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Holiday shopping season begins with Downtown Christmas Open House

Published: Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 11:46 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 11:51 a.m. CST
(Nicole Wiegand/Daily News)
Customers puruse Christmas gifts and decorations at the Beckman Gallery on the couthouse square during Newton's Christmas Open House on Saturday. The Beckman Gallery was just one of many shops along the square that offered free samples, seasonal deals and decorated storefronts during the annual event.

The holiday shopping season officially began in Newton over the weekend with the Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Christmas Open House.

“We had an outstanding weekend,” said Darrell Sarmento, executive director of the Newton Chamber. “I talked to several of the shops, and their numbers were way up in terms of people shopping and being in downtown Newton.”

In addition to free horse drawn carriage rides offered by Park Centre and Newton Village, the Iowa Speedway Pace Car was downtown for more than two hours over the weekend. Santa also made an appearance.

Sarmento noted the poor weather forced the Chamber to cancel carriage rides on Sunday, but he said carriage rides will be offered again on Nov. 24, which is Small Business Saturday, a national event sponsored by American Express to encourage shoppers to remember small business owners during the holidays.

“All of the downtown businesses are decorated for the holidays and look just incredible,” Sarmento said. “It’s a great time to visit and shop downtown Newton.”