Hundreds turn out for Cape's downtown Christmas event

Sunday, December 4, 2011
Passers-by are taken aback by the live models posing as mannequins in the storefront of Pastimes Antiques Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 during Old Town Cape's annual Downtown Christmas Open House. (Laura Simon)

Hundreds flocked to the streets of downtown Cape Girardeau on Friday evening to visit stores, enjoy holiday activities and have a chance to win a shopping spree during the fifth annual Downtown Christmas Open House sponsored by Old Town Cape.

Activities for families included free horse and buggy rides, free photos with Santa Claus and crafts inside Santa's Workshop, Christmas carolers, downtown retail discounts and a shopping spree giveaway worth $1,500. Consumers began the night by picking up their ticket packet at Hutson's Fine Furniture, and then proceeding to drop raffle tickets at participating retailers.

Charles McGinty, owner of C.P. McGinty Jewelers, welcomed the increased foot traffic the Christmas Open House brought.

"It's a mad house in here, but we love it. The open house is a chance for our store to get more visitors than we might not have otherwise," McGinty said.

McGinty said some people just come to browse during the open house, but will come back to shop in the next few days.

"It's so busy tonight that some people might come back later to actually buy," McGinty said. He said this is what visitors have done in past years.

McGinty also said this was the largest crowd he's seen during the open houses.

C.P. McGinty Jewelers offered 35 percent off the purchase of diamond stud earrings, among other discounts.

Other stores offered discounts, as well as door prizes, appetizers and drinks. Pastimes Antiques' contribution was live models inside the store's window display.

For shoppers hoping to win the $1,500 downtown shopping spree, the goal was to drop off all tickets at participating shops for an increased chance to win the grand prize. The winner of the raffle will be announced Tuesday.

The free events of the night stayed busy from when they opened at 5 p.m. until they closed at 9 p.m. The line for the horse and buggy rides was constant as was the line for the photos with Santa.

Wesley Toney, who recently moved to Cape Girardeau, was surprised at how many people participated in the evenings' festivities.

"Everywhere you look there are people enjoying what the downtown area has to offer," Toney said. "I especially love how alive and festive all the shops look with Christmas decor."

Other businesses besides the retail stores benefited from the event as well.

Broussard's Cajun Cuisine restaurant had a patron in every seat, with a 15- to 20-minute wait. Port Cape Girardeau's waiting list was long as well, with guests waiting about an hour for a table.

The Downtown Christmas Open House was started in 2007 by Old Town Cape to encourage holiday shoppers to buy locally.

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