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Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Christmas in City Centre set for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1

Press release:

Join in the holiday spirit at the Annual Christmas in City Centre from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Downtown Batavia City Centre.

On Friday, activities include entertainment by the Batavia Concert Band and a visit with Santa Claus.

On Saturday, visit with Santa Claus, be entertained by Center Stage and see the various animals at the Zoo Mobile.

The Batavia Business Improvement District wants to remind you to "Shop Small and Local" for the holidays. Remember, this Saturday, Nov. 24, is Small Business Saturday.

For more information call 585-344-2518 or visit www.downtownbataviany.com

Friday, December 3, 2010 at 8:18 am

Jackson School Handbell Choir

 Jackson School Handbell Choir will perform Christmas music in Christmas in the City at the Genesee Co. Mall main stage at 5:30pm

Event Date and Time

December 3, 2010 - 5:30pm - 6:00pm
Friday, December 25, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Countdown to Christmas - Bloopers and Outtakes

post by Ethan Thompson in batavia, Christmas in the City

 I thought I would finish out the series with a bit of humor. Thank you again to everyone who stopped by The Batavian booth and said hi.

Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

Countdown to Christmas Video Series - What does Christmas mean to you?

The following is the third video in the "Countdown to Christmas" video series. The final videos will be posted on Christmas day.

What does Christmas mean to you? Tell us in the comment section below.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 11:00 am

Countdown to Christmas Video Series - Do you think people are more joyful during the Christmas season?

post by Ethan Thompson in Christmas in the City, Countdown to Christmas

Here is the second video in the "Countdown to Christmas" video series. The next video will be released on Dec. 19

Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Countdown to Christmas video series - What's your favorite Christmas song?

post by Ethan Thompson in batavia, Christmas in the City

Last night I went to Christmas in the City and brought along my video equipment. I interviewed around 50 people, which gave me around 45 minutes of footage. So for the next few weeks I'll be posting a new video every seven days until Christmas. On Christmas day I will post one or two longer videos. So I hope you enjoy the first installment of the "Countdown to Christmas" video series.

Thank you to all the wonderful folks that took the time to talk with me and allowed me to interview them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Downtown events could land on the budget chopping block—or not...

Earlier this morning, one of our readers, John Roach, left the following comment:

It’s a shame that after all the hard work by BID, the 5 Republicans on City Council have submitted a budget proposal that will take enough money away from city celebrations and events that it might kill the Summer/Christmas in the City.

That caught our attention, and we set out to find exactly what the City Council had planned for budget cuts that might affect future events downtown. We asked for comment from Council President Charlie Mallow and Don Burkel, director of the downtown Business Improvement District. Burkel has not yet commented. Burkel responded via e-mail at noon today:

"There should be no budget cuts for Christmas in the City, Summer in the City or any other BID activities, as this would definitely have a negative impact on the downtown businesses.  In this time of economic hardship the merchants need these events to generate activity to attract shoppers and visitors to the Batavia Business Improvement District."

Mallow responded in an e-mail:

"I was sent a proposed amendment to lower the city's contribution from a few of the council members. Council will be talking about this proposed amendment as well as the rest that were submitted on Saturday.

"From my point of view a consensus was come to on the amount of this line item in the last budget. I do not support the cut, I think its unfair and hurts the businesses downtown and I think doing anything to jeopardize either event would lower our quality of life in the city.

"The members that proposed the amendment alluded to the idea that they had a majority in favor of the cut. I find that hard to believe."

While we were waiting to hear back from Mallow and Burkel, we also spoke with a few other members of Council: Rose Mary Christian, Kathy Briggs and Bob Bialkowski.

Bialkowski, who expressed an overall optimism about the budget process this year, said: "We're not eliminating any downtown events." Instead, he said, several members of Council were looking at ways to reduce overtime costs—especially those related to the management of downtown events—to help reduce the property tax burden. While this would not "eliminate" downtown events, it would reduce the funding available for them.

According to the budget proposal prepared by the office of the city manager, actual overtime costs so far paid out in the current budget season total more than $530,000, as listed in the budget's general fund. That total does not include such special funds as water and sewer, ambulance—in which overtime costs exceed $300,000—and the mall, which for some reason is maintained as a separate fund.

Nevertheless, most of those overtime expenses fall within the budgeted amounts. In fact, both fire and police overtime costs were under. For some reason, the communications department totaled more than four times what was budgeted. To date, that department has accrued $28,612 in overtime costs, while a mere $7,000 was budgeted.

What's most apt here, however, is the overtime cost for "community celebrations," which has totaled $4,997 so far. Those are the costs that Bialkowski has called into question. He says that if the city could get more use out of volunteers for the downtown celebrations and shift the schedule for assistance from public works employees from the weekend to Friday and Monday, the cost would drop from, say, $1,000 to $500, since overtime costs would be avoided.

"I'm a big believer for volunteering for events," he said. "We're just trying to keep any property tax minimal. We're looking at all costs, trying to keep it down as low as possible."

