Thursday, July 31, 2014

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Rochester

'Christmas on the Canal' Will Continue

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Rochester: 'Christmas on the Canal' Will Continue
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Since 1996, Christmas on the Canal has been a holiday tradition in Spencerport. Just last month, it appeared the event was in jeopardy of being canceled.

"We were asked to change the name of the event because of the issues of separation of church and state that have come up in so many villages and towns throughout the country," said Christmas on the Canal founder Elaine Spaziano.

Some wanted the name changed to Holiday on the Canal after the village received complaints it was sponsoring a religious event with taxpayer dollars, so both the Village of Spencerport and Town of Ogden decided last month to pull their funding.

"It was uncomfortable. Frankly, I was angry at first that someone could tell us, somebody in the upper echelons of government could tell us we can't do something that's been very popular in our community," said Town Supervisor Gay Lenhard, R-Ogden.

The Christmas on the Canal committee got together in an effort to try to keep this tradition going, and the community is stepping up to make sure that happens.

When Ralph Parmelee heard that funding was cut and Christmas on the Canal was being canceled, he decided to do something to help keep the tradition alive.

"We cannot let this die. For the generations that are coming, the young people and all, we can't take Christmas out of the picture. It's got to stay there and we're going to keep it there," he said.

Parmelee contacted businesses asking for donations. Those contributing say they're doing so not just to save the community celebration, but to also send a message to those who they say want to ruin something others enjoy.

"A community like Spencerport is a perfect place to pitch that battle. The people around here know how to rally. It's a great community, that's why I have a business here, that's why I raise my family here, It's a great place to live," said Peter Marra, Union Street Eatery.

The last minute fund drive turned out to be a huge success ensuring Christmas on the Canal will continue just as it has for the last 17 years.

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