By Daniela Cintron
The streets of Downtown Clayton flooded with the holiday spirit the Friday after Thanksgiving. More than just a typical Black Friday full of shopping, Clayton Downtown Christmas was a true small-town holiday evening filled with family fun and a strong sense of community.
Beautiful window displays welcomed everyone to visit the local stores, restaurants, and galleries, which offered great discounts and store-wide sales, making it possible for locals and passing by visitors to start their Christmas shopping on the right foot.
Main Street was decked out with beautiful Christmas decorations and lighted up with luminaries lining the streets. Sham Johnson delighted the audience with the bagpipe for the 14th year in a row. “Even though my hometown Dahlonega is lighting up their Christmas tree tonight, I am committed to the people in Clayton because this has been part of my life for a long time,” Johnson said, with a big smile in his face.
For the community, this was the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and friends. For some, this was even an opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream, as such was the case for Licia Cleaveland. She and her family dressed up in holiday gear and walked down the street singing Christmas carols and making the air feel so much warmer with the holiday spirit. “I always dreamed of doing it, and now here I am with my family making it happen,” she said.
Part of the view was the beautiful window displays decorated by each business. Fortify Pi won the 1st place, with five other honorable mentions. The competition was strong, and it made it difficult for judges to pick a winner. Regardless of who won, it is safe to say that the decorations added to the experience.
For such a special occasion, even Santa Clause made sure he was present. Parking his reindeers on top of Reeve’s on Main Street, Santa got to meet all the boys and girls who stopped by to see him and take a picture with him.
The event is organized every year by the Clayton Merchants and Business Association to celebrate with the community and entice everyone to support their small businesses and shop local these holidays.
For many small businesses, this has been noted as their busiest day of the year, and this time around it didn’t disappoint. “It is even busier than last year already,” said Brooke Campbell while checking out a customer at Wander North Georgia a couple of hours before closing time. “We are here until 8 p.m., and we hope it continues this way.”
Even though the day seems to bring great profit to the local businesses, for many, it is the last busy day for a few months and the beginning of a very slow season. “This day is great and busy, but most importantly, it will help carry us January through April, which are the slowest months of the year,” said Josh Brown, part owner of Wander North Georgia. “We really depend on locals those slow months to keep business going.”
With the holiday spirit still present in the streets of Downtown Clayton, locals and visitors are invited to continue their Christmas shopping supporting our small businesses.
For more pictures on the event, visit our Facebook Page.