ESTEVAN - The inaugural Miracle on Fourth Street, hosted by the Estevan Downtown Business Association, proved to be a hit with the community.
The event was held Saturday in the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Fourth. The short stretch of road was shut down to vehicle traffic so that people could easily walk through the city’s downtown core, moving from one business to another, while enjoying the various activities that were offered.
Businesses on Fourth Street had in-store specials during the day to give people another reason to tackle their Christmas shopping locally.
“They said they were busy. They were run off their feet,” said Josh LeBlanc with the Downtown Business Association. “They had lots of people come into their stores that they’ve never seen before, and had great sales going on. Lots of people were buying Christmas presents. So overall they were satisfied.”
Hot dogs and hot chocolate were served in front of the Tower Café, attracting large crowds of people looking for something to eat or a drink to stay warm, although they didn’t need much help to keep their body temperatures up, since it was a nice, sunny day, especially by December standards for southeast Saskatchewan.
More than 700 hot dogs were served. LeBlanc believes that was the best indicator they had of how many people were at the festivities, because they didn’t have any other means to track attendance.
In the 1100-block of Fourth, families enjoyed a petting zoo, crafts and carnival games.
Graham Collie brought a couple of horses so that people could enjoy hay rides. And Santa Claus was on hand to greet the kids and listen to their Christmas shopping lists.
“Everybody was excited to see Santa, and we had some elves on the street as well,” said LeBlanc.
Two free matinees, sponsored by Coldwell Banker Choice Real Estate, were shown at the Orpheum Theatre. The Polar Express was for kids and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was for adults.
“I think we had a great day,” said LeBlanc. “We lucked out with the weather; the weather was beautiful. All of the downtown merchants came together to plan this, and I think it turned out to be a very, very good day.”
More than 200 people attended the matinees.
LeBlanc believes there were at least that many people at the crafts and games, and the lineups were long for the hay rides on Fourth.
The feedback they received from the public has been very positive, LeBlanc said. People who commented on social media talked about how they had a great time.
The event was held in place of the Moonlight Madness event that has happened for more than 15 years. Moonlight Madness saw businesses stay open until midnight on a Thursday night in an effort to entice customers.
“We’re going to have a debrief meeting (to see the results),” said LeBlanc. “We did hear some concerns that there were other people out of town with sporting events and things like that. We won’t know what the actual success … until we can hear from the merchants when they compare what their sales were for that evening (Moonlight Madness) to what they were for this year.”
They’ll look at what merchants had for Moonlight Madness, and what they did during A Miracle on Fourth Street, before deciding whether this will be an annual event.
“That’s our hope, but we have to do our due diligence,” said LeBlanc.
A Miracle on Fourth Street was the latest effort to try to get people to downtown Estevan through events.
“To create economic development through quality of life is what we’re attempting to do,” said LeBlanc. “The city has done a lot of work with Doug Griffiths (of 13 Ways). Downtown has been involved with a lot of work with Doug Griffiths.
“The one thing that we constantly hear people say is ‘There’s nothing to do in Estevan.’ Well what we’re doing is we’re trying to create something to do, do an economic development spin off of that, and try to get more people into the stores.”
The hope is that as they increase the number of people downtown and the number of vehicles in the downtown area, that it will also result in more businesses, and more entrepreneurs will view Fourth Street as an option.
The Downtown Business Association looks forward to having more events, and they hope people continue to come out.
For more photos of the event, please see Page A13.