GREENFIELD — Downtown windows are dressed in their holiday best, adding to the festive atmosphere surrounding this weekend’s Christmas festival.
The festival kicks off at 4 p.m. today with the opening of “Santa’s Work Shoppe,” on the courthouse plaza, giving festival-goers a chance to get in some holiday shopping while checking out the dozen downtown merchants who participated in the annual festival’s decorating contest.
“There was a good representation (in the contest),” said Sarah Kesterson, festival spokeswoman.
From painted windows to twinkle lights, merchants are displaying many different variations on this year’s theme: Holly Jolly Christmas.
Tiffany Smith of Something New at Tiffany’s Salon used her building’s existing decor and color scheme as inspiration for her take. A Santa Claus stands in the window, so laden with presents you can’t see his face. Bright red ribbon on the packages pops against the iconic “Tiffany Blue.”
“We just took some things out of the song,” Smith explained.
The tactic was a good one; Smith’s windows received the first place honor from the contest judge Wednesday.
“She followed the theme and everything was very neat and precise,” explained Kesterson, reading the judge’s comments.
The win is Smith’s second in the contest, but this year’s $75 prize has a special purpose. Smith and the employees at Tiffany’s will use it for a family they have adopted for the holiday season.
The salon has been collecting donations to help brighten Christmas for the family, which has struggled to make ends meet since the father was diagnosed with cancer and had to have part of a leg amputated.
Hair designer April Wright is a friend of family’s, and said they’re asking for grocery and gas gift cards and cash donations to help purchase toys that have been put on layaway for the couple’s two children.
“We were deciding what we wanted to do as a group sponsor some charity or something for the holidays,” Wright said.
Smith didn’t enter the competition for the prize money, but said since they’ve won, putting it toward their collection just makes sense.
Prizes were also awarded for second and third place windows, which went to Hodge Podge and the Posey Shack, respectively.
This was Hodge Podge owner Tonya Stohry’s first year in the competition. The shop opened earlier this year and she hoped decorating her windows would help get her new business noticed by more customers.
“I just thought it would be eye-catching,” Stohry said.
Like many downtown merchants, Stohry will keep her shop open for extended hours during the festival tonight.
Pat Posey will also try to keep Posey Shack open throughout the festival, but has to balance that with her commitments to a parade float and a booth in Santa’s Work Shoppe.
Posey’s windows placed third in the competition. Though it was her first time participating in the contest, Posey, a longtime downtown business owner, is no stranger to decorating her windows, which look out prominently onto Main Street.
“It’s kind of my thing,” said Posey, who makes a point to decorate the windows for every holiday. “I can’t put art supplies in them, because it’ll ruin them. So they’re just begging to be decorated.”
Tonight’s festivities include performances by the Community Choir and Brandywine Wind at 6 p.m. on the Courthouse Plaza, and a dance routine by Dance East Ballet Academy at the Ricks Centre starting at 8 p.m. The tree lighting and live Nativity will also start around 6 p.m., with the parade kicking off at 7 p.m. After the parade, Santa will take his place on the plaza, where kids can line up to meet the man in red and give him their Christmas wish lists.
Santa will reappear at his annual breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at the American Legion. Kesterson said there are still some tickets available for that event.
The festival wraps up with Christmas at the Riley Home, a self-guided holiday tour of James Whitcomb Riley’s boyhood home. Tours start every half hour between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.