Christmas came early to Bloomington-Normal when Mrs. Claus and Mr. Claus arrived in Uptown Normal for the annual holiday open house. Families came, shopped, met Santa, took carriage rides, and enjoyed holiday music on Saturday, November 10th with participating stores offering holiday deals for shoppers to start their early Christmas shopping.
Stores such as Uptown Gifts, The Garlic Press, Fabulous Affairs and others all opened their doors and offered holiday specials. Restaurants such as Butter and Medici also participated by offering warm meals for cold shoppers at discounted prices.
“I know November seems too early to start Christmas shopping, but it’s the perfect time to take kids shopping so we can pick out some of their own ideas and gifts, but then still forget about them all by the time Christmas rolls around,” said shopper Chrissy Mora. Aside from the holiday deals, the popular attraction was the free event targeted to children.
Mr. and Mrs. Claus met children and asked their Christmas wishes to figure out what they wanted to be sitting under the tree on Christmas. Parents and families could also take photos with with Santa early in the holiday season. Parent to a 7-year-old, Sara Smith said, “It was good practice to see Santa now. You never know if your child will be terrified in the moment”.
Starting during the holiday open house and being continued at other holiday events in Uptown, free horse and carriage rides were available. With a new and improved system, families could sign up for a time slot for a free ride; however, those slots filled up quickly. “I got here at the beginning of the day to receive our slot, it was worth it!,” said Char Bigger who came with her daughter and grandchildren.
The Children’s Discovery Museum also opened its doors to the festivities and activities were offered at lower fees to help kids and parents warm up and play after shopping in the cold November air.
Santa, carriage rides, shopping and the Town of Normal’s Winter decorations created a Christmas wonderland in November for the first of many holiday events. The holiday open house is just one of the holiday specials that will be occurring in Bloomington-Normal over the next six weeks.