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Holiday parade spreads Christmas cheer in Auburn

AUBURN — Onlookers couldn't help but turn their eyes to the pink bunny man on Genesee Street. 

David Gilmore, in a costume modeled after a bunny suit worn by the main character in the film "A Christmas Story," walked Saturday night with his partner in pink, his 3-year-old daughter Payton, who was dressed as Poppy from the movie "Trolls."

The reason for his furry attire was the annual holiday parade in Auburn. His friend, Tom Quinn, of Quinn Trucking in Auburn, had a vehicle shown in the event, so David jumped at the opportunity to join the fun.

Passersby were friendly and recognized the reference, David said.

"People have been warm and so nice," he said.

Packs of people lined both sides of Genesee Street to get a good look at the parade. Various vehicles decked out in wreaths and Christmas lights went by, while vehicles from the Auburn Police Department, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office and various local fire departments arguably provided the most illumination. Some people waved at the law enforcement and fire vehicles, while others saved their hands for shielding their ears from the sirens. 

While elf hats and Christmas trees could seen on some attractions — more unorthodox fare was present as well, like people dressed as "Ghostbusters" characters complete with an inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the 1984 film.

After participating in the parade years ago, Joanne Mathews wanted to see what the light-laden event was like from the sidewalk.

Mathews, who was with friends Linda and Bob Remaley, said she marched for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1975 in Auburn decades ago, as her deceased husband, Andrew, was in the U.S. Army. 

That long march was on a particularly cold day, Mathews said, as she was gripping a cold flag pole throughout. Though she hasn't been to the Auburn parade since, she wanted to see it with her friends. Linda Remaley was excited for the event, as she said she has never witnessed the parade despite living in Auburn her entire life.

"I am not one for the outdoors," Remaley said. "Especially in the winter, but this isn't bad weather, so I decided to do this and just watch, just to see what's going on."

Liam Nerau, saw the parade while in the arms of his mother, Brittany Nerau. Brittany and her husband, Victor Nerau Jr., said Liam, 2, didn't see the parade last year because the weather was unbearably cold, but they were glad their son could see it this year. While Liam's eyes wandered during different parts of the Yuletide event, his attention was squarely devoted to people dressed as the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat.

Ashley Mack took a cellphone picture of her son, Ian Mack, who was waving and greeting people for a vehicle representing Finger Lakes Minor Soccer League.

"Leave it up to my son to be the goofy one," Ashley Mack said.

Tori Mack, Ashley's daughter, said she is on break from her freshman break from the University of Rochester and she wanted to support her little brother and to what she considers a Christmas tradition.

"If I didn't go, it would feel like I was missing out on a part of the holiday," Tori Mack said.

Auburn firefighters hit the ice in charity hockey tournament

AUBURN — The second annual Auburn Firefighters MDA Holiday Hockey Tournament brought together several teams from various fire departments and businesses throughout the region in support of a common cause.

Six teams brought their best game to the ice on Saturday at the Casey Park Ice Rink in the hopes of making it to the final championship game which will be held Sunday.

The longstanding relationship between the Auburn Firefighters local 1446 and their charity of choice, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, is what brought about the annual tournament.

“We wanted to think outside of the box,” said Auburn firefighters Justin Wood. “We wanted the charity event to not only benefit the MDA but also benefit our community as well. We live in such a wonderful thriving place and by bringing other teams in from out of town it helps our local businesses. Hockey is a good winter sport, and we have a great rink right here. It’s just a win win for everyone.”

Teams from the Auburn Fire Department, Monroe County FD, Watertown FD, Elmira FD, Nucor Steel and Auburn Alumni are competing in the two-day event.

Event organizers are hoping to expand the amount of teams in future events.

The Auburn Hockey Boosters, which currently oversees and maintains the Casey Park rink, has been an instrumental part in supporting the annual holiday event.

“We are open to any type of event and have open skating every weekend,” said the Auburn Hockey Boosters President Tim Clifford. “And we are especially happy to support the annual holiday tournament.”

While teams were competing on the ice Saturday, several volunteers were selling T-shirts, raffles and hot chocolate with all proceeds going to the MDA.

The event is open to the public and will continue through today's championship game. The winning team will take home a fire extinguisher trophy.

Potential NY GOP candidates for governor inch closer to decisions

It's the holiday season. Christmas trees are everywhere, decorations are up ... and four Republicans are close to deciding whether they will run for governor in 2018.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and corporate restructuring expert Harry Wilson are expected to announce by the end of the year whether they will enter the 2018 gubernatorial race and challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking a third term.

DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, has traveled to more than 20 counties to gauge support for his potential candidacy. He has been exploring a run for governor since July.

He told The Citizen in October that he would make a final decision on the race, at the earliest, by December or January. His timeline hasn't changed. During his most recent interview with The Citizen over a week ago, he said he plans to attend more events in the coming weeks and then reevaluate where he stands.

"I believe that it's going well," DeFrancisco said. "People are very positive. There's no question that the counties I have gone to, which includes not only upstate but Suffolk and Rockland and Dutchess and all the counties heading down toward the city, that people have had enough of Andrew Cuomo and it's just a matter of getting the best candidate — whomever that might be — and everybody uniting behind that candidate."

Kolb, R-Canandaigua, offered a more specific timeline. He expects to make a final decision no later than Dec. 15.

Like DeFrancisco and other potential candidates, Kolb has been crisscrossing the state and attending Republican events.

"Everything is going great," he said in a phone interview. "It's been very exciting and fulfilling and interesting and a lot of work. But certainly well worth it."

While Kolb has been exploring a gubernatorial bid since the summer, he has been linked to Molinaro. The two former Assembly colleagues have discussed whether to join forces and form a joint ticket against Cuomo in 2018.

The two continue to talk, Kolb said. But there hasn't been a decision on whether they will become running mates.

"Nothing has changed since last time we talked (in October)," he said. "Everything is still percolating."

Molinaro said in a phone interview that he expects to decide on a run for governor by the end of the year. An additional factor in his decision-making process is the election results across New York.

Republicans had their share of victories, but Democrats scored big wins in Nassau and Westchester county executive races. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who challenged Cuomo in 2014 and was considered a potential candidate for a 2018 bid, lost his re-election campaign to Democratic state Sen. George Latimer.

Astorino has since announced that he won't run for governor in 2018.

Molinaro said he's "not fazed" by what happened on Election Day, but he believes it's important to analyze the results.

"I would offer that I really do believe our party needs to nominate individuals who can connect with voters," he said. "I mean connect in a very sincere and very personal way because I do think that's the one thing that New Yorkers absolutely want and appreciate is elected officials who are just going to be honest and help them to solve the problems that confront their families, their communities and the state as a whole."

Wilson was unavailable for a phone interview, but he previously said that he will make his final decision by late fall.

What sets Wilson apart from other potential GOP contenders is his personal wealth. He has pledged to spend $10 million of his own money if he challenges Cuomo.

He also has experience as a candidate for statewide office. In 2010, he challenged state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Democrat. It was the closest a Republican has come to winning a statewide race since George Pataki was re-elected governor in 2002. DiNapoli won by four percentage points.​