Arlington goes big, shops small to kick off Hometown Holidays (slide show)

ARLINGTON – Arlington got its first snowfall for the season Saturday.

OK, it came from a snow-making machine in a second-story City Hall window on Olympic Avenue, but it added to the spirit of the annual Hometown Holidaysand Shop Small Saturday.

People filled the sidewalks and closed-off main street for a day of neighborly small business shopping that served as a reminder that Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t the only ways to find bargains and save money – sometimes the deals are as close as downtown. Numerous businesses took part, keeping doors open later and providing browsers with coffee, cider, cookies and other treats. 

Mixed in with the shopping were activities to put families in the holiday mood.

The official tree lighting in Legion Park was followed by the Arlington High School Flight Choir on stage performing Christmas hits, while the drumline kept the energy level high in the streets, and sidewalk carolers sang yuletime favorites.

When the evening turned cold and dark, S’more kits were available for kids and parents to roast marshmallows over open fire pits.

“The event was super-successful; I was surprised how many people came,” said Sarah Lopez, the city’s community revitalization project manager.

Lopez said the dry weather, closing off an extra block of Olympic, the new stage in Legion Park with musical entertainment, and heightened interest in shopping local were all factors in the higher turnout.

“One teen girl said she was in a dream, and another group said, ‘next year let’s make it a girls’ outing,’” Lopez said.

Arlington Kiwanis Club sold fresh Christmas wreaths and swags outside Flowers by George.

The future Innovation Center at Olympic and 4th doubled as a Snowman Adoption Center featuring life-size customized painted cutouts of snowmen, and the depot for the Rotary Club’s Christmas Train Ride that took families on a round trip about Olympic Avenue.

The fun’s not over yet.

Hometown Holidays continues Dec. 1 with the highlight Santa Parade at noon, and visits with Santa until about 3 p.m. in the Legion Park Gazebo, live entertainment, festive sweater contest, hot cocoa and wagon rides. Lopez said the American Legion is hosting an event featuring the band Johnny Green and the Pack String, an auction and Santa.

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