City sidewalks will be busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in downtown O’Fallon Saturday, evoking visual images of the Christmas song “Silver Bells.”
And there will be live music on street corners, complimentary treats and drinks, and merchant specials from noon to 4 p.m. Other activities, sponsored by O’Fallon Parks and Recreation, will go on throughout the day and evening.
The third annual Tinsel Around Town event plans to foster a Christmas spirit, and to showcase the variety of goods, food and services the downtown businesses have to offer.
Jessica Lotz, special events planner for the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, said the event encourages people to shop downtown businesses and restaurants and enjoy holiday festivities.
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“What makes Tinsel so special is that we’ve heard, firsthand, from people how they always intend to come down and pop into certain shops but just haven’t yet. But during Tinsel Around Town, they commit to shopping in downtown and they’re always impressed with how fantastic the shops are,” she said.
Lotz said during the first year’s event, she heard from a local woman who came up to the Chamber tent to share her experience at the Refinery Salon.
“She had no idea they had a retail boutique inside. She showed us some gloves and jewelry she’d purchased. I thought to myself: ‘This is exactly why we coordinate this event!’” she said.
“We want to bring people who may not normally come downtown into the shops and restaurants to see for themselves everything downtown offers. Our businesses work so hard all year, but they work especially long hours during the holidays to decorate their shops and accommodate the crowds,” she said.
The Chamber is placing a few fire pits on First Street. For entertainment, the O’Fallon Township High School Madrigals will perform from noon to 4 p.m. as they roam up and down First Street serenading shoppers.
“If it’s warm enough, the OTHS Jazz band will perform on First Street across from Refinery Salon from noon to 1 p.m. The OTHS Band Boosters will be selling funnel cakes on First Street too, right outside the Chamber office (116 E. First St.),” Lotz said.
Business owner Jennifer Adank of one of the participating businesses, Courage & Grace Design Studio, a do-it-yourself paint studio, is thrilled to be located downtown, and enjoys the camaraderie of the business community.
“It is so fantastic! We love being downtown, and a part of all the things that go on. I think that the Halloween trick-or-treating, or the lighted parade may be our kids’ favorite, but there are so many things that the downtown merchants are a part of. It truly is like no other place we’ve ever lived,” she said.
“Being able to team up with other amazing business owners for Ladies Who Lunch or doing a huge fundraiser for the O’Fallon Police Department, has been such an experience, and having the support of the other businesses is nice. Wood’s helped us with ‘thin blue line’ donuts for our event, and Fezziwigs, The Happy Bakery, Luckenbooth and more were part of Ladies Who Lunch,” she said.
Her business will celebrate its third anniversary in January. Participating in Tinsel Around Town allows people to see her business, because of their workshop set-up, they do not hold “open” hours like a typical retail store.
“Because of that, we have the limited times for people to come in and buy or look around. Being able to showcase some of the products that they can make as they travel around downtown, as well as offer pre-made signs for them to buy, shows the two very different sides of our business,” Adank said.
She opened her shop because of her passion for DIY, and that there wasn’t anything like it in the metro-east.
“I truly have a love and passion for DIY, and love sharing that with others. We started small with just a handful of projects and classes each month. Watching this dream grow and being able to help people paint their projects and be so excited to give them as gifts or hang them in their home has been amazing. Each week, I’m stunned at the projects that people walk out our doors with. There is nothing like the pride of saying ‘I made that’ when someone else sees it,” she said.
Courage and Grace is just one of many businesses that will open their doors Saturday. Gift ideas will abound at each shop.
Lotz recommended that the best way to keep up with Tinsel Around Town is to like the event on Facebook or visit the website www.tinselaroundtown.com.
Tinsel Around Town Saturday schedule
10 a.m.: Kissing Ball Holiday Décor class at the new O’Fallon Station. Register through O’Fallon Parks and Recreation.
12 – 4 p.m.: Tinsel Around Town, a downtown shopping event
12 - 8 p.m.: Storytime with Mrs. Claus. Enjoy stories on the half hour and photos with Mrs. Claus at Avenue Realty (203 E. First St.)
1 – 3 p.m.: Art with Mimi: free cookies and crafts class at the new O’Fallon Station event building.
5 – 8 p.m.: Holiday Horse and Carriage Rides on First Street, sold out already.
5 - 7:30 p.m.: An Evening with Santa at O’Fallon Station. Santa will arrive at the beginning of the evening via horse drawn carriage. While waiting to visit with him, enjoy hot chocolate, decorate a cookie and an ornament and snap a few family photos in the Santa’s slight photo booth. When you’re ready to see Santa, stroll up the red carpet and tell him all that you wish for Christmas. Your visit includes a 5x7 photo taken by a professional photographer. $20/child, pre-registration is required on the O’Fallon Parks and Rec website http://ofallonparksandrec.com/product/evening-with-santa.