OLEAN, NY – Decorating for the holidays is one of Cindy and Bill Sorokes’ favorite hobbies. So when the Olean couple received a Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce email asking for volunteers for the first-ever public Santa Claus Lane prep day, they signed up. So did 10 other people.

“Our attic is full of Halloween and Christmas decorations,” Cindy Sorokes said as she spent the hours between 10 a.m. and noon Saturday helping to make artificial trees and putting lights on those trees while her husband repaired broken light cords.

In previous years, GOACC staff used to prepare the Santa Claus Lane decorations during their regular workdays, Meme Yanetsko, the chamber’s executive director, recalled. With only five members in the office, the work became difficult.

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“We’ve let the public decorate but this is the first time doing behind-the-scenes work,” Yanetsko added.

The volunteers worked at the City of Olean Polo Park, assembling 16 artificial trees of three sizes, using rebar cones and garland. Next, they checked the LED light bulbs on the roughly 5-foot-long snowflakes and replaced old, broken or nonfunctioning bulbs. The trees will be placed in Lincoln Park and War Veterans Park, and the snowflakes will be attached to lamp poles in downtown Olean, as is customary.

Olean’s Santa Claus Lane tradition was created in 1929 by Edward Devlin. A day-after-Thanksgiving parade later became part of the tradition. When a major flood damaged Santa’s cottage and other decorations in 1972, Santa Claus Lane was discontinued until the Olean Business Improvement Association raised $81,137 from 137 donors in 1986. In 2004, Santa’s cottage was rebuilt.

This year’s parade will be Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. Other festivities will include the all-day Cattaraugus Gives on Dec. 3 and a visit with Santa at his cottage Dec. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m.

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