Eureka Springs gears up for busy Christmas season

Friday, November 24, 2017

Main Street Eureka Springs is working to ensure that visitors and locals have a holly, jolly Christmas.

The organization hosted its Christmas Kick-off on Thursday, Nov. 16, inviting business owners in downtown Eureka Springs to hear about the events happening during the holidays this year. Jack Moyer, chairman of Main Street Eureka Springs, said he’s excited about everything the organization has in the works.

“We are taking the lead in facilitating all things Christmas. We are one of the core organizations that works to promote Eureka Springs, specifically downtown Eureka Springs,” Moyer said. “We’re a little bit different, because Main Street has a tight focus.”

He’s looking forward to the Christmas events, Moyer said, because Main Street Eureka Springs is working with other organizations in town to make sure the holiday season is a success.

“The collaboration among primary organizations for Christmas is one that happens with great measure and is sort of a one-of-a-kind thing,” Moyer said.

Moyer said the different groups involved include the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission, the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, the public works department, the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission and the Eureka Springs Police Department.

“These guys start thinking about how the Christmas season is going to be in July … looking at what it was last year and trying to make it a little bit better this year,” Moyer said.

CAPC director Mike Maloney described all the ways the city is promoting the Christmas season, including television ads, print ads, billboards and radio ads. All these mediums are important, Maloney said, to get the message out to visitors. He said the CAPC targets people in markets that have proved to be successful, such as Dallas, Oklahoma City, Fayetteville, Tulsa and Joplin.

“We have impression-based digital, web-based digital and social media. Social media is something we do in-house,” Maloney said. “Whenever you do something on your own, share it with us. Let us propel your message with the power we have.”

The CAPC recently agreed to work on a five-year plan for the future of Christmas in Eureka Springs, Maloney said.

“What will it look like in 2022? How can we expand the overall activities in Eureka Springs, to draw more people … to get them excited about Christmas?” Maloney said.

Jacqueline Wolven, executive director of Main Street Eureka Springs, said a major draw to town during Christmas is free two-hour parking.

“That’s actually a real gift, because the city doesn’t make that income during those two hours,” Wolven said.

She introduced Paul Miller, president of the chamber, and said he’s been working on the Christmas parade. Miller said the theme of this year’s parade is Peace on Earth.

“I think it’s going to be great. KESA will actually be broadcasting live,” Miller said. “We’ll also be doing Facebook live posts from the balcony at the New Orleans Hotel.”

Wolven moved on to the other events happening during December, saying the season kicks off with Shop Small Saturday on Nov. 25. During this event, Wolven said, 100 visitors will go on a scavenger hunt to find items to fill their Shop Small bag, sponsored by American Express. Vendors can donate gift certificates to the bags, Wolven said.

“We know 100 people come, because I don’t go home with any bags. They use those gift certificates that day,” Wolven said. “They’re here to shop, so if you haven’t given a gift certificate, we’ll still accept them. It drives shoppers right to your door.”

Other events in December include Santa in the Park, the 35th Annual Tour of Homes, the 51st Annual Silver Tea, Living Windows and the Wampus Wonderland Downtown Night Market. During the night market, Wolven said, 30 booths will be set up on Spring Street featuring crafts by the Cattywampus Co-Op.

“This is meant to boost that second Saturday. In the past, the second Saturday has been the end of the Christmas season,” Wolven said. “The ultimate goal is to continue shopping past New Year’s, because then that rolls us right into Mardi Gras. That’s ultimately the goal, to keep that momentum going.”

The idea behind the night market, Moyer said, is to bring as many people to town as possible. He understands why shop owners might be worried about closing Spring Street for the event, Moyer said, but he believes it will help the shops.

“If you think about this as taking a good shopping day and stretching it long and driving more people into the district, you see it differently,” Moyer said.

Wolven said she’s looking forward to all the events, thanking everyone who has worked together to make it possible.

“It is a big coalition with a lot of people working together,” Wolven said. “It’s really honestly one of the only times that happens. I’m so grateful that Christmas brings us all together. That’s what the season’s about, right?”

Wolven directed the shop owners to www.EurekaSpringsChristmas.com, where all Christmas events will be posted. Wolven said the website is live, meaning it can be updated at any time to include events happening anywhere in Eureka Springs.

“If you have an event happening, wherever you are in the city, we’ll add it to the calendar,” Wolven said. “If it’s not there, I probably just don’t know about it, so email me and I’m happy to add your thing.”

For more information on the Christmas festival, visit www.EurekaSprings.Christmas.com.

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