As temperatures soar, everyone is seeking relief from the heat, so leave it to the the Fayetteville Downtown Alliance to find a way to put our minds on cooler times. On July 22, from 6 to 10 p.m., come celebrate Christmas in July during this month’s 4th Friday festivities.

Don’t wait until Black Friday to start your shopping, you can get a jump on it as many of the downtown merchants will be offering special Christmas discounts. Walter Guy Jewelers will even offer a Christmas layaway plan to help you get a handle your Christmas budget. Several merchants will offer Christmas refreshments, like Holmes Electric, who will share their famous Christmas Open House goodies, while others will give out door prizes.

And what’s Christmas without kids? The Downtown Alliance wanted to make sure they get into the Christmas spirit as well, so be sure to bring the kids. There will be free Christmas craft projects for the young and old. And don’t forget to pop in at the Cotton Exchange for its free train ride around downtown. Try your hand at art at Gregs! The shop will offer paint your own ornaments for just $5, half off the normal price of $10. And don’t forget to stop by the Fascinate-U Children’s Museum. There is even a rumor that the big guy will be checking his summer schedule to see if he can take a break from his busy toy making to join us for 4th Friday.

In keeping with the generosity of the American spirit at the holidays, several exhibits that give us inspiration to reach out to the less fortunate among us will be on display. The Second Harvest Food Bank, established in 1982, will host a raffle. They will have information about their programs, to help raise awareness of hunger in the area. Operation Christmas Child, one of the largest Christmas gift-exchange programs in the world, will be on hand to show how you or your local organization can join this giant yearly Christmas gift distribution project to some of the poorest communities on earth.

With summer in full swing, it is also a time that many families are moving in to our community. This gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase many of the beautiful residences in our fair city.

The Arts Council will open its Parade of Homes exhibit during the July 4th Friday event from 7 to 9 p.m. Each original work of art must contain a house and r07-20-11-parade-winner-2010_lores.jpgeflect the spirit of Parade of Homes.

According to Mary Kinney, marketing manager for the Arts Council, “The winner will be announced that evening and awarded $2,000 by the Home Builders Association of Fayetteville. First place art will be used on promotional materials for the 2011 Parade of Homes, to include the cover of 70,000 tour-guide magazines, which will also feature the winning artist’s biography.”

Cash prizes for second and third place will also be awarded.

Come see local artists, musicians and dancers and stroll the historic district in the cool of the evening. Watch a potter creating a bowl or join the drum circle at our iconic Market House. While you’re checking out the local shops, be sure to stop in at Sunflower Fibers and wish them a happy one year anniversary!

Celebrate what makes Fayetteville such a fantastic place to live: small town warmth coupled with big city sophistication.

Photo: This painting won the 2010 Parade of Homes Exhibit at the Arts Council.  

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