Christmas Stroll downtown Friday

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The holiday season begins in Whitefish on Friday with the annual Christmas Stroll downtown.

Events run from 5 to 9 p.m. for old-fashioned holiday fun and shopping for the annual event hosted by the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce and BNSF Railway.

Street vendors, the crafters, the Bar W wagon rides and Santa Claus, as well as the Winter Carnival float and royalty, and downtown storefronts all dressed in their holiday finest mark the occasion.

The Presbyterian Church’s Alpine Bell-Ringers will perform at 6 p.m., and the annual lighting of the Depot Park Christmas Trees — accompanied by a bit of fire-dancing and the arrival of Santa Claus — is set for 6 to 6:30 p.m. in front of the O’Shaughnessy Center at Depot Park.

The seventh annual Christmas Stroll Shopping Spree provides a chance to win gift certificates, products and services simply by supporting Whitefish Chamber members on Dec. 8. Last year’s big winners walked away with more than $1,000 in prizes, and more than 50 local businesses have already donated prizes for this year’s grand prize drawings.

For every $10 spent with a Whitefish Chamber member on the day of the stroll, folks can get one entry into the grand prize raffles that’ll be held that night at the Christmas Stroll. To enter, bring receipts for purchases to the chamber tent near the corner of Central Avenue and Third Street by 8:30 p.m., when the three lucky winners will be announced.

There’s plenty of entertainment during the stroll.

The evening begins with a recital by the North Valley Music School at 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.

For the fifth straight year will be Whitefire, Whitefish’s own local fire-juggling/dancing troupe performing on Central Avenue in front of the O’Shaughnessy Center at 6 p.m., and again at 7:15 p.m. in front of the Winter Carnival float.

Kids of all ages can get their pictures taken with Santa at the Stumptown Marketplace on Spokane Avenue beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Winter Carnival royalty and their subjects will take center stage on-and-around the float throughout the evening. The kids from the Whitefish/Bigfork Dance Academy will make an appearance at 6:30 p.m., and wandering groups of Christmas carolers will fill the air with the sounds of the holidays.

There is still vendor space on Central Avenue during the stroll. Call the chamber offices at 862-3501 to get an application and reserve a spot, or for more information on the stroll.

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