Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Man spreads holiday cheer in Lockport

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Last winter, the Niagara Falls Holiday Market drew a large crowd of those looking to get into the holiday spirit. But this year, the market is not returning.

As YNN's Kate McGowan reports, a Lockport man worked to start up his own winter festival to give families another option.


LOCKPORT, N.Y. -- Last year, Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls was lined with festive decorations and people looking to do some holiday shopping.

It was all a part of the Holiday Market.

"The Niagara Holiday Market was brought to us by a promoter, actually from Utah last year," said Susan Swiatkowski from Old Falls Street USA.

But the event, which brought thousands to the area, ended up more than $30,000 in the red, according to reports from city officials.

The USA Niagara Development Corporation said the out-of-state promoter did not choose to bring it back.

"Personally it was grant funded, so I believe the grant money wasn't there this year," said Swiatkowski.

A man from Lockport felt he needed to bring the holiday cheer back to the area. Instead of showcasing the mighty Niagara Falls, he wanted to draw people to his hometown.

Peter Robinson said, "The Erie County Canal would be the gem of the Niagara County region. With it's historic value, it was a natural fit that people could come down here and enjoy the lights."

Robinson created 'Winter Wonderland', a festival of lights along Market Street in Lockport. He began planning the event about six months ago. And with the help of Lockport officials, the United Way, and monetary donations, the festival took off.

"You have to crawl before you walk. This is our crawling stage and I think we're doing pretty good," he said.

Festival organizer, Steve Hopkins said, "It looks fantastic. People come down and compliment us all the time on it. They said this is what Lockport needs, which it is. It's attracting people from all over."

Winter Wonderland is a 1.2 mile walking tour, and features thousands of lights. Local businesses have also teamed up and are participating along the illuminated walkway.

"Allow for small business to get a chance to kind of flourish around here," Robinson said.

Winter Wonderland is free and organizers hope next year, it's even bigger and better.

"It's a dream come true to all of us because we've worked hard to make this come true," Robinson exclaimed.

Winter Wonderland runs Friday through Sunday evenings up through January 1st.

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