There are 33 shopping days until Christmas, and a team of local merchants hope to draw folks to downtown Iola for as many of those as possible.
As volunteers continue to cover Iola’s business district with enough lights to make Clark Griswold blush, a team of local business owners and merchants met Tuesday to put the finishing touches on a busy holiday schedule.
To make downtown Iola a holiday destination for locals and out-of-towners.
“For years, people flocked to Chanute to see their Christmas Card Lane, but that has sort of dissipated,” noted Bill Maness, economic development director for Thrive Allen County. “What we want to do is fill that vacuum, and make Iola the place people want to go.”
THE FUN kicks off Dec. 1 with Iola’s annual Downtown Block Party, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Several participating merchants will open fete customers with refreshments, entertainment, store discounts and prizes.
To participate, shoppers use a punch card at each of the participating stores — eight and counting. Those who completely fill their cards will be entered in a series of drawings, with a shot at winning a prize from one of the merchants.
Wagon rides will be offered once again, and wooden cutouts featuring assorted Christmas characters will be set up for photo ops.
Christmas carolers will serenade the shoppers as well.
The block party will give participants an up-close view of Iola’s ever-growing downtown lights display, being set up this month by teams of volunteers and local business owners.
As for the downtown lights project, 35 buildings will have added strings of lights in and around the square, to go with the tree displays set up on the courthouse lawn.
In addition, a Blessing Tree is being set up on the bandstand, and will be filled with silver and purple ornaments to recognize those battling cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, respectively.
In addition, Humanity House will deliver gifts to folks in need for those who would rather remain anonymous.
THE GINGERBREAD Walk deadline for entries is by the close of business Tuesday.
Carol Sager, executive director of the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce, said the registration deadline has been extended. Those interested should contact the Chamber promptly and have their creation done by the Tuesday deadline.
First prize will garner $250, followed by second- and third-prize winners of $125 and $75. A children’s division, for those 12 and under, will get $50, and the “People’s Choice” winner will receive $50 in Chamber bucks.
There’s no fee to enter a gingerbread creation, house or village display, but entry forms must be turned into the Chamber office at 208 W. Madison Ave. by 3 p.m. Tuesday. The houses will be displayed in local storefronts around the square.
“We’d like to know how many entries we have so we know there’s enough space,” Sager said.