By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS — With sirens and Christmas music blaring and hundreds of marchers and spectators, the annual holiday parade “officially” ushered in a season of joy Saturday.
There was a threat of rain all day long and a windstorm that damaged the village’s tent moved part of the festivities indoors, but none of that mattered in the end — the community turned out in force to ring in the holiday season during the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony.
“We try to come every year,” said Selkirk resident Jen Quick. “We missed last year but usually we come. It brings everyone together and that is important.”
The event started at Coeymans Landing Park with marchers lining up Saturday evening and then lighting the town Christmas tree. Then floats and marchers wound their way through the community and up Main Street to light the village tree.
Along the way, spectators lined the streets and cheered them on.
Brian Margey brought his two granddaughters to watch the festivities.
“This is our first time,” Margey said. “They live with me now in Ravena so I brought them out to have a nice Christmas time.”
Margey’s granddaughters waited with anticipatory glee to see the man of the hour — Santa Claus himself.
“I’m excited to see the parade,” said Pearl Izard, 8. “I’m also excited to see Santa!”
Her sister, 7-year-old Colessia Izard, said the Jolly Ol’ Elf was what she looked forward to the most as well.
“I want to see Santa most of all — he is going to give us presents and we get to open them,” Colessia said. “That’s the best part!”
Santa said he was so happy to see all his friends during the parade and at the afterparty at the firehouse, but that it was time for him to get back to the North Pole to get ready for his biggest night of the year.
“There were a lot of people here in the village of Ravena, NY,” Santa said. “Tonight, after taking many pictures with the boys and girls, it was time to head back to Albany Airport to head back to the North Pole.”
Apparently, the reindeer were too busy to break away from Mrs. Claus and the elves, so Santa found another way to get back home.
For parade organizers, there were challenges leading up to the day of the event.
Originally slated to make a stop at the village tree on Main Street and then head to Mosher Park for a bonfire and other activities, plans were changed a couple of days before the parade because the village’s outdoor tent was damaged in a windstorm, Mayor Bill Misuraca said.
That meant the park was a no-go so the parade ended at the village tree. Afterwards, everyone headed into the Ravena firehouse across the street for pictures with Santa, refreshments and more holiday music.
There were also doubts about the weather — it rained much of the day and it was expected to stop just around when the parade was scheduled to start. But the weather cleared up a couple of hours before the parade’s start and things went off without a hitch.
“A huge thanks to the organizers, participants and community as a whole,” Misuraca said after the festivities. “Even though we were thrown a curveball with not being able to use Mosher Park, we rallied up and made it work. We have many ideas for next year to make it even bigger and better.”
For New Baltimore resident Charlie Mohr and his family, this year was their first time at the parade.
“This is the first year we have come,” Mohr said as they waited for the marchers to pass by. “We went to the Coxsackie parade last night and a fellow at work said they have one here in Ravena today, so we came to watch the tree lighting up and see the parade.”
His daughter, Dixie Tice, 8, couldn’t wait for the parade to begin.
“I’m excited to see all the floats go by,” Dixie said.
Coeymans Town Supervisor George McHugh said the annual event means a great deal to the community.
“The parade from the Coeymans Landing to the village of Ravena is a wonderful tradition that we look forward to every year and it’s really what makes our community special,” McHugh said. “You cannot beat the small-town charm you feel as a resident of our town and village. I am looking forward to doing even more community-oriented events and projects between the town and the village next year and in the years to come.”
The parade drew marchers including local businesses, elected officials, community groups like Girl Scouts and churches. A school bus from the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk school district was all dolled up with holiday lights, and a brightly lit float with the championship RCS football team all participated, along with fire trucks, the rescue squad ambulance, police and so many more.
Here are more images from Saturday’s parade:
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ravena News-Herald is counting down the top 5 local stories of 2023. We looked at the top stories of the year, those that drew the highest number of readers to our website and Facebook page, or that had the greatest impact on our community and its residents. Here is the Number 2 story for the year.
Former Bush’s store to be redeveloped by new owner
RAVENA — After standing vacant for about two decades, a local eyesore has been sold and will be redeveloped by a new owner.
Mayor Bill Misuraca announced at the Oct. 17 meeting of the village board that the deal on the long-vacant site officially closed and repairs to the roof have begun.
“The old Bush’s hardware store has officially sold and the closing occurred, and the new owners have equipment there,” Misuraca said. “They got their permits for the roof demolition and rebuild, which is their first step, so it’s nice to see that they’re progressing quickly.”
Bush’s hardware store, at 159 Main St. in the village, is across the street from the Ravena post office and has been vacant for many years. Village officials have been working to figure out what to do with the site, which was becoming progressively more dilapidated over time.
The building was purchased by Chris Gallagher of Gallagher & Company, a real estate firm specializing in commercial and industrial properties, with offices in Albany and Windham. Gallagher could not be reached for comment at press time.
Misuraca said the company purchased the former hardware store with the goal of rehabilitating it.
“The current owner, Gallagher, rehabs buildings for a living,” the mayor said. “He plans to make living space upstairs, a complete remodel and restoration of the entire building. The downstairs will be what he calls a ‘vanilla box,’ completely set up and ready for any number of offices or professional space to move into. He seems to have a very solid plan; he has done similar projects in Albany with great success.”
Another long-vacant and abandoned building on Main Street may also get a new owner and a facelift. That property, too, has posed a challenge for the village as it has stood damaged and vacant for many years.
“In another bit of good news, the other vacant apartments across from the firehouse on Main Street are in contract right now to sell to a new owner,” Misuraca said. “That owner knows where we’re at with the enforcement process and is ready to make very fast moves to improve those properties and get them up to code and habitable again, so these are two big moves happening and we are glad to see that.”
A third building on Main Street is also in the village’s sights — the building at 136 Main St., across the street from the veterans’ monument, which has also been vacant for many years. The structure was built in 1950, according to online property records, and over the years housed various restaurants and bars, including Sandy’s Tavern, Wingnuts, and The Lighthouse.
The building has stood vacant for a long time and is in poor condition. For years, there was an “Auction” sign posted in the window, but the building never sold and was slated for demolition by Albany County, but so far, no action has been taken.
“We have been negotiating with the county, who are the current owners, to get some progress on this one next,” Misuraca said. “They promised to tear it down several years ago, but that has not happened. Our lawyers are actively working on this.”