‘Night Before Night Before’ slated for Sunday in Stettler

While most downtown Stettler stores are regularly closed on Sunday, the Christmastime celebration

While most downtown Stettler stores are regularly closed on Sunday, the Christmastime celebration known as the “Night Before the Night Before” will go ahead this Sunday.

Organizers are banking on even greater enthusiasm.

“The number of businesses who are planning to host special activities and features is actually up from last year,” said Andrea Hatch, the president of the Stettler Downtown Business Association.

“A lot of businesses have recognized that this is a popular event — it’s a tradition.”

For about 20 years, the event for last-minute Christmas shopping has extended well into the evening on other days of the week, Hatch said.

“It’s part of what many local people have grown up with as young children, and then they start bringing their own children.”

This weekend, businesses will close at various times throughout the evening, she said.

During the day, many businesses plan to offer free refreshments and other goodies, while festivities will also include Santa Claus, free hay rides from 5 to 8 p.m., a free movie at Jewel Theatre, “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift,” at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and free train rides on Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions at 11 a.m., 1, 3 and 5 p.m., with a donation to the Stettler and District Food Bank.

“It’s about the people,” Hatch said.

Considering the calendar this year, she said many people believe they still have plenty of time for Christmas shopping, and Sunday’s event could draw larger crowds to downtown businesses.