Officials say Bluefield, Granada had successful Christmas season
Jan. 31—BLUEFIELD — An estimated 45,000 people visited Bluefield's Holiday of Lights during the holidays, and donations topped $60,000.
"That money goes back into our plans for next year," City Manager Cecil Marson said of the 2023 holiday season.
Marson said the decorations, displays activities and events in the downtown area were also a success, including the new skating rink, Ferris wheel, Santa House, a Christmas market and parade.
"Things were really great with all that was happening downtown," he said. "Attendance was great and we got good revenue this year."
This is all part of enhancing holiday offerings in Bluefield, which is officially designated as "West Virginia's Christmas City."
Marson said plans are in the works to possibly add some expanded lights at Bowen Park beside the Holiday of Lights at City Park and maybe add more activities in the parking lot area beside the entrance. About 13,000 vehicles went through that entrance (averaging almost four occupants per vehicle).
The new skating rink downtown is also being looked at for possible expansion, providing a larger skating area.
"We sold about 1,000 tickets (to skate)," he said, which was a good turnout.
The synthetic portable skating rink is built to make expansion easier, he said, and the size used last month was smaller to see how popular the skating rink would be before adding on.
"It is designed to expand," he said, adding that it gives people in this area, especially kids, a chance to ice skate for the first time.
Marson said downtown businesses participated more and were pleased with the customers coming in. "They were happy."
The city will continue to look at expanding things that work, as well as adding new things to attract people to the Holiday of Lights and to the downtown area.
"We will look at all of the opportunities," he said, including spreading out more lights downtown, reaching possibly toward Bluefield State University.
Brian Tracey, Executive Director of the Bluefield Arts Revitalization Corp. (BARC), said the holiday season was also a great one for the Granada Theater, with more than 5,000 people of all ages coming downtown for the events at the theater, from movies to concerts to holiday parties.
"We had 33 events between Nov. 17 and Dec. 31," he said. "We were very proud."
Holiday movie attendance was up and almost all the seats in the theater were filled for the jazz concert.
"We showed fewer movies but we had bigger crowds," he said. "We learned to make better selections in when we show movies."
Tracey said the New Year's Eve celebration with the band "Envision" was also a big hit.
Many visitors were from out of this area, he added.
Plans are being made for next year's holiday celebration at the Granada, as well as the Raleigh Street Cinemas, which will open in May at the ground floor of the Granada building facing Raleigh Street.
Tracey said the theater will have two 50-seat theaters and will help enhance holiday offerings.
The Granada has also started showing first-run movies, as will the Raleigh Street Cinemas.
During January, "The Fabelmans," "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Elvis," all nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, were shown.
Starting Friday, the new film, "80 for Brady," starring Lilly Tomlin, Sally Field, Jane Fonda and Rita Moreno will be shown. "Star Wars: A New Hope," the original Star Wars movie, will also be screened in February. Visit bluefieldgranada.com for showtimes and ticket information.
Tracey said all of these developments will help provide an enhancement of events for the downtown area during the Christmas holiday season.
"We are on a trajectory now to continue to push this forward," Marson said of all of the holiday offerings at the Holiday of Lights and downtown.
Marson also praised the work of volunteers and said more than 30 people helped decorate windows in the downtown area.
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