Christmas spirit surges downtown on Saturdays

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Full steam ahead, Julie Beck says: ‘Mingle & Jingle’ launched the downtown shopping season with fun and flair Saturday night with other activities in store throughout December.

With a steady throng of people roving through Kilgore’s Main Street core for several hours Nov. 25, visitors got a taste of the community’s seasonal spirit – activities continue every Saturday in December through Christmas.

As customers roamed from store to store, “I think everyone had a great Mingle & Jingle,” Beck said, “and everybody had a good time doing that.”

It was a beautiful night for it, said Debbie VanDoren of Downtown D’Lites.

“We couldn’t have asked God for any better weather than what we got,” she added. “The streets were fairly full. People just really seemed to enjoy each other.

“It was a lot of fun to see people out and about – that’s probably my favorite part about Mingle & Jingle is that people really do smile and laugh and have fun.”

With a full-house on Thanksgiving, two days later inside D’Lites two of VanDoren’s granddaughters had their crafts on display and a son-in-law promoted his new tree business.

“Both of those ventures were very successful,” VanDoren said, praising the supportive guests at the event. “The girls were thrilled to pieces that 21 of their little birds sold.”

According to Jacque Henley, there was a dramatic increase in customer traffic at Everything That Blings.

“I wanted to make it like a party atmosphere,” she said, adding a team of pin-up models to welcome guests and taking a cue from J&Co. and other downtown merchants and restaurants who dive into the event with gusto. “We want to continue that role.”

Next up is downtown’s second annual ‘Deck the Halls’ event, running 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at various businesses in the Main Street District.

Some stores may be open later, Beck noted, ready to welcome customers into the evening. The first December Saturday is focused on decorations amid the holiday shopping.

In some retailers and restaurants, “They will have a craft area where you can make an ornament to decorate your house,” Beck said. At other locations, decorations will be on sale: “Some of the stores are doing discounts, some of the stores will have craft projects where people can make decorations.”

There will be wassail to drink at Beck’s J&Co. and “We always have nibbles,” she said: each business participates in their own way to attract visitors downtown.

Following the Dec. 2 event, the second Saturday in the seasonal series runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 9 through ‘Christmas Cookies with Santa.’

“Most of the downtown merchants I know of are going to participate,” Beck said, stocking up on sweets for visitors: “They can go from store to store and fill their boxes with cookies.

“Each of the merchants will be offering a different type of Christmas cookie. They’re all delicious.”

The second Saturday of ‘Christmas in Kilgore’ will also include storytime with Santa Claus and opportunities for children to submit their wish lists to the Jolly Old Elf. The day will see the return of ‘Dashing Through Downtown’ along with other activities.

Follow the Kilgore News Herald for updates on the holiday happenings.

“I like all these downtown events. They’re fun,” VanDoren said. Mingle & Jingle became an excellent opportunity for her daughter and son-in-law, Tabitha and Matthew Berryman, to see the best of the community. “They’ve been in town for two months. It was fun for them to experience the side of Kilgore that I love so much.”

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