The city of St. Helena and the Chamber of Commerce hope that St. Helena Jingle All The Way will create a December to remember.
The city and Chamber are teaming up to bring an ice skating rink to Lyman Park Dec. 1-28, as well as food trucks, music and other events throughout the month. Merchants are being encouraged to decorate their windows and stay open until 7 p.m. on Fridays.
Organizers hope that the combination of the skating rink, evening shopping hours, and festive storefront Christmas displays will attract customers to a downtown that’s struggling with low foot traffic and high vacancy rates.
Chamber CEO/President Amy Carabba-Salazar, Chamber Board Chair Marcus Marquez, and City Manager Mark Prestwich briefed merchants on the plans and collected feedback during a Wednesday morning meeting at the Cameo Cinema.
The few dozen business owners in attendance seemed amenable to staying open until 7 p.m. on Friday nights in December, as long as the Chamber and the city hold up their end of the deal by installing Christmas lights and decorations.
Carabba-Salazar assured merchants that décor will be installed earlier than it was last season. Decorations that merchants contributed money toward, and which weren’t used last year, will be used this year, she said.
Murals will be installed in vacant storefronts to contribute to the festive feel, she said.
“We want to make sure that downtown is really lit up and done nice for the holidays,” Carabba-Salazar said, adding that she would like to organize other events during the year.
Aside from the Christmas preparations, Prestwich shared some highlights from Kosmont Companies’ recent study of St. Helena’s downtown retail sector.
Prestwich said he plans to hold recurring meetings at the Cameo to brief the business community on matters of interest. For example, he said he has ideas about creating more parking close to downtown and sprucing up pedestrian corridors on Money Way, Telegraph Alley, and the space that leads from Main Street to the former Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen.
For more information about the December plans, visit sthelenajinglealltheway.com.