Sign unveiled naming Route 31 in Albion for Santa School founder

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, left, and State Sen. Rob Ortt this afternoon joined in a dedication event for the section of Route 31 in Albion. The state Department of Transportation installed the sign declaring the section of 31 as the “Charles W. Howard Memorial Highway.” Howard operated a Santa School and Christmas Park in Albion until his death in 1966.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2020 at 8:22 pm

Courtesy of Jan Downey: Jan Downey of Albion shared this photo of herself and her brother, David Taylor, when they visited Howard as Santa at Christmas Park. Downey estimated the photo is from 1956 when she was 5. Many local residents still have strong memories of Howard and Christmas Park.

ALBION – A sign proclaiming Route 31 in Albion as the “Charles W. Howard Memorial Highway” was dedicated today by two state legislators and other community members.

Howard started the world’s first Santa School and ran it from 1937 until his death in 1966. He also was the Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for 18 years.

He remains a revered figure among people who portray Santa Claus. The school he started continues in his name in Midland, Mich. Howard, who is known in the Santa community as “The Dean of Santa Clauses,” in 2010 was a charter inductee in the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. (Click here for more information on the Hall of Fame.

The State Department of Transportation erected the sign on Route 31 near the Transit Road intersection, which is the eastern end of the town. Another sign is expected to go up on the western end near Wood Road.

The Albion Betterment Committee worked about two years to secure the approval. They sent letters to local government leaders – The Village Board, the Town Board and Orleans County Legislature. They all endorsed naming the section in honor of Howard, who also was a farmer, toymaker, and operated Christmas Park on Route 31 near Phipps Road.

The Albion Betterment Committee has worked in recent years to raise Howard’s profile locally and to help celebrate his legacy. The ABC put a sign on Route 98, south of the village, declaring Albion as the hometown of the Santa School founder. The ABC also has “Believe” signs in the community and is raising funds for a statue of hometown in downtown Albion. They group has raised $60,000 so far for the statue and plans to seek proposals for the project soon, said Joe Gehl, one of the ABC’s directors. He expects the project will be near $100,000.

Other groups have joined the effort to celebrate Howard. The Albion Rotary Club organized an effort to have a mural in Waterman Park that shows Santa in a sleigh over Courthouse Square. A new mural about Albion as home to the Santa School was completed this fall on the northside of the Lake Country Pennysaver.

A group of students in Rich Gannon’s AP US History class also had an interpretive panel made in Mount Albion Cemetery near Howard’s grave that celebrates his life.

The Betterment Committee sees Howard as a local man who did a lot of good for the community, a selfless person focused on others. Howard was known for setting high standards for Santa in how to act with children and how to look. He also designed and sold Santa suits.

Howard’s granddaughter, Jane Holland, was unable to attend today’s dedication. She sent a letter of appreciation that was read by Gehl.

“Grandpa was a humble man of little means but a big heart and a giving, caring soul,” Holland wrote. “To see him honored on this trail to and from the town the family still today cherishes and welcomes its comfort when we visit is a great privilege.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt said Charles W. Howard was a farmer in Albion who made a local and national impact, serving as the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Santa for 18 years and shaping the look and actions of Santas all over the country and even the world. Ortt and Hawley both thanked the DOT for getting the sign up on short notice before Christmas. The State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo both approved naming the section of the road in honor of Howard.

Joe Gehl, one of the directors of the Albion Betterment Committee, is interviewed by Ed Reilly of WGRZ (Channel 7 in Buffalo) in front of the sign, which was erected on 31 near Transit Road. That is the eastern end of the Town of Albion. Another sign is expected to be installed near Wood Road, on the western end of the town.

Santa and friends visit Albion Elementary

Posted 21 December 2020 at 10:19 am

Photos courtesy of Albion Central School: The Grinch, Santa Claus and Cindy Lou Who visited students at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School in Albion last week.

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – Students in Albion’s Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary were in for a holiday surprise last week as Santa Claus, Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch all made an appearance.

Santa Claus paid a special visit to students in grades PreK through first, reading his favorite story, “‘Twas the Night before Christmas.” Spaced 6 feet apart and wearing masks, the students and Cindy Lou Who sat and listened to the story and answered questions about Santa’s reindeer.

