Time for a Little Strolling and Shopping!

By Beacon Staff

The mountain’s got snow, the leftover Thanksgiving turkey is gone (almost), and the streets are all decked-out. So it must be time for the official start of the holiday season in Whitefish – the annual Christmas Stroll!

Friday, Dec. 13, is the night, and Stumptown’s Central Avenue is the place to be for an evening of old-fashioned holiday fun and high-fashion Christmas shopping, hosted by the Whitefish Chamber, BNSF Railway and NorthWestern Energy.

Back this year are the street vendors, the crafters, the Bar W wagon rides and Santa Claus, as well as the Caroling Contest, the Winter Carnival float and royalty, and beautiful downtown storefronts all dressed in their holiday best.

Also back by popular demand the Presbyterian Church’s Alpine Bell-Ringers will perform at 6 p.m., the annual lighting of the Depot Park Christmas Trees – accompanied by a bit of fire dancing and the arrival of Santa Claus – is set for 6:15 in front of the O’Shaughnessy Center, and Frozen Turkey Bowling gets rolling outside the Craggy Range Bar & Grill at 6:30 (or so).

As always, kids of all ages can get their pictures taken with Santa at McGough & Co. beginning at 6:30 and your four-legged friends can take their turn sitting on Santa’s lap at Tailwaggers throughout the evening.

Shop local Dec. 13 and win big!

Returning this year is the second annual Christmas Stroll Shopping Spree, a chance to win hundreds of dollars in gift certificates, products and services simply by supporting your fellow Whitefish Chamber members on Dec. 13.

Last year’s big winner walked away with more than $500 in prizes and more than 50 local businesses have already donated prizes for this year’s grand prize drawings!

There are no tickets to buy, but for every $10 you spend with a Whitefish Chamber member on the day of the stroll – Dec. 13 – you’ll get one entry into the Grand Prize raffles that’ll be held that night at the Christmas Stroll. To enter, bring receipts for your Dec. 13 purchases to the Chamber Tent – near the corner of Central and Third – by 8:30 p.m., when the three lucky winners will be announced.

While strolling the avenue in search of that perfect Christmas present, you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained, beginning with a pair of recitals by the North Valley Music School – the first at 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church; the second at Montana Coffee Traders at 5:30. “Whitefire” – Whitefish’s own local fire-juggling/dancing troupe – performs on Central Avenue in front of the O’Shaughnessy Center at 6 p.m., and again at 7:45 in front of the Winter Carnival float near Casey’s.

The Winter Carnival royalty (and their subjects) will take center stage on (and around) the float at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.; the kids from the Whitefish Dance Academy perform at 6:45 p.m. and wandering groups of Christmas carolers will fill the crisp winter air with the sounds of the holidays.

Christmas Carolers needed!

Speaking of which, if you and your friends, family members, neighbors or co-workers are musically inclined (and even if you’re not!), get your “pipes” all tuned-up and join us for the fifth annual Christmas Stroll Caroling Contest. Groups of 3-10 singers will be making the rounds of the Central Avenue bonfires from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with the final “sing-off” taking place at the Winter Carnival float at 8:15 sharp.

For more information on how you can get into the act as a caroler or vendor – or a Christmas Stroll volunteer – call 862-3501, or visit www.whitefishchamber.org.