Originally created 11/29/06

Holly Days are family days

For shop owners and shoppers in downtown Aiken, Holly Days is a win-win situation.

But Holly Days is more than another holiday sale.

"Downtown Aiken at Christmastime is great. Nothing can compare - not even New York. You can't find this atmosphere anywhere," said Joanie Schisler, the owner of Amanda's Cafe and Grill.

Suzanne and Jim Hale, a couple from California, can be found playing Christmas songs on a courtship dulcimer.

"Suzanne and Jim are wonderful," said Carol Axner, of Aiken. "You get to see instruments you wouldn't normally see."

Just down the street, Rufus Red is singing Christmas standards such as Silent Night and waving to everyone as they pass by.

At the Aiken Center for the Arts, children create gingerbread men, angel cones and other crafts.

"We are focused on family. It's not just about shopping here. This is a unique environment," said Kristin Brown, the executive director for the center.

With the help of Saturday's weather, the sidewalks were filled with people enjoying Holly Days.

"(This is) beautiful weather, and with the music and shopping, we knew it was going to be happening down here," said Judi Royalty, of Aiken, who brought her husband, son and her son's friend to the event.

"If we ever have company, and we have a lot, the first place we come is downtown," she said.

Max Mendoza, of Monroe, New York, was in town visiting family for Thanksgiving.

"We came to take a tour of Aiken, to see the historical points," he said.

Because the tour bus was not operating during the holiday, Mr. Mendoza said they walked around downtown.

"It's very quaint. I love the weather," he said.

Shop owners welcome more business during Holly Days.

"The response from local people and visitors has been wonderful. They enjoy shopping downtown and get great customer service," said Joyce Greame, the manager of The Artists Parlor.

"(Holly Days) certainly increases the fun, and probably the sales, too," said Chris Lydle, the owner of Chris' Camera Center.

Holly Days, which is sponsored by the Aiken Downtown Development Association, will continue each weekend through Dec. 16.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3332 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.


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