By Jeffery Smith

CORNING - A bigger than ever crowd filled the annual Holiday Party Tuesday at the Corning Youth Center to enjoy a free dinner, get some cool presents from Santa Claus and enjoy time with Frosty and Rudolph.

Harmony Ayers-Friedlander, executive director of Family Service Society Inc., said more than 150 youths and their families, who often use the Youth Center, enjoyed the event, as well as several community guests, board members and Youth Center staff.

“I couldn’t wait for Santa Claus,” said 10-year-old Safiyah Muhammad, moments before Santa made his grand appearance. “I’ve been coming here for years and I have a favorite, Brooke Cain, a program aid.”

Lorenzo LaMondie, a 12-year-old, called the event lots of fun.

“I like the presents,” LaMondie said. “I haven’t opened them yet, but I hope to get nice toys and maybe a box or two of candy.”

Ayers-Friedlander said more than 60 children at the event received a bag of gifts from Santa.

“Every family will also get a pie to take home with them, purchased through a generous donation from the Bob Rockwell Memorial Fund, which also made a $500 donation to the event in the name of Deputy Mayor Bill Boland,” said Ayers-Friedlander. “Barnes & Noble donated four large boxes of books to give to youth at this event and others in the future.”

Ayers-Friedlander said annual events at the Youth Center continue to grow rapidly each year. The Youth Center staff provides the 50-60 kids that come after school every weekday with free math and science tutoring and food.

"It's really a great place here," said Boland, who helped serve food to youths and their families.