MOUNT VERNON — A beautiful day greeted visitors and shop owners Sunday for the 2009 Christmas Walk in downtown Mount Vernon. The afternoon offered an array of activities for the whole family — everything from eating, shopping and browsing the local shops for the right gifts for the holidays, to holiday entertainment to get people in a festive mood.
Mary Davis of Fredericktown was with her daughter shopping for Christmas gifts, and stopped into Paragraphs Bookstore to check out children’s books.
“I’m looking for gifts and checking out all the new stores that have opened up,” said Davis. “I’m seeing a lot of things I like. I usually come every year [to the Christmas Walk]; I like the atmosphere. During the week, I don’t get to come out and shop as much, but today has been great.”
Something new this year was a gift-wrapping service offered to downtown shoppers. The Heritage Centre Association added the service as a “thank you” to local businesses and downtown visitors for their support of the event.
Krystal Drye and Dee Allerding volunteered to wrap gifts for visitors.
“People have really liked it,” said Drye. “We hope to do it next year and see more people come get their gifts wrapped.”
Everywhere visitors went, the joyful melodies of the Christmas season filled the air. A tradition of the Christmas Walk is the horse-drawn hayrides sponsored by First-Knox National Bank. While visitors waited to ride, holiday carolers and singers entertained in the parking lot.
Youngsters had the opportunity to sit with Santa Claus in the front of FirstMerit Bank.
Although the Grinch, a character of Christmas who is often depicted as a “spoilsport” of Christmas joy and fun, didn’t steal Christmas this year, during the walk, true to his name, the Grinch was the bull’s-eye for many eager Christmasgoers. As a fundraiser for Food for the Hungry, the Pink Cupcake and Frenzy held the cupcake-throwing event.
“We’ve had a lot of people out,” said Maureen McCardel, co-owner of Frenzy. “The weather has really helped, and people have been walking the Christmas Walk.”
Avery Smith, a student at Centerburg High School, volunteered to play the part of the Grinch.
“It’s going great this year. Fabulous,” said Terrie Lewis, owner of the Secret Closet, said of participation in the Christmas Walk. “Absolutely better than last year, and with the weather so nice, it’s been a big help to bring out customers.”
The Secret Closet was also open late on Saturday as many visitors of the Christmas Parade lingered in downtown to shop late.
“Most people leave after the parade, but I had late shoppers; that was great,” said Lewis.
Sarah Cicconetti stopped into the Secret Closet to find the perfect dress for an upcoming Christmas party.
“We were just taking a walk today and ended up downtown, not knowing that this was going on, but we have been in almost every shop just looking around. It has been really nice,” said Cicconetti.
“It’s been a fun day and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves,” said Lewis. “Downtown has so much to offer, I’m glad people are coming out.”
Elvis, portrayed by Lew Sleeman, was at the Pink Cupcake during the Christmas Walk, singing holiday hits and some of his all-time classics.
“Business has been good,” said Beth Murdock, co-owner of the Pink Cupcake. “It goes in waves, but I do think it’s been better than last year, and the weather has been much better.”
Customers to the Pink Cupcake could enter a raffle for a free Christmas cake and with every purchase receive a free banana cupcake.
“It’s Elvis’ favorite,” said Murdock.
North Main Street shops such as Redz Gallery and One North Main were also open to the public during the walk.
“The day has been excellent. Every year we have a great turnout,” said Tonia Osborn, co-owner of the Redz Gallery. “With the business of Thanksgiving, then Black Friday, I think people are just looking for a relaxing day to shop, away from the holiday stress.”
Margo Gruber, owner of the recently opened One North Main Furniture Consigment Shop, said she saw a lot of foot traffic in the store Sunday.
“I wish it could be like this every day,” she said.
The shop offers consignment furniture as well as handbags, jewelry, aprons and a variety of furnishings for the home.
The Christmas Walk came to a close with Caroling for Christ on Public Square, sponsored by The Salvation Army. “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “The First Noel” and other classics were sung to usher in the joyous season of family, friends and faith.
Laurel Wagner of Down Home Leather said she went through nine dozen cookies Sunday afternoon.
“All right, well, I had the first dozen myself,” she joked, adding that everyone in the store had a ball with Sunday’s Christmas Walk.
“It did better than we thought it would,” Wagner said. “We were down a little bit from last year, and didn’t see all our usual customers, but we saw some new faces, too.”