Inclusion of horse and wagon rides is but one sign the city of Washington won’t be horsing around on Saturday.

A year after COVID-19 forced organizers to rein in the excitement on Small Business Saturday, organizers of the annual city celebration of local merchants and their shops have cobbled together an ambitious lineup of activities downtown.

“We are shooting for marvelous and wonderful,” said an enthusiastic Shana Brown, Main Street manager for the Washington Business District Authority.

“We’re really encouraging the community to come out and get involved. Last year’s event was abbreviated and not focused on big groups for good reasons.”

The concept of Small Business Saturday, introduced by American Express in November 2010 to boost smaller community operations, should be a healthier endeavor this time around – wherever merchants and shoppers are congregating.

Washington’s event will begin at 9 a.m. and run until early evening, with the lighting of the holiday tree. Activities will include a breakfast crawl (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.); horse and wagon rides (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.); and a puppet show (12:30 p.m.) and decorations at the Main Street Pavilion.

There also will be a friendly – and charitable – “competition.” Decorated trees will adorn 16 downtown businesses and patrons will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite. Proceeds will benefit a local charity.

Freedom Transit Transportation Authority will waive fees for rides between its location on East Chestnut Street and the pavilion.

The festivities also will allow city officials to show off renovated and upgraded buildings downtown, and businesses that relocated there during the pandemic. That area was recently designated as a Historical District, where property owners are eligible for federal tax credits to be used for renovation.

Brown said funding through the WBDA and Washington County Local Share Account has enabled officials to invest more than $1 million in downtown over the past three years.

For more information, visit downtownwashingtonpa.com.

This is not the only set of events that will quicken Washington’s pulse on Saturday. Ignite, the business incubator and co-working space that launched on June 1, will host a small business popup shopping market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Working in partnership with WBDA, Ignite plans to have 11 vendors at its 57 E. Chestnut St. location.

Less than a block from the pavilion, Venue 54, an events center at 54 W. Wheeling St., will have a small business popup Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. At least 17 vendors will participate, according to a news release from the hosts, Michelle Hartzell and Jodi Rhodes.

“The future is bright for downtown Washington. and we invite the community to see the progress we have made together,” Brown said.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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