Despite several inches of snow and bitter cold wind, area residents hit the streets of Jamestown on Wednesday night to kick off the holiday season.
Patrons at just about every bar, restaurant and venue in downtown Jamestown celebrated another year gone by with friends and family on Thanksgiving Eve.
According to Chris Sorenson, owner of Coach's Corner Inn, Memorial Day starts off the summer, but Thanksgiving usually starts off the winter.
Jamestown residents Patti, Cheryl, Nikki and Julie are shown celebrating a birthday on Wednesday at Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge in Jamestown.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
"It is definitely a big money maker for local bars," Sorenson said. "Years ago I used to bartend at the Rusty Nail, and I always thought it was funny that the Buffalo News would come down to videotape the line going all the way down Washington Street."
"I thought it was kind of odd, but I guess Buffalo doesn't get the Thanksgiving Eve push like we have down here," Sorenson continued.
Celebrating Thanksgiving Eve by hitting the local bars, venues and restaurants is an annual tradition for native residents who have moved away but come back to visit, Sorenson continued.
"It seems like a lot of people who don't come back into town during the summer or for Fourth of July come back for the first family holiday - Thanksgiving," Sorenson said. "It's really a point of everybody meeting friends and family they probably haven't seen since last Christmas - it's the time to get back together."
At around 8 p.m., area residents began streaming into various downtown businesses in hopes of running into old friends, or meeting new ones. One such location was The Pub, where three Jamestown natives home from college for the holiday decided to celebrate Thanksgiving Eve. Cold brews, warm soup and beef on weck covered the table of Dustin Prunty, a student at West Virginia University; Matt Conlan, of Midwestern University; and Ryan Deppas, of University at Buffalo. According to Prunty, it's not a rare occurrence for the three to return home, but it's rare enough that it results in a memorable time.
"We came to eat, have a couple of drinks and see people we haven't seen for a while," Deppas said.
"It's a tradition to come out and catch up with friends," Conlan added.
The Pub, which is owned and operated by Jim and Mary McCusker, was decorated for the occasion. Both those seated at the bar and those at tables were treated to shimmering Christmas lights, holly wrapped lamps and red ribbon adorned wreaths. Joe Paterniti, who has been working at The Pub since 1984, said that traditionally it has served as a place for friends to meet after traveling.
"It's a great meeting spot that's a save haven for a lot of people - they love it," Paterniti said. "Traditionally Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest night of the year for bars - we have a blast here. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. it's mayhem."
According to Jeff James, owner of the Labyrinth Press Co. and the Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge, although it's difficult to beat the opening night of Brazil earlier this year, Thanksgiving Eve always results in a large quantity of visitors.
"A lot of people are coming back home for the holidays, and I'm glad they're checking out the new bar," James said.
Jamestown residents Patti Ristau, Cheryl, Nikki and Julie, headed to Brazil Craft Beer and Wine Lounge in Jamestown to celebrate a birthday on Thanksgiving Eve. While enjoying some microbrews and unique wines, the group also enjoyed some tunes spun by Good City Records' Record Friends.
"Our friend is turning 60, and she looks awesome," Ristau said. "It's nice to meet all your friends in Jamestown."
Over at Shawbucks, several Jamestown natives who came home from Buffalo for the holiday season stopped by to reconnect, including: Alex, Ellie, Josh, Andrea and Joe. The group, among the dozens of others in the venue, were entertained by the We Speak Canadian band. The band opened its set with a cover of "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. One of the group's vocalists, Teal Weatherley, said she was both honored and excited to be performing at Shawbucks on Thanksgiving Eve.
"It's obviously the biggest going-out night of the year for people," Weatherley said. "And, Shawbucks, with it's new-and-improved interior, is bound to be the place to go tonight."