As if by magic, turrets, towers, and an entire town’s worth of gingerbread houses filled the municipal building in Newark Valley for the ninth annual Newark Valley Holiday Magic on Dec. 9.
The festivities took place from 4 to 8 p.m. at a variety of locations across town. Mayor Jim Tornatore, a regular at Holiday Magic and all Newark Valley events, said he was pleased with the event offerings and turnout. About an hour into the evening, he said, “It’s going very good — the weather is great.”
The municipal building was one of the epicenters of activity for Holiday Magic. Inside the Rollie Noble Room was an impressive array of 25 entries in the gingerbread contest. The contest included six different categories with cash prizes in varying amounts.
Allison Riegel snatched the first prize in the experienced adult category with her magic treehouse, while Leanne Riegel took second with her teapot.
In the novice adult category, Erika Morgan’s Christmas scene and Cassie Hollenbeck’s display were first and second, respectively.
Renee Riegel’s old mill won the experienced youth category and Madison Peabody’s camping scene took second.
In novice youth, Kaila McNally grabbed first with a lodge and Ashley Morgan took second with a barn.
The novice youngster category included Lacey Cunningham and Anna Greeno as winners, while the family category was won by the Greeno and Peckins clan, followed by the 4-H club’s entry in second place.
One event regular, 19-year-old Heidi Inderweis, said the best part of the event was, “The atmosphere with the lights — and the gingerbread houses, they’re really neat.”
In addition to all the yummy-looking houses on display, there was an assortment of foods available for purchase, benefitting local groups and organizations. The Eastern Star was selling pie for $2 per slice, the Newark Valley United Methodist Church was offering soups in exchange for a goodwill donation, and the fifth grade was selling candy to support its upcoming field trip to Washington, D.C. MaKenna Pierce and Brittney Gradel were on hand selling candy, cookies, and candles with the Newark Valley High School’s art club. The pair appeared to be doing a pretty steady business in cookie sales, and Pierce confirmed that business was “pretty good.”
While sitting in the Rollie Noble Room enjoying the festivities, 15-year-old Jody Inderweis said, “I really like seeing people get together and have a good time. It’s really interesting to see a small town pull it off.”
As in years past, both the Grinch and Cindy Loo Who made their annual visits to the Tappan Spaulding Memorial Library. The Grinch’s 5 p.m. arrival generated a line going out the door and onto the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, in the Depot, festive event-goers eagerly awaited the arrival of Santa Claus who, according to Tornatore, was quite generous this year. “Santa Claus is telling everyone they’ll get what they want,” he said. After visiting with Santa, children had the opportunity to participate in holiday crafts and cookie decorating.
In addition to cookies available for decoration, there were a variety of foods available for sale, including pulled pork sandwiches, chili, sloppy joes, hot dogs, desserts, hot cider, and mulled cider. While eating, visitors could marvel at a display of train sets and another display of snowmen, angels, and seasonal decor.
Some of the local businesses got in the spirit, too, with Village Wine and Spirits offering a wine tasting and Cardinal Cafe having a variety of festive goodies on hand.
Outside the municipal building, there was a crackling campfire surrounded by intermittent carolers. There were horse and wagon rides running between the village green and the Depot all evening. It was, as in years past, a successful event.
Regarding the value of the event, Tornatore said, “It’s good for the quality of life. This is so important over and above many other things we do.” Always ready to give credit where credit is due, he added, “It’s only through volunteers that this is possible.”
The Town of Newark Valley and the Village of Newark Valley are the primary funding sources for the event. Leslie Inderweis, one of the event coordinators, explained that both municipal entities donate $1,200 per year for events put on by the Celebrations Committee in partnership with the Newark Valley Historical Society. Usually, that money is spread out between three events – Newark Valley Days, Holiday Magic, and the Easter egg hunt.