WESTFIELD–Residents coming to the downtown area this Saturday will have plenty to do–or buy–as the holiday season is kicked off in Westfield.
People can experience parades, a tree lighting, deals at a variety of small businesses and much more as Dickens Days and Small Business Saturday both coincide on Nov. 26. The events will help to highlight the continued improvements that the city has seen, including improved foot traffic flow, more storefronts and improved community involvement.
The events this weekend though, are especially important to Mayor Brian Sullivan. He said that last year’s version of the events were the first set of events he was part of as acting mayor. He said that the city does an excellent job celebrating the holiday season and that there is a lot of hard work put into the effort every year.
“What an exciting display of community participation, with so many family activities and business involvement,” Sullivan said.
“This Saturday brings more awareness to downtown and what is down there, and we hope that it continues to bring more people down there,” Amber Danahey, Westfield’s community outreach coordinator, said. “There’s great places to walk and to see. It’s a much easier way to walk, parking is improving–it’s a much better thing for Westfield.”
Those who visit the downtown area can expect to have a variety of events to attend, many of which are family-friendly. Starting at 10 a.m., Santa Claus will be brought to the Park Square Pavilion by fire truck, and the Curiosity Shop Tour–a self-guided tour of shops in the area with events, snacks and giveaways–will start at the Rinnova Building on Elm Street. Also at 10 a.m., those interested can go to the South Middle School on West Silver Street and participate in the Lanternlight Workshop, to create their own lanterns for the Lanternlight Parade at 6:15 p.m.
Those who stop by the Rinnova Building can also expect to find handmade crafts from local artists, as well as a variety of raffle prizes. People can enter to win the prizes by buying a $5 coupon booklet that has three raffle tickets inside. Prizes include a variety of gift certificates from businesses including Whip City Music, Two Rivers Burrito Company, Blue Umbrella Books, Fast Feet and more.
These events will be the beginning of the 13th annual Dickens Days, a month-long nonsecular celebration of the holidays and community in Westfield.
“I really feel like Dickens Days is a part of the community spirit,” Bob Plasse, chairperson for Dickens Days and board member for Westfield on Weekends, said. “It makes me feel like I’m part of the Christmas classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.”
In addition to Dickens Days, shoppers can come to Westfield and find a variety of deals during Small Business Saturday, a promotion sponsored by American Express and organized through the community outreach office and the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce.
The program has over 30 businesses participating, from downtown eateries to boutiques to specialty shops, all with their own particular offerings. There will be discounts, such as: Whip City Candle providing 25 percent off the former QVC product and local claim to fame Bean Towne Bears; Flowers by Webster giving 25 percent off storewide (with exclusions); George’s Jewelers providing 20 percent off all sterling silver jewelry.
In addition, those looking for unique gifts can stop by Blue Umbrella Books, as they will have four local vendors in their shop, including personalized blown glass made on-site by Crystal Creations, handmade bath soaps by Mexico Beach Soap and needle-felted wool sculptures by Red Rooster Felt. Whip City Candle–which is near downtown on Elm Street–will also be providing a variety of handmade and custom boutique items, many of which are locally-made.
Aside from the deals though, small business owners also make the case that shopping local will get you added benefits that you may not get from larger stores.
“There’s enough stores in Westfield where you can find something for anyone,” Anne Woodson of George’s Jewelers, said. “It reminds you that when you buy local, the money stays local.”
Julie Guthrie, also of George’s Jewelers, said that shopping local will also provide you with a one-on-one experience that chain stores typically cannot provide.
“We give you something that big box stores can’t provide–unique, one-of-a-kind recognition and service,” Guthrie said.
And finally, if you’ve had your fill of treats, shopping, craftwork and other experiences, the city welcomes you to wrap it all up with the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, at 6:30 p.m., at Park Square.
For more information and a full calendar of events, pick up a Pennysaver from The Westfield News, wherever The Westfield News is sold.
For more information on Dickens Days, visit dickensdays.com