The Holiday Stroll is returning downtown on December 3. After the City decided not to host the event this year, local downtown businesses owners banded together to “take it back” and return to a grassroots feel. Organizers said it’s one of the most important days of the year for those businesses, and that community members love to attend.
An article was published Wednesday in the Messenger-Inquirer saying the Stroll wouldn’t return for 2022. But that’s no longer the case, as downtown business owners have made plans to take back the event and ensure it does, in fact, go on.
“We’re gonna take it back, and we’ll be doing something on December 3. We will still call it the Holiday Stroll,” Debi Ford, owner of Simply Chic Home Accents, said Wednesday afternoon.
Because it’s a recent development, organizers don’t yet have the full details of what to expect at the Stroll. Ford said the downtown business owners have been calling each other to see what they can pull together, such as getting carolers or some sort of music. They do at least have Santa already scheduled for 1:30-3:30 p.m., but are going to see if he can stay longer.
The Holiday Stroll originated in 2008 and was overseen by We Are Downtown, a group made up of business owners, property owners and those who simply want to see downtown Owensboro succeed. The event was eventually handed over to the City of Owensboro, which had a budget and means to better handle the logistics of the event.
Ford, who formerly served as a chairperson for We Are Downtown, said the businesses found out about one month ago that the City wouldn’t be hosting the Holiday Stroll.
“It’s one of our biggest sales days, so to take that away from us financially hurts,” she said. “And it’s such a good time. Everybody’s down and they’re shopping, and everybody loves the Stroll. For several weeks now people … have been asking when the Stroll was, and I’ve had to tell them we’re not having one because the City canceled it. We got tired of saying that.”
Ford added, “We’re wanting to bring it back to that traditional grassroots feel that it was when we were the ones doing it. We gave it to the city several years ago because from an events and insurance point of view and everything else, financially they could afford it better than we could as our downtown group. They could bring in and pay the ice sculpture person and everything else. So we thought we could really make this grow if we gave it to the city, but unfortunately it looks like it’s not as important to them as we had hoped it would be.”
City of Owensboro Public Events Director Tim Ross could not be reached for comment Wednesday but responded Thursday.
“We are excited that the downtown retail shops are joining together to continue the holiday stroll as we encourage them to do previously in our discussions with them,” Ross said. “As with all of our Hometown Christmas events, the goal is to bring more people downtown to enjoy shopping and dining in addition to the plethora of events this holiday season. We are happy to be able to expand the amount of weekends for downtown Christmas activities as opposed to just one single day event and look forward to having the holiday stroll as part of these activities.”
Ford said many of the businesses have traditionally extended their hours for the night of the Stroll.
“For the Stroll we normally stay up until 8 or 9 depending on the crowds,” she said. “Many times I’ve posted that we’re closing at 8, then at 9:30 we’ve still got packed houses. One year it was so nice that everybody still had outdoor dining in December, so that made it kind of special and fun.”
Ford said to watch the businesses’ Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up to date on events as well as any special deals or hours.
“It is one of the biggest days of the year downtown,” she said. “So that’s why we felt like we had to do something to bring it back.”