Cindy Lou Who was a friendly greeter throughout the day at the school.

It turned into an action-packed event as students soon spotted the Grinch’s arrival and warned Santa as the Grinch stole a present from under the tree. Cindy Lou jumped to the rescue, quickly chasing down the Grinch. She soon returned, bringing the Grinch and present back to the students and Santa – saving the day.

After the reading, Santa asked every student what he or she wanted for Christmas this year, with answers ranging from Barbie Dream Houses to toy combines to Play Station Fives and Nintendo Switches.

While the older students weren’t visited by Santa, many of them met Cindy Lou and the Grinch in the hallway throughout the day, getting in on the holiday fun.

Santa chats with students and reads the story, “‘Twas the Night before Christmas.”

As for next week, students throughout the district will join in the festivities with holiday-themed crafts and activities in the days leading up to Winter Break.

We would like to thank the Albion Elementary Parent Teachers Association and the staff who helped to make these visits possible, bringing some holiday magic into the building in a fun and safe way.

Santa shows some nimbleness in greeting these kids at eye level.

Many of the students wore Santa hats in meeting the jolly old elf.

Albion Alumni Christmas concert goes virtual with Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Posted 21 December 2020 at 9:32 am

Photos courtesy of Sue Starkweather Miller: Riley Seielstad sings the uplifting tune “Underneath the Tree” during a Christmas concert that is available online.

Press Release, Albion Alumni Foundation

ALBION – Every year the Albion Alumni Foundation hosts an annual Christmas in the Neighborhood concert. Proceeds from the concert help to fund some of the Foundation’s more than $89,000 in Class Night scholarships for Albion High School seniors.

The popular holiday concert always attracts several hundred attendees and spotlights Albion Alumni and community members performing a selection of songs of the season.

After a difficult 2020 and concerns with in-person events, the concert was in jeopardy of being cancelled. The Foundation decided to move ahead with the concert by creating a virtual event called Christmas in the Neighborhood: Tidings of Comfort and Joy. It will be offered for two weeks of unlimited viewing with a one-time donation of $10.

What About Jane performs “Winter Wonderland”. Pictured (l-r): Jan-Mikael Erakare, Rhonda Smith, Tom Smith and Gary Smith.

Concert organizers Sue and Mike Thaine, Gary Simboli and Sue Starkweather Miller selected and scheduled performers and secured sponsors and advertisers.  Simboli accompanied many of the performers on the piano.

Joram Bierdeman, a professional videographer and Albion Class of 2011 alumnus, agreed to videotape the concert performers in the historic First Presbyterian Church. Jan-Mikael Erakare provided technical assistance as the sound engineer.

Performers scheduled a specific time to perform so all involved could maintain a safe social distance. The entire concert was filmed in one evening.

Class of 1968 alumnus Alec Sherman is an annual performer at the Christmas concert.  He also provided technical assistance with sound for all of the performances.

Concert tickets can be secured in one of two ways:

Go to and click on the yellow “Tidings of Comfort and Joy Concert” button. You can pay by credit card or Paypal. Call 589-7220 to secure your virtual ticket.

Once your donation is made you will receive viewing information and instructions on how to access the concert link from the comfort of your own home.  Access to the concert will be available until Dec. 31.  You can view it as often as you wish for the two week time period.

The organizers would like to thank the following for sponsoring this virtual concert:

  • Gold sponsors – Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes; Brighton Securities; Nathan & Gail Lyman.
  • Silver Sponsors – Margy &Eric Brown; Steve & Rachel Hicks
  • Bronze Sponsors – Dr. Thomas & Sandra Madejski; Christopher-Williams Agency; Annette Mannella; Alec & Kathy Sherman; Brad Shelp; Doug & Sue (Starkweather) Miller; Mike & Sue Thaine; Gary & Laura Simboli; Pets in Peaceful Rest.
  • Advertisers – Bloom’s Flower Shop; D & K Auto; Cobblestone Museum; Albion Agencies Insurance; Light of Victory Church; Rush’s Vegetable Stand/Petals and Lace Florist; Orleans Agencies; Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina; Brigden Memorials; Olde Dogge Inn; Scott M. Schmidt Coroner; Plaza Liquor Store.

