University of Oregon

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments

Pendleton’s downtown Holiday Stroll delivers the goods

Downtown Pendleton thrummed Saturday night as hundreds bundled up and took to the snow-covered streets for the first Old Fashioned Holiday Stroll.

Businesses stayed open late, some offered free hot chocolate, the burgeoning Oregon Grain Growers set up a stand and offered — to adults only, of course ­— free tastes of their vodka and whiskey. Sisters in Song and the Pendleton Men’s Chorus trod Main and filled the air with carols. And smiles were in abundance.

The Holiday Stroll was the invention of Molly Turner, the downtown association’s program manager. The association wanted to encourage local holiday shopping, she said, and creating an event to pull people to downtown helps achieve that. The association used some advertising and word of mouth to spread the news about the stroll, as well as Facebook, which allows users to track responses to invitations.

Turner recalled putting the event’s invite on Facebook weeks ago on a Friday morning, and by the next day more than 200 people clicked the boxes for going and maybe going.

That number, she said, continued to climb, topping out around 920.

Judging from the crowd, that many may have made it during the Holiday Stroll’s four-hour window.

Turner said seeing so many people attend this first year was a positive sign. She also credited local businesses and organizations for their willingness to participate.

The crew at Great Pacific Wine & Coffee Co. set up an outside beer garden, complete with hot air blowers to fend off the chill. Owner Ken Schulberg said he figured maybe a few handfuls of people would show. He was happy to be so wrong.

“There’s people up and down Main Street,” he gushed, “and it’s after 5 on a Saturday night.”

Dave and Tracey Fiore of Pendleton joined the throng. They said they loved the stroll and walked from one end of Main to the other, with stops in Bella Cosa Gifts & Home Decor, and Alexander’s Chocolaterie & Vino Bistro. And the recent winter weather, Dave Fiore said, only added to the cheery atmosphere.

He even waited in line to take a turn with Santa. Just like the song says, this was his big scene.

And Pendleton’s, too.

Originally Published in East Oregonian
333 East Main St.
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