News & Events

Downtown is all about telling stories!

Writing this column, I want to tell a story, but I also want to touch on community development in all its facets and what the WDAC and partner organizations are doing and how it fits into goals and a longer-term picture. As I write this, that first want is especially top of mind this month.

Why is that? I think it’s because “downtown” is all about telling stories and that is never truer than during the Christmas season. It’s often repeated, but it’s true: shopping local keeps more money in the community. There are huge economic impacts to that, of course, but it also means the stories are more personal, more interconnected.

Any store owner is happy to tell you why they carry the items they do and what it means to them. When we buy gifts, we will share how we decided on that particular item or color. For instance, when my mom opens a robe from me and my brothers on Christmas Eve, she will hear about how the owner of the store held the item and helped select the best color and the right wrapping paper.

During our Lighted Christmas Parade a few days ago, I spoke with a family whose youngest son is six years old. He had an elf with him that was “staying” with the family for the week. As part of the assignment, he had to write about all the things they did. Of course, he exclaimed that he knows that’s not the real Santa he saw, but in a moment straight out of Home Alone, immediately said that he knows this Santa just works for the real one!

At our monthly Events & Promotions meeting this past Monday, store owners shared memories of questioning Santa’s existence as children too, only to be amazed by what transpired. One remembers returning home from church service to discover sleigh tracks in the snow and what they were positive were reindeer prints next to the garage. Similarly, as an 11-year-old, someone shared that living in rural Illinois with the closest family members two hours away, his family would come home after looking at neighboring Christmas lights for an hour to find that Santa had delivered all of the presents. Faith in Santa and the magic of the season was restored! The first found out many years later that a group of neighboring children had gotten too close to the house on an actual sled as a dog ran with them while the family was at mass and an older sister knew that, but never said a word. And that rural Illinois neighborhood? All the neighbors helped each other out by looking at lights at different times and putting each other’s gifts under the tree. But the magic of those moments has not been tarnished.

The store owners each had huge smiles on their face recounting moments that happened by chance. The magic remains. And it grows! This season is about drawing together in shared spaces and making memories that will become stories to be told. Whether it becomes apparent today or in the following weeks and months, I hope being in your downtown helps you tell a story and cherish the magic of the season. Thanks for letting me and everyone downtown help tell their story each and every day.

Written by Jordan Nordby, Executive Director at Main Street Monroe and WDAC Vice-President

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