Erin Moody sings “Christmas in Heaven” in memory of his son Brennan.

2020 performers include:

  • Gary Simboli singing several songs including “Oh Holy Night”
  • What About Jane (band members Tom Smith, Gary and Rhonda Smith and Jan-Mikael Erakare) perform “Winter Wonderland”
  • Community Christmas Brass Ensemble (Mike Thaine, Susan Boring, Joe Condoluci, Roger Bolton, Shannon Broda and Kyle Thaine) perform “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Jesu Bambino”
  • Erin Moody sings “Christmas in Heaven”
  • Kailey Winans sings “Grown Up Christmas List”
  • Roy and Julie Smith perform on the trumpet and flute the song “Somewhere in My Memory”
  • Pastor’s Trio (Pastors Sue Boring, Aleka Schmidt and Sue Thaine) perform “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
  • Shannon Broda performs on the French horn “In the Bleak Midwinter”
  • Mike Thaine performs on the euphonium “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
  • Lindsay Almeter performs on the flute “Celebrate the Gift”
  • Shannon Vanderlaan plays piano and sings “Love is Christmas”
  • Alec Sherman sings “The Christmas Song”
  • Scott Schmidt performs on the First Presbyterian Church organ “Improvisations on Joy to the World”
  • Riley Seielstad sings “Underneath the Tree”
  • Sue Thaine sings “Auld Lang Syne”

The First Presbyterian Church was beautifully decorated for the concert.  Pictured: Roy and Julie Smith perform “Somewhere in my Memory.”

Officials will dedicate Route 31 in Albion for Charles W. Howard on Monday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2020 at 7:45 pm

This photo shows Charles W. Howard as Santa Claus in a color postcard. The message printed on the back says, “Santa’s bag and sleigh all packed with wonderful presents for good girls and boys as he starts out on his annual trip. Which package is which, only he knows, but try and guess which one is yours at Christmas Park.”

ALBION – Local officials will gather at 2 p.m. on Monday to dedicate a section of Route 31 in memory of Charles W. Howard, who operated a Santa School and Christmas Park in Albion.

Howard started the school in 1937 and ran it until his death in 1966. The school continues in his name in Midland, Mich.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley will be at the dedication at the corner of Route 31 and Transit Road. Hawley and State Sen. Robert Ortt pushed the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve legislation naming the section of Route 31 in Albion for Howard.

The section from Transit Road to Wood Road near the 4-H Fairgrounds will be known as the “Charles W. Howard Memorial Highway.”

In addition to running the school and Christmas Park, Howard served as the Santa in the Macy’s Day Parade for 18 years.

The Albion Betterment Committee requested the section of Route 31 be named for Howard. The group has worked in recent years to have signage in place to celebrate Howard and his local legacy.

Howard also was a farmer and a toymaker with a flair for the dramatic. He was part of community efforts to build a model of Niagara Falls with 10,000 gallons of sweet cider in 1928. He also helped make a 12-foot-wide apple pie in 1929 and creating a 14-foot-high cake that weighed 3.5 tons.

He developed the Santa School after noticing many Santas didn’t have training, and didn’t always interact with children well or meet a standard for dress. He established decorum for Santas and his Santa Claus suits became popular.

Albion church moves into new sanctuary built by volunteers

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Rev. Tim Lindsay, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Albion the past 33 years, stands in the church’s new sanctuary, which was used for the first worship service this morning.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2020 at 11:38 am

Harvest Christian Fellowship moves into new space with room for 250

ALBION – A church that started in Albion 33 years ago has completed construction of a new sanctuary where church members did nearly all of the work.

Harvest Christian Fellowship this morning held its first service in the new sanctuary. The church worked 3 ½ years to build the 5,000-square-foot space. They did it without incurring debt.

“We’re just looking forward to it, to finally be in it and be able to worship,” said the Rev. Tim Lindsay, the church’s pastor since Harvest started 33 years ago.

Church volunteers did nearly all of the work themselves on the 5,000-square-foot addition. The church is located on Route 31, across from Bullard Park.

The church is located at 560 East Ave., across from Bullard Park. The new sanctuary has space for about 250 people. The previous sanctuary had a capacity for about 140 people. That space will become a fellowship hall and also will be used for youth programs and community life.

