Christmas Preview in Downtown Chico
By Kimberly Boney
It's Beginning to Look a lot Like ChristmasNovember 2015
By Kimberly Boney
Nothing invites the holiday spirit into the heart quite like the sound of carolers roaming beautiful tree-lined streets, the smiles of strangers and the sweet, intoxicating aroma of hot chocolate on a crisp fall evening. For nearly the last four decades, the Downtown Chico Christmas Preview has officially kicked off the holiday season in the quaint yet hip 40 square blocks that encompass the district of the Downtown Chico Business Association. With nearly 450 businesses, there is concentrated fun to be had, joy to be shared and memories to be made in Downtown Chico all year long, but particularly at the Christmas Preview. This year’s event takes place on Sunday, Nov. 22 from 4-8 pm.
Considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year for the menagerie of downtown businesses – and one of the most strongly supported membership events on the business association’s roster – the Downtown Chico Christmas Preview is a chance for businesses to roll out the proverbial red carpet for their loyal customers and offer them the finest selection of gifts for everyone on their shopping list. With refreshments abounding, Christmas trees aglow, cash boxes ringing and holiday cheer radiating, it’s no wonder this event has become a tradition for businesses and also for the many attendees who come back year after year to usher in the holiday season with their friends and families.
And a place to enjoy your favorite holiday tunes couldn’t hurt, either. Local radio stations set the mood to music with a selection of holiday favorites that you’ll likely be singing long after the night is over. The holiday karaoke booth is a crowd-pleaser. A divine cup of hot cocoa, served up by the American Red Cross, is the perfect accompaniment to the fun and festive sounds of the season.
No holiday event would be complete without a chance to chat up The Man in Red himself, Mr. Santa Claus. Be sure the kids bring their holiday wish list, as Santa will be ready to hear their heart’s desire. A professional photographer will be on site to snap photos of your littles with the jolly old fellow.
“This event has a special way of drawing our community together,” says Stephanie Younker, marketing and events director for the Downtown Chico Business Association. “It’s a reminder that there are not a lot of places you can find like Chico, California.”
Nicole Romain of the business association insists that “it’s the feeling of the whole thing that makes the Christmas Preview so special. It’s a winter wonderland that I get to enjoy with my family.”
The Downtown Chico Business Association, which has operated since 1975 as a non-profit dedicated to supporting Downtown Chico, particularly with regard to its economic vitality, puts on several events throughout the year that enhance the ambiance of downtown’s small-but-mighty microcosm of energy. There’s a definitive cool vibe to the area – perfectly seasoned with a refreshing mix of boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and spaces to enjoy outdoors – and it has come together in part because of the passion of the business owners, patrons and the business association, who all believe in the power of Downtown Chico.
“Every year, at the Christmas Preview, the Chico Community Ballet performs The Nutcracker or Cinderella in our store window here,” says Aimee Anderson, manager of Made in Chico. “It’s wonderful not just to look into the window itself, but to watch the faces of the little children as they watch the dancers perform. Seeing the little girls admiring the ballerinas in their tutus is truly magical.”
“Steve Catterall, owner of Old Gold Estate Jewelry, actually takes the time to make chocolate chip cookies for his customers with his own not-so-secret ‘secret’ recipe at the Christmas Preview,” says Patty Pierce, a sales associate, photographer and social media coordinator for Old Gold Estate Jewelry. The sweetest bite is being able to take home a copy of his recipe, which he has prepared with love for his customers since the store opened in 1988. “He makes the cookies for our customers every day from Dec. 1 through Christmas Eve.”
Last year was Russell Van Dewark’s first experience as a sales associate and supervisor at Formal Education, a stylish men’s boutique in Downtown Chico: “I had worked in retail before during the holiday season and knew it would be crazy busy, but what I remember most about the vibe at the Christmas Preview is the feeling of family that was created there, even among complete strangers.”
And there is something about being made to feel like family that makes Christmas come to life for all of us.
Christmas Preview • Downtown Chico
Sunday, Nov. 22, 4-8 pm