For the fifth year in a row, New Paltz kicked off the holiday shopping season in support of the local economy. Local businesses decorated their storefronts in the spirit of the holidays as part of New Paltz Downtown Unwrapped — a guided-tour event organized by the Downtown Business Association on Friday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m.
“Everyone was encouraged to decorate, clean up around their store and put up lights,” Julie Safran, owner of Cocoon and Verde in New Paltz, said.
The tour of the holiday window displays began at Water Street Market where tour-goers were greeted with free Moxie mini cupcakes and warm refreshments. The children’s gnome hunt also took place there, followed by an appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
After greeting the eager little boys and girls and taking pictures, the couple made their way to the head of the crowd to walk in the tour, the first stop being In Good Taste — the wine and spirits shop on Main Street.
The tour traveled east up Main Street, turned left onto Church Street and then moved right up North Front Street where dancers from the Barefoot Dance Center performed in front of The Treehouse art gallery and shop.
The Treehouse owner Kathy Preston said the Barefoot performance has become a nice tradition for the event.
“It was such a big hit last year we decided to have them again,” Preston said.
Preston said that last year the dancers performed during the tour at Isabella’s on Main instead of at the end of the tour at The Treehouse.
The tour, usually led by Safran, was instead guided by Village Trustee Ariana Basco and Town Councilman Jeff Logan.
“I was asked to be one of the leaders of Downtown Unwrapped this year because they had the same person doing it for a few years in a row and thought it would be fun to have one Village Board member and one Town Board member,” Basco said.
She said she always looks to support local businesses in the community and Downtown Unwrapped does exactly that.
“It promotes keeping our money circulating in our local community and money that is kept local helps our local economy and keeps our friends and neighbors employed,” Basco said.
Safran said about 200 people came out for the tour this year — about 100 more than last year. Safran said the Facebook page created for this year’s event may have been the reason.
Third-year biology and psychology major Marissa Perito attended the tour with her roommates.
“It was nice to see the holiday spirit in New Paltz and how involved the community is,” Perito said.
Basco said New Paltz Downtown Unwrapped is important to the community because it supports the downtown businesses at a time of the year when many retail businesses make the most profit.
“So many people are making purchases and we need to move people away from buying things online, and towards buying locally-made products from local shops,” Basco said.