Community embraces campaign to light downtownPublished 7:30am Friday, November 8, 2013
As the start of the holiday shopping season approaches, there’s always a special anticipation in the air, as Dowagiac shop owners are fast at work. Shipments are arriving daily, with boxes to unpack, and seasonal and holiday merchandise to display. Lights and garlands will be hung, and the finishing touches of enticing window displays will soon be completed.
While this year is no different, there’s a new and noticeable twinge of excitement in the air, as downtown prepares for the start of Dowagiac’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration, and property and store owners for the first time make plans to light the central business district in spectacular holiday fashion.
The three-part Christmas event, which is presented by the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, features the annual Christmas Open House Weekend Nov. 22-24; the 100-unit Candle-light Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 6; and Dowagiac Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30.
“Open House Weekend, which kicks off Friday, Nov. 22, features in-store specials as it encourages both local and neighboring residents to visit our wonderful niche of specialty shops and restaurants,” said Vickie Phillipson, program director of the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Development Authority, who is also chairing family day activities on Saturday, Nov. 23.
“Everyone is excited about the upcoming holiday season and the wonderful things that are in store for us in 2014, including the opening of Dowagiac’s new theatre,” said Jim Frazier, owner of Vincent J. Jewelers. Frazier, whose jewelry store is located across the street from the planned theatre development, led the campaign to light up downtown Dowagiac for the holidays.
“Merchants and property owners up and down Front Street have embraced the light-up campaign with open hearts,” Frazier said. Twenty to 25 property and business owners, including Debbie and Curt Rohdy, who just purchased a storefront in October, have also agreed to join the effort. “This is simply a spectacular way to showcase our beautiful downtown,” Frazier said.
Seasonal events, such as our Christmas celebration typically draw neighboring residents from throughout west Michigan, northern Indiana and Illinois, Phillipson said. “This was most evident at our recent fall festival, when merchants reported 75 to 95 percent of their patrons were from out of town. When it comes to these seasonal events, lighting the tops of storefronts is much like the icing on the cake, especially for our holiday celebration.”
Ron Pierson, owner of Christmas for Rent in Grand Blanc, is under contract to install the lighting prior to the Nov. 22-24 Christmas Open House Weekend. Ron and his wife, Beth, who have owned the company for the past 13 years, had also installed the holiday lighting on this community’s historic train depot.
Property and business owners who would like to join the light-up campaign, can do so by calling the Chamber at 782-8212. Phillipson said people can also still register to have a unit in the Dec. 6 Candle-light Christmas Parade by contacting the Chamber or visiting its website at www.DowagiacChamber.com.
The upcoming three-part holiday celebration has been underwritten by the Chamber of Commerce and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, and these corporate sponsors: Dr. Charles Burling and Dr. Jon Gillesby, Creative Vinyl Signs, Family Fare, Fifth Third Bank, Front Street Crossing, Matthew V. Cripe DDS, Mahar Insurance, Shopko and Vylonis Contracting.