Santa Sightings, Skating, Stories and More

By Jann Wiswall

The Olean/Allegany area is geared up for a wondrous holiday season with dozens of Santa sightings, free ice skating, theatrical Christmas stories and so much more.

It all starts on Friday, Nov. 28, when Santa gets busy by hosting Olean’s traditional kickoff to the holiday season — the beloved Santa Claus Lane Parade — when Santa flips the switch to turn on thousands of lights in Lincoln Park for his parade through town, which begins at 7 p.m.

The festivities continue on Saturday, Nov. 29 with the always popular Day Out with Santa at the Olean Hampton Inn at 101 Main St. from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Children will enjoy getting a free picture with Santa, a special toy, free face painting and pony rides (outside the hotel). Those attending are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for an area food pantry and/or a new toy for a needy child. The event is free and open to the public.

That evening, families are invited to enjoy the Christmas in Allegany celebration from 6:30–10 p.m. Stop by the adorable Santa’s House next to the Village Municipal Building at 106 E. Main St. for cocoa, cookies and a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. This year’s collectible ornament is a gingerbread house ($5). Santa will be back at the same location on Dec. 4, 11, 13, and 18 from 6–8 p.m.

And don’t forget that Nov. 29 is Small Business Saturday. Be sure to take some time to visit all the wonderful boutiques and specialty shops throughout Olean, Allegany and Cattaraugus County to support those hard-working local business owners.

Activities abound the following week, especially for the kids. On Wednesday, Dec. 3, take the little ones to visit with Santa at his Cottage in Olean’s Lincoln Park from 6–8 p.m.

Then on Thursday, Dec. 4, give kids ages 5 and up a one-of-a-kind Christmas treat by visiting St. Bonaventure University’s Quick Center for the Performing Arts. The entire family will adore Kit’s Interactive Theater: The Mrs. Claus Holiday Celebration, where Mrs. Claus, Herbie the Elf, the Abominable Snowman and a Partridge in a Pear Tree tell stories, sing holiday songs and dance with the Sugarplum Fairies. Performances at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Visit and search “Quick Center for the Arts.”

From Dec. 4–7, the Olean Theatre Workshop presents “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” at the Washington Street Theater. This “part vaudeville, part…Shakespeare” performance is a fast, furious and slightly irreverent look at holiday classics and traditions. From Frosty to Rudolph and the Grinch to It’s a Wonderful Life, no pop culture holiday icon is spared in this whirlwind of holiday merriment. Tickets are $10. Performances Dec. 4, 5 and 6 begin at 7:30 p.m. The Dec. 7 show begins at 2:30 p.m. Visit or call 716-373-SHOW.

On Saturday, Dec. 6, the doors to the Cattaraugus County Arts Council open at 6 p.m. for the unique and exciting 5”x7”Art for Everyone Exhibition and Sale. Emerging and professional artists donate 5×7” artworks, which are hung in the gallery space with names hidden from view.  Patrons select pieces to purchase based on visual inspiration. For just $25, patrons get original art they will enjoy hanging or gifting. As a bonus, they have the chance of purchasing a big-name artist’s work for a fraction of its value. First-pick tickets may be purchased for $50 in advance. Tickets are $15 at the door. Visit

On Sunday, Dec. 7, the Friends of Good Music, in association with SBU’s Quick Center for the Performing Arts, will present “A Magical, Grassical Christmas” performance by the DePue Brothers. For those not familiar with this musically iconic family from Bowling Green, Ohio, you are in for an ear-bending revelation. The DePue Brothers treat listeners to a vivid blend of classical, bluegrass and rock genres and were the subject of a nationally televised PBS documentary. Coming together with musicians Tony Trishka, Mark Cosgrove and Don Luizzi, the group has delighted audiences around the country since 2004. The performance begins at 3 p.m. at the Quick Center. Visit or call (716) 375-2494.

The following weekend, make plans to attend a reception for the Southern Tier Biennial’s 2014 Solo Exhibition of this year’s Best of Show winner, artist Jason Green, on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 3–5 p.m. at the Olean Public Library. Green’s exhibit has been on display since Nov. 1; it continues through Dec. 27.

And, beginning Dec. 19, grab your ice skates for Twelve Ice Skating Days of Christmas. The Olean Recreation Center is offering free admission for public ice skating ($2 for skate rentals) every day until Dec. 31. Santa will be strapping on his skates on Dec. 20. Visit for times and a list of the organizations and businesses sponsoring each skate day.