By Madison Bridges and Kenna Coe
Devine Night Out opened the city’s holiday celebrations as shoppers strolled in and out of stores along the Devine Street retail corridor, sipping on wine or cups of coffee and hot chocolate and enjoying music, food and extended stopping hours.
Devine Night Out encourages people to come out ahead of the “holiday crunch” of a busy shopping season and holiday parties, according to Jennifer Suber, marketing coordinator for the Devine Street Association, a non-profit group that represents about 50 retail, dining and business establishments dotted along Devine from Harden to Ott Streets.
McCall Sheorn, who has attended Devine Night Out the past two years, said she embraced the early Christmas shopping opportunity, “to get some holiday shopping done honestly and to hang out.”
Dozens of others did the same, wandering into the decorated stores and enjoying meals in the restaurants along the corridor and at an outdoor food truck. Outside Brittons clothing store, Beth Struble, a representative of Meals on Wheels, handed out coupons to encourage some charitable donations too – with a$20 donation to the Senior Resources meals program for the elderly, Britton’s would give the shopper a 20 percent discount.
Suber said the Devine Street merchants weren’t trying to rush the festive season before Thanksgiving had even commenced, “but I feel like you can’t ignore the trends in retail and since this is a primarily retail shopping corridor.”
With temperatures dipping, she said, “You’re ready to start putting on your jackets and your warm sweaters and you’re ready to start doing stuff that’s social,” Suber said.
Businesses from fitness centers to real estate and law offices also opened their doors to offer a cup of cheer.
There are plenty of festive events in coming days to open the Columbia’s holiday celebrations.
This weekend, the 44th Craftsmen’s Christmas Classic Art and Craft Festival is coming to Columbia at the Cantey and Goodman Buildings at the S.C. State Fairgrounds. The traveling indoor holiday market features handmade crafts from artists across the Southeast. For the early Christmas shoppers, the market sells gifts including candles, fine art, jewelry and specialty foods.
Sheorn said she plans to attend the craft festival this weekend after her mother sent her information about it.
“I think it’s just a bunch of craftspeople from around not even just South Carolina… bringing food and crafts and everything they make for the holidays,” Sheorn said.
The market runs from Nov. 15-17 and is $8 for adults and $1 for children.
The Vista will deck its downtown streets with festival decorations and live music at the annual Vista Lights event set for Nov. 21. Local restaurants, art galleries and shops will open their doors and showcase specialty holiday items and food. The evening culminates with the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree on Gervais and Lincoln Streets.
On select nights from Nov. 23 to Dec. 30, Lights Before Christmas will take over the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Guests can see almost a million lights, visit with Santa through Dec. 23, watch the Holly Jolly Christmas Parade and sing along to Christmas songs with a 30-foot-tall animated story tree. By the Jingle Bell Bonfire, visitors can enjoy hot cocoa, s’mores and other foods available to buy.
Adults are $12, children ages 2-12 are $10 and children under two are free. Lights Before Christmas will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Sandra Lindler, who attended Devine Night Out, has a zoo membership and hopes to visit its holiday light event this year.
“I have a granddaughter that might enjoy that now, she’s two,” Lindler said.
The 53rd annual Governor’s Carolighting will be held on Nov. 24 this year. Pre-event festivities begin at 5 p.m. and the carolighting program is set to start at 6 p.m.
The lighting of South Carolina’s Christmas tree in front of the Statehouse’s north steps will feature performances from South Carolina artists, a holiday message from Gov. Henry McMaster, pictures with Santa and complimentary hot chocolate. The event is free, but if you can’t make it, SCETV will broadcast it live on television and online.
The South Carolina State Fair is continuing its 150th year celebration with a new Christmas light show. Kathy Allen, marketing director for the South Carolina State Fair, said this is the first year Carolina Lights will be at the fairgrounds.
“We are inviting them to come and enjoy being together with their family or their friends or some other group or alone and having a really nice peaceful drive through some holiday lights,” said Allen.
Allen said the drive is just over a mile long and will take about 20-25 minutes. Guests have the option to connecting their car radio to a station playing holiday music that synchronizes to the lights. Carolina Lights will run from Dec. 7-28.
Columbia firefighters decorated Station 9 to get into the spirit of the holiday season on Devine Night Out.
Bohemian Home was one of several local businesses that stayed open late to set up a table and welcome local residents inside.
Local musicians played live music on the sidewalks of Devine Street to entertain visitors of Devine Night Out.
Handpicked held a storewide sale for the event. Shoppers were offered complimentary hors d’oeuvres and champagne punch.