Medina native will close Christmas Cottage in Lockport this season

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2020 at 2:13 pm

Chris Parada says he is acting on advice from Health Department

File photos by Tom Rivers: Olivia, 2, meets Santa Claus at the Christmas Cottage in Lockport in this photo from Dec. 20, 2018. Christopher Parada created the cottage and has been portraying Santa at the site the past decade.

LOCKPORT – Christopher Parada, a Medina native who has been portraying Santa at a popular Christmas Cottage in Lockport the past decade, announced today that the site won’t be open to the public this holiday season due to Covid-19 concerns.

Parada and his father Daniel built the cottage at Day Road Park in the Town of Lockport. It opened in 2010 and welcomes about 8,000 to 10,000 visitors in recent years, where people can meet Santa.

Chris Parada and his father Daniel built the 15-by-15 foot cottage, which opened in 2010 at Day Road Park in the Town of Lockport. Parada has dedicated the site to the memory of Charles W. Howard, who ran a Santa School in Albion from 1937 to 1966.

“The mission was to provide a safe and magical Christmas experience free of charge for the community,” Parada posted on Facebook today.

He had a plan in place for the cottage to be open this season for in-person Santa visits. Families would come in one at time. He had a Plexiglass screen made that resembled a “snow globe” to provide added protection from Covid.

But Parada today said the Niagara County Health Department has deemed visiting Santa in-person as a “very high risk activity” because the cottage doesn’t have the proper ventilation and the site is near micro-cluster zones with high Covid spread in Niagara and Erie counties. The Health Department has strongly recommending Parada not open the site to the public this year.

“It’s not worth the risk to all of you or my family with the recent spikes in WNY,” Parada said. “No amounts of hand sanitizer, social distancing or mask wearing can replace the possibility of a child or loved one getting sick. Every family has a story that walks through the door and I enjoy visiting with each one of you and hearing Christmas wishes but it’s also my moral obligation to provide a safe environment and not promote an event that might spread Covid.”

He said the site will remain decorated for the holiday season and people are welcome to stop by for photos with the cottage.

“Maybe on a warm night Santa will be outside waving to cars as you drive by,” Parada said. “Stay safe and healthy this season, we’ll see you next year! Remember to always believe in the magic of Christmas.”

Parada, a 2002 graduate of Medina High School, is active in Western New York theater, and is the executive director of the Historic Palace Theatre in Lockport. He manages the theater and also is a performer, writer and director

He first portrayed Santa in high school. When he was a teen he learned about Charles Howard, the founder of a Santa Claus School in Albion. He operated it from 1937 until his death in 1966. Parada learned about the local community’s connection to Howard from his late grandmother, Elaine Janele, who was the children’s librarian at the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina. She created the Santa Claus story hour at the library.

When Parada and his father built the Christmas Cottage, they dedicated it to Charles W. Howard. Parada has memorabilia from Howard’s school and Christmas Park in Albion on display at the Christmas Cottage in Lockport.