Holiday Village Stroll chair Maryjane Lawrence said she loves it when Santa comes to town. "I get all excited," she said Saturday, Dec. 7 during the three-day event. "This is the sixth annual Holiday Village Stroll. It gets bigger and bigger every year."
Included in the Stroll this year was the performance of the "Nutcracker" at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. New was the Holiday Dreams on Ice show at the Olympic Arena featuring some former Olympians.
"For the first time in six years, we will have a Super Sunday at Whiteface Mountain where all-day lift tickets go for $40," Lawrence said. "We hope that people will extend their stay."
Santa Claus spoke with many children at Mid's Park after a VIP ride by local firefighters.
"I am going to ask Santa Claus for a hockey jersey," said Alex Johnstone near the front of a long line waiting for Santa to arrive on the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department ladder truck. "I want a Boston jersey because it is my favorite team."
"Anything else you want? Have you been a good boy?" Alex nodded his head. "You sure?" He nodded again.
At left, Joey Murphy, of Kinderhook, helps her granddaughter, Sophia, talk to Santa Claus Saturday, Dec. 7 during the annual Holiday Village Stroll at Mid’s Park in Lake Placid. (Photo by Naj Wikoff)
"I would like a piano for Christmas," said his sister, Gabrielle.
"A Steinway or a Yamaha? Any particular brand?" I asked.
"No, any piano will do," she said.
"How long have you been playing the piano? A year? So am I going to see you perform a Carnegie Hall one Day?"
"Yes. I think so," she said.
"Where are you from?"
"Lake Placid," she said.
"Do you like Lake Placid?" Gabrielle nodded her head. "You do, very good."
Joey Murphy was visiting from Kinderhook, and her granddaughter is from Guilderland.
"What would you like for Christmas?" I asked.
"A Monster High Doll," said her granddaughter, Sophia.
"A Monster High Doll? What does that look like in case Santa needs to know, though I suppose he already does."
"A monster," Sophia said.
"It is a Barbie-sized monster," Joey said.
"Why not? It sounds perfect. Now Kinderhook, isn't that where the headless horseman used to ride?"
"Yes, and the school district is called Ichabod Crane," said Sophia's mother, Megan Murphy, standing next to her father, Brian. "Former president Martin Van Buren's home is there. Washington Irving wrote the 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow' in Martin Van Buren's house, though the actual event took place down in Westchester."
"Isn't the Old Dutch School House and the Van Allen House is just up the road from Van Buren's by the pond?"
"Yes, that's right," Megan said.
"I'd like to ask Santa for peace on earth," said grandfather Brian Murphy, "and maybe a new pickup truck."
"And Megan, what about you? What would you like?"
"Something sparkly," Megan said.
"Kristal, what would you like from Santa?"
"A Monster High Doll," said Kristal Wells.
"A Monster High Doll? The second request! What is it with the Monster High Doll? Do you think there will be enough to go around? What do you like about the Monster Doll?"
"Yup, for Santa this is not a problem," Kristal said. "I like them because they are very cool and from my favorite movie 'Thirteen Wishes.'"
"What would you like for Christmas?"
"A Zamboni," said Quinn.
"A Zamboni? Excellent. You and Santa have come to the right town."
"I'd like an American Girl Doll," said Averill.
"I'd like an American Doll as well. Oh, here comes Santa," said Reagan, who started screaming, leaping and waving.
All the kids started screaming.
"Naj, do you think there are 500 people here waiting for Santa?" asked Mountain Lake PBS reporter Jack LaDuke during the din.
"When you count in the kids, elves and people handing out hot chocolate sure," I said. "C.J., what did you give Santa Claus?"
"I gave him a Christmas-tree ornament," said C.J. Ericson standing with his mom, Catherine.
"Was that your idea?"
"Yes," C.J. said.
"Peter, what did you ask Santa for?"
"I asked him for him," said Peter Robjent.
"For a present?"
"No, I want Santa to come home with us and be my present," he said.
"What will you do with Santa in your house? He may come with a lot of reindeer to feed."
"I will ask him to make by bed and cook my breakfast," Peter said.
"What did you ask Santa for?" I asked Dannielle Essiambe from Montreal, one of several adults who didn't hesitate to sit on Santa's lap.
"Well, I can't say, but I'll tell you," Dannielle said. "A big diamond ring."
"I wanted a grandson for Christmas, and that's what I got, so I thanked him," said Barbara Trombly.
The Holiday Stroll was not all kids, parents and others seeking to have their dreams fulfilled. Bell ringers from the Lake Placid Scouts were seeking donations for the Salvation Army and a number of restaurants were giving out free sample of their wares, including Executive Chef David Hick of the Whiteface Lodge serving a squash and maple bisque; Joan Kelly pouring hot white chocolate from Dunkin Donuts; Bill Billerman serving goodies from his daughter Kayte's well-named Good Bites Kitchen; Rammsy Manning of Smoke Signals passing out succulent grilled chicken; Wynde Reese of Green Goddess offering the best trail-mix I have ever had; and Milano North's Brook Brown sharing several fine reasons for dining there.
A hit with parents and kids were the craft tables in the first floor of the High Peaks Resort. While kids were having a grand time making all manner of wreaths, ornaments and other craft projects - assisted by Erin Perkins, Marianne Burdeau, McCayla Quinn and others - the parents were gratefully flopped in chairs and sofas, some with a glass of holiday cheer in hand.
The array offered was far greater than these few described, began the evening of Friday, Dec. 6 and stretched through Sunday afternoon, and incorporated the LPCA, Palace Theatre, Lake Placid Olympic Museum, speed skating oval, Whiteface Mountain and local churches. There was a lot of live entertainment through the day and evening, and there were many specials at local restaurants and area shops. It was a wow, and you can be sure it will be held again next year with even more reasons to attend.