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Albion cuts the ribbon for new Santa mural

Staff Reports Posted 22 July 2018 at 9:58 am

Provided photo: The ribbon was cut on Saturday to celebrate the new Santa mural in downtown Albion. From left include Tom Rivers, past president of the Albion Rotary Club and coordinator of the project; Ken McPherson, a Santa portrayer and graduate of the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School; Phil McKenna, a Santa portrayer; Annabella Salisbury, member of Albion Women’s Select Choir; and artist Stacey Kirby Steward and her daughter Skylar.

The 24-foot-long mural was an Albion Rotary project and included many community donations. The mural commemorates the life and work of Charles W. Howard.  In 1937, Howard founded a Santa Claus School in Albion, dedicating his life to establishing a high standard for Santas everywhere.

“To play the part of Santa is a privilege, not a job,” Howard said.

He served as the Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for nearly 20 years. Howard died in 1966 but the Santa school continues today in his name in Midland, Mich.

The Rotary Club also wanted the mural to highlight Albion’s extraordinary downtown, Courthouse Square and the Erie Canal

Photos by Tom Rivers: Phil McKenna and Ken McPherson pose with a cutout of Charles W. Howard by the mural.

The Women’s Select Choir from Albion High School sang two Christmas songs. The group includes, from left: Hannah Brewer, Annabella Salisbury, Hannah Van Epps, Olivia Morrison, Emily Mergler and Molly Wadhams.

A brass quintet of Albion graduates also played Christmas music. The group included David Hollenbeck, Kyle Thaine, Shannon Broda, Justin Robinson and Mike Thaine, far right, who is the instrumental teacher at Albion High School.

Stacey Kirby Steward, an Albion graduate, said she appreciated the opportunity to work on a mural about her hometown. She now lives in Spencerport and has done several large-scale public art projects between Middleport and Greece, often with themes about the Erie Canal.

The Women’s Select Choir also wanted a picture with Santa.

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