SUNDRE – This Friday, search local businesses for some deals on gifts for everyone on your list, find some family-friendly activities, and fire up your Christmas spirit with pictures with Santa and horse wagon rides during Sundown in Sundre.
“Sundown is the perfect opportunity to kick off the holiday season with a little at-home hospitality and local support,” said Heather Hicks, Sundre & District Chamber of Commerce executive director.
“These are the businesses that support our local sports teams, youth events, non-profit organizations and more. Sundown is our opportunity to return the favour,” Hicks wrote in a Nov. 24 email.
Leading up to tthe Dec. 2 event, Hicks said she had spent some time touring around town to hand out promotional posters and chat with participants.
“I have had a great response from businesses,” she said. “Everyone is really looking forward to the evening.”
For the residents who plan to come out and take part, Hicks encouraged them to explore beyond Sundre’s downtown core and to consider venturing over to businesses on both the east and west sides of town.
“They too have plans for the evening and have said in the past that they don’t see as much traffic as downtown,” she said. “There is sure to be something for everyone going on throughout the day and into the evening.”
It all gets started at noon with a home-based vendor market that will be hosted at the Sundre Elks Lodge #338’s hall until 8 p.m.
Later in the afternoon and into the early evening, a free public skating session sponsored by the chamber will be at the Sundre Arena from 4:30 to 6:45 p.m.
The Sundre Community Choir will be performing for the annual Tree of Hope lighting ceremony that starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Myron Thompson Health Centre’s parking lot.
The Festival of Wreaths, also sponsored by the chamber, will run from 5-9 p.m. at the Sundre & District Museum, with proceeds raised being donated to the Sundre & District Nutrition for Learning Society.
Horse drawn wagon rides will also be available at no cost courtesy of local business sponsors, with the tours heading out from the parking lot south of the Bearberry Creek Bridge at the corner of Centre Street North and 1st Street NW through to the museum and Elks hall area and looping back again to the starting point.
The Den - Sundre Youth Centre will also be holding an open house and offering free hot chocolate, Timbits, as well as cookie decorating. Anyone who plans to drop by is simply asked to bring a donation for the food bank or Sundre Santas.
Local shops will be offering deals while some will extend their hours, and residents will have a chance to play a Sundown in Sundre-themed bingo game, the idea behind which is to incentivize people in a fun way to visit as many places as possible.
Custom-made bingo cards will feature squares such as “Make a purchase at a participating store” as well as “Enjoy a free hot chocolate at The Den” or “Bid on a wreath at the Festival of wreaths” and “Make a food donation to Sundre Santas.”
“I want to encourage shopping and supporting local,” said Hicks. “But I also want to make it feasible for everyone to play without it costing families a lot of money.”
Some businesses reached out to tell her they intend to offer daytime specials instead of keeping their doors open late, she said, adding the bingo sheets will throughout the duration of the day still be good to use at participating locations.
“I have 30 Christmas-themed stamps to give out around town,” she said, adding the stamps will be used for the bingo game and that participating businesses will display a sign confirming their involvement.
“Chamber members have been given first opportunity to have a stamp,” she said. “Once they have all been spoken for, there will be others given out for local businesses participating.”
The squares will also essentially provide a list of everything that’s happening on Friday evening and offer a chance for people to win a prize, she said.
“Qualifying cards – row across, down, diagonal, black out – will be entered into a draw,” she said, adding there will be a total of five draws.
And of course no holiday shop local Christmas-kickoff event would be quite complete without an opportunity to have a photo taken with jolly ol’ St. Nick. The museum will be hosting pictures with Santa Claus from 4-9 p.m., but people must phone 403-638-3233 to book an appointment as drop-ins cannot be guaranteed immediate availability.
“The chamber is working hard to improve and add to our Sundown in Sundre event each year,” she said. “We hope to encourage more and more community members to check out everything Sundre and our local businesses have to offer.”