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‘Light Up Corydon’ is big business for downtown

‘Light Up Corydon’ is big business for downtown
‘Light Up Corydon’ is big business for downtown
Kim Ragains, 41, Sellersburg, said she didn't know what she would do with her $500 CVB 'Shopping Spree' gift certificate that she won Saturday night at 'Light Up Corydon,' but the three women with her, sister Pam Dietz, 41, Chloe Pendleton, 15, and Brittany Ragains, 16, said they would help her decide. (Photos by Randy West)

After retail-significant ‘Black Friday,’ it was time again to bring the light.
‘Light Up Corydon’ shone brightly Saturday evening with 100,000 tiny white lights and the largest crowd ever, by some estimates, benefiting in part from unseasonably warm weather and a lot of publicity.
The 20th annual event signaled the beginning of extra late Friday nights for 28 merchants searching for strength in numbers while catering to holiday shoppers.
But Light Up Corydon is itself the biggest shopping day for some downtown retailers.
Diane Herdt at Collections of the Homeplace was swamped at her Elm Street Boutique. She said the event helps predict December sales.
‘Even if they’re not buying tonight, they may see things and come back,’ Herdt said. Few shoppers had made it to her little piece of Elm Street, but on Saturday night her store was jammed.
Many merchants say business has been sporadic this season, but Friday was a good day for many of them and Saturday was even better.
On Friday, ‘We hardly had time to answer questions,’ said Hannah Harrington at The Christmas Goose. ‘There have been a lot of people in here since 9:45 a.m.’
The Christmas Goose has a small metropolis of ‘Department 56 Villages,’ miniature ceramic buildings that are remarkable in their detail of American institutions. They look nifty on mantles and shelves in the home. Department 56 Villages include ‘Snow Village’ pieces (the one for Halloween is a ‘traffic stopper’), Christmas in the City, The North Pole, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Radio Station KBRR, Shelley’s Diner, Krispy Kreme, the ‘High Roller Casino Boat,’ Gus’s Drive-in, The Apothecary Shop, The Public Library, The Daily News, Jack DeFazio’s Pizza, Hot Wheels Body Shop, and a few hundred others.
Lisa Goffinet at Reflections sold out of music boxes that play ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad’ in no time at all. David Longest’s book, ‘Railroad Depots of Southern Indiana,’ also sold well.
Goffinet said she’s sold a lot of candles (including some that smell like cinnamon twist with vanilla), long ribbons and tree bows that she makes with colorful silky wire ribbon that can be used from year to year.
Goffinet looks forward to Christmas every year. ‘Everybody is in a good mood, and it makes you want to be here.’
Down at Simple Country Treasures on Beaver Street, Danese Pease of Lanesville said, ‘This week it’s picked up pretty good. October was awesome. November is coming around. Yesterday (Friday) was a good day, too.’
During Light Up Corydon, Pease stays open on Friday nights until 8 and Sundays she’s open from 1 to 5 p.m.
One of her customers, Maryann Littlefield of Louisville, said she comes to Corydon every year at this time to look for unique Christmas gifts with a ‘country’ look. ‘The atmosphere in Corydon is always nice and very friendly,’ she said. She likes it so well here that she’s looking for a place here to retire.
Picture framer Gary Wood said his Christmas orders are already backing up, but, if necessary, he can still guarantee a job in two to four days.
Business hasn’t been so good over at Bushmaster Firearms on East Chestnut Street. Owner Jay Marlow said, ‘We’re sellin’ a few’ things, but thus far it’s been ‘day-to day’ and ‘You don’t know what you’re gonna sell.’
Guns, ammo and clothes to wear while using them can be found in large variety here.
Marlow said he’s expecting this season to be ‘a little like the last several months: I expect it to be down.’ He blames it on the sluggish economy. ‘Everybody’s afraid to spend a dollar, and you can’t very much blame ’em.’
The Emporium was jammed Saturday. Melissa Golden of New Middletown was there with her daughter, Danielle, 13, and her friend, Amber Keller, 12, Corydon. Danielle was in the Vera Bradley section, looking for a cell phone holder.
‘This is one of my favorite stores,’ said Melissa. ‘It has the whole charm of Corydon and the atmosphere. When you think of what downtown Corydon is trying to do, this is it ‘ hospitality, atmosphere, and the customer service that each employee gives.’
‘She also loves Boyds Bears,’ said Danielle.
Angie Purcell, Angel Run Road, said she brings her daughter, Sophia, 8, and her friend, Heather Jacobi, 10, to Corydon every year at this time for ‘girls day out.’ They start at 11 a.m. and eat at Magdalena’s, then shop all day. ‘We hit every shop once, sometimes twice,’ said Angie.
‘We just spend the entire day here. We start planning this in July.’
The lines for Gary Henderson’s carriage rides and pictures with Santa in the First State Capitol were at least one hour long Saturday night. Some people waited much longer.
‘We’re big enough now to be a two-carriage town,’ quipped tourism expert Sean Hawkins, who helped raise the money for the event as a member of Main Street Corydon. The Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau also helped with promotion. Additionally planning and sponsorship was provided by the Town of Corydon and the Harrison County Community Foundation.
Kim Ragains of Sellersburg won the $500 ‘Shopping Spree’ gift certificate sponsored by the CVB.
Charlotte Bell said ‘people by the droves’ attended the Corydon United Methodist Church’s living nativity. ‘We had a lot more visitors than we ever had before,’ she said.
Some have questioned why the lights end abruptly, leaving trunks and branches bare a few feet from arm’s length. Bids to hang lights into the treetops came in at $25,000 and up. ‘You would have to question the wisdom to spend that much money for something that just lasts a month,’ Hawkins said.
Diane Setter, sponsor of ‘The Red Edition’ competitive dance team at Indiana University Southeast that put up the lights on the square, fell off a ladder last Tuesday night and broke her ankle. But she was still here Saturday night to assist with turning on the 100,000 white lights.