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Though I’m rarely at a loss for words, every great once in a while I allow others to get their two cents in, and often find out that they know far more than I on any given subject. Now that December is upon us, there are scads of holiday-themed events happening throughout the Upper Delaware River region. While I can’t get to them all, I can run myself ragged trying, with Dharma the Wonder Dog nipping at my heels—of course!
I heard through the grapevine that there was a town-wide decorating contest in Callicoon, so I contacted the Callicoon Business Association (CBA) vice-president Nicole Vallance to get the particulars. “All businesses are encouraged to deck their shops and windows in their holiday best,” Vallance said. She added that there will be visitors voting through this coming Saturday, with the winner to be announced at 3 p.m. during Dickens on the Delaware. While attending the official lighting of the Christmas tree, I noted that the ballot box is situated on lower Main Street, where Dharma and I schmoozed with friends and neighbors as folks milled about, enjoying the bonfire, hot chocolate and s’mores, serenaded by members of the Sullivan West High School chorus. Rather than attempt to describe the upcoming Dickens on the Delaware, I’ll defer to the organizers’ words. The event’s Facebook page states that the event is “A Victorian Holiday Wonderland, [replete with] shopkeepers and townsfolk in costume, horse and buggy rides, theatre and opera performances, activities for the kids and more!” The annual celebration has quickly become a Sullivan County holiday staple, and I’m looking forward to the festivities with bated, albeit frosty, breath.
On Saturday, I dragged out the doggy stroller (don’t judge!) and wheeled you-know-who to Murph’s Toy Drive at the Villa Roma, also in Callicoon. Now in its sixth year, Josh Murphy works tirelessly in conjunction with the Town of Wallkill Boys and Girls Club (BGC) staff to ensure that hundreds of deserving children and teens will find gifts under the Christmas tree this season. Hosted by Bold Gold Media’s Paul Ciliberto, the evening featured great food and libations, along with live music from the young folks who comprise the bands “Brotality” and “Breach the Barrier.” There were also toys, toys, toys filling the room to capacity, all to benefit the BGC’s ‘Giving Tree’ drive that will (in their words) “put clothing and gifts into the hands of 400 plus children in need across Orange and Sullivan Counties this year.” The party was (IMHO) fantastic and when I checked in the next day with Murph, he had this to say: “I am so thankful to everyone who came out to support the event. The amount of toys collected—more than 1,000 to date—shows what can be accomplished when the community joins together for a great cause.” The club staff and volunteers will continue to collect gifts through December 21. If you are interested in more information or sponsoring a child for the holidays, call 845/342-8833.
As mentioned last week, Hanukkah (Chanukah?) is upon us, and I joined Town of Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm, Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski and a band of celebrants gathered to observe the lighting of the 10-feet-tall menorah in Kauneonga Lake on Sunday at sunset. Kolakowski, who serves as the assistant rabbi at the White Lake Torah Center addressed the small crowd with a few poignant words. “Hanukkah is more than a minor holiday representing the miracle that took place in ancient times,” he said, referring to the age-old story of the oil miraculously burning for eight nights instead of one, thereby protecting the Israelites and their sacred Jewish temple from marauders. “As we celebrate and display our menorahs in windows each night, we are continuing the tradition of sharing a spiritual life with the entire world.” As for me? I love all fried foods, and I have a few more days to indulge in mountains of latkes (potato pancakes) and sugary, powdery, oily and traditional yummy jelly donuts. “During this time of celebration,” the Rabbi informed, “All kinds of oil are kosher.” His words, not mine.
To see more photos of the Callicoon tree-lighting shindig and Murph’s Toy Drive at the Villa Roma, “like” us on Facebook and visit our photo gallery online at river reporter.com. ‘Tis the season!