Holly Days brings focus to downtown Elgin businesses
With Elgin's annual Winter Wonderland event canceled, the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin has launched a new monthlong campaign to try to make up for the loss in foot traffic.
Winter Wonderland was expected to draw more than 1,000 people to downtown for the day, many of whom spend time shopping and dining before the annual tree lighting.
"Obviously the pandemic put a wrinkle in that plan," said Jennifer Fukala, the association's executive director.
"Our goal was to come up with some sort of campaign to keep the focus on the downtown businesses throughout the holiday season in a safe way over the course of the month, rather than having an event that brings down a bunch of people at one time congregating," Fukala said.
What they came up with is "Holly Days," which kicked off last weekend for Small Business Saturday.
The campaign will feature a steady stream of events that will be announced throughout the month, Fukala said. Some will be live and some will be virtual, but they're all done in the hope of bringing awareness to what downtown businesses have to offer, she said.
A scavenger hunt is in the works, as is an opportunity to Zoom with Santa. The association will also put up inflatable holiday backdrops for people to use for family photos.
A contest featuring holiday window art is underway, with 14 businesses showcasing windows decorated by Elgin-area artists. Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite windows.
Fukala said they've created an online holiday gift guide and are using several advertising options.
"COVID has advanced the conversation about how important it is to support small businesses," she said. "We've been trying to convey that for several years now, but it seems to have really resonated this year about the importance of supporting these businesses and business owners that live in our home community and are supporting our local economy."
She said the Small Business Saturday turnout was "really encouraging."
"It felt like a comparable level of foot traffic to previous years," she said. "There seems to be a much higher awareness and that's encouraging to see."
More information about the events and contests will be posted at www.downtownelgin.com/hollydays/ as they are announced.