Harvest set a goal to have the new addition done by 2020. It met the goal, despite the challenges of pushing the project to completion during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“One of the biggest testimonies of this whole project is 90 percent of the work was done by volunteers in the church,” Lindsay said on Friday. “God provided people with skills, with willingness, the energy and money.”

The church volunteers brought a range of skill sets, from construction to cleaning, to get the project done.

“It has been really positive for the church,” Lindsay said. “It brought the church together whether physically, through donations or praying for the project.”

The project includes an indoor café and fellowship area. Before, people were crowded in the foyer after services. Now there is more room to congregate and fellowship, Lindsay.

Lindsay has been with Harvest Christian since day one. In the early days, the church used space at what is now the Elk’s Lodge building on West State Street. It was the recreation hall for the Albion Fire Department in 1987, when Harvest started.

The Fire Department used to have Bingo on Saturday nights at the building. When that was over, Harvest Christian Fellowship would start setting up for the church the next morning.

After three years at the recreation hall on State Street, Harvest Christian purchased the former Kingdom Hall on East Avenue after the Jehovah’s Witnesses constructed a new building on Route 31, next to Mount Albion Cemetery.

The building on East Avenue was cramped for Harvest Christian with the sanctuary serving as multi-purpose space. The musical equipment, chairs, pulpit would have to be moved for other events and then reset again.

The sanctuary has room for 250 people. It has more space for social distancing.

The church during the Covid-19 pandemic has been doing two services to allow for more social distancing. With the new sanctuary, nearly doubling the space, Harvest will go back to a single service on Sundays at 10 a.m. The services are also streamed on Facebook.

Harvest will have a bigger celebration and grand opening sometime in 2021, Lindsay said. For now, the church is grateful to be in the space by Christmas.

Lindsay, 63, has been a part of the Albion community since he was 30, raising his family in the village.

“God put this on my heart from the earliest days,” he said about his ministry in Albion. “This is where God planted us.”

During the Christmas season, the church remains focused on discipling people in the community, and welcoming them to Harvest Christian Fellowship.

“This will be a special Christmas celebration for us,” Lindsay said. “My message will be there were so many people involved in the Christmas story. They all had an encounter with Jesus and they were never the same. This will be a place where people can encounter Jesus and never be the same. That is what we hope and pray.”

Santa and friends bring smiles and gifts to Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2020 at 9:13 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Santa Claus takes a ride around the Village of Albion this afternoon in a pickup truck driven by Ron Albertson of the Albion Lions Club. Santa went on a one-hour trip around the village and handed out toys and goody bags to kids.

Santa is joined by Party Tyme Bear (Christina Nenni) and Jolly Jingles (Michelle Wiseman). They are traveling down Chamberlain Street, part of the tour around the village.

Before the ride around the village, Santa met with children in the parking lot at Hoag Library. The Albion Lions Club organized the event, which included 150 donated toys and 50 goody bags. A dedicated volunteer wrapped all of the gifts.

This Santa is wearing an authentic Charles W. Howard Santa suit, which was donated to the Albion Lions Club. Howard founded a Santa School in Albion in 1937 and ran it until his death in 1966. He was a member of the Albion Lions Club.

Dona Scharping and her sister Mitzy Peglow, right, brought a breeding stock paint horse named Gooby to a holiday event outside in the parking lot at Hoag Library. Scharping dressed the horse in red and green with antlers.

Cameron Froman, 18 months of Albion, had fun meeting Izzy, a donkey from Scharping’s farm, Serenity Acres. Scharping also brought along her dog, a Corgi named Jodi who was very popular with the kids. About 200 people stopped by during the event from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Nickie Girardo, owner of Last Call Cocktails, served up free cups of hot chocolate.

Christina Nenni dressed as Best Tyme Bear and welcomed children and families. She owns Best of Tymes Party Rentals in Medina, and brings costumed characters and games to children’s parties and other occasion. She also served popcorn and cotton candy today.

Michelle Wiseman is an elf named “Jolly Jingles.” She is the sales manager for Best of Tymes Party Rentals.

Santa poses for a photo with Aria Santiago, left, and Winston Lockhart and.

