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Holiday spirit reigns at downtown event
This weekend's warm weather helped attract shoppers to downtown Fredericksburg's annual holiday open house.

 Clad in camouflage, Santa greets 7-month-old Ryan Harlan and his mother, Laurie, during the open house Sunday.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/12/2012

BY CATHY JETT

The Window Wonderland riddle displayed at Irish Eyes in downtown Fredericksburg had Kevin Ward and Cindy Love stumped.

Could the grouchy character referred to in the first two lines have been played by the same actor who provided the voice for a cartoon character? Ward wondered.

"Was there a Mr. Magoo Christmas movie?" he asked.

Love snapped a picture of the riddle with her iPhone and then began Googling the name to find out.

Her search was all part of the afternoon's fun for the Stafford County residents, who were strolling along Caroline Street with their families on Sunday during downtown's annual open house.

Retailers, restaurants and other businesses used the weekend event to kick off the holiday season. They decorated their store windows, offered special sales and, in some cases, treats such as the samples of wine and other goodies offered by the Made in Virginia Store at 907 Caroline St.

"We couldn't have asked for nicer weather," said Kathryne Mitchell, who owns Made in Virginia with her husband, John.

The city also helped lure shoppers downtown by decorating lampposts with garland and big red bows, and by co-sponsoring the second Window Wonderland contest. It encourages people to solve riddles about holiday movies for more than $4,000 in prizes. The deadline to turn in answers is Dec. 31.

Several merchants said Saturday's business was more brisk this year than last, although things slowed a little on Sunday. Still, it was busy enough on Sunday that Nina and Larry Branham of Spotsylvania County said they had to drive around downtown four times to find a parking place.

"I figure all these people can't be wrong," Nina Branham said as she and her husband listened to The Believers play bluegrass near Cose Belle Boutique, 1002 Caroline St.

Across the street, Whittingham bustled with customers looking for holiday decor and home furnishings among the shop's high-end items.

"I think things are looking up in a very good way," owner Bob Whittingham said between helping customers. "The election is over. People are in a good mood. If you've got good merchandise, it's going to be a great season."


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