Port Holiday Magic Spreads Small Business Cheer

Hannah Brooks, Contributing Writer

As the holiday season approaches, Port Washington does its part to spread holiday cheer while also bolstering its small businesses.  On Nov. 28, the town held its tenth annual Small Business Saturday, known locally as Port Holiday Magic.

Similar to Fall’s Port Outdoors, Port Holiday Magic was organized by the Port Washington Business Improvement District (BID), the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, Residents Forward, and the Landmark on Main Street.  The event took place at Port Commons and went all the way up Main Street.  Music, both live and recorded, was found at the 5 Main Street Park, the train station, and Ayhan’s Corner.

“You can never go wrong with Christmas music.  It’s kind of comforting in these times,” said junior Jack Taylor. 

A long list of local businesses, from Alper’s to Yummy Gyro, participated in the fun and offered holiday-season discounts, sales, and treats.  Joining in the cheer was Jessica Haas, the manager of Port Washington Florist, one of the businesses partaking in the festivities.  She was dressed as an elf and offered candy canes and discounts to passersby. 

“Our business was hit particularly hard during this time.  People are not spending like they normally would,  so we’re hoping this drums up some business to get us through the rest of the year,” said Ms. Haas.

In addition to the great deals provided by small businesses, festivities on Main Street went on all day.  The celebration kicked off at noon with Santa riding around town from Port Boulevard to Manorhaven Boulevard on a fire truck provided by the Port Washington Fire Department.  The Port Washington Police District helped to plan and run the event, keeping everything in order.

“We keep everybody moving and safe. The community really works very well; our officers come out and mingle with the crowd.” said Tom Rice, Chairman of the Port Washington Board of Police Commissioners. 

Festive garlands, bows, and light-up snowflakes always adorn Port Washington in Dec., and this year was no exception. These decorations were joined by new ones, including an antique sleigh, festive photo backgrounds, and a live Olaf the snowman.  Many stores in town competed in the Port Holiday Magic Window Decorating Contest, adding more beautiful holiday cheer to the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, entertainers such as carolers and magicians, who are usually featured in Port Holiday Magic, could not participate this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Similarly, the old-fashioned trolley typically commissioned for the event wasn’t there either.  However, Main Street parking was free for the day and, thanks to the support of the Town of North Hempstead, will be free for the rest of December, in a continued effort to boost local commerce and Port cheer.

This year marked Port Washington’s tenth participation in Small Business Saturday, which is a nationwide concept started by American Express in 2010.  Especially during the holiday season, many turn to e-marketplaces, such as Amazon, for their gifts rather than visiting local vendors or shops.  That’s why American Express made the event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to do their holiday shopping with small businesses.  

Port Washington’s participation in small business Saturday has always been a success.  During the current pandemic era, however, the event was even more important than previous years, as small businesses have lost their usual holiday shoppers.

“We need to show them that we support them, that we’re here as a community to help them through this pandemic,” said Mariann Dalimonte, Town of North Hempstead District Six Councilwoman. 

Port Holiday Magic has helped the community in a variety of ways.  Most notably, the event has boosted local businesses’ sales, which is crucial in keeping the town thriving.  When patrons shop at local businesses, money goes back into bettering the community. 

“We have to support the people who are supporting us,” said Donna Rice, who is on the Board of Directors of the BID. 

Port Holiday Magic was a success, and attendees greatly enjoyed the festivities and cheer, the atmosphere of camaraderie, and the celebration of small businesses.  BID Executive Director Holly Byrne said there was a “really good turnout,” and that she looks forward to similar events in the future.  Community members and officials alike are searching for ways to unite Port Washington and stir up more spirit, including prospective dining and shopping events in the new year.