NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Shoppers in the downtown should be on the lookout for a mystery man or woman this Thursday browsing local stores. If you guess right, you'll win a $25 gift certificate.
The "Mystery Shopper" contest was resurrected as part of Hometown Holidays, an initiative of the city, Develop North Adams and downtown merchants to encourage people to shop locally. A kids' trivia contest is also being run through Dec. 24.
The Mystery Shopper was a popular North Adams holiday event decades ago. Does anyone remember it?
Downtown patrons will have the chance to track down a mystery shopper on the next four Thursday evenings before Christmas. Two Mystery Shoppers will be browsing stores, restaurants and galleries along Main, Eagle, Ashland, Holden and Marshall streets. Look for clues as to who and where the mystery shoppers will be on each Thursday in the text ads on iBerkshires; there'll also be clues in the local paper.
To make shopping easier, the city has revived the old tradition of free short-term parking along the streets (but not the long-term parking in the municipal lots). The limit is two hours and includes Main, Eagle, Ashland and Marshall streets and American Legion Drive through the end of Christmas weekend, Sunday, Dec. 26.
If you spot a Mystery Shopper all you need to do is ask them "Are you the Mystery Shopper?" based on the clue given for that evening. If you are the first to ask them you win a $25 gift certificate to a favorite downtown business.
One Mystery Shopper will be out between 6 and 7 p.m. and the other from 7 to 8. You have to figure out which one at which time. One prize will be awarded for each identified Mystery Shopper.
We'll give you clues for this Thursday, Dec. 2; look for the next set in the text ads circulating through iBerkshires.
Clue for Shopper 1: My purfect pet feels the beat of my heart.
Clue for Shopper 2: Plowing tops my mind when I go shopping.
The city gets a jump-start on the county's holiday season by lighting Main Street's two Christmas trees on Thanksgiving Eve.
Mayor Richard Alcombright will take his first turn at flipping the switch to light up the downtown on Wedneday, Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m. at Monument Square.
The celebration includes, of course, the Drury High School band directed by Chris Caproni, the arrival of Santa Claus on the historic North Adams Trolley bearing gifts of coloring books, crayons, candy canes and scavenger hunt maps of downtown businesses. Goodie bags will be handed out to the first 500 children.
Afterward, the band will go caroling along the downtown, kicking off the monthlong "North Adams Hometown Holidays" event, an initiative of the North Adams downtown merchants and Develop North Adams to showcase the shopping and services available in the city — and to encourage residents to buy local.
The evening will include a treasure hunt within participating businesses for the kids, drawings and music, plus a marshmallow roast, hot cocoa and treats and an appearance by "Jolly the Reindeer."
Window displays are already going up throughout the downtown (the best will get an award later in the month) and plans are to stay open on the traditional Thursday nights (Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23) when downtown patrons can search for the "mystery shopper" to win a prize. Look for clues to the shopper's identity on iBerkshires (we'll let you know when they post).
On Dec. 2, city galleries will open their doors for "DownStreet Art on Ice," featuring the 99-cent-and-up art sale at MCLA Gallery 51 (get there early because the bargains go fast) and other related activities.
Specials and sponsorships for Hometown Holiday events are offered by Shima, the Party Place, Desperados, Bark 'N' Cat, Creations, Elf Parlor, Persnickety Toys, Christo's Famous Pizza, Jack's Hot Dogs, K-M Motors, Mia's Consignment, Martha Flood Design, Gallery 51, Empire Antiques, Papyri Books, Edward Jones and Dilego's Jewelry Store. Tranquil Moments Day Spa, Petrino's Cafe, Holiday Inn and Richmond Grille, Physical Therapy of North Adams, I Got Goodies, Dion Money Management and Supreme Pizza and Wings also offer specials and/or sponsorship.
Other sponsors include Develop North Adams, the city of North Adams, the North Adams Transcript, and Donovan and O'Connor, Attorneys at Law. The North Adams Office of Tourism is grateful to Landmark Credit Union, Cascade School Supplies, Big Y Supermarket and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts for their help in staging the tree lighting.
For more information about the tree lighting or any city event, contact the North Adams Office of Tourism at 413-664-6180.
City workers installed the main Christmas tree for the holiday season at Monument Square on Wednesday. The tree was donated by Joe and Martha Curro of Minor Road in Lanesborough.
It took about an hour to place the fir tree, which had to be trimmed down to 32 feet so the city's bucket truck could reach the top to trim it with lights.
A second, smaller tree came from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Vachereau of Clarksburg for the island at the intersection of Marshall and Main streets. The annual tree lighting will be held on early evening on Wednesday, Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.
Clockwise from top: The tree arrives at Monument Square; trimming the trunk to fit the hole; a handful of people were watching; guiding the tree in with one hand.
Have a the perfect Christmas tree on your property — that you'd like to get off it?
The city needs two big fir trees to bookend Main Street for the holiday season. The trees must be between 25 and 35 feet in height; they will be placed at the traffic island on near City Hall and at Monument Square.
The annual lighting is usually held the first week in December with caroling, cocoa, and music from the Drury High School band. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are also known to make an appearance.
Trees will be sought from the Northern Berkshire area through the first week of November. To donate a tree, call Fire Director Steve Meranti at 413-662-3103 or 413-662-3155. The latter number is available 24 hours a day. Leave a message and someone will return the call as soon as possible.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.