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Uptown Sparkles kicks off holiday season in Saint John


The heart of Saint John, N.B., has transformed into a holiday wonderland to celebrate the calendar turning over to December.

Uptown Sparkles lights up the city for the night with activities for the whole family, from outdoor fire pits, jolly trolley rides, festive displays, and live music around every corner.

“We have carolers meandering around, we have choirs at Brunswick Square,” says Uptown Saint John Business Improvement Area executive director Nancy Tissington. “We also have a live DJ at the city market, and a live band at King’s Square. We have lots of music and lots of sights and sounds for everyone to enjoy.”

King’s Square will be the centre of the action, sponsored by Saint John Energy. The main focus of the event is to help businesses uptown, which for many is their busiest night of the year.

“It’s my biggest night for December,” says Hats on the Square owner Susie Hines. ““It’s a great opportunity to market the business. A lot of people discover us for the first time when they get out and about which is nice.”

“This is about showcasing our businesses that are in the uptown,” Tissington says. “They have opened there doors, they’ve got specials, they got their windows decorated and they are so excited to welcome upwards of 40,000 people we’re expecting this evening.”

Many of the business have extended hours for the night and are offering exclusive deals. At Hats on the Square, Hines is offering 15 per cent off all items, special goodie bags for those who come in, and a chance to win items in the store.

Mayor Donna Reardon notes that it isn’t just storefronts getting a boost from the event, but the hospitality industry as well.

“Everything will be booked solid tonight,” Reardon suspects for uptown restaurants. “We have people who come for this and probably the Delta will be filled tonight as well and the Hilton. There will be a lot of people that come for the evening and stay the evening.”

While walking in and out of businesses and restaurants, residents will notice four ice sculptures spread throughout town. One of them was built by Joel Palmer with Swamp Bear Art.

“I use different tools to give different textures in there and when the light hits it is really going to shine,” Palmer says of his ice throne outside of the City Market. “It’s for Uptown Sparkles event tonight and hopefully people will have some fun with it.”

With the warmer weather Friday night, Palmer reminds residents to be careful when interacting with the frozen displays.

“There going to be melting petty fast,” Palmer says with the temperate set to hover around the high single digits. “Try to keep hands of if possible, especially the young ones. They are heavy pieces of ice too so we want to keep that in mind as well to keep people safe.”

Mayor Reardon helped officially kick off the party with the Mayor’s Tree Lighting out front of city hall. She says one of the best parts of Uptown Sparkles is how easily accessible everything is.

“You have this one main street in King Street and all of the laterals that run off of it and that’s all the business improvement area.” Reardon says. “Everything will be happening within that.”

The festivities wrap up just after 10 p.m. Friday.

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