Holidays Return to Ellicott City On Friday, Bringing Much-Needed Boost in Business

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The lit Christmas tree in front of the Howard County Welcome Center. Photo by Karmen Osei.
The lit Christmas tree in front of the Howard County Welcome Center. Photo by Karmen Osei.

It’s been a long four months for historic Ellicott City, but the town wasn’t going to let its arduous flood recovery stop it from having some holiday fun.

On Friday, Ellicott City will celebrate its 38th annual Midnight Madness holiday event, starting with a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Once the lights are on, carolers will be out in the streets and businesses will be opening their doors up until midnight. According to the town’s website, two-dozen stores and restaurants will be offering special deals.

“Winterfest,” a farmer’s market festival with live music and a beer garden will take place that evening as well in the parking lot of The Wine Bin.

For families, Santa will be making an appearance at the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin on Main Street. Parents can bring their kids to take photos with him at no charge.

This year, the holiday shopping season is of particular importance for the historic town. Since late July, business owners have been rebuilding, renovating their spaces and restocking their inventory to get back up and running. They’ve made plenty of progress, particularly after the county reopened the Main Street area to traffic in October. However, there’s still plenty more to do, and a great deal of that work is aided by a boost in business, according to Kelly Zimmerman, marketing director for the Ellicott City Partnership.

“You have to remember these people, their businesses, all their stock was wiped out,” she said.

Small Business Saturday last weekend was a great start. It was the biggest shopping day in Ellicott City’s history, Zimmerman estimated. The post-Thanksgiving day devoted to supporting small businesses has been huge for the town for three years straight, she said.

Now, the holidays are back and Ellicott City is welcoming more visitors with open arms. “These events are really key. Not only are they revenue generators for that particular day, but because they get people to be aware of the progress that we have made and what our stores have to offer,” she said.

Area residents can come out and support the town while ushering in the holidays starting this Friday night. Shoppers can avoid traffic congestion by parking at the county courthouses and taking the free shuttles down to Main Street. The free rides will run from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Zimmerman said.

Ethan McLeod
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