GOSHEN — There was a light rain rather than snow in downtown Goshen on Friday night, but it certainly felt like Christmas at the December First Fridays.
Lights adorned businesses and shops, holiday carols filled the air, Santa and Mrs. Claus were out and about, and there were even chestnuts roasting over an open fire to round out the Christmas theme.
The evening, dubbed “Hometown Holiday,” brought the holiday spirit to downtown on a chilly evening, but it wasn’t so cold that revelers and shoppers alike stayed away.
“It turned out to be a nicer evening than I expected,” said Goshen resident Darren Bickel, who had come to First Fridays with his wife, Rose, and their two children.
The Bickels, who said they rarely miss a First Fridays, had come downtown to take in the Christmas atmosphere, find something to eat and do a bit of shopping.
“It’s an experience, seeing everyone we know and tasting everything along the way,” Rose Bickel said with a laugh.
Their daughter, Emma, said she was most looking forward to doing some shopping, surely made easier by the “30 under $30” promotion many businesses were involved with. Shoppers looking for Christmas gifts were treated to the promotion in which participating businesses made sure to offer at least 30 items for less than $30 each.
Phyllis Grimes, a sales associate at Jule’s Boutique, said a solid stream of people entered the store throughout the night. “It’s been pretty steady,” she said, explaining that business seemed to have increased over more recent First Fridays, most likely due to the holiday season.
Not everyone came out Friday night with an agenda, but there was enough going on that anybody could find something to interest them.
“We were wanting just a relaxing night,” Sherry Mast noted. Mast and her husband had planned to visit the downtown scene without anything specific in mind, but she ended up even finding a gift for herself.
Down the street, Gilsinger Implement Company and Everence teamed up to host a food drive outside the Goshen Theater to help stock The Window’s food pantry for the season. Nearby, roasted chestnuts were on sale for those really in the Christmas spirit, while a Santa Claus drove a tractor down Main Street, carting children along in a hay ride.
A band of Christmas carolers set up at the corner of Main and W. Washington streets and dozens gathered around to sing along or simply enjoy the tunes, waiting for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree on W. Washington.
Once the tree was lit, many headed off to one of two Goshen High School performances. Some people went to see one group perform a live radio version of the Christmas favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Goshen Theater, while others made their way to First Presbyterian Church for a free concert by the GHS Crimsonaires featuring Christmas songs and popular favorites.