It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Bishop and the local Chamber of Commerce is ringing in the season with a holiday bash this weekend.
The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and local business owners are inviting the community out to Bishop’s annual small-town gathering, tree lighting ceremony and the ever-popular Street of Lights this Friday.
The evening will kick off at 4:30 p.m. when Santa Claus arrives at the Chamber of Commerce to hear what local youngsters want under their tree this year and have photos taken.
Beginning at 5:15 p.m., Chamber Director Tawni Thomson said live music in the form of a barbershop quartet, the Sweet Adelines and the Elm Street Band of Long Beach will entertain visitors.
New this year, will be a performance from youth dancers from the Dennis Wayne Dance Studio.
In addition to the live entertainment, Thomson said the Chamber will be serving up Christmas cookies and hot chocolate to help keep visitors in the park warm.
The official Bishop Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place promptly at 6 p.m.
“After the tree lighting we are inviting everyone to visit Main Street businesses for the Street of Lights Party,” Thomson said.
The Street of Lights is the one night of the year that local businesses stay open after 5 p.m. to allow residents to get some Christmas shopping done.
And as an incentive, the Chamber of Commerce will be handing out “maps” to all participating businesses. When a resident stops in to check out the merchandise, they have the opportunity to have their map stamped and at the end of the evening (9 p.m.), all participants who have collected six or more stamps are encouraged to head over to Academy Street for a raffle drawing.
Thompson said that every participating business will be offering gift certificates for the raffle. In all, she said she expects more than $2,000 in cash and gift certificate giveaways at the Street of Lights.
The Street of Lights also features more live music, set up on street corners, in parking lots and in some local businesses, and burn barrels, courtesy the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department.
Thomson said some local businesses do not have locations on Main Street, and many have opted to participate in the Street of Lights by setting up booths along Main Street.
“This is one of the busiest days of the year on Main Street,” Thomson said. “It’s really, really huge for the businesses. Shoppers don’t necessarily buy a whole lot, but they shop around. It’s key to getting people into the stores they maybe haven’t been to in a while.”
Thomson explained that, during the Street of Lights, many families shop together, and many family members spend more time listening to what their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers want, than actually buying things. The idea, she said, is to give families an opportunity to see what local businesses are offering, and hear what their loved ones want under the tree this year.
On Saturday, residents are invited back out to Main Street for the Bishop Christmas Parade.
Thomson said the parade has grown in popularity in recent years, and is expecting a big turn-out of participants.
The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. on Main Street, followed by another visit by Santa in the Park, where Altrusa of the Eastern Sierra will be handing out age-appropriate books to all youngsters who want to meet Santa.