Children can register for two giant basketsPublished 9:14am Thursday, November 19, 2009
Children who visit downtown Dowagiac this Saturday during the start of this community’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration will have the opportunity to win one of two giant gift baskets, plus the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accompany jolly ol’ St. Nick in one of southwestern Michigan’s largest holiday events, the Dowagiac Candle-light Christmas Parade.
The children’s drawing, which is now in its sixth year, is one of several holiday events that will be held downtown during Open House Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 to 2 p.m.
The two-part yuletide celebration, which is proudly presented by the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, is the Grand Old City’s official start to the holiday season.
The three-day Open House Weekend kicks off Friday morning when participating retail locations open for business and continues through Sunday at most locations.
Corporate sponsors of the $6,500 community-wide celebration, which also features the Dec. 4 Candle-light Christmas Parade, are Matthew Cripe Dental P.C., Family Fare and Spartan Stores, Dr. Charles Burling and Dr. Jon Gillesby, Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union and Wood Fire Italian Trattoria.
“While the Chamber of Commerce for several years has distributed free holiday coloring books to children who meet our Victorian Old-World Santa, six years ago we wanted to create added excitement by giving away the two giant-sized gift baskets,” said Vickie Phillipson, program director for the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), who raised funding for and has coordinated Dowagiac’s holiday celebration for the past several years.
Phillipson said this is the fifth year for the winners of the drawing to also receive a special invitation from the Chamber of Commerce to accompany Santa in the holiday parade.
“New this year, as a means to provide families with a warm and comfortable setting in which children can meet with our Old-World Santa, Wood Fire Italian Trattoria has graciously allowed us to use its Pompeii Room. Located in the downtown across the street from Beckwith Park, our true-to-life Santa and his elf will greet families within the elegant indoor setting of Wood Fire, where children will receive a Christmas coloring book and can sign up for the drawing.”
“The children’s colonial-red gift baskets, each valued at approximately $100, are literally overflowing with toys and are topped off with a plush, floppy-eared dog that’s sporting a holiday red ribbon around his neck,” Phillipson said.
The two winners will be drawn on Monday, Nov. 23, along with the eight winners of this weekend’s $200 Universal Dowagiac Gift Certificate Drawing that will award a $25 gift card to each of the winners, and a $30 gift card to each of the four winners of this year’s Holiday Express Scavenger Hunt.
The gift certificate drawing and scavenger hunt each get under way Friday morning, when participating retail locations open for business and will continue through Sunday at most locations.
Participating retail sites include: Booth’s Country Florist, Caruso’s Candy Kitchen, Imperial Furniture, Laurie Anne’s, The Marshall Shoppe, Smoke Vision Care, Who Knew? Consignment and Wounded Minnow Saloon.
Located within Wood Fire Italian Trattoria, families on Saturday will also enjoy meeting Anna Wilinski, a children’s performer from the Kalamazoo area, who will portray one of Santa’s elves.
“Anna will tie red- and green-colored balloons into the giant-sized balloon-tied candy canes that youngsters can take home with them,” Phillipson said.
Conveniently located across the street at Beckwith Park, outdoor holiday entertainment beneath the Haggin-Wimberley Bandstand on Saturday features choir students from Dowagiac schools, performing from 10 to 11:30 a.m. under the direction of Jeff Robinson.
On Beeson Street, holiday dance performances will be presented from 11:30 to 12:30, featuring Positively Dance and then Encore Dance Co.
Under the direction of C.J. Brooks, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., brass and jazz ensemble musicians from Dowagiac schools will present favorite Christmas classics.
Phillipson said an interactive children’s exhibit, featuring Holly, a reindeer of Alaskan descent from Country Reindeer Farm in Centreville, will also be situated at Beckwith Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during which time horse-drawn carriage rides will be presented by John and Pat Touse of Constantine.
Located this year at Dowagiac District Library, children are invited to attend a holiday storytime and crafts workshop, hosted by library staff on Saturday from 10 to 2 p.m.
Families may come and go as they please, as they also attend the new puppet show downtown, presented by Puppet Ministries of First Christian Church.
The puppet show will be located on the sidewalk in front of the storefront, located adjacent to Wood Fire and Carauso’s Candy Kitchen.