Clinton’s annual Chanukah celebration and menorah-lighting ceremony will have a new twist on a classic tradition.
The Clinton Fire Department will drop gelt—chocolate coins—from the top of a fire engine ladder from 5 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, which is the first night of Chanukah. “It’s an old Jewish custom to give children Chanukah gelt—pocket money. It has evolved into a tradition to enjoy chocolate coins as well,” an email for the event states.
In addition to the Village’s first-ever gelt drop, there will be hot latkes and donuts to eat. There will also be live music by The Wet Towels, a saxophone trio from Hamilton College.
The gelt drop will wrap up the first weekend of local events to usher in the December holidays.
Clinton’s celebration begins Friday with the annual Shoppers Stroll, concluding that evening with the parade at 7 p.m. to bring Santa and Mrs. Claus to the Clinton firehouse on Park Row.
In between will be horse-drawn carriage rides, a Pack the Bus event to benefit The Country Pantry and vendors, businesses and musicians in the Village Green.
Shopping continues in the village Saturday, which begins with the fourth annual 5K Jingle Jog at 8 a.m.
In Waterville the 33rd Parade of Lights begins Friday night at 6:30, reversing course to go from the Waterville firehouse to the Village Park. Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet people in the bandstand.
Once again the Waterville Fire Department and Community Christmas Committee has organized to help local families. Businesses, organizations and individuals can adopt a family to purchase toys and clothing.
Last year 71 children received gifts along with winter clothing.
To adopt a family, call Janice Eisenhut at 315-982-1986 or Debbie Lemery at 315-941-0470. Monetary donations can be sent to Brian Gibbons at 150 Babbott Ave., Waterville, 13480.
This year marks the fourth time Chabad of Clinton has sponsored a public event to mark the start of Chanukah. Those participating in this year’s annual celebration can take part in kid’s activities and crafts.
Rabbi Didy Waks of Chabad of Clinton said the Village has graciously supported the menorah-lighting ceremony and said there’s much symbolism in this year’s gelt drop.
“There’s this idea in Judaism that one should have so much blessing that it falls from the heavens. You get hit with the blessings because it’s in such abundance. It’s like a blessing for us all to have all the abundance in our lives,” he said of dropping gelt.
The Chanukah menorah has nine branches—a branch for each night of the holiday and an additional branch. The additional candle is called the shammash, the “helper candle.”
Usually higher than the other candles of the menorah, the shammash is used to light the other candles.
This year, members of the Clinton Fire Department will use the shammash to light the first candle of Chanukah. “They [firefighters] are always putting out fires,” Waks explained. “But really, when they put out a fire, they are figuratively lighting a candle of joy, salvation and help. We wanted to recognize that as well. And they [the firefighters] will be the ones dropping blessings on us all through the chocolate coins.”
He said the event will be a fun experience for everyone. “We encourage all people, Jewish or not, to celebrate with us on the Green,” Waks said.
He said it’s beautiful to see everyone together on the Village Green. Those in the Clinton community who are not Jewish have told Waks just how special and meaningful the Chanukah celebrations are each year.