Reindeer Festival launches season as Holiday Stroll arrives this weekend

Christmas and the holiday season are here in Greenwich, which means there are a ton of events on the calendar. The annual Holiday Stroll will be a highlight this weekend and festivities kicked off with a ribbon cutting at McArdle’s to reopen Santa’s Workshop for the season. rom left, Jonathan Moffly, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus (aka Christine Georgopulo), James McArdle, Selectman Drew Marzullo and Tammi Ketler of TMK Sports & Entertainment cut the ribbon together.  –John Ferris Robben

Christmas and the holiday season are here in Greenwich, which means there are a ton of events on the calendar. The annual Holiday Stroll will be a highlight this weekend and festivities kicked off with a ribbon cutting at McArdle’s to reopen Santa’s Workshop for the season. rom left, Jonathan Moffly, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus (aka Christine Georgopulo), James McArdle, Selectman Drew Marzullo and Tammi Ketler of TMK Sports & Entertainment cut the ribbon together. –John Ferris Robben

Santa Claus and his reindeer are back at McArdle’s and the Christmas season is now open in Greenwich.

While no official declaration was made this past weekend when Santa made his grand return on Nov. 28 to McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center at 48 Arch Street, opening the traditional Santa’s Workshop located inside the store, there might as well have been, because the arrival marks the beginning of four weeks of holiday events throughout town starting this weekend with the sixth annual Greenwich Holiday Stroll. On Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7, from noon to 5, there will be holiday activities throughout the downtown business district.

More than 115 Greenwich merchants will be participating throughout the downtown with features like horse-drawn carriage rides down Greenwich Avenue and up Mason Street, a food truck village in the Havemeyer Building parking lot, a bouncy castle and tent courtesy of Kempo Academy at 235 Greenwich Avenue behind TD Bank, live holiday music with 12 different groups sponsored by Greenwich Hospital in front of the Bank of America, ice sculpture demonstrations in front of the Senior Center, and a live nativity hosted by the First United Methodist Church of Greenwich at 59 East Putnam Avenue with nine live animals, including a camel and a donkey. Additionally, eight other local churches are involved with the stroll.

There’s a whole lot more planned, and a complete list and schedule are available online at GreenwichReindeerFestival.com.

This is only one of several events coming to Greenwich for the holidays. The official town of Greenwich tree lighting at Town Hall will take place Friday, Dec. 5., from 3:45 to 4:30. There will also be a tree lighting on Dec. 6 at the Byram Shubert Library from 4:15 to 6:15. On Dec. 6 it is the annual First Light celebration in Old Greenwich from 6 to 9 p.m. along the main area of Sound Beach Avenue. Then Cos Cob’s third annual Winter’s Eve Festival will be held Saturday, Dec. 13, from 3 to 7 p.m. with a whole series of family-friendly events planned, including rides on an antique fire truck, a kids dance contest, holiday music, cookie decoration, games, a holiday boutique, and a tree lighting.

It all kicked off with the arrival of Santa and his reindeer at McArdle’s in what has become a beloved holiday event in town. There was a brief parade as store owner James McArdle rode with Santa, Mrs. Claus and Selectman Drew Marzullo in a convertible with Greenwich Fire Department trucks accompanying them, and then the ribbon was cut for Santa’s Workshop at McArdle’s. The four live reindeer arrived a few hours later and will be at the store to visit with children from now until Dec. 24 through the Greenwich Reindeer Festival as people may come and get photos with Santa at McArdle’s.

The opening featured face painting by Wells Noonan, food provided by Cosi and the Christmas display of items available at McArdle’s. There was also the opening of a contest to name the four reindeer. The contest runs until Dec. 7, when Santa will choose the four names; entry forms are available at McArdle’s. In her guise as Mrs. Claus, Christine Georgopulo, owner of the Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom on Greenwich Avenue and the founder of GreenwichVIP.com, called it “where we turn commerce into community,” and that sentiment was shared by the organizers of the event.

