BERLIN – For over 20 years, the Town of Berlin has celebrated the holidays in a Victorian Christmas theme promoting the small businesses in town.
Today kicks off the traditional holiday with hundreds of people expected to gather to watch Mayor Gee Williams flip the switch to light the Berlin Christmas Tree at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Atlantic Hotel. The Delmarva Chorus will be setting the tone with traditional Christmas carols, while Main Street’s 19th Century village charm will be exhibited to all.
“What I love about it is it brings out all the locals in the town and everybody is happy and relaxed, they just had Thanksgiving and they’re going into the new season,” Berlin Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Olive Mawyer. “The town just lights up.”
The Holiday Arts Night will take place following the Christmas tree lighting. Shops will be open until 9 p.m. and each has special plans to observe one of the busiest nights of the year for the town. See accompanying story for more details.
“The whole goal is to get people to shop local, shopping local and using our small businesses here,” Mawyer said.
Also this weekend, about six Berlin businesses are taking part in Main Street Maryland Small Business Saturday on Saturday, Nov. 26, which is put on by the State of Maryland’s Tourism Department. Participating businesses will provide discounts and specials that Saturday for shopping in Berlin. Mawyer added that is it an incentive to have shoppers come shop in Berlin to wind down after Black Friday.
The Victorian Christmas activities continue in December, as the 41st Annual Christmas Parade returns on Thursday, Dec. 1 and leads into Victorian Christmas Weekend.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., Breakfast with Santa will be held at the Buckingham Presbyterian Church as well as blacksmith at work demonstrations and wares in front of the Atlantic Hotel from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Vera Bradley Open House at Victorian Charm.
Also, Victorian Charm’s ladies night will be held on Dec. 2.
The Treasure Chest’s customer appreciation sale is Dec. 3 and 4.
Victorian Teas at Main Street Enchanted Tea Room will be open on Saturday and Sunday, and a Food Drive at TaDa and TaDa Home will take place on Dec. 3, and finally the 40th Annual Christmas Bazaar at Worcester Preparatory School returns on Dec. 4.
From Dec. 3-18, Santa Claus will visit Berlin every Saturday and Sunday between the Atlantic Hotel and The Globe from noon-2 p.m. Horse and carriage rides will also be offered.
“It is something they [residents] look forward to every year,” Mawyer said. “It is not a big tourist event … it brings out thousands of locals. It brings everybody together and during the weekends what I love is they actually pump holiday music all day long in the streets and that’s always nice for people walking around.”
According to Mawyer, Berlin’s business community and residents alike get into the holiday spirit.
“You should see all of the decorations that are up already, it is beautiful,” she said. “It brings out more of the locals out of any other time of the year.”
Another big event to take place is the 4th Annual Reindeer Run on Saturday, Dec. 17. It is a 5K run held in downtown Berlin starting off in front of the Atlantic Hotel hosted by Live Long Fitness.
“What is kind of cool is people dress up in their reindeer outfits,” Mawyer said. “It is a ball and there is a huge turnout … it’s not a competitive race it’s just a nice casual run having fun.”
Other merchant events will take place throughout Victorian Christmas in Berlin, Nov. 25- January 1. The schedule can be viewed on the Berlin Chamber of Commerce website, www.berlinchamber.org.
Victorian Christmas will come to an end with Berlin’s New Year’s Eve Celebration.
Last year was the first time for the successful event when only hundreds of people were expected and thousands actually showed up. Mawyer said this year they are more prepared, including a bigger and better ball to be dropped, more vendors to provide refreshments and even a photo booth to capture commemorative photos for the evening.