Christmas in the Mountains returns to Laurel Highlands
For many locally, Christmas In The Mountains has become as much of an annual tradition as Black Friday has become on a national scale.
The holiday shopping event based in the Donegal area which is in its 13th year will be held tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.
“We have people who attend locally but we also have many who come from out of state. People come from Virginia, Maryland and we have quite a few come from Ohio,” said event co-founder Jeff Gales, owner of The Old General Store and Country Pie Shoppe. “I think, for a lot of people, it's become a tradition and they come back year after year, many come as a family.”
Event co-founder Linda Brown, owner of Linda Brown Floral, agreed.
“I will participate in this event as long as I am a business owner in this community,” said Brown, adding that the event is also a popular attraction for groups of girlfriends to shop and enjoy the day together.
This year, seven businesses will participate all along a seven-mile stretch of state Route 31 starting at The Laurel Garden at Nino's Restaurant in Laurelville and concluding at The Old General Store and Country Pie Shoppe in Donegal.
Other participating businesses located along the route include the Gallery of Steel, Brady's Restaurant, Linda Brown Floral and Collections By Marty.
Each participating business will display a yellow and green sign featuring a Christmas Tree.
Each business is offering discounts or giveaways or holding special customer events.
Details can be found on the event web site at www.christmasinthemountains.net.
“It's an event for the whole family. There are many unique Christmas ideas not found at box stores,” said Gallery of Steel owner Kim DeMarchi. “I participate because it is a fun time. Great chance to give back to my customers with giveaways and the cookies and food we have in each store for that weekend.”
All who attend will have a chance to register to win a shopping spree and an overnight stay for two with breakfast and pool use at the Holiday Inn Express in Donegal.
Gales' and Brown's businesses, along with Brady's Restaurant and Collections By Marty, have participated in the event from the beginning.
“I believe that small business is what makes a community strong and I want to provide a quality product and personalized services to the hard working people in our area,” Brown said.
Gales said he feels the event is important to the local community on many levels. Not only does Christmas In The Mountains bring in tourism dollars, it also has several small family friendly events that are part of it which locals can enjoy, as well.
Breakfast With Santa will be held at Brady's on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
An open house featuring live jazz will be held at The Laurel Garden at Nino's Restaurant on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Live reindeer will be at The Old General Store from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Photos will be available for a small fee.
“I think the event helps support the local community and the reindeer photos really help us raise a lot of money for the local food banks,” Gales said.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.