Downtown Olympia was destination No. 1 Sunday as thousands took part in Downtown for the Holidays, a longtime event with a two-fold mission: to mark the holidays and to get people to shop downtown.
The annual event, which is organized by the Olympia Downtown Association, offered a little something for everyone. It had horse-drawn wagon rides, electric-trolley rides, a gingerbread-house competition, a bell chime choir, a parade and a tree-lighting ceremony to end the festivities.
The event also capped a good weekend for downtown merchants, said Connie Lorenz, the downtown association’s executive director. Black Friday tends to cater to department stores and malls, she said, but things picked up for downtown retailers on Shop Local Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Downtown for the Holidays.
“I’m happy to hear how well it went,” Lorenz said.
One of the bigger attractions was a chance for children to meet and sit on Santa’s lap inside the historic Olympian Hotel.
A nearly block-long line of children and their parents waited to meet Santa Claus, as played by Joe Sullivan, a regular at the event. Sullivan will dress up as Santa next weekend, too, when he leads a group of motorcyclists through Olympia as part of Saturday’s Olympia Toy Run. Upstairs from Santa, hundreds more people checked out the gingerbread cottage competition, a fundraiser for South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity, said Rachael Lundmark, operations manager for the home-building nonprofit.
About 25 gingerbread cottages, created by individuals and teams, were entered in the competition, she said. The home-building group is expected to break ground early next summer on Woods Glen, a 33-home development in the area of 37th Avenue and College Street Southeast in Lacey, she said.
Everyone’s attention turned to the parade about 3 p.m. Sunday, with people lining Capitol Way to watch the parade make its way from the Olympia Farmers Market to Sylvester Park.
A motorcycle drill team warmed up the crowd, followed by groups such as the Nisqually Kennel Club, Corvette owners, several hundred Girl Scouts, and someone dressed as Ronald McDonald riding a Segway.Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog @rolf_boone