The annual Christmas in Merrickville event drew a record number of people to the Village on December 1. The event began with a very successful Breakfast with Santa, hosted by the Legion, serving 400 hot meals to parents and children, eager to get upstairs and take a photo with the jolly old man himself. Wagon rides were available starting at 8:30 am, thanks to the generous support of the Lions Club. The rides ran until 10:30 am and then again from around 1 pm to 8 pm, breaking to allow the horses to be in the parade. “That’s a large expense for us,” says Christmas in Merrickville organizer Mark Scullino. “We were really appreciative of the Lions Club partnering with [us] again.”
The parade itself was around 30 per cent larger than last year, with many new and returning creative floats. This included local company, Craviations’ Wonderful Flying Time Machine. The helicopter-like apparatus also served as an attraction along St. Lawrence Street after the parade. Adults and kids had the opportunity to sit in the Time Machine and take photos. Mark says the owners of Craviations had so much fun that they have already signed up to be at Christmas in Merrickville next year.
There were also many activities happening throughout the day, throughout the Village. The annual Cookie Walk and Weigh at the Merrickville Community Centre raised almost $1,300 for the Merrickville Daycare. The Merrickville United Arts Centre hosted a successful Vendors Market, led by Christmas in Merrickville volunteer, Heather Snow, which saw a record number of vendors this year. École Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys also held several workshops throughout the day, including make-your own kinetic sand. The Chili Tent saw eleven entries, with The Yellow Canoe claiming the top prize, and Merrickville-Wolford in Bloom awarded Nana B’s Bakery first prize in their Best Decorated Business competition, and second place to Diluca’s Italian Restaurant.
Mark estimates that they had between 9,000 and 10,000 people in the Village throughout the day. People came from all over Eastern Ontario, the US, and the Village even saw a few overseas visitors from France and Germany.
The event was an incredible boost to the local economy, with many store-owners reporting a record day for sales. “My discussions with merchants and the community have identified to me that they recognize a real value in this event,” Mark says.
This was The Joy of Olives owner, Carrie Stewart’s, first Christmas in Merrickville and she says she was blown away by the event. “Christmas in Merrickville was a wonderful experience and a tremendous business day,” she says.
Lianne Kult-Aultman, of the Wick Witch, says she and her staff look forward to Christmas in Merrickville all year. “The spirit of the community is incredible,” she says. “From the parade, to the visits from Santa, the carollers, watching people roast marshmallows, the horse-drawn carriages. It’s like being in a Christmas movie.”
Lianne says that, while it is definitely a great day for sales, it is seeing the same faces, year after year, that makes the event the official kick-off to the holiday season. “The support of customers wanting to spend their money locally on thoughtful, handcrafted gifts is incredible,” she says.