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Winterlit Returns to Downtown Santa Monica

By Gene Williams

October 26, 2010 -- While summer is not yet a distant memory and Thanksgiving is still more than a month away, Bayside officials are busy putting finishing touches on plans for the 6th annual Winterlit celebration. And they will be bringing back some of the most popular festivities from recent years.

The traditional Christmas Tree and Menorah will be showcased on the Promenade, while the corner of 5th and Arizona will return with Downtown Santa Monica’s 8,000-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink -- ICE at Santa Monica.

“Our goal is to provide a lot of family-friendly fun and holiday entertainment,” says Ashley Walkley, senior marketing and communications manager for the Bayside District Corporation. “We really want to create long-lasting holiday traditions for Downtown Santa Monica.”

The district also welcomes back Santa Monica Place after two years of construction. This great addition to Downtown promises to draw thousands of holiday visitors.

“Everyone is really excited about the reopening of Santa Monica Place,” Walkley says. “The new mall is a long-awaited enhancement to the district, and I’m sure they will bring great programming to the holiday season.”

The fun starts in November when the twinkling lights and larger-than-life Winterlit decorations return.

As the season moves into full swing, singing carolers will be back to spread their yuletide cheer throughout the district, while Santa and local businesses will have some extra-special helpers in the form of Downtown’s Ambassadors.

And with the recession forcing shoppers to stretch their dollars, the festive atmosphere, top-quality free entertainment and inexpensive holiday activities will make Downtown Santa Monica an even better choice than ever.

Budget-minded buyers will have one more good reason to come to the district on Black Friday, November 26.

In a promotional program called “Santa’s Little Savers,” Ambassadors will surprise lucky shoppers that day by offering to pay for up to $100 of their purchases at Downtown stores.

Sunday, December 5, also promises a bonus for visitors, with the Tree Lighting Celebration -- as well as the Menorah lighting and dreidel spin -- bringing day-long free entertainment and fun to the district.

Last year, the celebration included a concert featuring R&B singing star Brian McKnight. Bayside officials are working on an equally special program for this year.

If you’re looking for a unique, seasonal addition to spread holiday cheer, you’ll enjoy ICE at Santa Monica. Now in its fourth year, ICE promises to be a top attraction and a big boon to the local economy. Total attendance at last year’s rink exceeded 250,000, including 70,000 paid skaters.

“The rink has become known as a popular holiday destination throughout Los Angeles,” Walkley says. “We want Santa Monica to be thought of as the place to go for holiday fun, and ice skating is one of the most traditional and exciting ways to do that.”

The official opening ceremony for ICE at Santa Monica is set for November 10, and Bayside officials promise to put on a good show with activities, dazzling skating demonstrations and special guests.

“We definitely encourage the community to join us at the rink on November 10 for a special celebration and throughout the holiday season,” Walkley says.

Enhancements this year include an expanded observation deck that wraps around three-quarters of the rink. And, in keeping with the City’s commitment to sustainability, photovoltaic solar panels will offset the electrical demand needed for the rink.

Bayside officials will be sure to keep the community well informed of all the events happening. Winterlit signs will be posted throughout town on the sides of Big Blue Buses. Local newspapers will provide timely Winterlit articles and display ads, and Winterlit messages will be updated regularly on the web and social media platforms.

But perhaps the best advertising will be by word-of-mouth from those who have enjoyed Winterlit in the past.

“All of us at Bayside District Corporation are really looking forward to another successful holiday season,” Walkley says. “We definitely want to create a localized experience with long-lasting memories for both visitors and residents.”

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