Downtown remains the holiday gathering place

Traditional holiday events continue to draw crowds downtown this year in spite of the bone-chilling weather experienced in many parts of the commonwealth.

Last Friday, Rocky Mount’s “Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas,” had its largest turnout yet as guests enjoyed music, food, and shopping with vendors and merchants.  “The horse-drawn carriage rides and the miniature horse and buggy rides for the youngsters were both big hits,” Barbara Chauncey, a volunteer with the Community Partnership for the Revitalization of Rocky Mount told the Franklin News-Post. The temperature was in the thirties, but that didn’t stop children from lining up for the Department of Recreation’s build-a-bear event.

In Staunton, the traditional holiday festivities included the annual parade–this year with a rock and roll theme–and a new character on the scene–Elfis, a rockin’ elf  who encourages shopping locally by handing out Staunton Downtown Development Association giftcards. 

Nothing says tradition in the holidays like a gingerbread house, and Old Town Manassas does that up right.  View the results of their 15th annual Gingerbread House Competition.  In Warrenton, the GumDrop Square  tradition continues with a series of events throughout late Novemember and early December.

Main Street proves itself again this year as a location for business and a community gathering place during the holidays, and there’s still time to get out and enjoy some downtown traditions. Try Waynesboro’s Christmas in River City on Friday evening, the 17th, and First Night Winchester on the Loudoun Street Mall on New Year’s Eve.

Blackstone holiday events keep local elves busy

Downtown Blackstone, Inc. (DBI) has been full of activity this holiday season, successfully coordinating retail promotions and image building events.

The Second Annual Downtown Holiday Open House kicked off the season November 27. Following the Grand Illumination in the town park, DBi drew crowds into downtown by coordinating activities with the local merchants, such as carriage rides, choral groups, storefront decorating, and a drawing at the locally owned Bevell’s Hardware, where the premier model train and Christmas village were on display.  A “Win the Window” contest capped the event with 27 businesses contributing gifts valued at more than $2,000. The event highlighted the local shops while creating a wonderland sense of nostalgia.

Bevell's Hardware holiday train display

DBI closed the holiday event season with the image-building Blackstone Christmas Parade on December 11.

DBI partnered with the Town of Blackstone, Chamber of Commerce, the Volunteer Fire Department and local businesses to organize 15 dazzling floats fit for marching bands, beauty queens, fire trucks and, of course, Santa.

Each event drew close to 2,000 people to downtown Blackstone, a fantastic turn-out to promote the downtown and its merchants. DBi has continued to get out the word by posting photographs and videos of the holiday events through Flickr and YouTube. Check out their Web site for a calendar of events and links to these media postings: http://www.downtownblackstone.org/.