff Dave Reynolds and will include vehicles and personnel from the AuSable Forks, Jay and Upper Jay volunteer fire departments, the AuSable Forks Ambulance Service, the New York State Police and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, made possible by Sheriff Dave Favro.

Two highlights of Santa’s Holiday Tour will be music provided by Alyssa Rosio of Absolute Entertainment, followed Santa Claus on his sleigh.

Also, for the second year, the Gary Whisher memorial decorating contest will be held for all residents of the towns of Jay and Black Brook, sponsored by Northline Utilities. This year, gift card awards for local businesses totaling $1,000 will be giving away to the winners: $150 for first place, $100 for second and $75 for third in both the residential and business separate categories. Also, as a second chance to win, $350 in gift cards will be placed in a hat for all the decorating contest’s non-winners, and names will be drawn by Gary Whisher’s grandchildren Jaycee Hart and Alex Whisher. To enter the decorating contest, send entries to Douglas at randydouglas12@gmail.com by Dec. 11. On your entry, put your name, full address and what category you are entering, business or residential. Participants must have their decorations lit up on Friday, Dec. 18 between 6 and 9 p.m. The anonymous, non-committee-member judges will travel around that night to judge the entries.

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