The City of Grinnell welcomes the holiday season every year with a Jingle Bell Holiday celebration downtown.
On Friday, Nov. 20, more than 25 businesses located downtown will be open until 8 p.m. in order to “kick-off the holiday shopping season,” according to Emily Counts, Tourism Director at the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Jingle Bell Holiday has been held in town for many years as one of the biggest local community gatherings, particularly in the winter season.
This holiday is the largest event that the Committee of Retailers is involved with as part of the Chamber of Commerce. Most of the retail shops in town are on this committee, so they help decide on the best time to hold this event.
“They want to kick off the holiday season before Thanksgiving leads into December,” Counts said.
This event is for the entire community, including local families and college students, to get together downtown and see what the businesses have to offer for the holiday season.
“We invite anyone and everyone to come downtown and visit,” Counts said. “We also hope some people from neighboring communities will come for an evening of shopping and exploring downtown.”
The Jingle Bell Holiday is a great event for all ages, according to Counts. There are fun activities for entire families to participate in.
“My favorite part is seeing everyone enjoy it,” she said. “You get multiple generations of families out and about and it’s a really cool time to see lots of activity downtown.”
Some of the main attractions include carriage rides, photographs with Santa, a scavenger hunt called the Amazing Chase, gift-wrapping and lots of craft projects, games, refreshments and prize drawings. Something new this year is a winter farmer’s market with a variety of baked goods, produce and craft items.
According to Counts, this event should also appeal to college students.
“If college students participate in the scavenger hunt, it’s free,” she said. “If they don’t end up doing that, I would still encourage them to come downtown and explore because there’s lots of free food and prizes.”
Not only are businesses reaching out to the community, but they are also staying open later than usual to allow as many people to participate in as many activities as possible.
“This is one of the few nights of the year you can come downtown and businesses are open late,” Counts said. “It’s a great opportunity to support them.”
Although snow is in the weather forecast for the end of this week, according to Counts, the Jingle Bell Holiday planners are not concerned. Because so many businesses will be open later, community members can spend time “hopping in and out of storefronts.”
“The snow will make it more festive,” Counts said. “There’ll be plenty of hot cocoa and cider, so everyone should be able to warm up indoors along the way.”