Utica's Johnson Park Center showed off its holiday spirit on Monday. Hundreds of locals lined the streets to celebrate an early Christmas in what the JPC calls "The Free Food & Present Giveaway."
The idea originated in 2015 by Reverend Maria Scates. Her vision has now flourished into a winter wonderland for families.
Food of all kinds was being handed out to residents Monday afternoon, followed by families grabbing presents for Christmas just days away.
Rev. Scates, who spear-heads this event, says it’s close to her heart.
"Having been left alone on days like this and during the holiday season, it has a special meaning to me personally,” said Rev. Scates. “We can share with each other and no one has to be alone."
Organizers say this holiday season celebration could not be possible without help from local donors.