MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Maplewood Village Alliance held its 3rd annual “Holly Walk” on Saturday afternoon, encouraging community members to stroll through Maplewood’s charming neighborhood streets and continue to check gifts off their lists by shopping locally. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., crowds wandered in and out of stores that proudly displayed festive red and green balloons outside to welcome holiday shoppers.

“The Holly Walk is a great way to kick off the winter season,” said Janean Harvey at Alchemy Hour, a new beachy-chic boutique featuring hand-selected vintage pieces on Baker Street. “The event really kindles the holiday spirit, and gets residents excited about shopping locally.”

Many of the stores handed out treats and refreshments to customers, while some even offered discounts and promotions. In particular, Words Bookstore held a holiday reading for families in attendance, and Highland Place Bar and Grill offered 15 percent off the check when diners showed their server a receipt from a local shop (they are continuing to offer that discount tomorrow). Other participating stores included Perch Home, No. 165, Village Wine Shop, Revolution, Shed, Little One and Co., Hopscotch, Scrivener’s Toys & Collectibles, Bee & Thistle, The Tenth Muse Gallery, Truly Yours, and Kokoro.

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Maplewood Village is a delight to visit during the holiday season, as much of the downtown area is adorned with wreaths, bows, lights, and decorations.

“The Holly Walk is a perfect event for those who like to go from merchant to merchant, checking out what everyone has in stock for the holidays—it also ties in nicely with Dickens Village, so it’s very family-friendly,” said Peggy Excell-Stone at Lotus Petals, a florist that specializes in holistic products and design.

Maplewood’s Dickens Village is a collection of life-size, decorated toy homes that, when viewed in order, tell the magical story of Ebenezer Scrooge, adapted from Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic, “A Christmas Carol.”

“This village has been a Maplewood tradition for over fifty years now,” said Ellen Davenport, a head volunteer for the event, along with Rosetta Weiser. “Though the houses have gone through variations and refurbishments over the years, this event remains an enchanting place where parents can bring their kids, take pictures, and share in the holiday spirit at no cost,” she added.

Sponsored by the Maplewood Village Alliance, Dickens Village is supported entirely by the merchants, residents, and volunteers, including those who decorate the houses and the Girl Scout members that dress up in period costume and greet guests outside the homes. The village also offers horse and wagon rides throughout the town, live animals provided by Edelweiss farms (be sure to visit Santa’s reindeer and the adorable baby donkey!), and a house especially designed for Santa, where kids can visit with the jolly man himself. Dickens Village will remain open next Saturday and Sunday, and there will be ongoing family events in Maplewood Village throughout the month of December.

The Maplewood Village Alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes commerce and events in the town’s business center, comprising of over fifty retail stores, restaurants, and community necessities.