Thursday, November 10, 2005
By MACKENZIE WHITE, ThisWeek Staff Writer
The holiday celebration in Uptown Westerville is changing.
In an effort to involve more businesses and extend the festivities, the majority of the holiday-themed activities will occur Dec. 2-4, in conjunction with the city's tree-lighting ceremony and parade.
In the past, they would have occurred this weekend, with the holiday open house. Some business owners, however, continue to take part in the open house; they're decorating their stores and plan extended hours for this Saturday. "We don't have the support that we've had in the past for this," said Pat Bishop, owner of The Liberty Tree in Uptown Westerville. The Liberty Tree will close at 9 p.m. Saturday night and will be open from noon-5 p.m. Sunday. "It's been very profitable for me," Bishop said of the open house. Hearts Content Antique Mall is another store that will take part this weekend. Manager Marsha McEvoy said the store will stay open until 10 p.m. Saturday and will be open Sunday from noon-5 p.m. "We're doing our windows up for Christmas and decorating the shop," McEvoy said. "I think it just kind of ushers in the holiday season for some people -- helps put them in the mood."
The store also will offer cookies and special sales this weekend.
In the past, carriage rides and luminaries were part of the open house weekend as well.
This year, however, those are planned for the weekend of Dec. 2-4.
"Uptown in general is changing its look," said Renee Kropat, Westerville Uptown Merchants Association secretary. "You can pretty much do anything you want in Uptown ... We have a lot more than just retail shops there. Well, when you get that kind of thing occurring, different things are needed."
As part of an effort to meet those changing needs, the association has scheduled activities to surround the city's tree-lighting ceremony and parade.
The tree-lighting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 2, with Santa Claus arriving at around 7:30 p.m. and carriage rides available from 6-9 p.m.
Uptown stores will stay open until 9 p.m. as well, Kropat said.
The carriage rides and other Christmas activities will continue on Dec. 3 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
"This year, we added a lot of activities to make it a whole-family evening for people to come to uptown," Kropat said.
In addition to the retail stores participating, service-related businesses such as Westerville Commercial Bank and Edwards Jones Co. have planned open houses as well.
The parade is tentatively scheduled to step off at 1 p.m. Dec. 4, according to the city's Web site.
The holiday window-painting contest also begins Dec. 2. Students and local artists will paint the windows of Uptown shops.
Through Dec. 22, people are encouraged to leave canned goods and self-care items such as toothbrushes and shampoo at the store with the painted window they like the most.
The artist whose store collects the most canned goods is named the winner and receives a cash prize.
Last year, more than 400 canned goods and items were donated, Kropat said.
Other holiday activities include a free concert at 8 p.m. Dec. 10 at Generations Performing Arts Center, located at 11 W. College Ave., Kropat said. Those attending are asked to donate money or canned goods to the American Red Cross, Annehurst Veterinary Hospital or Westerville Area Resource Ministry.
Hands of Harmony, a group that does sign language to Christmas music, and the Missing Link Jazz Ensemble will perform.