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Holiday spirit reigns at downtown event page 2
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

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Marc Ast, who owns The Frenchman's Corner at 620 Caroline St., said that his gourmet food and kitchenware shop had about a third more business on Saturday compared with last year's Saturday open house.

"We had a wonderful crowd," he said.

But he noted that about half of his customers were paying in cash for his Neuhaus chocolates and other items instead of using credit cards. The average sale was $15 to $16, he said, which was about $5 less than a year ago.

"People are being more watchful and careful," Ast said.

Cindy Dennis, who manages Quilts N Treasures at 814 Caroline St., said she anticipates that many of the customers who came in to her shop with their children this weekend will be back unaccompanied later on to buy Madeline dolls, Playmobil sets and other toys to put under the Christmas tree.

"Today is really a family day," she said.

That was true for Keith and Debi Harrison of Spotsylvania, who were driving along the 1000 block of Caroline Street when their three young children spotted Santa. They begged to go sit on his lap and get their pictures taken.

Santa, whose helpers were promoting the Trees of Hope benefit for Hope House, persuaded 9-year-old Luci Harrison to let him sit on her lap while her parents snapped their picture.

"I want a red Hummer and an ATM that gives me cash," he joked.

Then he let Luci sit on his lap and whisper what she wanted for Christmas.

"A boyfriend!?!" he teased, which made Luci giggle.

Afterward, she and her siblings, Addie, 6, and Cole, 4, took part in Trees of Hope's new program for children. For a donation, they got to decorate 21/2-foot tall Christmas trees with a variety of trimmings.

"It's raised a couple hundred dollars," said Ken Kroko, who is on the Trees of Hope committee. "Every dollar counts.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com


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