By Alyssa Mursch, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — The city hosted its inaugural Old-Fashioned Holiday Marketplace on Friday, and Mother Nature played along with the winter theme, contributing cold temperatures and snow flurries.
Area residents stopped at tents filled with local vendors displaying their handmade products as the temperature dipped into the low 30s and a chilly wind whipped through Public Square.
Still the event went on with live entertainment, cardboard cutouts for picture opportunities, food, wine and horse-and-carriage rides. It was all centered around the city’s Christmas tree.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to bring the community together while also showing all that Wilkes-Barre has to offer,” said Nikki Stapleton, a vendor.
The marketplace continues from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
“We have to take control of our city by having events, but we can only have successful events with public support,” said Wilkes-Barre Special Events Coordinator Patty Hughes, who organized the marketplace. “I think events like these are what makes for a strong community and helps bring everyone together.”
Hughes got the idea from many other big cities that hold similar events and said that, although this is the first year of Wilkes-Barre holding it, hopefully it won’t be the last.
The event isn’t only about promoting local businesses, however, but also a way for the community to give back to those less fortunate during the holidays.
“It’s important not only for vendors to get their names out there, but it also shows how the community can come together for a good cause, especially during the holidays,” said Jeff Dunkel, who sold beef jerky at the “Skook House of Jerky” tent, a business that opened in August.
Dunkel said that a portion of his proceeds will go toward “Skook Feed a Family,” which works to provide gifts and dinners for families on Christmas Day.
The Wilkes-Barre police were selling T-shirts to raise money for their K-9 unit, and the Salvation Army was also there accepting collections.
Tents were also selling homemade Christmas wreaths, wine, hot cider and handcrafted jewelry.
The entertainment Friday included the Meyers High School choir, King’s College choir and Broken Road Duo.
Of the various people working the event, one helper was dressed from head to toe in elf attire and had a permanent smile spread across her face. Danielle Sawicki’s job for the day was to hand out candy canes to the local children.
Stapleton stood at her colorful tent, “Knotty Nikki,” filled with handcrafted jewelry that were mainly constructed from fresh-water pearls. Hughes got her involved in the event and has been making great strides to create events that better the community, Stapleton said.