"Escape The Box" - Experience Downtown Kamloops

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November 17, 2017 - 2:17pm Updated: November 29, 2017 - 3:54pm

It’s all about the experience. That’s the way Gay Pooler, the Executive Director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, sees Christmas downtown. “Shopping downtown is a different shopping experience”, says Pooler. “ A combination of shopping, wandering through the lights and displays, enjoying the fine food downtown, unique gifts you won’t find anywhere else, excellent service”- you get the picture.

 “People downtown care about their customers, and they want to make it everyone’s favourite place to be at this time of year. It embraces what Christmas is meant to be about- time with family and friends in an atmosphere that brings the spirit of the season home to everyone.”

Throughout the month of December you can find downtown businesses showcasing beautiful window displays, holiday lights brightening up the sidewalks and you may even run into jolly ol’ Saint Nick himself browsing his way through the shops.

It really all gets underway  Saturday, November 25th with the Annual Santa Claus Parade at 11am. Marching groups, floats, excitement, fun, everything to get you into the holiday spirt. And for the first time ever, the parade has a presenting sponsor, Thompson Rivers University. Pooler encourages people to head downtown early to take part in the pre-parade entertainment. Kamloops most popular radio announcer, Stan Bailly from 98.3 CIFM, will lead the crowd in Waking Up Santa at Kamloops Square at 10:30. Bailly says “this is a new opportunity for me to have some fun and get everyone in the Christmas spirit.  In addition, Pooler says there will also be entertainment along the parade route for those waiting for the show to start.

If you’re talking to downtown merchants, there’s lots of buzz about a brand new event this year. It’s the first-ever Flannel and Frost-themed Welcome Winter Block Party. Welcome winter Saturday, December 9th, from noon- 6 PM, when the 300 block Victoria Street will only be open to pedestrian traffic. “There’s fun for all ages,” says Pooler, and people who come downtown can find hot food and drink options, ball hockey with Blazers alumni, Brewloops will be there with craft beer, there will be local wine, and many businesses will have events right inside their store. This is the perfect opportunity to gather with friends in a fun atmosphere, and maybe even get some Christmas shopping done!

The Christmas Cash Card is back this winter. Every $20 spent at a participating business gets you one stamp, and every $200 spent fills up a full card, entitling you to enter for a chance to win one of four $150 weekly prizes and the grand prize, which is a complete Downtown Experience package worth $2000! And for those of you who are great with the selfie sticks and the mobile phones, there’s a social media component that can earn you even more money. A number of hand-crafted Christmas elves will be spread around the downtown. If you spot one in a store window, or on a store shelf, take a picture of it, or a selfie of yourself with the elf and post on social media using the hashtag #hiddenelves for a chance to win even more prizes!

“We look after our customers in the downtown,” says Pooler. She says “to provide an even better shopping experience, many merchants extend their hours, and on Saturdays during December, there’s free on-street parking. Come for an hour, come for the day, it’s all free on Saturdays in December. “

Did you know… there are Downtown Gift Certificates that are available to the public for purchase and are redeemable at downtown merchants and service providers? You can spend Downtown Gift Certificates almost anywhere in the Downtown core and you can purchase them at  #4-231 Victoria Street. Perfect for both corporate and personal gift giving!

We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you that there’s an opportunity to rub shoulders with the Jolly man himself. Bring the kids to visit Santa’s Workshop at 340 Victoria Street – every Saturday in December leading up to Christmas, Santa will be in from 12-2pm doing crafts and other fun activities! And local artisans are helping out too. You’ll see a variety of artisan workshops available as the 340 Victoria Street space is being used for a Pop Up Artisan’s Shop Pilot Project to show shoppers the works of some of our talented artists throughout the Kamloops area.  

Pooler says “being downtown is truly a neighbourhood experience. Everywhere you go, you see people you know,  and it’s a great place for family and friends to spend a day experiencing the uniqueness of downtown. Bright lights, great food, the cool Christmas air, friendly merchants willing to serve.” Pooler says once you experience the downtown, especially at Christmas time,  you’ll wind up coming back again and again to enjoy the atmosphere of  downtown all year long.

-              Written by CFJC Today staff with files and information supplied by KCBIA.

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