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This Months Feature Story

In search of an evergreen for the holidays

By Laura Livingston Snyder

Of all the traditions a parent could follow while raising children, getting the annual Christmas tree is probably one of the most memorable.


Lights on the Lake

Lights on the Lake 2017. Photos by Dylan Suttles

Lights on the Lake continues through Jan. 7. Visitors can drive through the illuminated wonderland along Onondaga Lake every evening from 5 to 10 p.m.  The entrance is via Onondaga Lake Parkway in Liverpool. Admission is $10 per vehicle, Mondays through Thursdays, and $15 per vehicle, Fridays through Sundays. On Mondays and Tuesdays, visitors who show a Wegmans Shoppers Club card can get in for $6 per vehicle. For more information, call (315) 453-6712. And children can enter the Lights on the Lake Coloring Contest by going to this page, printing out the image, and coloring and posting the picture:


For more details on this and other December events, see the Calendar.





© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York

The Faces of Fall

Every fall brings a new crop of photogenic faces to the Family Times offices as we review entrants in the annual Cover Kid Contest.

Picking just four winners—one in each age category--and eight finalists is never simple. Each photo—usually snapped by a parent—depicts a beaming face. Or, less often, the picture shows a child not grinning broadly but scowling evocatively, which has its own charm.

The task of deciding the winners this year fell to three judges drafted from our company’s team of visual artists: Michael Davis, photographer for both Family Times and sister publication the Syracuse New Times; Briana Viel, graphic artist for both publications; and James Rutkey, manager of the Creative Services Department.

In our guidelines for judges, we say, “This is not a photography contest or a beauty contest. We are simply looking for kids who are relaxed in front of a camera and like having their pictures taken.” But picking the winners who best reflect those qualities is easier said than done.

The winners in each age category were:
Tai Nguyen of Manlius (ages 2 to 4); Breanna Murphy of Phoenix (ages 5 to 7); Alexandra Jacob of North Syracuse (ages 8 to 11); and Amanda Baker of Fayetteville (ages 12 to 16). Each of the winners will appear on a forthcoming cover of Family Times.

The finalists were: Shaylin Florczykowksi of Cicero and Olivia Ogata of Jamesville (ages 2 to 4); Drew Baker of Cicero and Meghan Moyer of Liverpool (ages 5 to 7); Sara Bourdon of Minoa and Faith Scheemaker of Baldwinsville (ages 8 to 11); and Allison Bollinger of Baldwinsville and Amanda St. Onge of Hannibal (ages 12 to 16).

Entry fees will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York. Last year, some 400 families found respite at CNY Ronald McDonald House, the home away from home for relatives staying near a seriously ill child who is receiving treatment locally. For more information, visit

We want to thank all the parents whose entry fees pay for a donation to this local charity. And thank you, also, to the children who showed us their photogenic faces.

—Reid Sullivan