Downtown businesses are ready to show off Red Deer’s oldest commercial district to Canada Winter Games visitors.
From a hot chocolate competition with free samples, to musical performances and family activities, new art installations and store windows welcoming people to Red Deer, the downtown will have a lot to offer during the games.
Amanda Gould, executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association, said ambassadors will be roaming the streets like “walking information booths.”
“They are going to be giving out information on what businesses are open, what other activities are happening with the games, where everything is throughout the city, not just downtown,” Gould said Tuesday.
She said downtown businesses are eager for the games to begin.
“It’s been a tough time economically, and January is always traditionally one of the hardest months for our businesses, especially our retail-based ones. This is a really very welcome opportunity,” Gould said.
Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer, owner of Comforts the Soul, said a recent customer and skating mom who has attended previous winter games said she expects the downtown to be busy.
“She said after a while, you just can’t take the rink anymore, and you just want to go and find out what’s going on elsewhere,” Watkinson-Zimmer said.
She said the days will be long, but businesses are excited.
Estie Van Der Velden, owner of Stella Bean Sweets, said it really kicked in on Monday that the games are just days away.
Her shop is located near the Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza.
“Driving by every day, how can you not get excited seeing everything get together? We’re pumped,” Van Der Velden said.
Like other stores, Stella Bean Sweets will be open late during the games for downtown visitors. She also plans to sell designated treats representing each province to welcome fellow Canadians.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re busy,” Van Der Velden said.
Watkinson-Zimmer said the games are a great opportunity to show off Red Deer.
“Sometimes, Red Deer gets bad publicity and I think this will really put the city on the map,” Watkinson-Zimmer said.
Gould said she is not worried about the usual downtown issues, such as needle debris, because when there are more people in the downtown, there are less unwanted activities.
“Positive activity attracts positive activity, so I don’t anticipate any problems.
“I feel that the combination of the RCMP and the weather, and all the (needle) collections that we do at the DBA, we’re really on top of that right now, especially in the downtown core, where we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of drug paraphernalia,” Gould said.
Special games activities in the downtown include:
- Five art installations created from refurbished materials located on Little Gaetz Avenue.
- Programmed activities and musical performances on Little Gaetz Avenue from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Feb. 16 to March 2.
- A hot chocolate competition with free samples on Feb. 21 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Veterans Park.
- A winter patio set up next to Veterans Park for programming by downtown businesses.
- A win your purchase contest.
- A window decorating contest for businesses.
For more activity details visit http://www.downtownreddeer.com