Santa Claus is coming to the downtown this December, but he's not the only one bringing some Christmas cheer to Haverhill.

The 18th Annual Downtown Christmas Stroll will continue the city's long-standing holiday tradition with seasonal music and activities on Dec. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.

As with strolls of Christmases past, Washington Street, Wingate street and several nearby alleyways will be closed for the evening, providing walkers the opportunity to mingle in the downtown's shops, restaurants and entertainment stations.

Attractions for children include the lighting of the Christmas tree by Santa Claus, Christmas stories read by Mrs. Claus and a talking Christmas tree in Washington Square.

For adults and Christmas shoppers scrambling to find that perfect gift, many of the downtown's shops will remain open throughout the evening, offering sales and discounts for strollers. In addition, many businesses will have unique decorations and events throughout the evening.

Raffles with prizes will make a return this year, but with a twist. Instead of strollers collecting stamps from each location for entries into a stroll-wide drawing, shops will offer their own individually run raffles.

Brittny DeMatteo, events coordinator for the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, said many stores requested the change, noting strollers were simply stopping in to get their stamp for the raffle without taking the time to see the items offered for sale in the shops.

"They each wanted to do something individually," she said.

Le Posh Salon and Spa on Washington Street, for example, will raffle off gift baskets containing hair care and body care products. Proceeds from those raffle entries will benefit the Jimmy Fund.

In order to draw shoppers into the store, co-owner Erica Kelleher said they're planning to rent a snow-making machine and offer refreshments and 20 percent discounts on gift certificates and products.

Kelleher said this is one of the salon's busiest times of year.

"We get a lot of people in here," she said.

To promote the spirit of the season, wandering carolers and the saxophone quartet "Sax Pack" will perform holiday songs and music.

This year's stroll is paid for by the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Pentucket Medical Associates, Trinity EMS and Covanta Energy.

Taking place during the stroll is the second annual Penguin Pub Crawl for adults. Participants, who can sign up the day of the event, must visit four of Haverhill's 12 participating pubs and patronize the establishment for entry into an exclusive raffle.

More information on the stroll or the pub crawl is available at haverhillchamber.com.

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