Church Street, Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — Expect Santa, cider, elves-on-the-shelf, and general Christmas cheer on Church Street later this week.

This Thursday is the fourth Church Street Christmas Stroll, an annual event that kicks off the holiday season by showcasing what participating businesses have to offer. Participants are encouraged to visit as many businesses as possible in order to qualify for prizes.

Those who want to participate in the event should first visit South Ottumwa Savings Bank to pick up a “passport,” which they’ll use to collect stamps at participating businesses. At least 14 stamps are required to qualify for a raffle at the end of the night. The bank will feature Santa and kids’ activities to start things off.

Completed passports can be turned in at Happy Joe’s Pizza to enter in the raffle. The winner will be awarded 100 Chamber Bucks, which are redeemable at any participating business.

There will also be elves-on-the-shelf hidden in two separate businesses. Finding one will result in an extra reward.

Rick Hindsley, owner and operator of Thumbs Up Awards, said the event originally began as an effort to draw more traffic to businesses along Church Street, which often don’t receive as much attention as those in the Main Street District.

“It’s not quite as big as what Main Street is, but 25 businesses is pretty good,” he said.

There will be a record number of businesses participating this year, including the YMCA, Southside Drug, Mimi’s Taqueria and Bakery, Thumbs Up Awards, and others. Participating businesses will have luminaries in front of their doors on the night of the event so they’re easy to identify. Some, like Thumbs Up Awards, will feature refreshments like cookies and cider.

The event runs from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 5.

Jack Langland can be reached at jlangland@ottumwacourier.com.

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