First Christmas season for McHenry's tiny Riverwalk Shoppes
The hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season made McHenry's Riverwalk Shoppes feel like they were on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie.
That comment was one Erin Amendt, one of the proprietors at Mad Soyentist Candle Company, heard a few times on Small Business Saturday. To capitalize on the day that encourages holiday shoppers to spend money locally, the first Holiday Market at the Riverwalk District was promoted, adding more vendors and food trucks for the day at the site.
Although a light snow was falling Sunday, shoppers returned to the riverwalk, seeking holiday gifts at the specialty shops.
Brooke Sadowksi of Volo said she and a group of friends decided the snow made for the perfect shopping day.
"We love this weather," she said, offering a sniff of the garlic-scented candle she'd just bought from Amendt as her dad's Christmas present. "So this is a spoiler for my dad, Michael," for what he was getting for Christmas.
Other vendors said they have seen a very busy last two weekends.
"It has been great with Small Business Saturday and last weekend, too. We have been super busy," said Trevor Chrisman at The Trend Cellar. He guessed about 1,000 people came through on Saturday alone.
The store is looking at a permanent, brick-and-mortar location on Green Street after its season at the Riverwalk closes.
Clara Klapperich, an employee at The Bumble Bread Company, said they sold out of their breads the weekend before Thanksgiving and are doing well the weekend after, too. The bread store is selling Christmas cinnamon roll orders through Dec. 18, with pickups set for Dec. 23 and 24.
The holiday version of the rolls will be evergreen-shaped, in festive packaging and feature sprinkles, Klapperich said.
The Bumble Bread owners, she said, are looking at permanent storefront locations, as well.
New feature coming to Miller Point Park
A new feature at the adjacent Miller Point Park also could help to draw more customers to the Riverwalk Shoppes, which will continue operating Friday through Sunday until Dec. 31.
A new skating rink is set for construction Wednesday. The $85,000 price tag was paid for through donations raised by the RISE Up Foundation, a nonprofit group founded by McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett. The foundation is best known for its September music festivals that raised funds for the splash pad at Fort McHenry Park and for renovations at Miller Point Park.
Jett posted an announcement on the RISE Up Foundation's Facebook page Nov. 13 about the fundraising effort for an ice rink at the park. Jett said the skating rink will have refrigeration lines allowing a frozen surface at outside temperatures up to 50 degrees.
As of Nov. 22, the foundation and Jett had $67,000 in pledges and $45,000 in-hand. The ice rink manufacturer is offering the foundation a payment plan for the balance, allowing the rink's installation to begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
An ice rink was discussed for Miller Point Park early on, McHenry Parks and Recreation Director Bill Hobson said. In an early tour of the park, he noted a spot behind the Riverwalk Shoppes was designed with the possibility of flooding the section to allow for a frozen pond.
"The goal was to create a space that provided a year-round gathering space for the community. An ice rink was discussed from the start along with the shops becoming a Kriskindle market. This was also the reason for heated bathrooms on-site," Hobson wrote in an email.
McHenry has a rink at Fox Ridge Park, too, but one that is weather-dependent.
"Last year, we didn't have enough consistently cold weather to ... open the rink until later in January," Hobsons said. Then, the city could keep the surface usable for only about a month.
When completed, the Miller Point rink will be 40 feet wide and 60 feet long. The park department will be responsible for its maintenance, Hobson said.