Cookies and hot cocoa, Santa and a flurry of young children coloring preceded the fourth annual Holiday Lighting Event on Small Business Saturday for the North Anthony Corridor.
Paul Papier, vice president for the North Anthony Corridor Group, said the organization tapped into all the bakeries and restaurants on the two-block strip for refreshments to celebrate the district's growing shopping choices.
Once the raffle was announced inside Longe Optical, the crowd stepped out to watch the sidewalk holiday decorations light up at the count of 10.
Joy Cook brought her son, Jac Cook, 10, after she found the event on Facebook. “We just wanted to experience it,” she said.
Papier estimated between 150 and 200 people came to see the lights go on.
Both sides of North Anthony Boulevard from Vance Avenue to St. Joe River Drive saw heavier foot traffic Saturday as neighborhood residents and customers shopped stores including The Bookmark, Sweets So Geek, Wooden Nickel, Old Crown Coffee Roasters and Firefly Coffee House.
Will Richardson, manager of The Bookmark, brought his wife, Mary Richardson and daughters, Sophia, 7, and Rose, two months.
“We try to make it to all the North Anthony Corridor stuff to support them,” Mary Richardson said.
Lanni Connelly, The Bookmark's owner, said she'd like to see more businesses move into the strip where her store has been for 25 years.
On Dec. 7, The Bookmark is hosting its 25th anniversary celebration from 4 to 7 p.m. The open house Christmas party will feature local author Blake Sebring for a book signing, Connelly said.
Papier said there isn't a week that goes by that someone doesn't mention getting a grocery store in the corridor. He blamed the delay on the current state of the grocery store business and the price of the real estate at North Anthony and Vance.