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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's officially Christmas time at Downtown Buffalo's Canalside.

Friday evening kicked off the Canalside Holiday Celebration – a free, two-day event presented by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. And it seemed appropriate to celebrate at Canalside's new East Canal, located next to the NFTA Metro Rail.

Children watched as Santa got off the Metro, and counted down with him before the 30-foot evergreen tree lit up. There was also a heated tent for kids to enjoy book readings and crafts with folks from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, as well as Explore & More Children's Museum.

City Honors High School Chorus & Band, Kenmore East High School Chorus & Band and food trucks, including Roaming Buffalo, FallMac, Sweet Hearth and House of Munch, joined the family-friendly event, which is free to the public.

Chris Catanzaro, the assistant project manager of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), told 2 On Your Side the response to the holiday celebration, which has been occurring for three years, has been "great."

"We have it on Facebook and a couple other outlets and we're a hearty group, Buffalonians, so there's no weather that's going to keep us back," Catanzaro said during Friday evening's light rain. "So we expect a pretty good crowd, and last year we had about 400 or 500, so we hope to be there and maybe a little bit more between the two days."

More free festivities, including horse-drawn carriage rides, snow globe making courtesy of the Explore and More Children's Museum, holiday sing-alongs and another visit from Santa Claus on the Metro Rail, continue tomorrow from 1 to 5 p.m. at the East Canal.

In 2011 and 2012, the event took place at Canalside, located adjacent to the First Niagara Center.

The East Canal, a project that cost $5 million, is the newest installment of the Canalside development on Buffalo's waterfront. The (ECHDC)-driven East Canal project, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo's website, "creates an outdoor public space that features a granite plaza, a shallow pool of water, fountains, seating, lighting and a shaded tree grove."

Catanzaro said the Canalside Holiday Celebration is "just another jewel and treasure for the public to enjoy here at Canalside as we grow."

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