For those new to Salem and the work of Salem Main Streets, there’s a frequent misconception that life must get quieter for us after October. We do our best to laugh politely when we hear this from friends and family, as nothing could be further than the truth! Little do they know that we have been planning for months for Holiday Happenings, a collection of events and initiatives celebrating downtown Salem that keep us going non-stop from mid-November through New Year’s Eve.
We’re often so busy looking forward to the next season that we often neglect to celebrate what we’ve just accomplished. As we prepare for our Annual Meeting on Tuesday night, we wanted to take a quick chance to recap all the different pieces that made up Holiday Happenings 2015 for Salem Main Streets – you’ll see what we mean about going non-stop:
- Wreaths and Ribbons – to add to the festive atmosphere, we hung over 100 wreaths around the downtown (this year with lovely white lights, thanks to the City of Salem’s Electrical Department!), and a squad of 25+ volunteers spent a beautiful November morning lugging ladders around and covering the downtown in red ribbon.
- The Holiday Tree – our holiday tree on Lappin Park is always a perfect example of the collaborative spirit of Salem, and this year was no exception. From the hours the City’s Department of Public Works donates in helping to decorate, to the community partners who help with selection, delivery, and donations for the tree, to the hundreds of tourists who give donations to Duchess Gigi in October specifically for the tree, and of course, one beautiful, locally-grown and donated tree!
- Santa’s Arrival and Tree Lighting – due to a logistical snag, we re-combined these two popular events on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and we are so glad we did! We have never had such a crowd (see picture at the top of this post), and it was truly an incredible way to welcome in the season.
- Small Business Saturday – Main Streets teamed up with the Salem Chamber and 40 downtown businesses this year to help promote shopping small and local the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and despite the less than ideal weather, the city was packed with happy shoppers all day long. It also marked the beginning of a month-long partnership with the Boy Scouts, who sold wreaths and wrapped gifts out of the Info Booth as a fundraiser.
- Salem Winter Market – we tried something new this year, and decided to move our winter extension of the Salem Farmers’ Market to one weekend day a month, rather than a weekly weeknight through November and December. It seems like you all approved – we saw over twice as many people in those two days than we did for the entire winter market season last year!
- Holiday Window Contest – our annual holiday window contest between downtown businesses returned with a vengeance, this year with a social media component where shoppers posted pictures of their favorites.
- Festive Friday Nights – we are constantly trying new ways to encourage downtown shopping, and this year we encouraged over 30 downtown retailers to commit to staying open until 8 pm every Friday in December. We gave it kind of a trial run this year, but we are looking forward to hearing from businesses whether we should expand on this in future years.
- New Year’s Eve – and last but certainly not least, our New Year’s Eve LAUNCH! event was bigger and better than ever, with over 700 attendees during the two hour event and a “greener” countdown this year with beachballs and paper whirligigs and airplanes to replace the less environmentally-friendly balloons we’d used in the past.
Phew! No wonder we’re just getting around to recapping it now! But what was it all for? Why does Salem Main Streets DO all these things in the first place? Join us for our Annual Meeting on Tuesday night at Ames Hall at the YMCA at 5:30 p.m. and find out!