Christmas decorations carry on Warren restaurant owner’s spirit

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Saratoga Restaurant has been a staple in downtown Warren for more than a century.

So when longtime owner Jim Economos passed away in 2015, his daughter Jennifer Sudzina knew she wanted to do something to carry on his memory.

“He was very big into his community,” Sudzina said. “And not to mention, he just loved Christmas lights.”

That’s where the idea behind Light Up the Square came from.

For the past three years, Sudzina and a group of volunteers have been stringing up lights — decorating the areas around courthouse square in an effort to bring Economos’ holiday spirit downtown.

“This project was just to keep him going in the city,” Sudzina said. “And because people who come in today don’t understand what he did down here.”

It takes volunteers the better part of three weekends to get the job done — “It’s not easy but we love doing it,” Sudzina says — and all their work takes center stage this Friday.

That’s when a free holiday celebration called Christmas in the Square takes place.

“Just to have his memory here with us and to bring in Christmas with his memory is just an awesome way to celebrate here in the city of Warren,” Sudzina said.

Christmas in the Square goes from 5-8 p.m. on Friday. It will feature performances, photos with Santa, horse-drawn wagon rides, a Christmas market and a tree lighting — which will take place at 8 p.m.

Light Up the Square relies on donations to maintain the decorations they have. It’s a collection they hope will keep growing too.

Check out their Facebook page here.