Holiday celebrations help boost Main Street economy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Holiday celebrations help boost Main Street economy


This weekend, many area communities are kicking off their holiday celebrations. The festivities seem to get bigger each year -- for instance, Santa's helicopter arrival in Cedar Falls last week. They can also mean big business for Main Street stores and restaurants.

Every December, families in Oelwein don their warmest apparel and head downtown to celebrate the holidays.

"This is about the 12th year," said Deb Howard, Coordinator at the Oelwein Chamber of Commerce. "Each year we try to add some new event."

The newest addition this year? Life-sized Candy Land. The kids (and adults) play in teams of two, and there is a valuable prize at stake.

"The winner gets cash Oelwein dollars," Howard siad.

As Howard explained, the fun and games serve a greater purpose -- to draw attention, and draw crowds, to Main Street shops.

"We try and do retail promotions to help encourage shop local. So this is just part of that campaign. It has a large impact, we have 3,000 people who come," Howard said.

It's similar to what Waterloo is trying to accomplish this year, by hosting the first winter-time Friday 'loo.

"I'm thrilled to the max. We expected a good crowd, but I think we really, we did what we wanted. We don't have a lot of dollars to promote, so we do a lot word of mouth. And we have a lot of supporters with our Friday loo, and it's great to see them out here," organizer Melissa McKean said.

They're showcasing downtown restaurants, and lighting up the park with a 30 foot Christmas tree. It's the kind of thing Main Street Waterloo wants to do more often.

"In order to fund those things, we have to do fundraisers like this to make money to support Main Street causes," McKean explained.

For information about holiday activities happening in your community, click here.

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