Chef Kojin Ohno, of Szmania’s Restaurant & Bar, mans the Canes for Cans drive to benefit the Ballard Food Bank. Photo by Julie Szmania

Chef Kojin Ohno, of Szmania’s Restaurant & Bar, mans the Canes for Cans drive to benefit the Ballard Food Bank. Photo by Julie Szmania


If you get a kick out of caroling, cocoa, Christmas-tree lightings and contributing to your community, you’re in the right place. Magnolia’s Winterfest and Queen Anne’s Holiday Magic are both coming soon. 

This year will mark Magnolia’s 36th-annual celebration of Winterfest, formally known as Holiday Open House. The event, happening Friday, Nov. 30, in Magnolia Village, underwent a name change last year. The Magnolia Chamber of Commerce is heading the celebration, and many local businesses are also involved. 

Courean Napolitan, a member of the chamber board and owner of Vixen Spa & Boutique, explained that, this year, 16 businesses pitched in to bring a new feature to the evening: live music.

“My goal, if the weather permits, is to have people dancing in the streets,” Napolitan said. 

But you can expect the traditional events at this year’s Winterfest, as well. The Christmas tree will be lit promptly at 6 p.m. at the Magnolia Garden Center, accompanied by caroling Girl Scouts. 

In addition, bins will be located outside of many businesses to accept nonperishable items. As in past years, all donations will go to the Ballard Food Bank.

 

Reaching out

Julie Szmania, co-owner and co-founder of Szmania’s Restaurant & Bar, noticed that while people don’t always have canned goods on them, many still want to make donations. So, last year, at her restaurant, she started Canes for Cans, a system in which people can buy different-sized candy canes as a way of making a donation to the Ballard Food Bank. 

“I’m just so proud of my customers — the $20 canes went in about an about hour,” Szmania said. 

The fund-raiser was such a success last year that Szmania's decided to continue it beyond Winterfest, through Christmas Eve dinner. They plan to do the same thing again this holiday season. 

Szmania said that she “thinks it was up to almost $800” that her restaurant turned in by the end of the extended Canes for Cans drive last season. 

According to statistics posted on-line by MagnoliaKOMO, an affiliate of KOMO news, about $635 ($300 from Szmania’s) and 800 pounds of food were collected by all the businesses during last year’s WinterFest.

In addition to helping the Ballard Food Bank, the event also will serve as a time for the businesses in the village to foster new relationships with community members. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to meet new customers, show off what we do and tell people more about our business,” Napolitan said. “People say, ‘I’ve lived here for 15 years, and I’ve never been inside your store before,’ so that’s a neat opportunity.”    

 

Holiday Magic in the air

Like Winterfest, the annual Queen Anne Hill Merchants’ Holiday Magic also aims to gather the community into the shops along Queen Anne Avenue to celebrate the season. The Holiday Magic event has been spreading cheer for 20 years. This year’s festivities will take place Dec. 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. 

As of press time, nearly 30 businesses are contributing to the event in a variety of different ways. Lauren Formicola, president of the Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce (GQACC ) and owner of Charley + May Co., said that in the days leading up to the event, “more will surely join in the fun.” 

The GQACC is the main sponsor of Holiday Magic, but, according to Formicola, local businesses will contribute between $195 to $1,000 to this event. 

“Most shops support shopping local, and some directly [donate] a portion of sales to the Queen Anne Helpline,” Formicola said. 

Blue Highway Games will donate 10 percent of its sales to the Helpline. Many businesses are offering refreshments and treats for shoppers. Bella Fiore Organic Med Spa will offer wine and eggnog and give customers a chance to win a $500 gift certificate. Communique Cards, Gifts & Toys is holding a drawing for a German nutcracker and handing out free balloons for kids. HauteYoga Queen Anne customers can enter to win a one-month, unlimited yoga pass.

Formicola said her shop will feature “a professional ukulele musician, tiny tacos, tiny treats and beverages with a tiny bit of flair.” 

Some places are also hosting hands-on activities. Bethany Presbyterian Church will host wreath making and cookie decorating workshops, along with a station to make cards for the elderly and the homeless. Domani Pizzeria will host live holiday music and jazz performed by local musicians. 

Some businesses will contribute toward the tree lighting on Queen Anne Avenue. Formicola said that it cost about $195 to $295 to light a tree.

All the energy that goes into this event is designed to encourage community members to enjoy the merriment of the season together.

“It is the time to celebrate small merchants, restaurants and enjoy the Queen Anne Hill community,” Formicola said. “People enjoy traipsing from business to business, saying hello to their friends and neighbors.” 

For more information about Magnolia Winterfest, visit magnoliachamber.org/holiday.htm. For more information about qachamber.org/up-on-the-hill/904/holiday-magic-on-queen-anne/.

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