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Spreading good cheer

Not long ago, the best way to capture the spirit of the holiday season was to go downtown. Sprawling shopping malls hadn’t come on the scene and downtown merchants competed for shoppers’ attention by creating elaborate displays in street level windows. Families strolled along the sidewalk to take it all in.

This year, Downtown Spokane Partnership is bringing that back.

“It’s all about capturing the traditional spirit that you can’t find anywhere else except the heart of the city,” said Marla Oleniacz, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

Steeped in tradition, tinsel and thousands of twinkling lights, the holiday season has come to life in the downtown business core with vibrant Christmas displays and age-old activities, with a theme of “Home for the Holidays.”

Family friendly options include horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday displays in business windows and strolling carolers.

This year, a new tradition has been born with gingerbread window displays sprinkled throughout the downtown area. Some of the roughly 16 displays, which will remain until Christmas, are animated, and others are creative gingerbread structures, with themes such as “Go Green, Not Grinch,” “Santa’s Studio” and “Christmas on the Prairie.”

Designers include elementary school children, local engineering firms and local businesses and organizations. The public has the opportunity to vote for the “People’s Choice Award” for the favorite display.

For weekend live entertainment and festive atmosphere, carolers decked out in Victorian-era costumes will stroll along the downtown sidewalks and skyways, crooning the season’s tunes. The carolers, who are part of Spokane Falls Community College’s music program, make the rounds every weekend, Fridays through Sundays, during the holidays.

If you’re feeling a little Grinch-like, you won’t need to go far to lift your spirits.

“It’s a great way to see the lights and everything,” Oleniacz said. “You can make a whole night of it.”

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