By J. L. Shively
Downtown Denville prepares for winter with a warm welcome to the holiday season, kicking of their long held tradition with a Holiday Open House and a weekend of fun and festive activities for all ages.
Typically this long weekend of holiday merriment begins on the Friday following Thanksgiving and is indeed set to begin this year on Fri., Nov. 23.
The beautiful downtown district of Denville will be transformed into a bustling holiday wonderland featuring festivities for kids as well as offering a great opportunity for adults to start their holiday shopping.
The theme for this year’s event is “Holidays on Broadway,” explains Ryan Gleason, the first executive director of Downtown Denville Business Improvement District, or BID.
Gleason has taken up the mantle of this position since July of 2017. After the closure of the Denville Chamber of Commerce, which had for years been the main organizer of this event, Denville BID “took over and is committed to keeping the tradition alive,” states Gleason.
The aim with this type of event and with the other works of BID “is to create a vibrant downtown that reflects our unique history and where both businesses and residents can flourish,” states Gleason.
To start off the weekend, the Holiday Open House is set to begin on Black Friday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This portion of the weekend will be presented by Duphiney Financial Network.
Duphiney Financial Network is co-partnered by brothers Gerard and Glenn Duphiney. The company has deep roots within Denville and currently serve more than 1,000 families. Gerard states that he and their small business are “proud to be a part of the Denville community.”
Of their involvement in the Holiday Open House, Gerard states that “Duphiney Financial is very happy to be a sponsor for this Downtown Denville tradition.”
In addition Gerard states that he believes it is important to support local merchants, especially during the holiday season and looks forward to the weekend of festivities.
Like the many years before it, the Holiday Open House is planned to include traditional favorites such as pictures with Santa Claus, horse and carriage rides, a petting zoo, hot chocolate stations as well as entertainment from local performance groups.
The wagon rides are planned to be offered by Moutainside Stables of Lafayette. The Denville BID is hosting this year’s wagon rides and the route is planned to run from Broadway down Second Ave.
Although the list of performers for this event is not yet finalized, it is planned to include local dance troupes, school choirs and karate dojos. Although not yet confirmed, Denville BID hopes to have roaming carolers join the list of performers for the event.
As always, the downtown district is prepping itself to offer great shopping and discounts and even activities in “everyone’s favorite downtown stores,” states Gleason.
During this event the entire street of Broadway will be closed to traffic to accommodate the activities and the horse drawn wagon rides.
“In past years we have seen upwards of 600 people come downtown to experience the Annual Holiday Open House,” states Gleason and notes that a similar turnout is expected for this year pending the weather.
The evening of festivities is planned to be followed up with a local celebration of Small Business Saturday, set for Nov. 24. This year the events in Denville will be presented by WP Realty of Denville.
While the previous day, Black Friday, has long be a celebrated day of shopping and a kick-off to the holiday season, the last few years have seen an increase interest in shopping at small businesses, especially local ones.
Small Business Saturday is a day specifically crafted to draw attention to the local businesses and what each of them have to offer the community. During this day in Denville businesses are set to offer their holiday finest as well as offering some of their best deals of the season.
In the spirit of this event, Denville BID plans on hosting a Shop Small Passport Contest. This contest, Gleason explains “will challenge holiday shoppers to visit a set number of stores that day to be entered to win a number of great prizes.”
The weekend will conclude with a bang on Sun, Nov. 25 when the annual Denville Holiday Parade is set to be held.
The parade is planned for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature floats, great vehicles, and local dignitaries. This event shares the theme of the Open House with “Holidays on Broadway.”
The route will begin on Bloomfield Ave. at the front of McCarter Park and file down towards Broadway and then through the downtown district.
“The Holiday Open House is a Denville tradition going back years,” sates Gleason. “Our feedback is always positive and we always have families come up to us with great stories of experiences [with] the Holiday Open House in years past.”
While many of the events and activities being offered are tradition and the same which is offered each year Gleason is sure to note that this does not mean that the organization does not look to improve upon the event.
“This year the committee members have been hard at work brainstorming great ideas for this and future events,” says Gleason.
The upcoming event is chaired by Dana King from Richards and Summers Insurance Agency which is a local business that is also located directly on Broadway. Richards and Summers Insurance Agency, Gleason states, “has been a great community partner for many, many years.”
Other committee members Gleason notes are Meg Olenowski from Sisters and Surprises in Store, Paula Battle from New View Media Group, Jenn Fox from Dash Thyme, and Gene Fitzpatrick, a resident and former Councilman in Denville.
Battle is a sales representative for “Denville Life Magazine” and has volunteered for several years helping out with this event. She recalls many fond memories of past events as well as challenges in assisting in getting everything ready for the big day.
“I usually am at the hot chocolate table, supervising the volunteers pouring the hot chocolate and giving out the cookies,” says Battle. “The hot chocolate is prepared by the Denville Dairy and it is delicious, everyone loves it.”
The feedback Battle has received from residents regarding the event is very positive, noting this weekend of holiday spirit as one of the times they feel the town is really giving back to them.
“They love the fact that Broadway is closed and can walk in the street and not worry about their children or their pets crossing,” states Battle.
With years of merriment behind them, the residents and merchants of Denville are certainly headed for another year of fun and holiday spirit, best shared with family, friends and of course their neighbors.
For more information about Denville BID or about how a local business can get involved, visit www.downtowndenvillecom. This site will also offer further information regarding the upcoming Holiday Open House and other events planned for the months ahead.
The Denville BID is a 501 (c)(3), non-profit organization. Their mission, Gleason states, “is to drive commerce and expand economic opportunity in Downtown Denville by providing services, development, improvements, and community-oriented programming that appeals to shoppers, workers, residents and visitors.”
The BID organization is made up of local businesses and property owners in the actual downtown district who help to shape the priorities and efforts of the area.