OLEAN, NY – The Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking help to make sure downtown Olean shines bright this holiday season. 

The chamber is calling on volunteers to gather at the city’s water filtration plant’s storage building at 1332 River St., on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon to help inspect and prepare the lights and decorations that will adorn Olean’s Santa Claus Lane along North Union Street.

“The tradition of Santa Claus Lane is one of the oldest in the city, and the chamber is proud to put this event on each holiday season,” said Meme Yanetsko, the chamber’s chief operating officer. “Because this is such a large undertaking, we’re hoping the community will turn out to help us get it ready this year.”

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Putting on the annual parade and display in downtown Olean is no small task. Work to organize it starts months ahead of time.  

“Part of our work to make sure the decorations are ready for light up North Union Street and beyond is to inspect each one, test all strands of lights, and replace weathered garland. This prep work is a very time-consuming process,” Yanetsko said. “This year, we’re looking to add several more snowflakes and garland trees to Santa Claus Lane.”

The decorations will be hung throughout the downtown shopping district later this fall. The decorations will officially be turned on for the holidays at the end of the annual Santa Claus Lane Parade, slated for the evening of Nov. 29 along North Union Street. 

Santa Claus Lane dates back to 1929, when a group of Olean merchants strung fresh pine boughs across North Union Street to mark the holiday season. It wasn’t long before they added lights and other decorations to create Santa Claus Lane. The tradition of Santa Claus Lane has grown to feature an annual parade that brings the community together in the spirit of camaraderie and goodwill. 

In 2016, the light display underwent a major overhaul with 60 snowflakes, 15 stars, and 14 skylines replacing decorations that had festooned downtown Olean for decades. The new decorations, purchased through a $125,000 fundraising campaign, were meant to complement the city’s work to redevelop the downtown shopping district through the multimillion-dollar Walkable Olean streetscape project. 

Those interested in volunteering should call the chamber’s office at 716-372-4433 to sign up. A digital signup is online at the chamber’s Facebook page. Youths must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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