Christmas carols will be sung and holiday sales will be rung in downtown Newburyport tomorrow night to kick off this year’s Invitation Nights.
“There will be a sense of magic in the air,” said president of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ann Ormond. “We will have entertainment in the streets. Restaurants are open for business. The shop owners will put out treats and coffee and hot chocolate for you. It’s just a really welcoming kind of night.”
Almost all of the downtown Newburyport and Tannery businesses will take part in the Invitation Nights which have taken place on the first two Fridays in December each year for the past 30 years, in order to get the holiday season underway in style. This year’s festivities will begin tomorrow at 6 and run until 9 p.m., then it happens all over again next Friday.
“Other towns have Christmas walks, we have Invitation Nights,” said Brass Lyon owner Diane Gronbeck. “We serve hot cider and Christmas goodies and it’s just a happy, jolly kind of a time.”
Gronbeck has been in her Market Square location for the past eight years and said she usually sees about 800 visitors come into her nautical-themed gift shop each Invitation Night.
“It’s a great deal of local people,” Gronbeck said. “Plus, we draw a lot throughout the Merrimack Valley.”
“It’s sort of like a homecoming at football games,” said Ted Hochheiser, owner of Annie’s Gifts. “You get a lot of people who don’t always see their neighbors who come out and you see a lot of that. ‘How are you?’ They catch up with family and friends and all that.”
Hochheiser, who specializes in American handcraft as well as jewelry, has been in his Pleasant Street location since 1998 and said Invitation Nights have grown steadily over the years.