Grass Valley and Nevada City businesses will continue to be encouraged in keeping the Halloween spirit alive in downtown areas through “The Great Halloween Window Contest 2020”.

The contest is a collaborative effort by both Grass Valley and Nevada City’s chambers of commerce, the Grass Valley Downtown Association, and Ben Franklin Craft and Frames.

In order to participate, businesses are simply encouraged to decorate their storefront windows in the spirit of Halloween. Anyone will then be able to vote online — at http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GXK733H — for their favorite local Halloween window display. Voting is from Oct. 23-30. Grass Valley and Nevada City businesses will have separate categories.

The two winning businesses, one from Grass Valley and another from Nevada City, will each receive $250. The winners will be announced on Halloween.

Robin Davies, CEO of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, said, “We’re holding hands with our sister city to promote Halloween. Since we can’t have trick-or-treat this year, we’re hindered by COVID (and) can’t do any gathering, we’re looking for other opportunities to make Halloween a very fun day.”

Davies said this contest would help make the downtown districts a more festive environment for visitors to shop and take photos in, to contrast the loss of trick-or-treating. She described the emphasis on decoration this year as “reimagining and working within the parameters of what’s allowed” to create a fun experience.

“(Grass Valley’s) downtown is really dressed — it’s costumed — for Halloween, just to make it a fun experience even though we don’t have trick-or-treat for the wee ones,” she said.

‘HEART OF THE COMMUNITY’

On the significance of the window contest, Grass Valley Downtown Association executive director Marni Marshall said, “We’re happy to feature our merchants and all their creativity, and are very thankful to the city for contributing to their downtown, which is the heart of the community.”

Marshall emphasized that efforts to draw the community into downtown areas — such as the Halloween window contest — are intended in part to help merchants, who she said are especially eager this year for visitors to begin holiday shopping. She explained that many have, as of October, replenished their inventory for the season but will not necessarily be refreshing it by the December holidays as the pandemic continues to affect some supply chains and business capacities.

“October is the new December,” she said, on supporting local businesses through early holiday shopping.

Marshall credited Nevada City Chamber of Commerce board member Jesse Locks with making the connection for the two cities with Ben Franklin Craft and Frames for their sponsorship of the contest.

Ben Franklin Craft and Frames owner Josh McGovern wrote in an email Friday that he felt sponsoring this contest would be a great opportunity to join the efforts of Grass Valley and Nevada City chambers of commerce in helping businesses as they uplift the downtown areas.

“The hope is that the idea of the businesses decorating their windows will help draw additional foot traffic to the downtown businesses (safely of course), which in turn will possibly increase sales for those businesses,” wrote McGovern, adding that an incentive as offered in this contest would add some extra fun to the cities’ longtime practice of decorating for the holidays.

On the significance of this contest, he wrote, “To me, it would be that this contest serve as another reminder to people that the local businesses are operating and survive on the support of our community members.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

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