Trinkaus holiday display provides welcome lightness to season


Indulge us for a moment, or two, as we wax nostalgic.

It is for some among us it may be too soon to be thinking about Christmas — although, for what it is worth, those curmudgeons have already missed a solid month of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies — but early or not, what you should not miss, no matter how many times you have seen them, is the wonderful Trinkaus Christmas holiday display.

Although the displays which grace the city’s Gansevoort, Veterans Memorial and Fort Stanwix parks are not yet aglow, city crews this week began the painstaking process of placing the holiday village and related lighting displays in place.

Each item — from the stick, wood or brick homes of the Three Little Pigs to Santa’s Workshop to the towering Winter Church to a magical train — needs to be checked and often double-checked before being placed for viewing.

Heavier pieces in the display have to be hoisted into place by crane with several pieces needed to be moved in sections and then reassembled on site.

The city’s tradition when it comes to these lights dates back to the mid 1990s, but the venerable display can trace its lineage back to the mid 1950s at the former Trinkaus Manor in Oriskany.

In 1955, the Trinkaus family began its holiday lighting display outside the family’s 700-seat restaurant, sharing whimsical wishes with patrons from across the state and nation.

Each year, the family added new features, including angels, snowflakes, Santa’s village, elf workshops and a carousel.

In April 1992, a fire destroyed Trinkaus Manor, but the famous lights and displays were stored in a separate area and survived the flames. Soon after, the lights were donated by the Trinkaus family to the Rome community, where they have been loved by generations since.

The driving force behind the decorations, Andy Trinkaus, 97, arranged to helped work on the annual display well into his 90’s; and the alley, adjacent to Gansevoort Park, was renamed to honor him for his efforts.

While the displays have been updated, including new LED lights, fresh coats of paint, new supports and other fresh touches, the village remains wonderfully dated — reminiscent of earlier — and vastly less complicated — times.

It is easy, far easier than one might think, to be transported back to the days when it only took a large hot cocoa to make even the coldest day better.

We are grateful to the Trinkaus family and the city for keeping the tradition, and the memories, alive — and encourage everyone to make the short trip to North James Street when the display is operational and at its spirit-lifting best.


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