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December 13, 2012

Christmas Stroll boosts businesses, community spirit

It’s one of the highlights of the year in Haverhill.

It had the downtown teeming with people of all ages last weekend — couples shopping for that right gift for the kids, elders taking in holiday music and other entertainment, children playing games and enjoying goodies, and of course, waiting for the arrival of Santa.

The annual Christmas stroll was a hit again.(See photos on Spotlight page.) Kudos to those who made it happen and those who took the time to join in.

The event provides a chance for downtown merchants to show off their wares and make sales, giving a holiday boost to the economy.

People window shop, making purchases during the stroll or perhaps getting ideas for later. Residents who have been hitting the malls in recent years get a chance to see what businesses in the heart of their city offer. They stop at places they have been overlooking and see items that have been hiding in plain sight.

This year marked the first time the popular event was broken into two nights — Friday’s pub crawl for adults and Saturday’s family evening. The local economy got a shot in the arm, but also important was the community spirit that pervaded the inner city. Families that haven’t seen each other for a while renewed acquaintances. Couples took advantage of the pub crawl event, giving themselves a night out.

Merchants were happy to see people’s attention deflected away from the malls and returned to an “old fashioned’’ Haverhill’ reminiscent of decades ago when downtown was packed with people on almost a daily basis. Those were the days of the movie theaters and stores that were THE places to shop.

The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and other organizers of the event deserve to take a bow. So do the merchants who dressed up their shops, restaurants and lounges to add to the holiday spirit.

But perhaps the biggest thank-you goes to the people of the community for coming out and showing what the holidays mean — a family time filled with good cheer to cap off the year.

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