By Jann Wiswall
Let the winter festivities begin! Olean and Allegany have lots of activities to keep folks of all ages warm and toasty and educated and entertained from now through January.
What is winter without ice skating? Grab your ice skates and take part in the final days of Twelve Ice Skating Days of Christmas. The Olean Recreation Center is offering free admission for public ice skating ($2 for skate rentals) every day until Dec. 31. Santa will be lacing up his skates on Dec. 20.
Visit www.cityofolean.org/youth for times and a list of the organizations and businesses sponsoring each skate day.
Looking for decorating ideas? Stop by the Olean Bartlett House for a truly inspiring glimpse of Victorian Christmas décor at its finest. The Bartlett House, a prime example of Victorian architecture, is located at 302 Laurens Street and is operated as a museum year-round. It is open from 1-5 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday and by appointment. Call (716) 376-5642.
St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is a great place to unwind between the holidays with a stroll through its gorgeous art galleries. Through Dec. 30, a special exhibition by Buffalo artist Catherine Shuman Miller graces the Paul and Toni Branch Gallery. Miller’s playful, humorous woodblock prints interpret the Hamsah (symbol of the hand and a good luck charm). Head to the Beltz Gallery on the second floor to see a collection of Christmas cards sent by the President and first family from the Johnson administration through the Obama administration. While you’re there, be sure to visit some of the permanent exhibitions.
Bring in the New Year!
GOACC is hosting its second annual Moonlight Magic New Year’s Eve Gala from 9 p.m.–1 a.m. at Premier Banquet Center at 2000 Constitution Ave., which includes live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a kabob station, dessert bar, champagne at midnight and a cash bar. Tickets are $50 per person or $450 for tables of 10. Call (716) 373-4433 or visit www.oleanny.com.
Good Times of Olean (800 East State St.) is hosting a New Year’s Eve Bash featuring New Wave Nation, a 1980s tribute band, in the Hammer Back Bar & Grill. The party starts at 10 p.m. and a $5 cover charge gets you in.
After your celebration, get 2015 off on the right foot with an invigorating New Year’s 5K sponsored by the Olean YMCA. The event starts at noon at St. Bonaventure University’s Murphy Auditorium. Visit www.yourymca.org/Olean for a route map.
And there’s more!
One of the season’s hottest events is the Greater Olean Area Outdoor and Recreation Sports Show. The event takes place at Good Times of Olean on Jan. 17 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Jan. 18 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Outdoor recreation lovers — snowmobilers, snowshoers, hunters and more — will learn about the latest tools, equipment and safety tips from retailers, specialty shops and outfitters.
On Saturday, Jan. 24, join a Mission to Halley’s Comet via the Challenger Learning Center (182 E. Union St., Allegany), where astronaut wanna-bes can use their smarts, wits and teamwork to study the comet as it rushes past Earth using state-of-the-art simulators. A celebration of the successful mission will follow with light refreshments. If you want to make this a fun, family holiday gift, you can pick up the free NASA mission patch, which comes with your mission, before Christmas, or pick it up on mission day. Openings are available for the 5:30–8 p.m. mission (afternoon mission is sold out). Children (fifth grade and up) and adults are welcomed, but space is limited to 30 individuals. Tickets are $30 or $50 per couple. Call (716) 379-8686 for reservations (leave a message).
Then, on Sunday, Jan. 25, the Friends of Good Music, in collaboration with St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, will present Aquila Theater performing Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” Tickets are $20 for the general public, $16 for seniors and $5 for students. Visit www.friendsofgoodmusic.com.
Drink Wine and Dance on Friday, Jan. 30 at Carter’s Event Center at 2593 West Five Mile Rd. in Allegany. Tickets entitle you to a free wine glass that you’ll use to taste (and purchase) some of the area’s finest wines. While you’re savoring the flavors, you can take a ballroom, Zumba or Hip Hop dance lesson from Neighborhood School of Dance students. The event runs from 6–9 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person. Visit www.drinkwineanddance.com.