At most of the homes around the region, Halloween decorations have been taken down and replaced with traditional fall scenes — leaves, gourds, chrysanthemums, bales of straw and smiling scarecrows abound.
But in the retail world, the focus is already on Christmas, and Danville Mall is on top of it, with Santa already scheduled for his first visit Monday.
Santa’s workshop has been assembled, all new lighting is up and seasonal banners are hung. All that’s left is a sound check before holiday music starts and assembly of a stage area for live entertainment.
Property manager Katie Keatts said Thursday that mall staff have been working on a new event — the Festive Five — that will kick off the holiday season on Monday.
The “Five” are the five days this week that will launch the season and, besides Santa’s arrival, include performances by the Ballou Senior Citizens Choirs, the Danville Academy of Dance, Westwood Middle School Chorus, Westwood Middle School Band and the 451 Chorus at Twin Spring Elementary School.
“We’re working on a stage in the area in front of J.C. Penney, with seating so people can sit and watch and listen to the performances,” Keatts said.
Visitors to the mall will be able to vote for their favorite performance, and the winner will receive a trophy and be featured on a mural in the mall, Keatts said.
Votes will be cast through the event’s website, www.thefestivefive.com.
Keatts said the mall has had some live performances during the holiday season before, but they were not as organized.
“We had performers, but it was more random. There was no promotion, no stage,” Keatts said. “This is a way to promote them and draw people to the mall to see them.”
Twin Springs Elementary students are looking forward to their performance, music teacher Jeff Chapman said.
“They’re excited. We voted on it and they unanimously voted to do it,” Chapman said.
The 451 Chorus is made up of about 80 fourth- and fifth-graders, who practice singing every morning for 20 minutes, and have after-school practices when a performance is scheduled, Chapman said.
“These are great kids. They’re intelligent and curious about music,” Chapman said.
Songs they plan to sing include “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Santa Clause is Coming to Town,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and what Chapman called a new take on “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
Santa’s workshop officially opens at 11 a.m. Monday, and Santa will be around daily through the holiday season. Visiting him is free — or kids can drop a letter to him in a mailbox at the entrance to Santa’s workshop if they prefer that method of communication.
Keatts said photos with Santa also will be for sale.
It’s not just mall management getting ready for the season. The stores are fully decked out for the holidays, with window displays of holiday clothing, gifts and accessories, with various sales planned throughout the week.
“We’re so excited about Christmas,” Karen Johnston, of Karen’s Hallmark, said. “It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again, but we’re ready.”
One sign of the holiday season was already up and running on Thursday: The Hickory Farm stand, with cheeses, gift boxes, cheese balls and spreads, sausages and other holiday treats already drawing customers.
“They got here last Friday [Nov. 3] morning and were open right after lunch,” Keatts said, pointing to one of her favorite items, hot pepper bacon jam. “That stuff is amazing.”
Tangela Brown, of Danville, has been running Hickory Farm’s holiday season stand at Danville Mall for the past four years.
“I enjoy it,” Brown said. “And it’s a way to make extra money for Christmas.”
The stand can get extremely busy.
“We get people, corporations, here to get 50 of the gift boxes for their staff or customers,” Brown said. “We’re ready for them.”
Denice Thibodeau reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 791-7985.