Early shoppers vying for $225

Published 11:19 am Friday, November 14, 2008

By Staff
People who jump-start their holiday shopping on Friday, Nov. 21, during the three-day opening of the Dowagiac Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration, will have an opportunity to win $225 in Universal Dowagiac Gift Certificates, as shopkeepers present their finest in holiday merchandise.
The two-part yuletide celebration, which is hosted by the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, is the Grand Old City's official start to the holiday season.
Corporate sponsors of the $7,000 community-wide celebration, which also features the Dec. 5 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 Williams A-1 Expert Tree Service.
The Chamber of Commerce, which is co-sponsoring the weekend drawing for adults, is teaming up with 10 participating locations to award a $25 Universal Dowagiac Gift Certificate to each of the nine winners to supplement their holiday budgets.
According to Vickie Phillipson, program director of the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Development Authority, and chairman of the Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration, shoppers can only register for the holiday drawing during Open House Weekend, which for the first time begins Friday morning, Nov. 21, as participating locations extend their business hours that Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will be open Sunday, Nov. 23, from noon to 4 p.m. Business hours at most locations that Saturday will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Phillipson said organizers included Friday in the special weekend of in-store and community events as a means to extend their holiday specials to those people who may work in Dowagiac and live elsewhere, as well as to local residents, who may have family commitments that Saturday and Sunday.
"The three-day weekend event and its Christmas drawing encourages people to visit our specialty shops and restaurants, such as Caruso's Candy Kitchen, which in June was forced to temporarily close its doors, due to the smoke damage the business suffered from an adjacent apartment fire," Phillipson said.
"Registering is easy. Beginning Friday morning, when stores open Nov. 21 at 9 a.m., people can sign up for the drawing every time they make a purchase at one of our participating locations."
The 10 host sites, which will also be open Sunday, Nov. 23, from noon to 4 p.m., include: Booth's Country Florist, Caruso's Candy Kitchen, Front Street Winery, Imperial Furniture, Laurie Anne's, The Marshall Shoppe, Underwood Shoes, Vincent J. Jewelers, Who Knew? Consignment and The Wren's Nest.
On Saturday, Nov. 22, families will want to visit Beckwith Park from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., where children can meet an Old-World Victorian Santa and one of his elves, tour the Grand Old City by horse-drawn carriage, view an interactive reindeer exhibit by Country Reindeer Farm, attend the holiday storytime and crafts workshop presented at Who Knew? Consignment by Dowagiac District Library and the Miss Dowagiac Scholarship Pageant, and sign up for the children's drawing for a giant gift basket and the opportunity to ride with Santa in the Christmas parade.
Phillipson encouraged parents to bring their cameras, as they'll want to take pictures of children on Saturday, seated beside Jolly Ol' St. Nick in his beautiful white carriage, which Barb and Jack Fryman will have on display for the community's use at Beckwith Park for the holiday celebration.
Families on Saturday will also enjoy their favorite holiday classics, performed beneath the Haggin-Wimberley Memorial Bandstand by the musicians of About Time from 10:30 to 3:30 p.m, and the back-to-back dance performances on Beeson Street, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., featuring students of Positively Dance and Encore Dance Company.
They will also want to visit on Saturday the sidewalk booths of Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan and Caruso's Candy Kitchen, and attend the Theta Mu Sorority Craft Show at Dowagiac Union High School that opens at 9 a.m.
New this year, participating retail locations will also host the Holiday Express Scavenger Hunt, which awards one lucky shopper with a $100 gift card.
The Christmas Open Houses of shopkeepers continues on Sunday, Nov. 23, from noon to 4 p.m., when select shops will feature in-store instrumental solos and duets by music students of Southwestern Michigan College.
Beckwith Park entertainment Sunday features First United Methodist Church Six Ringers at 12:30 p.m. and choir students from Dowagiac Union Schools, under the direction of Jeff Robinson, at 1:30.
To receive a schedule events or to register a unit in the Dec. 5 Candle-light Christmas Parade, call the Chamber of Commerce at (269) 782-8212.
Due to scheduling purposes, last-minute parade applications will only be taken through Monday, Nov. 17.