Thousands of people kicked off the holiday season by strolling through Turlock’s historic downtown enjoying holiday festivities including the traditional lighting of Turlock’s Christmas tree in Central Park.
The Friday after Thanksgiving ended up being a dry day, unlike last year when it rained, and at the time of the event was a mild 50 degrees. The evening weather was considered good by many in attendance.
Starting around 4:00pm people began shopping downtown stores, taking the horse and carriage rides, getting their picture taken with Santa, browsing street vendors, and eating at the downtown restaurants.
Turlock Downtown held the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Central Park at around 6:45pm. Mayor John Lazar greeted all those that gathered around the tree by wishing everyone a happy holiday and that while thinking about loved ones with gifts, there’s a way to help out the Turlock community; shopping local when people can contributes more sales tax money toward community services provided by the City. Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association (TDPOA) Executive Director Trina Walley acknowledged and thanked many people that helped make the event possible with contributions in various ways and also some of the City services the Mayor mentioned; municipal services, recreation and police who were at the event helping keep it a safe time.
Mayor Lazar and his assistant, 9 year old son Christopher, led the countdown to the 7pm Christmas tree lighting that successfully took place, and right on time.
Once the Turlock Christmas tree was lighted, people took pictures in around the base and using it for a festive holiday background.
Shopping continued until around 9pm and then activity continued at the downtown restaurants and bars.
Feedback from attendees has generally been that the event was a good family event, that downtown shopping has improved, and that it was better to kick off the holiday season later in the day rather than at midnight or early in the morning.
Members of the Downtown Promotions Committee have stated that the Festival of Lights is always the best event Downtown for sales and continued to say so.
“There were times when we couldn’t move comfortably,” exclaimed Vintage Market owner Teresa Benedict. “Packed!”
Lori Smith of Main Street Antiques who reported great sales and lots of foot traffic said, “One of the best (Festival of Lights) we’ve had in a while, very pleased!”
Further down on Main Street across the tracks, Jen Horn of Ritzy Ragz & Thingz was also pleased with many aspects of the event.
“Awesome! Sales were great! Great exposure! Love downtown!”
In the middle of the event across Main Street from Wellington Station, a merchant not on the Downtown Promotions Committee and new to downtown after recently moving her store Gurl Frenzy from Geer Road explained her experience.
“I was impressed by the amount of people that showed up, a good diversity of people, and my sales were awesome thanks to this event,” said owner Mari Aguilar. “Thanks to all of those who planned it out.”
TDPOA Director Trina Walley wanted to remind everyone that the carriage rides, photos with Santa, and late night shopping would continue every Friday night until December 17th.
Mayor Lazar invited everyone back downtown for Friday’s December 3rd Lights on Parade beginning at 6:30pm (activities starting at 4:00pm).
View some of the pictures taken during the 2010 12th Annual Festival of Lights in the TurlockCityNews.com Photo Gallery (must be a registered user and logged in to access the Photo Gallery or see the link under the Entertainment section). If you have any pictures you would like to submit to be included, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Turlock Downtown Holiday Friday Night Lights:
November 26th to December 17th
Carriage Rides 4:30pm – 8:30pm
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride along Main Street for a whimsical view of the historic downtown district. Carriage stop at 428 E. Main St.
Fee: $5.00 for Adults
12 & under free with paid Adult
Photos with Santa 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Visit with Santa Claus at the Downtown Entrepreneur Center, 300 E. Main St.
Bring your camera for a free photo or choose from packages offered by Downtown Turlock photographers.
Stores Open for Holiday Shopping until 7:00pm
For more information, visit www.turlockdowntown.com