Musicians will do online benefit concert Sunday for Albion fire victims

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2020 at 10:54 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jonesie and the Cruisers is one of the musical groups performing this Sunday in a benefit concert. Lead singer Gary Jones, left, and Gary Withey, who plays the keyboards and sings, are shown during a concert by the canal in Albion in June 2018.

ALBION – There will be an online concert this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. to raise money for three families that lost their homes in a Dec. 5 fire in Albion.

The Masonic Lodge and Lions Club in Albion are working together on the concert with John Wragg, owner of Torquil Studios in Middleport. Torquil will broadcast the concert live on its Facebook page.

The musicians are all donating their time for the concert. The Lions Club will be accepting donations for the families. Those donations can be sent by PayPal to

The schedule of performers for the benefit concert includes:

  • Bob Beccue, 1 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Linda Logan, 1:30 to 2 p.m.
  • The Who Dats, 2 to 2:45 p.m.
  • Mike Hartman, 3 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Highway 31 Unplugged, 3:30 to 4 p.m.
  • The Legendary Jonesie & the Cruisers with guest Susan Kay, 4 to 5 p.m.
  • MC Rick Walters from 97 Rock will also make an appearance

The Masonic Lodge also having a ham dinner with proceeds to assist the three families. That dinner will be Jan. 17 from noon to 4 p.m. at the 4-H Fairgrounds with tickets $8 presale or $10 at the door.

New coffee shop in Albion a place ‘where we can be people again’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jim Nowaczewski sits on the couch at He Brews 5:9, a coffee shop he opened at 59 North Main St.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2020 at 10:13 am

He Brews 5:9 serves more than coffee – prayers and praises embraced

The coffee shop displays prayer requests and praises.

ALBION – Jim Nowaczewski moved to Albion two years ago drawn initially by the low-priced real estate.

He liked the small town feel, and the diversity of the community, and he said he has been blessed with friendly neighbors.

Nowaczewski, who grew up near Buffalo, was working for a safety company about a year ago, a job promotion that took him to southern California. He worked out there until May, when the Covid-19 pandemic prompted him to live more simply. Southern California “was insane” with the traffic and the fast pace.

Nowaczewski, 37, thought one day he would run a coffee shop. He was thinking that would be years in the future.

But Nowaczewski said he felt a calling and passion to open the shop now – in the midst of a pandemic in downtown Albion.

He opened the doors of He Brews 5:9 on Nov. 28 during the “shop small” celebration of small businesses in Albion and across the U.S. The coffee shop soon picked up positive reviews from community members on social media.

“It has exceeded my expectations so far,” Nowaczewski said. “I didn’t grow up here but I’m already feeling the support of the community.”

He isn’t running the normal coffee shop. He Brews has a Christian flavor, with a bulletin board to display prayer requests and praises. Even the name is a book of the Bible, and Hebrews 5:9 is a Bible verse that states: “and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

The name “He Brews” for the Albion coffee shop also sends a message that men are encouraged to stop by. Nowaczewski said many coffee shops seem to cater to women. He wants everyone to feel welcome at He Brews. The 5:9 in the name comes from the business’s address at 59 North Main St.

Nowaczewski said he became a Christian five years ago and wants He Brews to be a ministry for the community. He wants the location to be edifying, but he doesn’t want people to feel like religion is being pushed “down their throats.”

The prayer and praise board already is filled with notes from customers, with most of the messages left anonymously.

“I believe prayer does something,” Nowaczewski said. “It brings the community together to bear one another’s burdens. And the praises show a grateful attitude.”

Jim Nowaczewski serves up coffee at the He Brews 5:9. He offers a monthly subscription for coffee and curbside service.

He sees a downtown coffee shop as an important metric in the quality of life for a town. He wants college students and teens to feel welcome to stop in for conversation, to plug in their devices and use the internet.

“It can be a change of scenery from their room,” he said about the increasing number of students who are doing remote learning at home.

Other professionals or people needing a charge – caffeine or WiFi – are welcome to stop by.

“Coffee shops are a litmus of the vibrancy of a community,” he said.

He also has offered the space inside to book groups and others looking for a group discussion.

Nowaczewski senses that people are increasingly polarized and stressed. He wants He Brews to offer a safe place to relax and have candid, but non-threatening conversations.

