Holiday Festival in Ogdensburg helps hospital, spreads joy

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OGDENSBURG — Everything that’s good about the Christmas spirit could be found at this weekend’s annual Holiday Festival, sponsored by the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Auxiliary at the United Helpers Mosaic Building, 100 Ford St.

Christmas cheer, decorations, and friends and family coming together to mingle were all part of the celebration that’s been an integral part of the holiday season in Ogdensburg for the past 14 years.

The event is the largest single fundraiser for the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Auxiliary, which raises money for a variety of hospital needs.

Ramona L. Kennedy is the auxiliary’s liaison and organizer of the Holiday Festival, which was previously known as the Festival of Trees. She said a small army of volunteers is responsible for pulling off the annual event, which last year raised approximately $48,000.

“I couldn’t do this without all of the volunteers,” said Mrs. Kennedy. “The community loves it. It’s more than just a fundraiser for the auxiliary.”

Several rooms at the Mosaic Building were decorated with Christmas themes, including trees sponsored by local businesses and organizations, to be auctioned off. Homemade crafts, candy, wreaths and other holiday auction items, including a wide assortment of gift baskets, were also on hand.

Santa and Mrs. Claus occupied prime seats within the festival’s Candyland room, a frequent stopping point for the youngest members of the crowd.

On Saturday, Kylar Kirby, 6, visited the candy-filled room with his mother, Shauna. It was his next stop after visiting with Santa.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said, clutching a box of mouse-shaped chocolates. The young Mr. Kirby said he planned to share the treat with his little brother.

He also said he was hoping Santa would bring him a Lego set for Christmas.

Mrs. Kirby, who is scheduled to give birth to her third son on Wednesday, said she comes to the Claxton auxiliary’s Holiday Festival yearly.

“I like it,” she said. “The kids get to see Santa, which is always fun.”

At the end of the hall, one door away from Santa and the room full of candy, visitors milled freely as they took stock of a variety of handmade scarves, mittens and other items created by the Claxton Auxiliary Crafters.

Dawn Merna, one of those who helped knit some of the items, said the handmade mittens are always popular gifts.

“We had a goal to make 100 pairs, and this year I think I made 80,” she said. “It’s the sixth year I’ve done it.”

Mrs. Kennedy said the Claxton Hepburn Medical Center Auxiliary has about 100 volunteers and that more than 40 are active in helping put together the Holiday Festival.

She said the event raises an average of $40,000 a year for the auxiliary.

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