Sun shines on ‘Downtown for the Holidays’

A sunny Sunday resulted in hundreds of people venturing downtown to take part in Downtown for the Holidays, a longtime event organized by the Olympia Downtown Association to officially kickoff downtown’s holiday shopping season.

Black Friday belongs to the malls, but downtown merchants benefit from Small Business Saturday and then the ODA lines up a series of crowd-pleasing events on Sunday, including the chance for families to meet Santa Claus, take a wagon ride, hop aboard an electric trolley or watch a parade.

They also, it is hoped, will shop.

And the weekend was busy for downtown, said new ODA Executive Director Vida Zvirzdys-Farler, who recently replaced former longtime executive director Connie Lorenz after she announced her retirement.

“The weather was beautiful,” Zvirzdys-Farler added Sunday.

Zvirzdys-Farler is no stranger to the ODA, having once been its events and volunteer coordinator. She left the ODA for two years and then applied to be executive director once Lorenz announced her retirement.

“I’m ready to put my energy into downtown,” she said.

Although sunny on Sunday, it also was cold. Temperatures dropped to 37 degrees at 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service, about the same time that the parade wound its way through downtown, including right down Capitol Way.

Parade entrants included the Capital High School band, a fleet of Corvettes and what could only be described as a llama-pulled sleigh on wheels.

Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau Executive Director George Sharp was watching the parade go by on Sunday. He, too, touted the weather.

“It’s a beautiful, chilly day that beats the rain,” he said.

Penny Johnson, 75, of Olympia, who recently returned to the area after living in Bellevue, also watched the parade on Sunday.

“Olympia is wonderful for this kind of thing,” she said about the parade, comparing it to Arts Walk, another fun downtown event.

“I’m glad I moved back,” Johnson said. “It’s a great place to live.”