“This is just a place where we can be people again,” he said.

Nowaczewski is experimenting with the hours and the menu. Right now he is open 6:30 to noon, and then 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

He has a monthly subscription for coffee where those customers can text their order and Nowaczewski will bring their coffee out for curbside service. He also makes tea and hot chocolate.

He sells baked goods from Pretty Sweet Bakery in Albion and soon will be offering homemade bagels from Papa Thom’s Rockin’ Bagels.

Demo crew takes down house from Albion fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2020 at 11:41 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Metro Environmental in Niagara Falls uses an excavator to knock down a house a 221 West State St. in Albion today.

The house is one of three that were badly damaged in a fire on Dec. 5. This house suffered the most damage and village officials wanted it taken down because it posed a threat to the neighborhood, said Kevin Sheehan, the village’s code enforcement officer.

“This house is a danger,” Sheehan said. “It’s a hazard. They are knocking it down and taking it away.”

The neighboring houses on each side also may be removed. Insurance adjusters are reviewing those structures. Sheehan said they don’t pose an imminent threat to the neighborhood, like the one at the corner. The village closed off a section of the East Academy Street in front of the house, out of concern the structure might topple.

Before Metro Environmental started knocking down the house, the village was able to assure the company the site was cleared of explosives after the FBI and ATF checked the scene.

The fire started when a resident, Gary Tarr, was testing fireworks he made in the garage at 221 West State St. Tarr mixed compounds with fireworks in the garage and lighted a small portion of one to test it, Albion police said. That set off a series of explosions, destroying the garage with the fire spreading to the three houses. Tarr faces felony charges of reckless endangerment and arson.

Wedding and events center in Albion celebrates grand opening

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 December 2020 at 1:08 pm

Maison Albion welcomed community to holiday party

The Glovers cut the ribbon at Maison Albion. They are joined by their son Benjamin, Albion Mayor Eileen Banker, left, and Darlene Hartway (right), the executive director of the Orleans County of Commerce. Mr. Glover put in four new columns on the building, finishing that job on Saturday. He will repaint them next year.

ALBION – Kerri and Cole Glover on Saturday celebrated the grand opening of Maison Albion, a wedding and event center with a French design. They used the grand opening to throw a holiday party, spread out over eight hours for groups of no more than 50.

They gave tours of the former Pillars, and gave people a chance to see a property transformed in the past five months.

“Orleans County has been great and so welcoming,” Mrs. Glover said in a tour of the house, which was built in 1878.

Mrs. Glover, a native of Maui in Hawaii, has worked 22 years in the wedding industry and has been a key leader in developing 13 other wedding venues in Hawaii, Colorado, California, Texas and Montana. Her brother, Michael Bolster, also is a part owner in the Albion site.

Mr. Glover, a seventh-generation Texan, was scouting the country for a site the couple could develop into a wedding venue. They narrowed it to 10 locations, and saw the most potential with the property in Albion, which they said can draw from the Buffalo and Rochester markets.

They have connected with many local vendors to put on weddings and events. The work from many of those vendors was on display at Maison Albion on Saturday, with flowers, interior design, live music, photography, food, desserts, a wedding cake, even a Gingerbread House made to look like Maison Albion, a mansion originally built in 1878.

The Glovers hosted Fête de Nöel, which translates to “Christmas Party” for the event on Saturday. Tickets were $25 and those proceeds will be donated to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

Michele Hughson and Lori Laine attended the party and gave Maison Albion a glowing review on Facebook.

“I would get remarried just to have my wedding here,” Hughson posted.

Hughson posted several photos of the decorations inside, which included nine Christmas trees.

“Thank you Maison Albion for opening up your doors to our community,” Laine said. “You have an amazing venue. The work you have done thus far is nothing less than amazing! We can’t wait to see more!!”

The bridal suite has many mirrors and chairs for people to get ready for the wedding.

The Glovers said they are at the first phase of their plan for the property. They will be doing more interior work, expanding the parking lot and developing gardens and a patio bistro.

The former Pillars was known by many for being featured on Ghost Hunters, when paranormal detectors studied the site for ghosts.

