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A Dickinson Christmas: Downtown Christmas Stroll showcases thriving community

Briar McClellan, 3, right braves an open flame to make a s'more while his brother Brody, 7, watches on during Downtown Dickinson's Christmas Crawl on Saturday. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
Jayli Roller, Gabriel Bast and Jadon Bast all got to play with some puppies during Saturday's Downtown Christmas Crawl, the pups courtesy of Raise the Woof Animal Rescue at the Paws and Claws Palace in Dickinson. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
A horse-drawn wagon helped set a holiday scene during Saturday's Downtown Dickinson Crawl. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

Downtown Dickinson was downright Dickensian on Saturday afternoon, with a crowd of carolers singing Christmas hymns while a horse-drawn carriage went clopping down the boulevard, all part of this year's second annual Downtown Christmas Crawl.

"Shopping local is huge right now," Rosie Decker of Special Occasions Boutique said. She laid out a proper holiday spread, with candy and horderves and warm apple cider—celebrating not only the Christmas season, but her business' 16-year anniversary. "I do believe we need to bring all of our businesses back to our community."

Downtown Dickinson certainly did its part to draw some foot traffic to the area Saturday afternoon—the weather was cooperative and the streets outside were occupied by food trucks, kennel corn vendors and a few kids raising money for school trips. A horse-drawn wagon carried passersby on laps across the downtown area.

A pit of burning "ice" had drawn a small crowd to one street corner, where mothers and children carefully stuck fat marshmallows upon sticks to roast them into the ideal ingredient for s'mores. Bakken Sweet Treats was among the busier locations, with streams of children rushing in to gawk at candies and get a few free samples as well.

"Each and every one of us put a lot of our whole life and our pocket books into our businesses to be in this community," Decker said. "It isn't about us, it's about everybody else. We're here for our communities, not for ourselves."

There was a lot to see and enjoy, with "adult warming stations" providing holiday cheer at the CNC Clothing Gallery, and the Paw and Claw Pet Palace was showcasing some rescue puppies from Raise the Woof Animal Rescue alongside its Christmas decoration. Completing the festive ensemble, Santa Claus made an appearance at the Cup-Burr'n later in the day. Every shopkeeper greets visitors warmly—many know the other by name, and have for some years.

"Every year I have friends of friends of friends and I get to re-meet these people and do things over again for the next generation" Decker said. "I think that's the biggest difference from 16 years ago to now is that some of these brides I'm having were flower girls ... it's kind of cool to watch them grow up and become brides and women of the future."

At the same time, Decker said she's meeting many people for the first time. Business had grown slow following the end of the recent oil boom, but there's been a shift in the tide in recent days.

"The last couple of years since we had the oil field bust there's been a slow decline," Decker said. "But for the most part I believe it's coming back. There's energy in the air. There's hope again."

In the new year, according to Pat Anderson of the JP Frame Shop, there'll be new events, with a wine walk planned for when the temperature gets really low and a Valentine's Day weekend in the works.

The Christmas season isn't over yet though, and there are still holiday events being held by downtown businesses, like the Brickhouse Grille's Christmas at the Brick on Dec. 20, where live music and drink specials will be available to those looking to be merry.