Batavia barber helps make the city brighter and warmer this winter

Foltos holds holiday coat drive, raises cash for peace sign

BATAVIA – Downtown Batavia barber Craig Foltos is working to make Batavia a warmer and brighter place during the holiday season.

Foltos is holding a Christmas coat drive, designed to help bundle up Batavians in need of some assistance.

Donations of new or gently worn coats, hats and gloves may be dropped off at Foltos Tonsorial Parlor, 7 E. Wilson St., during regular business hours.

Foltos said he will be distributing many of the donations directly to families in need, while the rest will be going to the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet.

“We’ll make sure we get them to people in need,” Foltos said. “The whole world gets better when we’re watching after each other.”

Foltos kicked off the holiday coat drive with a visit to his shop from Santa Claus and Mayor Jeff Schielke.

Meanwhile, Foltos is selling special sweatshirts to raise money to replace the “Peace on Earth” lettering on the downtown pedestrian Peace Bridge. Foltos wants to replace the wooden letters with characters made of metal.

Every holiday season, 12-foot-tall “Peace on Earth” letters are installed by Batavia Park District workers on the south side of the bridge’s metal superstructure, creating an inspiring view from the Wilson Street span just a block away.

It was Foltos who originally donated to the park district the letters as well as the lighting designed to illuminate the Peace on Earth message.

In 2011, the Batavia Park Board officially designated the span as the Peace Bridge after a petition campaign by Foltos. A plaque located at the west end of the bridge tells the story of the crossing and the Peace on Earth sign.

“I think the sign tells people that they live in a good community,” Foltos said.

The bridge extends from a location in front of Batavia City Hall on the west bank of the river, to a walkway on the east bank connecting with North River Street.

Wood planks form the bridge deck between the metal girders. The bridge was installed in 1998. A crane hoisted the bridge into place in sections, placed atop a single concrete pier in the middle of the river.

The Peace on Earth lettering is displayed on the bridge every year from Thanksgiving until the end of January.

For several years, Foltos has organized a “Peace Sing-along” in the middle of the bridge on a Sunday evening late in January. The event has taken place in cold temperatures and with snow falling.

This year, Foltos was planning to hold the event in the spring, but the pandemic put a halt to those plans.