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A Central New York Christmas: Local Family Celebrates at Hotel Utica Year After Year

It is said that "home is where the heart is." Just ask one Central New York family who gathers from all over the country right here in Utica every year to celebrate the holiday.
It is said that "home is where the heart is." Just ask one Central New York family who gathers from all over the country right here in Utica every year to celebrate the holiday.
The Cardamone family is from Utica but over the years the five siblings have moved all across the east coast. Every single Christmas, all 30 of them make the trek back up to the Mohawk Valley and hold their holiday celebration in the lobby of Hotel Utica.
"We come here every other year and this is kind of like our home,” says Rose Cardamone Crane.
"It actually feels more homey to me to stay here than it does sometimes when we're back in Maryland,” said Allie Butanis.
Rose’s mother or Allie’s grandmother lives in the Masonic Care Home. She’s the magnet that pulls the family back to Utica every year. And Hotel Utica, especially the lobby, has become their Christmas home.
"We visit, we socialize, we have a lot of fun together, so, if you look at the furniture over there, it's all nicely arranged and when we get a hold of it, we rearrange it into a circle of 30 loud Italians having a good time,” said Mike and Sharon Cardamone.
"A lot of drinking, and eating tomato pies and getting together with everybody from all over the place,” says Patrick Cardamone.
"It’s so cozy and big, we all grew up in a big colonial and since we don't have that house this is what we call home for Christmas,” said Rose.
The Cardamone family says one of their favorite parts about coming back every year for Christmas is visiting their favorite Utica food spots.
"We always come back for the food, I make cheese runs to Napoli's and bring that to my friends down in Jersey,” says Patrick.
And some of those favorite spots revolve around some of Utica's most popular specialties, which still taste good after all these years.
"As we joke, eat our way through Utica, we get the tomato pie and the greens and I’m introducing Ben to this tradition too,” says Allie.
"We have all our favorite places, all our favorite foods that you can't get anywhere else, like O'Scugnizzo pizza, the half-moons, greens just about any place, we're eating our way through Utica,” said Mike and Sharon.
"It's kind of cool, my daughter is 25 and I was showing her all of the places that I used to hang out in downtown Utica where I used to take the bus and shop so, it's really nostalgic, it's great,” says Rose.
All 30 or so members of the Cardamone family take up about 15 rooms at the Hotel Utica every year. They say they plan to keep the tradition alive for years to come.

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