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Central New York's holiday celebration goes virtual

Syracuse Stage
In keeping with its annual tradition, Syracuse Stage has produced a holiday-themed show for audiences to enjoy, but like many other seasonal events it is being offered online this year.

Winter 2020 may be remembered as the year the holiday season went virtual. Central New York is finding a way to keep the spirit alive this year, in spite of the pandemic.

The annual Lights on the Lake drive-thru holiday display at Onondaga Lake is experiencing record attendance this year. Britney Christie with Galaxy Events, which runs this event where the crowds stay inside their vehicles, said it's most likely related to the pandemic.

"Everything has been closed and I think the only festive Christmas-related, winter-related type thing to do in our area specifically is Lights on the Lake," Christie said.

Yet even those events that are not as well-suited to social distancing are still finding a way to reach local audiences. Everything from church services to story time with Santa to fundraisers for the Utica Zoo have gone to an online platform.

Syracuse Stage usually hosts a holiday-themed show every year, but this season the theater is selling streaming passes for a show that was recorded and produced remotely. Syracuse Stage Artistic Director Bob Hupp said while the annual holiday show is an important source of revenue for the theater, the motivation to create this production was more about community.

"If folks can't come to us, then we can come to folks," Hupp said. "In the tradition of Syracuse Stage, creating enjoyable engagement for families during the holiday time is something we've been doing for many years and we didn't want to let this year pass."

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.