HARRISON — With Christmas in Harrison entering into its 30th year, the organizations’ new president, Sandy Swett, promises the Friendly Village will be filled with more holiday cheer than ever.

“Christmas in Harrison was always good, but it’s going to be better,” she said.

The 2016 edition began Thursday and will run through 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in the village. The theme is A Victorian Christmas.

The holiday celebration started with resident Joyce Boos, who wanted to have a formal Christmas ball, Swett said. A group of women decided to grow it into a townwide celebration.

Since it’s the third decade of the annual event, organizers have added three activities to make Christmas in Harrison even more special, Swett said. They include a puppet show Friday evening, costumed characters walking around the village and the once-popular Christmas in Harrison Dance that was last held several years ago. It will be held Saturday night.

The puppet show starts Friday’s activities at 6 p.m. at the Town Office, 20 Front St. Libby Armstrong presents “The Night Before Christmas.”

At 6:30 p.m. attendees head outside for hot cocoa and waits for Santa to arrive. The Girl Scouts and Brownies will sing Christmas carols, with the crowd encouraged to sing along. Santa will ride into town on an antique firetruck to help light the Christmas tree.

And Christmas in Harrison almost didn’t have a Christmas tree this year, until Bob Strauss of Camp Wigwam donated a 30-foot evergreen.

The tree in the Town Office parking lot was diseased and had to be cut down. Since the parking lot is slated to be repaved, the tree wasn’t replaced, Swett said.

Adam Gosselin of Q-Team & Cook’s Tree Service will donate a bucket truck to decorate the tree, along with the Harrison House tree at the head of Long Lake.

The fun continues Saturday when the Christmas parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. The parade procession will start at Depot Street and travel through the center of town and end at the United Parish Congregational Church. Swett will have a 13-foot-tall Victorian house float in the parade that she and her husband, Terry Swett, helped create. They will don Victorian garb and play Victorian Christmas music from the float.

In addition to Victorian characters wandering around the village, there will be Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Shrek and Fiona from “Shrek” with a live donkey and people dressed in Christmas themes. 

There are eight open houses on Saturday, including the Caswell Conservancy Center, the Village Tie Up Market & Deli, the Harrison General Store, the Olde Mill Tavern, The Ballroom, Northeast Bank, the Harrison Lions Den and Paint the Towne. All eight locations will be a stop for the candy cane scavenger hunt — which includes a word scramble with a letter at each spot – and prizes.

In addition to the Harrison Village Library’s annual cookie walk at 10 a.m., there will be gingerbread house-making — and visitors can bring the tasty structures home with them.

The Make Your Own Greenery Swag workshop will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Town Office. Volunteers have been collecting greenery to tie together for the swag, thanks to Sheila Baxter, Iris White and friends, Swett said. They’ve made bows out of donated ribbon and more than 500 ornaments.

“In the past, we’ve always bought ornaments to decorate the swags with. This year, we made them all . . . They’re awesome,” Swett said.

While the swag-making is free, donations will be accepted, she said.

Culminating the three-day event is the Christmas in Harrison Dance where attendees will start moving and grooving at 8 p.m. at the Harrison VFW, 176 Waterford Road/Route 35. The Afterburners will provide the music for the BYOB dance.

The Afterburners are comprised of Rick Albert, on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Chris Searles, saxophone and vocals; John Strickland, drums; Jerry Adams, lead guitar and vocals; and Laddy Stevens, bass.

As a lover of music, Swett said she approached the band at a recent gig to see if they would play at the resurrected Christmas in Harrison Dance.

“They thought it was a fabulous idea,” she said. “It’s going to be fun. The Afterburners are a fabulous dance band, there’s no doubt about it. . . . They’re rocking and rolling. Their songs that they’ve done, they’ve put their own little flair in it.”

Swett said she’s had no problem selling tickets.

“I am excited,” she said. “It used to be 15 years ago everybody knew the first week in December, you were going to the Christmas in Harrison Dance.”

And she hopes to make that a tradition once again.

Tickets are $10 and there will be 50/50 and other raffles. The proceeds will be split between Christmas in Harrison and Harrison Old Home Days, both of which are paid for by volunteers through fundraisers, Swett said.

Swett acknowledged others who are helping her pull off Christmas in Harrison. They include Susan Wallace, who’s in charge of Saturday’s craft fair in the Grange Hall and Town Office and decorating the village, along with Maryalice Nile, who’s taken over the Facebook account for the event, and Muffet Crowell, who organizes the parade.

“It got down to four people (organizing the event) before,” she said. “Now we’ve got all these people who are doing it, helping, and it makes all the difference in the world.”

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