By BRADEN LAMMERS AND DANIEL SUDDEATH
A full slate of holiday events begins Friday around the region, giving residents a chance to shop for Black Friday deals and enjoy winter-themed festivities.
Jeffersonville is kicking off its slate of events this weekend on Black Friday with the grand opening of the city’s ice skating rink.
For the third year the city will open an ice skating rink that will remain open through the holiday season.
And the early returns for rink should be high, according to Sara Schutz, director of special events and the RiverStage for the Jeffersonville parks department.
“We hope to see at least 2,000 to 3,000 people this weekend,” Schutz said. “Especially with light up and the holiday parade on Saturday, we tend to have a nice crowd during the celebration.”
On Sunday, Dec. 1, the rink will host its first skate with Santa day, which she said always draws a crowd.
Saturday will likely be the big day for crowds in Jeffersonville as the city hosts its holiday parade and light up event in Warder Park. Olivia Henken, a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” will be the grand marshal of this year’s parade.
Schutz said normally about 4,000 to 5,000 people attend the events, and similar crowds are expected this year. Trolleys will also be taking people from Warder Park to the ice rink.
Attendance to the rink, and its revenues are dependent on the weather.
“It can be in the 70s and the chiller will keep the ice nice and solid, but the rain is what poses a problem for us,” Schutz said. “I think we’re going to have a nice cold winter though, so I don’t think we’ll worry about that this year.”
According to this weekends forecast, it shouldn’t be a problem for the rink’s opening weekend.
SHOP LOCAL SATURDAY
Following one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and in conjunction with the other events happening in Jeffersonville’s historic downtown Saturday, local merchants will be hosting Shop Local Saturday.
“We always have a good turnout here,” said Victoria Smith, an employee at Grinny Possum Fiber Arts, which is located on Spring Street.
She said that the store expects a good turnout again on Saturday, especially with the draw of the city’s Light Up event and Holiday Parade. During the holiday season Smith said the store generally sees a boost, especially in gift card sales and a boost in classes that are purchased for others.
Additional foot traffic coming into the store is expected with the events being hosted in historic downtown.
“It means quite a lot to local merchants,” said Jay Ellis, executive director of Jeffersonville Main Street Inc. of Shop Local Saturday.
Bookended by two of the busiest shopping days of the year — Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is shopping done online — Saturday’s shopping business has become just as important to the small business owner.
“It’s even more critical to the small boxes the holiday shopping season,” Ellis said. “It can be make or break for a small business owner. It focuses on small business that form the heart and soul of Main Street USA. Downtown Jeffersonville has a lot to offer and a lot of small businesses.”
He added that the events also held downtown Saturday are a great complement to Shop Local.
“Those events are just going to draw more people back to the historic core of the city,” Ellis said.
It’s what businesses like Grinny Possum are counting on.
“People seem to be more likely to park in one place and walk to shop to shop,” Smith said. “Shop local is the atmosphere we cultivate in the shop, we support it wholeheartedly.”
A list of downtown merchants, shops, restaurants, lodging and services are online at jeffmainstreet.org/buy-local/index.html.
JINGLE WALK IN NEW ALBANY
Several events are slated for downtown New Albany on Saturday beginning with the annual Jingle Walk at 1 p.m.
Jingle Walk combines local wine samplings with shopping, as Cedar Creek Winery, Huber’s Winery and Keg Liquors are among the wineries and liquor stores participating in the event.
Many downtown stores and boutiques will take part in the event with several offering specials and discounts.
The stores are open to the public but to take part in the samplings, a ticket is required and can be purchased for $20 on the day of the event or for $15 today at Strandz and Threadz.
Jingle Walk will run from 1 to 6 p.m.
Holiday Fest will take place from 2 to 5:30 p.m. in the MainSource Bank parking lot at the intersection of Spring and State streets.
The event will feature local acts and performances as well as family entertainment. During the same time, Santa Claus will be stopping by the Floyd County branch of the YMCA of Southern Indiana to give out toys.
There will also be face painting, gift making and crafting at the Y, which is located at the intersection of State and Main streets.
Saturday’s events in downtown New Albany conclude with the lighting of the Christmas Tree in the MainSource parking lot. At 6:30 p.m., Mayor Jeff Gahan will announce the Jingle Walk prize winners and then Santa Claus will call for the lighting of the tree.