The Glovers said the house isn’t haunted. The Glovers live there with their two children.

“Some people say it is haunted, but we feel the opposite,” Mr. Glover said on the tour. “There is a lot of love in this house. We’ve lived in a lot of places and this is by far our favorite place to live as a family.”

Darlene Hartway, Chamber executive director, Praised the Glovers for connecting with many local businesses as vendors for the weddings and events. The Glovers have also led marketing workshops for local businesses.

The dining room had many desserts to sample during the party on Saturday.

The ballroom was decorated for an elegant dinner on Saturday. The ballroom seats 250, and a patio has room for 180 more.

Albion Merchants name winner of downtown window decorating contest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2020 at 7:44 pm

Provided photo

ALBION – Roots Hair Salon on East Bank Street won the Albion Merchants Association’s annual window decorating contest.

The AMA picked the winner based on which business’s window had the most likes on the AMA’s Facebook page. Roots received 331 “likes.” The business, owned by Amber Mogle, wins a $100 gift card from the AMA.

Photos by Tom Rivers

There were many storefronts decorated for the holidays. This photo shows Serenity Tan, left, and Tease on East Bank Street.

“Every storefront window looked gorgeous this year, and definitely boosted our town’s holiday spirit!” The AMA posted on tis Facebook page. “Thank you everyone!!!!”

The AMA also is having a “Deck the Town” contest for best residential holiday decorations. Dec. 15 is the deadline to vote. Click here for the AMA Facebook page for more information.

Frontier Heating & A/C Service Inc., last year’s winner, had another big holiday display for 2020.

Snell Realtors’ display included Santa, wrapped presents, ornaments and an old root beer dispenser from when the site was Fischer’s Newsstand.

Albion downtown hosted many holiday activities on Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2020 at 10:37 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jennifer Mateo of Albion takes a photo of her daughters, Eva and Elise, with Santa and Mrs. Claus in front of a holiday backdrop in Beaver Alley. That spot hosted “Selfies with Santa and Mrs. Claus” as part of Saturday’s Hometown Holiday celebration.

The Albion Merchants Association organized the annual event, which included more outdoor activities due to Covid-19 concerns.

Elise Mateo, left, and sister Eva join Santa and Mrs. Claus for a photo.

Gavin O’Brocta, 7, of Albion writes a letter to Santa inside the Dwontown Browsery. His mother, Laura Lechner, took him to some of the holiday activities.

There was also ornament making, ribbon ornaments, free ice cream, hot cocoa and other fun during the event.

Valerie Rush portrayed Mrs. Claus and handed out ornament kits outside The Back Room and Little Sweet Bakery.

Lori Laine brought a selfie stick to get a photo with Mrs. Claus.

Community members and the Albion Merchants Association lighted the Christmas tree at Waterman Park which is in front of a big mural celebrating the late Charles W. Howard, who started the first Santa Claus School. He ran the school in Albion from 1937 to 1966.

Click here to see a video of the tree-lighting, which included confetti cannons.

Albion FFA food drive sets new record with 53,000 pounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2020 at 11:25 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – FFA members and some of the Albion football players are pictured this morning after loading a flat-bed trailer and another smaller trailer with 53,000 pounds of produce, milk and other food.

They then delivered and unloaded the food at Community Action of Orleans and Genesee on East State Street.

This is the 11th year the Albion FFA has organized the food drive. The 53,000 pounds breaks the record of 40,000 pounds set last year.

Albion football player Adonis Guzman was among the helpers this morning. He is in the ag shop moving eggs donated by Kreher’s.

Bailey Nesbitt, the FFA president, carries a box of produce from the flat-bed trailer. She said the farm and agriculture community responded to a bigger need in the community due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic hardships for many local residents.

The Albion FFA started calling farms and ag businesses about a month ago. Many already had set aside food for the drive, and gave more than they had in previous years. Some new contributors also joined the effort this year.

“This year everybody realized people needed help,” Nesbitt said.

She has been a part of the food drive the past four years. When a flatbed truck from Panek Farms arrived at Community Action, the agency and volunteers gave the FFA loud cheers and applause.

“It’s very exciting to give back and see the smiles on their faces,” Nesbitt said.

