SIKESTON -- Colder weather, shorter days and merchant open houses are all signs of the arrival of the holiday shopping season.
Several cities and their retailers in the area have planned events in the coming weeks to prepare for their busiest time of the year.
Sikeston will have its Downtown Merchants' Holiday Open House beginning at 5 p.m. Nov. 9 and at 10 a.m. Nov. 10. There will be store specials, refreshments and carriage rides. Children will also be able to visit with Santa Claus.
"We always have a great turnout -- even in the rain and snow, we have a great turnout," said Susie Kenedy, owner of Susie's Bake Shoppe and chair of the promotions committee for Sikeston's Historic Midtown Development Group.
The 2012 Historic Downtown Sikeston ornament celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo and will be available for purchase during the Holiday Open House at various downtown stores and the Depot Museum. The cost is $25 for the sixth ornament in the series.
"Everybody looks forward to it, and gets you in the holiday spirit -- it's something you can do in your hometown," Kenedy said of the weekend event.
Theresa McGill, owner of Personal Expressions in Downtown Sikeston, agreed.
"I love the spirit. It puts us in the Christmas mood," McGill said.
The horse carriage rides on the brick streets, holiday decorations and nighttime setting that Friday evening are especially a sight to see, McGill said.
"It's an atmosphere that you don't get inside a mall," McGill said.
McGill said customers generally shop for both Christmas gifts and decorations during the holiday weekend.
"We have 20 percent off storewide, and people will bring their lists and start buying Christmas gifts," McGill said, adding refreshments are also offered.
In addition, Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities will present a "Holiday Light" Show from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 9 and 10 in its front lawn. Afterward, the show will shut back down until the Friday after Thanksgiving and will run the same time schedule daily through Christmas day, according to BMU officials.
The Sikeston Depot Museum and Gallery, 116 W. Malone, will also host the Downtown Gallery Walk from 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.
In New Madrid County, Christmas open houses will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 4) at Bella Dia in downtown New Madrid and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Carolyn's Apparel in Laforge.
Downtown Charleston merchants are also extending their hours for a three-day open house Nov. 9 through Nov. 11. Participating stores are located in the downtown area on Main Street and between Commercial and Cypress Streets.
A one-day "Bountiful Harvest for the Holidays" open house will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 18 in downtown East Prairie.
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