Ryan Beckman, dressed in the Santa hat, owner of Beckman Gallery in Grinnell helps Debby Pohlson with a purchase during Jingle Bell Holiday on Friday, Nov. 18. Ryan took over the family business in August after his father, Jim, passed away. Many Grinnell businesses stayed opened extended hours to help area residents kick off their Christmas shopping.
By J.O. Parker
Inside Hotel Grinnell, Slane McCue, 13, welcomed shoppers to her homemade soap booth at the Winter Farmer’s Market held in connection with Grinnell’s Jingle Bell Holiday on Friday, Nov. 18.
“I like making the pretty designs,” said Slane, as she explained about her colorful homemade melt-and-pour glycerin soaps to visitors at her booth.
Her father, Daniel, said Slane learned how to make the soaps during the pandemic and started her own Etsy shop in 2021.
“She adds essential oils and natural dyes to her soaps,” he said of the business.
She also started selling at the Grinnell Farmer’s Market that same year and has had lots of success.
“I like making my own money,” said Slane. “I like meeting people.”
Slane was one of 21 vendors selling everything from baked goods to kettle corn, spices, holiday décor items, oven mittens, hand mittens, books and more at the Winter Farmer’s Market.
Outside, shoppers braved the cold and wind as they took a ride on a horse-drawn carriage, stepped into local businesses to check out their offerings and met some of the cats and dogs from PALS (Poweshiek Animal League Shelter) at MCG and Hair of the Dog.
“It’s a nice community,” said Kerri Olson, who co-owns Olson Garden Market with her husband, Brian.
The business makes a variety of spices and sells holiday décor items.
“I love the lighting of Central Park,” added Kerri. “It’s a nice family weekend where people can come out and enjoy what local businesses offer.”
Jingle Bell Holiday got underway shortly after 5 p.m. on the main stage at Grinnell’s Central Park.
Grinnell Mayor Dan Agnew was joined by Grinnell Chamber of Commerce Director Rachael Kinnick as they welcomed those who braved the cold and wind while thanking those who made Jingle Bell Holiday possible. They then turned their attention to a couple dance routines by Michelle’s Dance Academy students.
This was followed by Mayor Agnew sending out a quick thanks to Kevin and Jennifer McAlexander and the host of volunteers for their efforts in decorating the park as he led the large gathering in counting down from 10 and turning on the holiday lights.
“It was a cold, but lovely evening,” said Jennifer. “We appreciate the many volunteers who helped bring the Central Park project to life and hope it will bring joy to many throughout the season.”
Across from the main stage, a group of parents, family members and guests gathered in front of the Veterans building to watch as dancers from Stepping Out Dance Academy performed a cake walk routine for the first time outside at Jingle Bell Holiday.
In past years, the cake walk routine was a yearly event at the local dance academy on Main Street in Grinnell but had been put on hold during the pandemic.
“We brought it back and taught some of the International students from Grinnell College how to do the cake walk,” said Nellie Hatch, a dance teacher at the local dance studio and Spanish teacher at the middle school.
Nellie said she and dance studio owner, Melissa Budinich, enjoyed the evening and said they plan to bring the cake walk outside again.
Just down the street from the park at Grinnell State Bank, Santa flew in on his sleigh with a jolly ho, ho, ho. Cory Hall Photography was on hand to take photos of the many youngsters who came with their wish lists to meet Santa and have a photo take with him.
Cory has been taking photos of kids with Santa for 30 years.
Just around the corner on Main Street, Ryan Beckman at Beckman Gallery and Gifts, said this was his first Jingle Bell Holiday since taking over the business in August from his now late father, Jim.
“I am surprised at the response,” he said. “It put a smile on my face.”
Ryan said he would like to thank the Chamber of Commerce and the people of Grinnell who came out and supported all the local businesses.
Down the street to the north, folks stopped for sweet treats at the Grin City Bakery and across the street at Brown Shoe Fit, shoppers stopped to check out the selection of shoes while warming their hands and their hearts to the music of Grasshopper, a bluegrass band featuring musicians from five states including Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Michigan and Kentucky.
Others gathered at St. Mary’s Catholic Church or at Relish (Iowa Kitchen) for a warm bowl of soup and some businesses offered cookies and fresh hot chocolate.
“We are super thankful that the community supported our business and Mason’s Light House,” said Shanna Sieck, who co-owns Two Sisters Tea and Apothecary on Fourth Avenue.
The business, which is owned by Shanna and her sister-in-law, Steffanie Sieck, offers herbal tea blends, healing crystals, minerals and more.
Mason’s Light House is a project that Shanna and her husband, Curtis, are working to bring a children’s hospice house in Iowa City in memory of their son, Mason.
“In spite of the cold, we had an amazing turnout,” said Kendra Vincent, member engagement coordinator at the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce.
Kendra said in addition to the Winter Farmer’s Market vendors, there were 35 participating businesses who took part in Jingle Bell Holiday.
“The community is always good about coming together and supporting local businesses,” she said