Celebrate with businesses during this holiday season

Mark your calendars and get ready to celebrate local businesses in the City Beautiful. This holiday season, the City of Coral Gables is introducing two new annual events: the Coral Gables Festival of Lights, which will light up the downtown shopping district and the Village of Merrick Park, and the Storefront Display Awards Program, which will encourage exceptional storefront window displays, city-wide.

The main objective for both initiatives is to attract more people to the city’s shops and restaurants and recognize businesses that enhance the city’s shopping and dining experience. The Coral Gables Festival of Lights encourages businesses in the downtown Business Improvement District and the Village of Merrick Park to create a festive winter holiday atmosphere by decorating the exterior of their storefronts with white holiday lighting.

The competition begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 17, and it finishes Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. No application for participation is required, and winners will be recognized at a city commission meeting in three holiday lighting categories: 1. Best retail store, 2. Best restaurant, and 3. Best office building.

In a collaborative effort, the City of Coral Gables, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Coral Gables Business Improvement District (BID), and the Village of Merrick Park will initiate the Storefront Display Awards Program.

This program, open to all businesses in the city, will begin by celebrating both the winter holiday season and Valentine’s Day, encouraging participating businesses to design creative and elegant storefront window displays for the applicable holiday.

Beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24 — also known nationwide as “Small Business Saturday” — judges will be looking for the best winter holiday storefront window displays. Then as the holiday of hearts approaches in February, judges will start looking for the most romantic storefront window displays. A special awards committee will determine the program winners and prizes.

“The city has a wonderful variety of businesses, big and small, that are essential to driving our local economy and the local shopping experience,” said Coral Gables Commissioner Frank Quesada, who initially asked city staff to enhance holiday shopping in the community. “The city and its awards committee members want to highlight those businesses that are going the extra mile to attract shoppers and visitors, and encourage others to participate.”

For information on how to participate in either the Coral Gables Festival of Lights or the Storefront Display Awards Program, contact the Economic Sustainability Department at 305-460- 5311.

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