Chambers of commerce in several area counties are gearing up for the Christmas shopping season, which unofficially started Friday, by encouraging residents to remember the many unique shops and opportunities available in the small towns of North Central West Virginia.
"The idea is to begin the holiday kick off and also bring people to the core centers of the community," said Paul Daugherty of the Doddridge County Chamber. "We want to encourage shopping in places other than just the malls and we want to help focus people's attention on Doddridge County."
The first annual Christmas in Doddridge County-Holiday Celebration is set to open Tuesday in West Union.
The day's events begin at 4 p.m. with local businesses, non-profit companies and community groups hosting open houses and extended business hours until 6 p.m., Daugherty said.
"There are a lot of really unique little shops and a chance to get some different items in downtown West Union," Daugherty said.
The county's Christmas Tree, located on the courthouse lawn, will be lit for the first time of the season about 6:15 p.m. Included in the ceremony will be a special visit from Santa Claus and music performed by the Doddridge County High School Brass Quintet and Octet.
Following the tree lighting ceremony, community residents are invited to a reception at the Lion's Club Building with hot chocolate and cookies provided by the West Union Business & Professional Women's Club . The reception will feature display booths and crafts for the children.
In Taylor County, the Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the Christmas season with a community-wide home lighting contest.
Emily Bolliger, a member of the Chamber, said the contest is being co-sponsored by the Heritage Garden Club. The winning entry will receive a $50 certificate to be used with a Grafton town merchant, she said.
The Chamber also will sponsor a float in the Dec. 2 Christmas Parade, she said, but does not have any special programs to promote downtown shopping.
"We haven't really gotten into that. Most of the businesses in Grafton already have extended hours for the holidays," she said.
Deadline to register for the contest is Dec. 14, with judging to be held Dec. 15-19.
Upshur County's Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring events throughout December in celebration of the Christmas season.
The theme for this year's Christmas in the Hills is "Frosty's World." The celebration kicks off with the annual Christmas parade through downtown Buckhannon Dec. 1, preceded by an open house at the Governor's Inn from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
A home decorating contest will be held from Dec. 13-16 and the Holiday Homes Tour will be Dec. 10. Advance registration for the tour is required and tickets are $10.
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at email@example.com.