Cheektowaga, NY

Christmas Traditions Take New Form in Stiglmeier Park

J.M. Lesinski

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A light display of Santa's reindeer taking flight in Stiglmeier Park in Cheektowaga, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

As winter weather and holiday excitement fills the air, Stiglmeier Park in Cheektowaga, New York is embracing the season once again with their annual drive-thru light display. The ornate, Christmas-themed driving experience was a massive hit last year, drawing in car after car to drive thru the park and see holiday icons like Santa Claus lit up in a field of neon.

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A shot of several light displays at Stiglmeier Park's annual Christmas light display.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

“Last year was my parents’ first time visiting since I moved out here and I just had to show them,” local Ashley Johnson said of the display in a recent conversation. “They saw all the lights at different houses coming up here and looking at lights was something we always used to do back in Chautauqua and Jamestown. We would drive around, get hot chocolate, and look for the big holiday lights and displays.”

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A nutcracker points the way to Jingle Bell Boulevard at Stiglmeier Park.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

The annual ‘light drive’ through Stiglmeier Park was such a memorable time, it has become the new tradition, as the family plans to again drive thru during a planned visit this month. Though the origins of the drive will always have roots back home, the same routes there just do not have the light displays anymore.

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A light display of a train carrying presents in Stiglmeier Park.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

“I guess a lot of people down in Chautauqua have stopped trying to do elaborate Christmas decorating,” Johnson continued. “But we always include Stiglmeier Park in our Christmas lights drive now. I am incredibly happy we have a set place to go on our light drives every year. We get to have this awesome new tradition that has roots in a tradition we have shared since I was little.”

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Two reindeer light displays at Stiglmeier Park.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

With the uncertainty of COVID-19 making physical meetings more and more questionable, drive-by traditions like those of Stiglmeier Park certainly have their place now more than ever too. For a free, immersive experience to all who want to see the reindeer, nutcrackers, and Frosty the Snowman all lit up at once in one relaxing, cozy winter night drive, look no further.

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A shot of the front loop light displays at Stiglmeier Park.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

“It was so nice to see all the lights set up,” said Lynette Johnson, Ashley’s mother. “The night we drove around the carolers were there, all around near the Santa Claus light display. I love the holiday season, just being there with my kids and taking it all in was wonderful.”

#HolidayJoy

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Professional journalist for over five years, covering topics all up and down both coasts of the United States, including arts, music, food, politics, and culture. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY
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