MARYSVILLE — Even before “Merrysville for the Holidays” commenced that afternoon, downtown Marysville was literally singing with holiday cheer on Saturday, Dec. 1, as the stores, sidewalks and stages of Third Street were visited by a duo of strolling musicians and an a cappella quartet.
“We’ve lost count of how many Christmas seasons we’ve come to Third Street,” said accordionist Bert Carlson, as he and saxophonist Herb Hamilton ducked into shops such as Finders Keepers Furnishings while wearing their Victorian period attire. “It just feels like an old-time Christmas, the way Christmas used to be.”
“It’s the camaraderie of the community,” Hamilton agreed. “They’re one big family here.”
On the Outer Court stage adjacent to the Carabinieri Bar espresso stand, the quartet of Ron Foss, Joneen Richards, and Darryl and Karen Handley performed popular seasonal standards while community members dropped off food items for Allen Creek Community Church’s Seeds of Grace, in order to get their families’ photos taken with Santa Claus.
“This is a great stage, but you can’t let yourself get distracted,” Richards laughed, as Karen Handley pointed out that they had to remember to ignore the sounds of the trains and to bring their own lights when their performances go late.
“We just hope we can make what might be a difficult holiday season for some folks a bit more enjoyable,” Foss said, while praising Carabinieri Bar owner Chrissie Clementson for being such a gracious host.
For her part, Clementson was surprised that her collection bucket had already overflowed before Santa had even posed for many photos, but she wasn’t alone since Eric Schoonmaker, co-owner of Trusty Threads, had to empty out the plastic barrel that was serving as his collection bin for St. Joseph’s House, not once or twice or three times, but four times before the afternoon.
“There’s been lots of interest,” said Schoonmaker, who credited the “Passport to Christmas” program by the Downtown Marysville Merchants’ Association with getting people out on the street and into Third Street’s stores that day. “People saw the story in the newspaper, and they like our shops anyway. By having them get their ‘passports’ stamped by all the participating stores, it’s given them an added incentive and turns it into a game.”
“It’s nice to have an atmosphere like this,” said Marja Oosterwyk, owner of Oosterwyk’s Dutch Bakery. Although she wasn’t able to participate in this year’s “Passport to Christmas” program, she appreciated the number of filled-up parking spots on the street, which she credited to the program.
Mary Kirkland, owner of the Hilton Pharmacy, agreed that the number of visitors to her store who stopped by to get their “passports” stamped was “a lot.”
“Many of them had never been here before,” said Kirkland, who reported that scented candles proved to be one of her more popular shopping selections that day. “Especially the Indian Summer candles.”