B y Serena Kovalosky

The spirit of Christmas was shared by all in Whitehall during an event-filled weekend with carolers, crafters, kids and the Clauses.
On Friday night, despite the cold weather a small group of carolers led by Kristen Miner brought songs and Christmas cheer to several stops around town.
“When we sang at Joe’s Pizza, everyone joined in,” said Miner.
The group visited Freakopolis Geekery on Main Street where they were rewarded with candy canes.
“We want to thank our mayor, Ken Bartholomew, who helped arrange for us to sing to the senior residents at Skenesborough Harbor,” Miner said, “and also Stewart’s manager Ann Bittle who offered us hot chocolate to warm up!”
“It was a small effort this year, but we hope it will grow into something bigger next year,” said Miner.
On Saturday, locals and visitors spent the whole day enjoying family-friendly events and getting their holiday shopping done.
The day kicked off at 9 a.m. for shoppers with the Annual Christmas Bazaar at the Methodist Church and the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce Annual Holiday Craft Fair and Mini-Mall at the Whitehall Athletic Club.
Mini-Mall organizers were impressed with this year’s quality offerings from the vendors – 46 in all – who filled the 9,000-square-foot stadium at the Athletic Club with everything a shopper could want, from holiday décor to superhero items to LuLaRoe.
Stacy Jones of Sweet Emma’s Cupcakes featured gourmet cupcakes with a decidedly creative flair. One of her biggest sellers is a French Toast and Bacon Cupcake, drizzled with maple syrup.
“I started my business selling cupcakes from a dirt driveway,” said Jones, whose business has since grown to include contracts from individuals and businesses that keep her very busy.
SallyAnn Raino of Freakopolis Geekery used the opportunity as publicity for the relatively new Main Street business. “The most important goal for us was to increase our visibility among locals and visitors,” said Raino. “The sales were an added bonus.”
Cub scouts James and Noah Persons were beaming with enthusiasm from behind the Whitehall Cub Scout Pack 49 table. “All of our cookies and dog treats sold,” they said.
In addition to the vendors, Fire Chief Bryan Brooks and Deputy Chief Brian Brooks of the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, along with students from the Junior Fire Academy, were on hand to present fire prevention techniques and encourage new members.
Sixteen-year-old Stephen Herrmann, who’s working on his Firefighter 1 Certification, is one of the fire company’s newest volunteers. “It’s a lot of studying, but it’s very rewarding,” he said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a morning visit to the Mini-Mall before heading up the mountain for Christmas at Skene Manor.
Fourteen-year-old Jess Tupper was among the volunteers who greeted everyone at the door to Skene Manor. She helps out wherever she can, as a waitress in the Tea Room, or in the Gift Shop, and even as a docent. “I’ve been doing this for four years,” she said.
Inside, the “castle on the hill” was decked out in Christmas splendor and bustling with kids and parents waiting in line to see Santa. Even visitors without little ones could get a photo with Santa, who welcomed children of all ages.
Organizers said that more than 200 kids visited Santa.
“I always talk to the older kids, too,” said Santa between visits. Mrs. Claus made sure each child left with a special gift from Santa: homemade cookies and candy canes.
The Tea Room was filled with diners enjoying a hot soup and other lunch offerings and new visitors were in awe as they followed docents on an historical tour of the manor.
Down the hill from Skene Manor, the Whitehall Recreation Center created their own “Christmas Magic” by taking kids and their families out for an afternoon of caroling down Williams Street and throughout the neighborhoods, including a stop at Skenesborough Harbor.
“It was terrific!” said Julie Eagan, director of the Rec Center. “We had a full trailer of carolers!”
They returned to the Rec Center for a spaghetti dinner followed by games and prizes and, of course, a visit with Santa.
The entire afternoon, including dinner, was free for everyone.
“Our event gets bigger every year,” said Eagan. “We get donations throughout the year so that we can give a few gifts to each kid: shirts, hats, gloves, sleds and jewelry.”
Those who came out to one or several of the events saw Whitehall at its best, with plenty of Christmas spirit to share with everyone.

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