I'm curious to know what people's experiences were on Saturday night, from the perspective of spectators, shoppers and business owners.
We intended to do some shopping, but the sidewalks were so packed in front of business entrances, we actually skipped that part. This wasn't just people walking around, it was parade goers setting up their chairs directly in front of businesses and settling in for the duration. For business on the north side of Central, this made them pretty inaccessible, especially for families with strollers, etc. We also planned on eating out as we have for past Shop & Strolls, but we ended up heading home for dinner instead, again because of the crowds. The parking situation seemed dramatically bad and I imagine folks living in the immediate vicinity were pretty unhappy about it.
The parade was very twinkly and full of cute and crazy alike. I particularly liked the disco dancing Darth Vader on a sand barge. And the tiny ponies (tiny ponies!!) are always a favorite. I admit the horns and other parade noises were more enjoyable for not bouncing around in the canyon-like walls of downtown Central Ave, where they can sometimes be overwhelming, though I suppose that's part of the parade experience too.
From our point of view, combining these two events was not a real success. We missed the annual evening in downtown Abq full of people enjoying themselves without being intoxicated bar patrons. I think Twinkle Light is one of the few events that reliably gets families out and about in downtown. And we didn't actually participate in the shopping part of the event because the crowds and atmosphere in the late afternoon and evening weren't conducive to that. We'll still do our holiday shopping at local businesses, but it'll happen next weekend instead. I personally hope the city reconsiders the location of the parade next year and returns it to downtown.
We attended for the first time last night (just moved back to NM). My son loved the parade, which seemed fun and somewhat random to me (It wasn't always obvious to me who the floats were sponsored by, or if some of the people walking along were even actually IN the parade, but everyone seemed to be having a good time). I had also planned to do some shopping beforehand and to take us out to eat but changed plans as soon as I saw how many people were lining up along the curbs. We ended up grabbing pre-dinner ice cream at Cold Stone beforehand, and the cashier said they had been busy that day.
We should shut down central avenue every saturday and/or sunday and leave it open for pedestrians, cyclists and what not. It could be more organized though. Then we can have free yoga, dance classes, food vendors, crafts vendors and everybody can have fun being around each other.
This would be fun except I'd never get to shop there on that day. Suntran would, as usual, route the buses miles out of the way, without alerting riders, and I'd rather shop in some other location than carry what I've bought (especially cold items) a mile back to the nearest bus stop - on Lomas if I'm lucky. If the Nobhill area wasn't closed on Sunday, that'd be okay with me.
It's possible and other cities do it. It's not about shopping or a dumb parade either. It's a way to get suburbanites out of their caves and to be around people. Most people that attended this event did not go shopping, shopping isn't even the main attraction, it's walking around and being in the presence of people.
Silver would be an easier street for this idea--Central would be a logistical nightmare to close down more than twice a year that it already is.
As for your questions Hettie, I never went to the parade in Old Town because it's always the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I'm out of town that weekend, so I don't know how the mood of it changed, but it was nice to see so many people out for the shop and stroll/parade. I didn't buy much of anything because I feel somewhat anxious around such huge crowds in tight spaces, so I kinda ducked in and out of a few stores and put off my shopping for another day. You'd have to hear back from a store owner/manager to find out how good/bad sales were--I would assume higher than usual though.
I wondered also if the parade actually decreased the sales for the shop owners. I know I wanted to visit a few places but couldn't because of seated crowds. It also changed the mood of the event -from feeling old-time holiday to parade-amped. I like Natoe's idea of shutting down Central in Nob Hill -only maybe for a few Saturdays until the end of the year. D
I abandoned shopping this year and have frequently shopped @ the shop 'n' stroll, enjoying the entertainment with its multiple stages and fire-eaters and carolers. But I LOVED the parade. The waterfall float; the gangnam style dancing Darth; the beautiful Afro-d young black woman on the Alamosa Books float with the giant teddy bear that she turned into a puppet/marionette as the avid readers floated by, cozied up on sofas with their books and imaginations with the floatie ethereal drapes; the high school bands (Rio, Highland, maybe another); San Felipe's float--well, you know, all the floats were really flatbed trucks...But the bicycles entry, with lit up bikes, and trick bikes--high and low; low-rider cars, tilting and rocking. It was very festive.
I was successful in cajoling visiting family to shopping on shop local saturday (after t-giving) and they made purchases in ooh aah, toad road, beeps, masks y mas, duran's Rx (thanx for the lead, there!), out of the blue, & abq museum gift shop.
and when are they going to place the holiday covers on the parking meters here in nob hill?
Ooh, I forgot to mention the Alamosa float--that was a great one! And we've made the long trek to shop there on multiple occasions now. They have the absolute best selection of books for very young readers--love that store!
I had a good time, though it was strange to see the Shop & Stroll and Twinkle Light Parade traditions collide. We got there around 3:30 and didn't have any trouble getting in and out of businesses. Once the parade started to come through, we didn't even try other than braving the line at Satellite for some hot drinks.Though it was busy, we also easily got a seat at B2B Bistronomy for beverages and a snack around 4ish.
If this melding continues in the future, I think people with serious shopping plans will want to get there well in advance of the parade to do their shopping in more comfort and less crowds. I like that the Shop & Stroll part actually started at noon, though that may not have been as well-advertised as it could have been.
The parade itself is always a hoot. Ponies! Loved the ponies and the old cars. Like Linda, there were a bunch of floats that made me wonder who was sponsoring them.
Since I live within walking distance, I didn't have to deal with the parking nightmare, but I heard from other folks that it was pretty rough. All in all, I enjoyed having these two events come together.
We also got there on the early end of things (3:00 or so), and had a very nice time walking around shops, grabbing food from the food trucks, and enjoying the closed-off street. We also found parking not too far away. I'd agree that getting into businesses once the parade was going was not easy, but since they started the event at noon, getting there earlier worked out well. I liked the combination a lot, actually, and I really appreciated that it was all on a Saturday--the chilly Thursday evenings have not always worked out well for us for attending the Shop & Stroll.
And yes, PONIES! Those were great. :)
The parade was cool, but shop and stroll was shot for us. Just didn't have the usual casual Christmas-y feel. Instead it was this hyped, adrenaline-pumped event, which by itself would be great, but I've always enjoyed leisurely taking in stage performers and jugglers, while popping into shops to, you know, shop and enjoy some hot cider and biscochitos. It's also usually a time to bump into all kinds of friends and acquaintances, chat and catch up. But that was nearly impossible with the crowds crammed onto the north sidewalk. We ran into some old friends, only to get pushed and shoved by passerbys. We ended up just quickly saying, hey, and then continuing on. I suppose we could have showed up in the afternoon, but there's just something wonderful about strolling Central at night with crisp, cool air. Since we had small children, the parade was about all they could take, so we bailed immediately after it.
All that said, the parade was awesome, and my son loved it. Not bagging on it, just wish it had been a separate night. No reason not to spread out the holiday fun.
"Not bagging on it, just wish it had been a separate night. No reason not to spread out the holiday fun."
That pretty much says it for me. The parade is fun, the shop-and-stroll was fun, but I don't really see why they needed to happen simutaneously. I also missed having the parade downtown.