By Bethany BROWN
The Montrose Shopping Park will celebrate its traditional White Friday the day after Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 26. While many are familiar with the nationwide Black Friday, participation in Montrose’s White Friday doesn’t require waking up at the crack of dawn or standing in hours-long lines and fighting off hordes of people for parking.
Instead, White Friday offers normal business hours, easy and free parking in the neighborhood and the whiting out of sales tax by participating merchants. Keep an eye out for a snowflake in the window while strolling along Honolulu Avenue – shops will use this symbol to indicate their participation.
Glendale Fire Dept. and ABC 7, in conjunction with Community Services & Parks, will be holding their Cram-A-Classic Toy Drive from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. They invite the community to bring a new, unwrapped toy to help them fill their vintage, holiday-decorated fire engine. Glendale firefighters will collect and distribute all donated toys to underserved children in the community.
Further enjoyment can be found in listening to live music provided by The Hummingbird Conservatory Carolers and The Jingle Singers Strolling Christmas Carolers. The music and annual holiday tree lighting ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday signaling the official beginning of Montrose’s Old Town Christmas and the ceremony’s return after being canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“Anything that we can all celebrate together as a community is needed more now than ever before,” said Dale Dawson. “We hope this event will be a kind of healing moment for everyone.”
Dawson is the event coordinator for Montrose Shopping Park Association. He noted that while the annual “snow” will not be provided by snow machines this year because it attracts a crowd that doesn’t disperse, snow can still be found in the form of projected images onto nearby buildings.
Mayor Paula Devine will do the honors of lighting the tree at 6:15 p.m. following a community sing along at 6 p.m. Complimentary horse-drawn trolley rides, hand-led pony rides for kids, live music and Santa Claus will be available every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Dec. 19. Santa will also make an appearance during the tree lighting and be present to take photos with families until 7:30 p.m.
“Folks are invited and encouraged to ‘Shop and Dine Montrose’ after the festivities,” Dawson said. “We hope the community will come out to get some fresh air and have some outdoor fun to begin the holiday season.”
White Friday celebrations will be followed by Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27.
Small Business Saturday was created during the 2010 recession by American Express as a day that encourages consumers to shop at small businesses during the busy holiday season. The movement emphasizes the goal of reminding consumers that they play a key role in helping the small businesses in their communities thrive.
Rather than supporting big-box retailers, SBS is a day to offer support to local businesses that are especially hurting after the COVID-19 pandemic last year forced closures of many business doors. Nearly 40% of small businesses remain closed even still, making them the hardest-hit sector of the economy amid the pandemic.
Montrose’s Spinning Wheel of Fortune will be located at the Vietnam War Memorial at the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The wheel will feature shopping park coupons, discounts and giveaways. Those who participate in SBS and shop small earn a spin on the wheel when they present a receipt from any MSP business dated Nov. 27.
Gail Mishkin, event coordinator at Flintridge Bookstore, said they have long been supporters of Small Business Saturday and hold an SBS event each year to kick off the holiday shopping season and connect with their neighbors in the process.
There will be many authors and artists making appearances at the bookstore throughout the day to meet the people of the community and sign their works. A poetry reading is scheduled for 2 p.m. and giveaways and raffles will be available to those who stop by.
“Ultimately we’re just happy and thankful to be here and for the great support of our community,” Mishkin said. “The community has continued to be very supportive throughout the pandemic and this [event] is our way of saying thank you and giving something back.”
Once Upon A Time bookstore will similarly be celebrating SBS and extending its appreciation of the community’s support over the decades by hosting several local authors throughout the day. Award-winning illustrator Cátia Chien will be present offering original drawings of pets in customers’ copies of “The Longest Letsgoboy” by Derick Wilder – visitors just need to come prepared with an image of their furry loved ones.
Storeowner Maureen Palacios said she has seen an increase in people “shopping small” over the last several years and hopes for the support to continue. She said the store will be offering its own wheel of fortune for children to play and win various prizes.
“It’s just going to be a day of fun,” Palacios said. “We want more people to come to Montrose and, of course, ‘shop small’ and support the community. We want to do what we can to support them in return.”