Cutting back on overtime costs are just one way he would hope to get expenses down for the next budget season. He has proposed a list of amendments, he says, that would reduce about $70,000 in "miscellaneous items" and by sharing services and getting more time out of certain city vehicles.

Christian and Briggs said that the cuts proposed by Bialkowski and others would, in fact, cut the funding for downtown events and shift the cost burden onto the BID, which would not be able to manage, and so be forced to eliminate the events.

"Some council members have recommended cuts in this area," said Briggs in an e-mail. "One suggestion was cutting it from $3,000 to $2,000. Nothing is definite yet. In my opinion the events shouldn't be scrapped. I'm not going to support this cut. We can't expect the Business Improvement District to pick up all of the cost, and we have to have some celebrations, right!"

Christian is of the same mind. She says that she is "not one of them," referring to some other members on Council who are trying to cut the funding for downtown events. Instead of those cuts, she said that she asked for City Manager Jason Molino to see if he can cut 1 to 1 1/2 percent from elsewhere in the budget. She hopes to get an answer on where and how that might be pulled off at the session Saturday.

"We'll see if Jason can find cuts in certain areas," she said. "The budget is astronomical. It's $24 million. We have to be realistic. The economy is a disaster. The stock market is a disaster. Even the president has said, it's not up to government, it's up to us. It's up to the people to make a change."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

Video: Christmas in the City '08

post by Philip Anselmo in Christmas in the City, Holidays, video

Better late than never... At Christmas in the City, here in Batavia a couple weeks back, we set up our camera and asked folks what Christmas means to them. Here's what a handful of your friends and neighbors had to say about the holiday:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Dan Cherry's Christmas in the City video

post by Howard Owens in Christmas in the City, video

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Batavia's Christmas in the City judged a success... by most accounts...

post by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Christmas in the City, Daily News

Festivities at this year's Christmas in the City were fervid enough to warm the people of Batavia inside and out, despite the frigid winds and snow that whipped down Main Street from time to time throughout the evening.

"It was the best one we've had so far," said Lynn Garlock, owner of Grugnale's deli and restaurant on Jackson Street. "At one point we were so busy, I thought we were going to have to start a waiting list. All the tables were filled up."

Sandwiches, subs and salads were churned out en masse. Clarinets, flutes and a capella vocals were on hand to serenade the diners. All the while, you could hear the steady clop clop as a horse and buggy trotted past the storefront, carting its mittened passengers on downtown.

Garlock was particularly taken with the talents of the Bluebells, a group of about six or seven young female vocalists from Batavia's middle and high schools. In fact, she was so fond of their singing that she has asked them back.

"We liked them so much, we're going to have them come sing during lunch," she said.

Don Burkel told us that this year was a raging success. Burkel is the director of the downtown Business Improvement District, the event's sponsor. No less than 43 vendors came out to set up a table and wares in the Batavia City Centre. Not bad, considering most years the event doesn't draw many more than 30 or so, said Burkel. Add to that all of the downtown shops who stayed put, hosted musicians and held sales.

"We had a record number of vendors," said Burkel. "It was good to see a nice turnout. ... We need to support these business people. That's the key in this economy."

Garlock's praise is typical of the business owners who participated in the event this year, whether they hosted carolers or set up in the mall. Passers-by were treated to a warm cup of chili out front of Adam Miller's Toy and Bicycle.

"We had a great night," said John Roche, the store's owner. "We had a lot of traffic, a lot of people in. And, the chili was really good."

People especially enjoyed the entertainment from the carolers and other musicians who rotated in and out of the store all evening, he said. He didn't spot a single empty seat in the horse and buggy all night.


Of course, you might not know the event was such a success—that is, if you saw the article that ran in the Daily News Saturday. Two photos ran with the article. One depicts a short stretch of Main Street out front of the mall entrance. The sidewalk is empty. The street is lined with parked cars. The caption reads: "Cold temperatures drove people off the streets during the annual Christmas in the City Friday downtown."

That can't be entirely true. A frequent contributor to The Batavian, Daniel Cherry, was not only out in the cold, but documenting the night's festivities—he posted several of his photos to the site. Cherry even snapped a few photos of the horse and buggy, which we're told ran until well after the event officially ended because so many people came out to take a ride.

As for the other photo that ran with the article, a shot inside the mall, the people in the picture are so distorted because of the poor quality of the image, that it is more likely to excite pity than joy.

One Attica resident is even quoted as saying that this Christmas in the City was "terrible." Terrible!? Despite the hundreds of people who were crowded into the mall concourse throughout the evening, she goes on to say that: "There's hardly anyone here." She also laments that there isn't enough "free" stuff.

Not everyone agreed, however. One Batavia resident judged the mall "full" of people. Another felt that "people were more excited this year."

I say we practice a little bit of that gratitude we boned up on over the Thanksgiving holiday. We may be a little too quick to stuff that altruism back down the dirty stocking of the rest of the year. Christmas in the City sure saw a lot of folks come out. There was free chili, free bread, free horse and buggy rides, free entertainment all over downtown. Santa danced around a stage in the mall with his chipper, glittered elves. So yeah, I say it was a success. How about you?

Photos taken by Brian Hillabush.

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