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The Scarlet & Black

Annual Jingle Bell Holiday event to be held in downtown Grinnell

Holiday magic: horse-drawn carriages overtake downtown Grinnell at last year’s Jingle Bell Holiday. Photo contributed.

When Grinnell Chamber of Commerce Director Rachel Kinnick attended the Jingle Bell Holiday for the first time, she encountered an outpouring of the community that she never would have expected. The sidewalks were filled with people and the town was alive with holiday cheer. Throughout the past two decades, the annual Jingle Bell Holiday has reminded residents of all that Grinnell has to offer in both retail and community.

This year’s Jingle Bell Holiday will take place this Friday, Nov. 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. Businesses and retailers throughout downtown will be hosting events, including sales, craft activities and live music, and serving traditional holiday fare, like cookies and hot chocolate.

The event begins Grinnell’s holiday season, well ahead of the holiday rush. This is a strategic move by the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to aid the small business community that often gets lost in the holiday rush.

“It’s important for our businesses, our retailers specifically, that they get out before the holiday rush,” Kinnick said. “It’s important for smaller communities to make sure they have that awareness to their community prior to people going out of town. … We want people to know what they can purchase here in their own community.”

Michelle’s Dance Academy will kick things off at 5:15 p.m. with Rockette-style routines, followed by Mayor Gordon Canfield’s final year leading the tree lighting ceremony. At 5:30 p.m., from the corner of Central Park at Broad St. and 4th Ave., horse drawn carriages will begin taking laps about town.

Holiday magic: horse-drawn carriages overtake downtown Grinnell at last year’s Jingle Bell Holiday. Photo contributed.

There will be photos with Santa outside Grinnell State Bank. PALs will have pets up for adoption or just for petting. The new Peacetree Brewing Co. will have a winter ale to taste, and the farmers market will be back with at least 10 vendors selling produce, baked goods and crafts out of the Masonic Temple building on Main St.

The Empty Bowl Fundraiser is one of the most giving-focused events of the evening. Hosted by the Grinnell Area Arts Council and following a 5:30 p.m. performance by the Grinnell Children’s Choir, the Empty Bowl Fundraiser will benefit Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA). The fundraiser is dual-sided as empty bowls will be for sale, made by local ceramics artists, which can be bought, filled with soup, eaten from and taken home to perhaps re-gift, with all proceeds going to MICA.

While the main purpose of Jingle Bell Holiday is to bring attention to local retailers before the holidays, Kinnick feels as though it is also emblematic of Grinnell’s tightknit community.

“I think that’s one of the unique things about a small community, that you can really meet a lot of people in this type of a setting,” she said. “It’s a shopping event, but it’s more of an opportunity for connections.”

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