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Vendors, spectators fill Main Street for Harvest Festival

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MASSENA - A crisp late summer day greeted the spectators who traversed up and down Main Street in the downtown Massena corridor to take in the sights and sounds of the Saturday’s 6th annual Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce Harvest Festival.

There was plenty for them to see, with about 60 vendors lining both sides of the street, along with other groups that included the Boys and Girls Club of Massena, Massena Central School varsity cheerleaders, Massena Rotary Club, Massena Public Library, Holy Names of Jesus Academy, Trinity Catholic School, Massena Valley Garden Club, Knights of Columbus and Back the Pack.

The Massena Rescue Squad was on hand offering youngsters an opportunity to try their hand at ring tossing. So were members of the Massena Masons, who were once again set up to offer their child identification program.

Mark Bogdan set up a life-sized Candy Land game again this year, with youngsters moving from square to square to meet some of the game’s characters and retrieve candy in the process.

“I love kids. This is my prom dress. Anytime I get a chance to wear it I do it,” said Jocelyn Bogdan, who portrayed one of the characters on the game board.

In the town hall parking lot, Cubby T. Clown was making balloon creations, and youngsters were getting their faces painted, enjoying two bounce houses, taking a pony ride or petting some of the other animals that were on hand.

Nearby, the first-ever Zucchini Car Races were taking place, with decorated zucchinis fitted with wheels whirring their way down a track for a chance to be named the fastest, slowest, most creative or scariest.

Members of the Boys and Girls Club of Massena’s Board of Directors were letting youngsters have a field day with chalk, inviting them to create some art in a roped-off area of Main Street near the theater. They could either draw something freehand or use stencils that were provided by board members. A sign on tent used by club members read, “Great Futures Start Here.”

By the end of the day, the area was filled with artwork, along with a message written in chalk - “Help us open our doors. Donate today.”

“We’re just creating a fun activity for kids,” board member Patricia K. Wilson said. “It’s an opportunity tell about the Boys and Girls Club coming.”

Board members are aiming to have their doors open in May 2014 at the former St. Joseph’s Social Hall on Bayley Road.

Ms. Wilson said they’ve started their capital campaign to raise money to open and sustain the club, but they also wanted to raise awareness about what it could offer kids in the community.

“This helps us get the word out,” she said.

They’ve already received words of support from community members, according to Ms. Wilson.

“It’s very impressive to us the number of people who step up and say, ‘We need it this year,’” she said. “The need is great. One in four kids is being born into poverty in Massena.”

The club can serve to help students achieve things not just in their personal lives, but also in school.

“It gives kids the power to be better in school,” Ms. Wilson said. “It gives good kids a chance to be great.”

She said the club has a number of additional events planned in the coming weeks and months, as part of their “Campaign for Kids: Foundations of our Future.”

Thomas J. Sullivan, executive director of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena, was set up near the town hall to promote the Massena Downtown Coalition, which is looking to revitalize the downtown corridor through a number of initiatives.

“The Downtown Coalition has many different subcommittees,” Mr. Sullivan said.

They include the Anti-Blight Task Force, Downtown Massena LLC, Blue & Green, Marketing & Recruitment, New York Main Street Grant, National Register Historical District, Parking and Massena Theater.

Mr. Sullivan said they were always looking for more assistance in those various efforts.

“We’re looking for volunteers, anyone that wants to participate. We meet on a fairly regular basis, usually once a month or sometimes twice,” he said.

For Saturday’s effort, Mr. Sullivan said. “We’re just trying to create an awareness of some of the things in the community we’re trying to stay engaged with.”

Their plans will eventually focus on more than just the downtown area, he said.

“As we continue to move forward, it’s not just about downtown, it’s about the Greater Massena community,” he said.






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