BIA kicks off Christmas season

Signs of the holiday season certainly were evident in downtown Fort Frances on Saturday as the Business Improvement Association had a slew of Christmas activities on the go.
Always a popular event, “Lunch with Santa” took place from noon-3 p.m. at Warp 9, which saw hundreds of children drop by to have a free lunch, meet jolly St. Nick, and maybe get their photo taken with him.
“‘Lunch with Santa’ went great,” enthused BIA co-ordinator Patti Anderson. “There were a lot of children out for it. I’m guessing it was between 300 and 400.
“Of course, it was all made possible because we had lot of volunteer help,” she added.
Also on Scott Street on Saturday, the Fort Frances Museum hosted a musical “Christmas Prelude,” featuring an ensemble from the Borderland Community Orchestra, starting at 2 p.m.
“It went really well,” said museum staffer Janet Bell. “[We] had lots of traffic. People got a chance to see Kari Ann Anderson’s art while they were there.
“There was over 100 people.”
Dainties and cider also were served, and children got a chance to decorate their own cookies.
(In related news, the museum will be opening its doors each Saturday leading up to Christmas to show movies and serve popcorn from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to keep children occupied so their parents can get their downtown shopping done a little easier).
Meanwhile, the annual Santa Claus parade got underway at 4:30 p.m., moving down Scott Street from the Shevlin wood yard to Mowat Avenue.
It featured about 20 floats this year—ranging from the Robert Moore/Kiwanis Builders’ Club and the Fort Frances Aquanauts Swim Team to the St. Mary’s youth group and the Couchiching Volunteer Fire Department’s new truck.
“I thought the parade was wonderful,” said Anderson. “The level of participation was great. And the fact it was at night really added to it.”
“It was nice to see it [the parade] back at night,” echoed Dawn Booth, a member of the BIA promotions committee.
This year’s parade theme was “Bringing Families Together.”
The local Kiwanis Club was judged to have the best float, winning $150 in BIA Bucks. West End Motors got $100 in BIA Bucks for coming in second while Wal-Mart earned $50 for third place.
Once again, the local Salvation Army, along with members of the Muskie hockey teams, were in the parade to collect money, unwrapped toys, and non-perishable food donations for its food bank.
“Citizen of the Year” Joyce Gosselin rode in a white limo, courtesy of North Air Services, while jolly ol’ St. Nick himself brought up the rear—this year joined by Mrs. Claus.
< *c>Shopping promotions
The BIA also is having a theme for each Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas in order to promote shopping in the downtown area.
The theme this past Friday and Saturday was “Customer Appreciation Days,” with volunteers handing out coupon sheets to shoppers on Scott Street while they were making their rounds downtown.
The coupons were from various participating downtown businesses and will be good up until Dec. 24.
The theme this Friday and Saturday (Dec. 3-4) is “Christmas Open House.”
The two weeks after that, the themes being promoted will be “Magic of Christmas Weekend” (Dec. 10-11) and “Last Chance Weekend” (Dec. 17-18).
Anderson noted this week’s theme basically means downtown businesses have been encouraged to stage in-house promotions like cookies, cider, products demos, and the like on those days.
Shoppers also are encouraged to get a “BIA Passport to Bucks” and have it stamped at participating stores. This “passport,” along with rules as to how the promotion works, can be found elsewhere in this edition of the Times.
And while they’re downtown, shoppers can enter the BIA daily Christmas draw for a chance to $100 in BIA Bucks. Winners will be announced each weekday, starting today through Dec. 22, on B•93 FM.
Meanwhile, many Scott Street businesses will be staying open late to accommodate evening shoppers this holiday season.
For a detailed schedule of store hours, see the advertisement elsewhere in this edition of the Times.