From discounts to snow, the Montrose Shopping Park offered something for everyone who came onto Honolulu Avenue.
By Brandon HENSLEY and
It snowed in Montrose last Friday evening. Well, sort of.
The white stuff could be found in the 2200 block of Honolulu in the Montrose Shopping Park for its after-Thanksgiving event White Friday. That section of the shopping park had snow on the ground, as well as some blown overhead, allowing kids to pretend they didn’t live in Southern California, if only for a couple of hours.
That was more time than MSPA events coordinator Linda McMenamin spent in the snow. She wanted no part of the snowballs that were being hurled all around.
“I put on my little safety vest and went in there for about five minutes, and after three or four snowballs to the face I said, ‘You guys are on your own,’” said McMenamin.
The 20 tons of snow that was hauled in was just part of what took place on White Friday. Business-wise, many merchants in the shopping park “whited out” the sales tax, there was a band playing holiday tunes, an opportunity for kids to take pictures with Santa Claus and, of course, the lights.
At approximately 7 p.m., the big tree on the southeast corner of Oceanview Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue lit up, and seconds later so did the rest of the shopping park, where the lights wrapped around the many trees gave the place its signature holiday glow.
How the trees are all lit up takes a lot of energy, and that’s not referring to the wattage. Student volunteers with Crescenta Valley High School’s Prom Plus Club, led by its current president Dylan Sylvester, were assigned to designated trees to flip the many switches as soon as the big tree was lit.
“You line everyone up at the trees, and when you see the main tree light up after the mayor (Frank Quintero) talks, you need to sprint down the street and plug in the other trees,” directed Sylvester.
Sylvester is just a sophomore at CVHS, but was thought highly of by previous presidents Molly Shelton and Aimee Yeghiayan.
“They groomed me to be the president all year and showed me how things went,” he said. “They let me run events. I took [the club] over this year and I really like it. It’s a lot of fun.”
He and 25 Prom Plus Club members stood at the ready at their assigned tree, although they had to hustle to other ones, considering there were more than 25 trees to turn on.
“Every time we need them, they are there,” McMenamin said of the Prom Plus Club. “They’re always on time; they always do a great job. They can always be relied upon to do great work.”
Jay Eatherton, his wife Jennifer and their 22-month-old daughter Makenna enjoyed spending the night in Montrose, especially in the snow with Makenna.
“I was in the big pile of snow with her, and she was eating it and playing with it and throwing it at me,” said Eatherton. “I was dumping the snow on top of her head and she was getting all giddy.”
Little Makenna wasn’t the only one giddy. Montrose merchants were also happy to welcome a weekend that historically tips the books into the “plus” column.
White Friday kicked off a weekend that offered plenty of incentives for shoppers to do their early Christmas shopping locally. In addition to several businesses whiting out sales tax, there were White Friday discounts in many stores.
As part of the weekend’s push for residents to shop locally, White Friday was also paired with Small Business Saturday, a campaign created by American Express in 2010 to promote the patronizing of small businesses.
Once Upon a Time owner Maureen Palacios described the weekend celebration as a success.
“We saw lots of old friends and new customers,” said Palacios. “Business was definitely up from the year before.”
The store even enjoyed some publicity from television’s KABC, as it was featured in a news story on Small Business Saturday.
All in all, the turnout for Montrose’s Christmas tidings and Christmas shopping was plentiful.
“Montrose definitely has the holiday spirit,” said McMenamin. “Hopefully that spirit will lead shoppers to support local merchants and our community.”
And for Prom Plus Club members, there’s no time to rest. Now comes the Christmas parade on Saturday, and Sylvester’s job has been to gather all the volunteers to work the event.
“There are lots of events this time of year for Prom Plus to do, so that’s great,” he said.
Eatherton said he also enjoys all of the activities Montrose has, not just at Christmas, but year-round.
“A lot of times it’s the only time I get to see people I went to school with,” he said. “It’s a just a good, fun time.”