Arlington community members came down to the downtown business community for Small Business Saturday as part of the town's Hometown Holidays kickoff event.

This is the second year that parts of the downtown were closed off for various activities, including multiple fire pits, a snow machine and the Rotary train giving free rides around the area.

S'mores kits were being sold with profits supporting the Arlington Police Department K-9 unit.

This year included a few additions for the kickoff event on Nov. 24.

"We're making it bigger and doing more activities down here," said Lisa Cisneros, owner of Olympic Escrow and president of the Downtown Arlington Business Association.

"We think it's wonderful. We've done some of these before but this is awesome and we got to do the charm walk as well," said local Marcia Kelly.

A charm walk provided people an opportunity to get around to visit local businesses.

"It's to encourage people to explore downtown and go into some businesses they might not normally go into," said Jennifer Egger, executive director of the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The tree lighting at Legion Park, which is usually held after the Santa Parade on the first Saturday of December, was instead held at the kickoff this year.

"And it's actually at dark now, so that will be fun," said Egger.

Business leaders said that last year went well and the event allowed people to get out and meet each other.

"It was raining last year so we had to get a tent up," said Cisneros, "but the community was awesome and it gives us a chance to meet our neighbors."

"The words 'hallmark movie' keep coming up. The whole tone is just festive and friendly," said Egger.

The downtown used to put out fire pits at the beginning of the holiday season but that tradition had gone away until it was brought back last year.

"Last year was the first time in a long while that we've shut down some parts of the street to put up fire pits," said Egger.

Cisneros said that this year's event was going well.

"We weren't really starting until 4 p.m. and we've had people out since 3 p.m. getting charms already," she said.

The kickoff also brings people into the downtown for Small Business Saturday.

"I think it's an opportunity for people to take a step back from the whole Black Friday busy lines and you can just kick back and casually stroll around town," said Cristy Brubaker, treasurer for the Downtown Arlington Business Association.

"It's an awesome time for us to focus on the businesses downtown and how valuable they are for our community," said Egger, "and to make sure that people are coming downtown and checking them out."

She said that shopping locally is good for keeping money in the community and keeping small businesses in Arlington.

"It's a big impact that people make when they shop local and they are supporting their neighbors," said Egger.


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