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Christmas arrives early at downtown shopping centers

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21 2013 7:15 p.m. MST

Morgan Knight uses rock candy to put finishing touches on Macy's Candy Windows at Macy's City Creek in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Calvin Williams hopped from foot to foot, awaiting the unveiling of the candy windows at the Macy's department store downtown.

"Heck yeah!" the 6-year-old from Sandy yelled when he heard the announcement that the massive ornaments were about to be unwrapped.

Calvin beamed when the windows were finally unwrapped, glancing at each of the three nearest him. He was among the dozens of people packed together on the sidewalk in front of Macy's on Thursday night.

Local artists applied about 1,000 pounds of jelly beans, gummy bears, Jordan almonds, rock candy and other treats to six 42-inch styrofoam orbs. The finished products spiraled behind the department store's display windows.

Macy's is one of the downtown stores bringing Christmas to Utah early. This is not the first time celebrants throughout the state have begun festivities earlier than usual.

For some, the season begins with the music.

In mid-October, FM 100.3 started receiving emails from listeners "begging us in some cases" to switch to Christmas music Nov. 1, according to Kelly Hammer, product brand manager for FM 100.3 and Arrow 103.5.

The stations received more than 100 emails, Hammer said, which doubled those opposed to the early arrival of holiday tunes.

"They were hungry for (Christmas music)," he said.

The longer the station waited to switch over, the more "aggressive" some of these emails became, Hammer said. This year, FM 100.3 switched over to Christmas music on Nov. 11.

For some, the music is part of their holiday tradition.

'They say, 'It puts us in the Christmas mood. It starts the holiday season,'" Hammer said.

Retailers also reached out to the station, looking to see when to expect the festive tunes in their stores.

"It does seem to get a bit earlier every year," said Rochelle Fraser, marketing director for The Gateway.

Most stores at The Gateway have sales going on right now, Fraser said.

Department stores such as Macy's began holding their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving a few years back, but this year is the biggest turnout of pre-Black Friday sales that Fraser has seen in her 17 years in the business.

One reason for that, she said, is retailers need to keep pace with expanding shopping options.

"It's definitely competitive," Fraser said.

Another reason for the jump on early sales by retailers is the late arrival of Thanksgiving, which has shortened shopping season. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a congressional resolution in 1941 that established the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 28.

City Creek Center also is working to get shoppers and the community ready for the holiday season.

In keeping with tradition, Santa arrived on the rooftop of City Creek Center near the shopping center's food court Thursday. Throughout December, he will keep post inside his lantern cottage at the mall, ready to hear the Christmas wish lists of eager girls and boys.

City Creek Center also has several events scheduled throughout December.

Many retailers at City Creek Center are holding sales in advance of Black Friday, according to marketing director Dee Brewer.

The Gateway will hold its Light Up the Night event at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, keeping its tradition of holding the celebration the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The same night, performers from the University of Utah and BYU will compete in a Jingle-Off, similar to the riff-off in the movie "Pitch Perfect." They will be followed by American Dueling Pianos.

Later, about 90,000 LED lights will illuminate the 50-foot Christmas tree, followed by Santa's arrival on a fire engine.

The Santa Run 5K will finish at the mall soon before performances and tree lighting Saturday.

Beginning Sunday, lights will be synchronized with holiday music and the Olympic Legacy Fountain. The show will run at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. every night through New Year's Day.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

Twitter: whitevs7

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