by Katie Drake

Photos: Katie Drake and Caren Wooler

When you looked around at the faces in the crowd gathered in Canal Place Friday night in Sterzinar Park for the very first Celebration of Lights, everyone’s eyes seemed to sparkle.   Maybe it was just the 5000+ lights that transformed our little city park into a winter wonderland?  Or maybe it was watching the joy and awe on the children’s faces?   Perhaps it was simply that we each desperately needed to celebrate something.

It was magical and much like a scene from a Hallmark Christmas movie. Holiday music filled the air, and people wandered around “Celebration” (which is the name of the sculpture in the middle of the park) looking at the twinkling lights and sipping hot chocolate.  There were musical performances by John Seymour, and Leah Hess.  Our Girl Scouts sang carols.  And, Just Dance gave a performance on the bridge to Benton Landing.

People wandered around “Celebration,” the name of the sculpture in the middle of the park, looking at lights sipping hot chocolate.  The line for Café at Stone Mill was out the front door, and all the shops of Canal Place were filled with people supporting our local business owners. The gallery at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts was filled with children lining up to paint their own ornament by Easels on the Gough and check out the exhibit by R.C. Oster.

Mayor Mark Blask had the honor of plugging in the lights for the tree lighting, alongside Christmas in Little Falls Committee members, Caren Woolner, Tony DeLuca, Laura Powers, and Elaine Cobb.  Mayor Blask said, “It’s been a great week for Little Falls.  This is an awesome community event and the park looks fantastic!” As the tree lit up, everyone cheered, and “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” rang out through the park.  And if things couldn’t possibly get any merrier, just then a truck came down the street carrying Santa Clause who came all the way to Little Falls to wave to all the children who excitedly ran to the edge of the park to get a glimpse.

This was made possible by the generous business owners, residents, and supporters of Canal Place who loved this idea and helped build a fund to buy commercial grade lights. The City of Little Falls and the folks from our DPW did a beautiful job putting up the tree and lighting it. Many, many thanks to each of you who came down over the last couple of weeks and volunteered to hang the thousands of lights.

What was cool was that there were plentiful and NEW volunteers, like our new friend Cat.  She moved here from Brooklyn during the height of the pandemic and doesn’t know a lot of people yet.  She was delivering a package to the UPS store and kindly asked if we wanted help, so of course, we said yes.  Despite the fact that she just had arm surgery, she used her good arm to help us string lights.  She got to know a handful of people from town and made some new friends.

Special thanks to Caren Wooler who had a vision of what this event could be, and the excitement and passion to bring this to fruition.   She spent countless hours brainstorming, organizing, and working in the park.  Just ask her and she’ll tell you we now know more about commercial-grade Christmas Lights that then either of us have ever wanted to know. Having an idea is just that, an idea.  It takes the support of many of you, people like Tony DeLuca, who always encourages and nurtures the crazy ideas we bring him.

For a first-time event, it was wildly successful.  With the exception of Canal Days, most of our festivals in Little Falls are held on a single day, so this was a strong test pilot of how to expand and build the momentum of a successful event like Christmas in Little Falls.

If you missed it, feel free to come enjoy the Celebration of Lights in Sterzinar Park, which will remain on display through the holiday season. Also, be sure to visit the Christmas in Little Falls Facebook page for all the events happening today…Saturday, December 11th in Little Falls at

Katie Drake moved to Little Falls in 2003 and fell in love with this city. She says she isn’t really a writer, but a storyteller.

The opportunity to highlight the great people of Little Falls, share her personal perspectives and some humor from time to time piqued her interest and here we are.

Just ask her, and she’ll tell you that after growing up in Millers Mills, population 25+ (according to the sign), Little Falls was just the right size. Katie is the oldest of her two brothers and five sisters.

In 2020 Katie and her best friend Chris began their greatest adventure yet in 2020, with the birth of their sweet and sassy son Nolan who makes them laugh every day.

In her free time, Katie loves to snowmobile, golf, hike, and travel.

If you have feedback on one of her articles or an idea for a story, please feel free to reach out to Katie at, she would love to hear from you.

If this article leaves you wanting more, or you are just bored out of your mind, feel free to check out other articles she has contributed by visiting Katie Drake Archives – My Little Falls.