Although this “great lake” town is known for its summers, its winter months are not given enough hype. Just as any community-based city would, Erie gets ready for the holiday season two months early. These seven basic attributions color the city during the holidays:

1. Lights. Beyond the decorations lining the streets of downtown Erie, Perry Square is lit up like a winter wonderland during the month of December. Mayor Joseph Sinnott – a Gannon grad! – flips the switch and transforms the iconic city block into a beacon of hope for all during this festive time of the year.

2. Shopping. During the months of November and December, shopping really picks up. The best places to search for that perfect holiday gift include the Millcreek Mall, stores on Peach Street and a number of great small businesses in the region. The Erie Chamber of Commerce especially focuses on Small Business Saturday to promote shopping at locally owned Erie businesses.

3. Food. What more gets us thinking about the holidays than our favorite traditional delicacies? The Starbucks specials are in, but many other restaurants in the city have holiday meals and deals. State Street is home to many Erie originals, so stop in at any of the local restaurants in December and you’ll find a number of new items.

4. Crafts. Various high schools and cathedrals as well as the Warner Theatre host craft shows suitable for everyone from grandma to baby. Why not pop into the Warner to try your hand at wreath-making? Perhaps you forgot to get the boss a gift this year, so pick up a hand painted ornament from McDowell High School or the Lake Shore Fire Department.

5. Shows. High schools and theatre companies whip up their own holiday-themed productions just in time for Christmas. Dramashop, the Warner Theatre, and the Erie Playhouse put on productions that put audience members in the jolliest of spirits.

6. Christmas Trees. The Bayfront Convention Center holds its annual Christmas Tree Expo to kick-start the holiday season. Meanwhile, students at Gannon fight the cold weather blues by putting up trees in their dorms/apartments. They typically make a trip to one of the tree farms in Edinboro, or lug their faux-pine plants up to Erie with them after Thanksgiving break.

7. Music. Along with almost every Erie city school, Gannon’s choir holds a Christmas concert. The choir joins in song either as city carolers or at the Schuster Theatre in December.