Life-size elf on a shelf, miniature horses join Santa at holiday showcase

DOWAGIAC — Families visiting downtown Dowagiac during this community’s Christmas Open House Weekend will enjoy several new attractions along with a children’s drawing that awards a towering gift basket to a boy and girl, plus an opportunity to accompany Jolly ‘Ole St. Nick in the Dowagiac Candle-light Christmas Parade, according to organizers.

Now in its 14th year, the children’s drawing is one of several holiday events staged downtown during Family Activity Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.

The four-part Yuletide celebration, presented by Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, represents the official start to the holiday season.  Open House Weekend, Nov. 8-11, kicks off Thursday evening at 5 p.m. with the new “Holiday Hop – Mingle, Dine and Shop” event at specialty shops and continues at some locations through 4 p.m. on Sunday. The celebration also includes Small Business Saturday, the Candle-light Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 7, and Breakfast with Santa, co-hosted by the Dowagiac Elks on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Corporate sponsors of the celebration, include: The Business Center of Southwest Michigan, Chemical Bank, Clark Chapel/Starks Family Funeral Homes, Cass County Council on Aging/Front Street Crossing, Deck the Halls, Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union, Dowagiac Area History Museum, Edward Jones Office of Kim MacGregor, Imperial Furniture, John A. Vylonis Custom Building, Mahar Insurance, May Oberfell Lorber, The Timbers of Cass County and Vincent J. Jewelers.

An Old-World Santa, assisted by the Miss Dowagiac Court of Honor, will visit with children from 10 to 2 p.m. within the Pompeii Room at Wood Fire Italian Trattoria.  Vickie Phillipson, Chamber of Commerce program director and chairman of the holiday celebration, said families will also find a European-styled Mrs. Claus at Wood Fire, making packets of Magic Reindeer Dust with children. The interactive workshop with Mrs. Claus is presented, courtesy of the Miss Dowagiac Scholarship Pageant, which celebrates its 80th year in 2019.

Phillipson said she is also pleased to present a life-size “Elf on a Shelf,” who will greet families at Beckwith Park, where children can see the costumed miniature horses of Whitney Podell.  At Beckwith Park, day-visitors can take a horse-drawn wagon ride from the downtown to the Dowagiac Area History Museum, where they can design an original Christmas card.

New this year, the Dowagiac Fire Department will roast marshmallows at Beckwith Park, as families enjoy the four-hour Holiday Showcase of Local Youth, including performances by Dowagiac Union High School choir and marching band, Miss Michele & Co., and MKSOD and Positively Dance.

In-store events will be held at Bow Wow Bakery & Bath, where holiday pet photos will be taken from 10 to 2 p.m. and at Who Knew? Consignment, where Kris Kringle Krafts will be available until 3.  At Dowagiac Middle School, day-visitors will enjoy the annual Theta Mu Sorority Craft Show from 9 to 3 p.m.    

For a full list of holiday activities or to register a unit in the Dec. 7 Candle-light Christmas Parade, call the Chamber of Commerce at (269) 782-8212 or visit DowagiacChamber.com or its Facebook page.

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