OLEAN, NY — This Christmas season, Al "Sparky" Granger, will be playing the dice game Zilch with his family, just as he has for as long as he can remember. Zilch has easily become one of his favorite holiday traditions. 

Granger, who owns and operates 3rd Base Bar & Grill, 1302 W. State St., with his lifelong friend Tom "Clyde" Bell, said they usually begin to decorate the bar and celebrate the holiday in mid-December. They do not like to rush Christmas too close to Thanksgiving; they prefer that their customers enjoy each holiday season.

Granger and Bell bought the bar, then known as Rumors, in 1996 from John Ricci; since the duo had been playing softball for the Rumors beer league team, they decided 3rd Base was a name better suited to their enterprise. Granger also runs Sparky’s Pizza and Subs and co-owns Home Plate, a diner, with Jason Keller. In January he will open another establishment, Grand Slam. 

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When Granger takes down time from his busy work schedule, he enjoys celebrating the holidays with his family. For him, the first of December is an appropriate time to begin listening to Christmas music.

And he has a favorite holiday memory of  "watching 'Miracle on 34th Street' — only the original, with my mom.” 

He said the best gifts he has ever given have to be the iPads he bought for his grandchildren, who live out of town. He said that although he and his wife, Anne Granger, are able to visit their grandchildren throughout the year, being able to FaceTime with them while they are far apart is extra special.

If Granger were given the opportunity to star in his favorite holiday movie, he would choose to be Clark Griswold, the character Chevy Chase plays in "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation." The way Granger sees it,  their “personalities somehow correspond.”

This profile piece continues the Happy Holidays series created by the Fall 2016 staff of TAPinto Greater Olean.