Gina Sidari holds a crate with four gallons of milk. The Upstate Niagara Cooperative donated 108 crates or 432 gallons of milk for the food drive.

The food will go to about 10 local soup kitchens and food pantries, and also for 150 food baskets for families served by Community Action.

“This is a godsend,” said Annette Finch, the community services director for Community Action. “If we didn’t have this we’d have to go out and purchase it which is hard to do on donations.”

FFA advisor Betsey Krenning takes a box of produce from her husband Adam, who used to be the FFA advisor.

The food drive donors this year include:

  • Orleans County Farm Bureau
  • Triple G Farm
  • Panek Farms
  • Root Brothers
  • Kludt Brothers
  • Nesbitt Fruit Farms
  • Orchard Dale Fruit
  • Kreher’s Eggs
  • Martin Farms
  • Kirby Farms
  • Partyka Farms
  • CY Farms
  • Starowitz Farms
  • Poverty Hill Farms
  • Torrey Farms
  • Dale Root
  • Colby Farms
  • Mortellaro Farms
  • My-T Acres Farm
  • Lynnette and Sons
  • Mayer Bros.
  • Schutts Apple Mill
  • Intergrow Greenhouses
  • Upstate Niagara Cooperative
  • Rush’s Vegetables
  • Champion Moving & Storage
  • Lake Ontario Fruit
  • H. H. Dobbins
  • Citrus (Sue Holland and Laura Simboli)

Mickey Edwards, who starts as Albion’s new superintendent of schools on Feb. 1, helped unload the produce this morning.

Brad Pritchard, the middle school principal, got a workout moving the heavy bags and boxes of produce from the flat-bed trailer.

Olivia Krenning reaches for these tomatoes donated by Intergrow Greenhouses.

Click here to see a video of the FFA students in action.

Albion merchants plan busy ‘Hometown Holiday’ on Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2020 at 7:09 pm

Events include tree-lighting at Waterman Park, selfies with Santa

Photo by Tom Rivers: This Christmas tree is shown last December at Waterman Park by the mural showing Albion native Charles Howard as Santa, flying over the downtown and Courthouse Square. The tree will be lighted up at 4:15 on Saturday during the Hometown Holiday celebration.

ALBION – The Albion Merchants Association has several activities planned for Saturday as part of the annual Hometown Holiday celebration.

The schedule includes:

  • 10 a.m. to noon – Selfies with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Beaver Alley
  • 10 a.m. to noon – Ribbon ornaments at Town and Country Quilter
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Ornament kits at Red Check Rustic
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Christmas Time Fun at 49 Main St. while supplies last
  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Letters to Santa at Downtown Browsery
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza at The Lockstone
  • 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Ornaments with Mrs.Claus at The Back Room
  • Noon to 4 p.m. – Cocoa & Christmas Canvases at He Brews 5:9/Marked by Janna
  • 2 to 4 p.m. – Free ice cream at Tinsel
  • 4:15 p.m. – Tree Lighting Ceremony at Waterman Park

The winners of the storefront decorating contest will be announced at the tree-lighting. People can vote for their favorite on the AMA Facebook page (click here).

The events on Saturday also include at a ribbon-cutting at Maison Albion, the former Pillars at 13800 County House Rd.

Kerri and Cole Glover, the owners of Maison Albion, will host a grand opening with a Victorian holiday party with a French flair. Click here for more information on the party – Fête de Nöel.

‘Dancing Derrick’ spreads holiday joy, raises funds for fire victim

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2020 at 4:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Dancing Derrick Bradley entertained motorists this afternoon at the northeast corner of the routes 98 and 31 intersection in Albion.

Bradley made his first dancing appearance in Albion since last summer. He dressed as an elf and danced to Christmas music.

He also was raising money for a close friend, Bobby Maxwell. His house was badly damaged in a fire on Saturday, when his neighbor was making fireworks in his garage and one of them exploded. Three houses were destroyed from the ensuing fire.

Maxwell was proud of his house on East Academy Street. He worked several years to upgrade the residence. He lived there with his girlfriend, his daughter and two grandchildren.

Derrick Bradley dances at the corner of Albion’s busiest intersection today.

To see a video of “Dancing Derrick” from today, click here.

To see a GoFundMe for the Maxwells, click here.