Get into the spirit of the holidays at November Storytellers event

As a child, Kirstyn "Kiki" Smith would gaze out her bedroom window in Rochester, New Hampshire, and see a red light that she was sure was Rudolph leading Santa's sleigh. But a thoughtless comment from her little brother made her question the magic of that light, and also acknowledge that her eyesight was fading.

Smith now of Rochester, New York, will share her poignant story ― which also has moments of humor ― on Nov. 16 as part of the The Rochester Storytellers Project show, which has the theme of Holidays. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Comedy@The Carlson, 50 Carlson Road. Doors open at 6 p.m. The third show of the 2022 season, it will feature six true, in-person stories about holidays. The Rochester Storytellers Project is a series of live events featuring neighbors and notables sharing personal stories. What makes it unlike other storytelling event is that journalists curate and coach the tellers to develop stories that serve their communities.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, but if that feels like a stretch, a limited number of $8 tickets are also available. Advance ticket purchase is required; buy online at, or use your smartphone to scan the code at the end of the story.

Smith will be joined by:

Quajay Donnell

Quajay Donnell standing in front of his two entries in the 67th Rochester-Finger Lakes exhibition. Aug. 15.
Quajay Donnell standing in front of his two entries in the 67th Rochester-Finger Lakes exhibition. Aug. 15.

Quajay Donnell thought he'd only be in Rochester for two years when he moved to his wife's hometown. Fifteen years later, he's become a staple in the city's local creative community through his photography and exploration of public art.

Donnell remembers his excitement as a youth, anticipating Christmas morning and the joys of enjoying family and gifts.

As an adult, Christmas transitioned into an exercise in going the extra mile to make his kids happy. Donnell will share a story about how his resolve was tested one Christmas when his youngest son desperately wanted a gift that couldn't be purchased.

Patti Singer

Patti Singer
Patti Singer

Patti Singer, a longtime local news reporter who has written for the Democrat and Chronicle and The Minority Reporter, will share with the audience her Hanukkah miracle.

Singer earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Northeastern University and later obtained a master’s degree education (health science) at SUNY Brockport. She came to the D&C to cover the Red Wings, and finished her career at that paper by writing patient-centered medical stories.

Her story will ring true to anyone who’s misplaced a beloved object, particularly one full of family sentiment.

Lara Capuano

For years, Irondequoit mom Lara Capuano tried to sweep her disgust for the holiday season under the rug for the sake of her five children.

But they could tell her frantic decorating and the hours she spent making holiday costumes masked her real feelings. For Capuano, the brisk fall air paired with the pumpkin-festooned celebration of Halloween brought up memories of grief and loss that lingered throughout the steady drumbeat of autumn and winter holidays.

Now, Capuano describes her struggle with the holidays as somewhat of a "superpower" when it comes to more deeply connecting with members of her family.

Jeiri "Beba" Flores

For Jeiri "Beba" Flores, the bond with her and her mother is what makes every aspect of life extraordinary.

Their tight-knit relationship fills Flores’ calendar with magic and mirth. The disability rights advocate from Rochester says her fondest memories revolve around moments they spent together.

That love has empowered Flores to be her best self.

Amorette Miller

Amorette Miller was raised by her single mother in a 9th-floor apartment in New York City. Growing up, her Puerto Rican family introduced her to a number of holiday traditions to mark the occasions from Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) to Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day). Her mother also created special traditions for the two of them to share at Christmastime.

Miller, who has worked as the Democrat & Chronicle's Growth and Development reporter, will tell the story of how one of those childhood traditions revealed something unexpected about her mother, and how it continues to shape the way she celebrates the holidays.

She lives in Greece with her son and husband.

Scan this code with your smartphone for tickets

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester Storytellers Project to host event November 16 2022