Christmas in the Forks celebration set for Saturday

AuSABLE FORKS — The 19th annual Christmas in the Forks celebration is slated for Dec. 2 and features a lineup of holiday-themed activities for all ages.

“We started it 19 years ago, and it started out with just a tree lighting, and then over the years it grew to having a skit and involved the community,” said organizer and former town of Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas. “Over the last six years, it grew into a big parade and it’s been a wonderful event. We get large crowds. The last year we had over 2,000, 2,500 people in AuSable Forks.”

The festivities will kick off at 10 a.m. with a performance by Julie “Jingles” Robards at the AuSable Forks Library. Robards will read from her children’s book, “The Reindeer Games: How Santa’s Reindeer Got Their Names,” and perform holiday music. The performance will also feature an appearance by Meriloons the Clown.

At noon, the AuSable Forks Ambulance Garage will host visitors for a cookie decorating party.

The Jingle Bell Fun Run will kick off at the Black Brook Town Park at 2 p.m. The run has no preregistration — people who wish to participate merely need to show up before the race starts to enter.

The annual Holiday Light Parade will start to line up at 5 p.m. on Grove Road in AuSable Forks. At 6 p.m., the parade will make its way down School Lane onto Main Street and proceed to Time Square in the town of Black Brook. The judges’ stand will sit across from Time Square, which is where the parade route will end. Douglass will return to emcee the parade for another year, while the parade will be judged by Assemblyman Billy Jones, Essex County Attorney Dan Manning, Clinton County Legislator Patti Waldron, town of Jay Supervisor Matt Stanley and town of Black Brook Councilman Ron Wilkins.

“Since we’ve added the parade, I think the parade and the fireworks display at the end of it all this year (is the highlight). It’s exciting, and you look out over the crowd and all you see is smiling faces and everyone’s in a good mood,” Douglas said. “It’s anticipated every year — people plan their family reunions around it or have guests come in from out of town.”

This year’s parade features the Peru Nighthawks Marching Band under the direction of Todd Pray, a musical float featuring Susan Richards and Scott Tuller, the Lawn Chair Ladies from Saranac Lake, the AuSable Theater Group’s candy land, the Grinch, the Abominable Snowman, Frosty Forks and and children from AuSable Forks Elementary School. It’ll be led by the Essex and Clinton County sheriff’s departments, New York State Police and the AuSable Forks Volunteer Fire Department Color Guard. Alyssa Rosio will sing the national anthem and DJ the festivities.

The parade’s grand marshal this year is Jamie Atkins, CEO of Northline Utilities.

“He’s been on our Christmas in the Forks committee since day one,” Douglas said of Atkins. “He’s been responsible for putting up the tree, getting it cut down and getting it placed from his company … and he’s just a wonderful person. Any time anybody needs any help in the community, Jamie’s one of the first people to step in and offer anything he can do to help. We thought it was time to honor him for all of his wonderful gestures he does for the North Country.”

Bringing up the rear of the parade will be Santa and Mrs. Claus. They’ll arrive at Time Square in a sleigh driven by Henry and Holly Coolidge. People from across the North Country are encouraged to attend the parade. The parade route will be pedestrian-only starting at 5:55 p.m., so parade-goers will need to drive in early to secure their spots.

At the end of the parade, there will be a Christmas tree lighting display at Time Square. The tree was donated by Jeremy and Amanda Barton this year and was set up by Northline Utilities, Jamie and Brandon Atkins and Tracy Kennedy. The tree lighting will be followed by a fireworks display over the AuSable River by Santore’s World Famous Fireworks, co-sponsored by the towns of Jay and Black Brook and the Christmas in the Forks Committee.

Following the fireworks, there will be an ugly holiday sweater contest for adults at 20 Main Tavern in AuSable Forks and a meet-and-greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus for children at the town of Jay Community Center gymnasium.

The next morning, Dec. 3, the AuSable Forks Fire Department will host a gingerbread pancake breakfast from 8-11 a.m. The breakfast will also feature scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy and French toast. Children under 12 will be admitted for $8 each, while people over 12 will be admitted for $12.

That night, at 6 p.m. there will be another tree lighting ceremony — this time at the Upper Jay Park.

“It takes a whole team of people to put this event on,” Douglas said. “It’s grown so big from 19 years ago of a get-together of about 100 people to now over a few thousand. It’s just an amazing event and we’re proud to continue it. I think we’ve been an inspiration for other communities in the North Country.”

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