Every Thursday in December until Christmas, Visalia and Exeter will be buzzing with downtown holiday activities.
Visalia Downtown Open House season kicks off with a special showing of “102 Dalmatians” at the Visalia Fox Theatre on December 5. Moviegoers will be treated to a skit featuring Notorious Visalians at 5pm, with the movie to follow. Tickets are $3 and can be bought at any of the clothing stores on Main Street, including Chelsea Street Boutique, or at the Fox Theatre box office.
All merchants will be open until 8pm to allow people to get their Christmas shopping done after work. Many stores will serve finger food and wine, and offer special sales. Right in the center of downtown, at 209 W. Main, will be Santa’s Village, where for $5 you can get a family picture with Santa. Three horse-drawn carriages will be trotting up and down Main and Center Streets. The price is $5 for a family of four. You can catch the carriage at either the Wells Fargo Bank or Chelsea Street Boutique.
This event has been going on many, many years but in the last four years it became a major event. The Business Development Committee decided to make the Open House bigger and better every year.
Elaine Martel, Visalia Open House organizer
To add to the holiday spirit, the Redwood Marching Band will play Christmas tunes all evening. Look for the special windows featuring the Downtown Snowman Festival. You can let the Downtown Alliance know whose display is your favorite through their Facebook page.
Exeter’s Open House is also every Thursday in December. The Exeter event has been going on for 22 years and stores there stay open one hour later, until 9pm. Exeterites are still a little sensitive that Visalia picked the same day for their Open House, but there is plenty of cheer to go around. They also have free carriage rides and pictures with Santa for a donation at Mixture’s Park, the site of the famous orange tree mural.