Dressing for the holidays

Crews could be seen on Nov. 18 getting Washington Park ready for the Light the Park celebration. The public is invited to come out Saturday evening for the lighting ceremony, music, treats, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

QUINCY — Businesses in downtown Quincy are geared up for the holiday season, and the District is hoping to get attention focused on local shops, in particular on Saturday.

Jeremy Ledford, the director of programming and marketing for the District, said that the continued revitalization of Quincy’s historic downtown is a multifaceted process. This weekend, some of those processes come together to celebrate the holiday season.

“Our local businesses are certainly a critical aspect of our economy,” Ledford said, “(and) we feel it is important to coordinate social events such as Small Business Saturdays and Light The Park throughout the year to actively draw visitors to our downtown, creating both an entertainment and shopping destination. A ‘big picture’ collateral effect of this is to make Quincy increasingly attractive as a place for people to live by retaining our current residents and drawing in new ones.”

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010 as a way to re-energize local economies following the recession that was experienced across the country. The date usually falls on the Saturday following Thanksgiving and after Black Friday. The District pairs this with the “Light the Park” event in Washington Park, bringing the public out with treats, Christmas lights, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Kelly Hardin at Dame Hurdle said she expects the story to be busy this weekend.

“We’re a little bit different because people usually come in here for a specific reason, not as much for browsing,” Hardin said. “But we set up the signs to invite people in when for jewelry cleaning and things when there are events happening downtown.”

Hardin said the work the District does to support local businesses helps unite the retailers in downtown Quincy.

“We all just act like neighbors,” she said. “We send people here and there if they’re looking for something to buy or to eat or a place to get a drink, and we hope they do the same for us.”

Hardin said the Small Business Saturday program helps with things like ads that run to let people know what different stores are offering, like Dame Hurdle offering gift bags to the first ten customers to come in on Saturday.

“We encourage businesses to unite,” Ledford said. “We understand businesses need to be competitive, but we also encourage them to join together with the District’s retail promotions offered throughout the year. These coordinated events allow for businesses to gain more exposure together as opposed to independently expending large amounts of resources for advertising.

“The District’s retail committee meetings are also open to any interested business in our boundaries and provide a way to get together with fellow store owners and strategize to draw customers to their doors,” he added.

Christine Kaiser has been working in the downtown area for decades, and she said both the work done by the District and the Small Business Saturday program give boosts to local shops like her Expressions By Christine.

“It’s not just a feel-good thing, it truly helps out small businesses,” Kaiser said.

“I think the District has come a long way,” she continued. “I’ve been here 35 years, so I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, and I feel it’s definitely on an up-swing. I’m proud to see the work they’ve done in the downtown. They’ve done a great job of filling the downtown with different stores, so it’s not the same thing every time you turn around. It’s just really diverse, and that means there’s a little something for everyone. We’re just really glad to be a part of it.”

Ledford said the District is excited to welcome the public back to Washington Park again Saturday evening, as the day of deal-hunting wraps up with their holiday kick-off tradition.

“(We’re) thrilled to present Light The Park for yet another year, thanks to the generous support of our event sponsors,” he said. “We are expecting a large turnout in Washington Park Saturday evening as we welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus to Quincy and kick off the holiday shopping season. This event seems to be even more special this year, given the toll the pandemic has taken on us all. We’re proud to make downtown Quincy shine bright throughout the holidays and hope all make it a point to visit downtown and shop local this holiday season.”

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