Tammi Ketler of TMK Sports & Entertainment is the driving force behind the Holiday Stroll this weekend. She told the Post at the ribbon cutting at McArdle’s that “every year this is something that continues to grow and get bigger and better.”

“It’s extremely exciting to be a part of this event to promote downtown Greenwich during the holiday season,” Ms. Ketler said. “That’s what this is all about, community and commerce.”

The event is a major planning endeavor for Ms. Ketler and the others involved, especially as it continues to grow, but she calls it a pleasure to work with a team that includes Mr. McArdle and the downtown Greenwich merchants. Barbara Occhino of BarbaraEntertains.com is serving as “entertainment curator” for the event, and Ms. Ketler said she’s “done an outstanding job” putting the music together.

“It’s very gratifying to see the response to this,” Ms. Ketler said. “It’s about the community. It’s about the downtown Greenwich businesses. It’s about promoting Greenwich and really showcasing what an extraordinary shopping area this is, not only for the people that live here in town but for the surrounding areas. This event is not just for Greenwich residents. It’s for everybody. That’s what makes it special.”

As part of the Holiday Stroll, Ms. Georgopulo is sponsoring the horse-drawn carriage rides, and she got into the Christmas spirit by dressing up as Mrs. Claus. Through her Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom location, she’s supported the Holiday Stroll for several years now, and she said it was important for the merchants to be able to come together in a unified campaign to promote not only their stores during the holiday shopping season but a sense of community as well.

“Tammi is doing this for the merchants, which is just outstanding,” Ms. Georgopulo said. “We have such a fabulous area, and the merchants need to be in it together and be a family. She does this with the Reindeer Festival and the Holiday Stroll and it’s great to see so many businesses come together in a common goal to bring customers to the area to have some fun and see what’s happening in downtown Greenwich.”

This is when Ms. Georgopulo is launching GreenwichVIP.com, an app that enables people “with one click” to see what businesses, from restaurants to clothing boutiques to lawyers, are in town and get information about them while also hearing about available deals. She said she made the decision to have the launch in connection with the Holiday Stroll and Reindeer Festival because “this is the one time of year where the merchants get the benefit of being together as a family. It drives things forward. We’re all here to serve and we have more strength as a unit than we do individually.”

Connecting the Holiday Stroll and the Reindeer Festival at McArdle’s is part of a long-standing partnership between Ms. Ketler and Mr. McArdle. They’ve been doing this since the stroll began six years ago, and Ms. Ketler said it is a partnership that’s still going strong today.

“He saw the vision and he embraced it from day one,” Ms. Ketler said. “It’s all about creating a reason for people to come out and enjoy downtown Greenwich. What better reason during the holidays than live reindeer and Santa and the Holiday Stroll? We have so many special things going on during the Holiday Stroll.”

Mr. McArdle told the Post that he was happy to be involved and see people embrace the event. He called the official launch the “blissful Black Friday” compared to the traffic and frenzy at the mall.

“People really are excited, and it’s a great thing for the community,” Mr. McArdle said. “It’s a great thing for downtown Greenwich. It’s a wonderful family event and people really start anticipating it in September and October and they start asking us if Santa is coming back and when are the reindeer going to be here. It’s a great event.”

Transforming the flower shop into a premier holiday destination for gifts and for pictures with Santa is not an easy task for Mr. McArdle and his staff as they turn it into Santa’s Workshop. Work begins in October every year but Mr. McArdle said they have to do it in a way that respects customer wishes not to have the holiday season launched too early. It starts in a separate area and moves down until right after Thanksgiving when the Christmas season really arrives in the store.

McArdle’s is serving as a sponsor for the stroll along with Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich, la suite skin care, and others. The Post is serving as a media sponsor. In addition to GreenwichReindeerFestival.com, there’s information at Facebook.com/GreenwichReindeerFestival and Twitter.com/ReindeerGwich/.

[email protected]

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress