The holiday season is almost here, and the Lodi Downtown Merchants Association is gearing up for its annual Christmas Open House along School Street.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1.
Randall Heinitz, president of the association, said about 2,000 people are expected to attend festivities over the weekend.
During the open house, many of the School Street merchants will have special holiday sales and discounts, and provide a variety of treats such as cookies or crackers and beverages such as coffee or tea to shoppers.
“Everybody will have their own promotions going on,” Heinitz said.
Carolers from a number of local churches will traverse School Street and regale passersby with favorite holiday hymns.
Pat Patrick, Lodi District Chamber of Commerce President, said the carolers will actually begin singing Nov. 21, and continue to do so every Saturday leading up to Christmas Day.
In addition, a 30-foot tree will be erected in the post office parking lot, where visitors can meet Santa Claus for a few hours each Saturday.
Hay rides are scheduled to be offered from noon to 3 p.m. Nov. 30, depending on whether the association can reserve the horse-drawn wagon for the day. At an association meeting Nov. 14, members were not sure whether they could secure the wagon due to limited funds for the event. However, the association received several donations the next morning and was hoping a wagon could be reserved.
Funds for this year’s open house had totaled $1,100 as of last Friday, Heinitz said.
He added that he was unsure whether the giant tree at Post Office Plaza will be lit this year. It was also unclear whether the tall trees lining both sides of School Street will be lit.
Traditionally, Heinitz said, the trees have been decorated with lights by various merchants. However, Lodi City Manager Rad Bartlam has told the association the outlet boxes at the base of each tree are either all damaged or not working, Heinitz said. That means no power will be generated to light the trees.
Bartlam said the outlets will be repaired sometime next year, when there is money in the city’s budget to fix them, according to Heinitz.
Bartlam was unavailable for comment.
Despite the lack of tree lights, Heinitz is happy the event will be put on.
“I think it’s great (the Merchants Association) can pull together in cohesion and put this all together,” he said.
“The heart of Lodi is in Downtown,” he said. “And it’s very heartwarming to come to the center of the community at Christmastime.”