Return to story
Brittney Holley and Michael Durham of Stafford take a break from the crowded streets in Riverby Books and Gallery. Merchants hope the shoppers keep coming downtown. The 'Window Wonderland' contest continues through Dec. 31.
Dani Mario and Cassie Hockaday promote the Trees
Santa Claus autographs a picture for 2-year-old Audrey Dennis of Fredericksburg during yesterday's festivities.
Shoppers check items off their Christmas gift lists yesterday during the annual Holiday Open House in
BY BILL FREEHLING
Downtown Fredericksburg buzzed with activity this weekend as the holiday shopping season kicked off.
Fredericksburg holds the Holiday Open House weekend every year, but this year there was a twist.
About 46 downtown businesses are participating in the "Window Wonderland" contest, which involves riddles related to holiday toys placed inside festively decorated windows.
Participants can get entry forms at places including visitfred.com and walk around downtown answering the riddles. Those who answer all of the questions correctly and submit the entry forms at The Free Lance-Star or Fredericksburg Visitor Center qualify for the $1,000 grand prize.
People who answer at least 15 of the questions qualify for cash prizes of $500, $300 and $100 as well as numerous additional prizes donated by downtown businesses. People can also vote for their favorite window displays. The contest runs through Dec. 31.
The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority granted $4,000 to the city for the contest, which is intended to draw people downtown for the holidays.
The city and its merchants have made many efforts to make downtown appealing for the holiday season. Crews cleaned up downtown and hung lighted garland and red-and-gold bows on lampposts along William and Caroline streets.
There were a lot of other things going on downtown this past weekend, in addition to riddle-solving. Santa Claus posed for pictures at the entrance to Market Square. Some merchants offered cookies and beverages to passers-by. Musicians played and sang in the streets, and students held recitals outside the Yamaha Music School. On Saturday morning, the Parks and Recreation Department's annual Urban Trail Ride brought horseback riders through downtown.
Downtown Fredericksburg wasn't the only place around the region that geared up for the holiday shopping season this past weekend. Pictures with Santa started at the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, which is also putting on free musical light shows four times every night through the holiday season in the outdoor Village area.
Downtown Culpeper and Orange are holding events to kick off the holiday season in the coming weekends.
And, of course, national retailers are gearing up for the holidays, as well. Many are opening in the wee hours of Black Friday to entice bargain seekers.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405