Holiday events in downtown Evanston will start with Small Business Saturday this weekend and continue through the holiday tree lighting two weeks later.

Downtown Evanston Executive Director Annie Coakley says “it’s been a bummer” that Fountain Square construction has disrupted activities there this year.

But the holiday tree lighting ceremony will still happen — just at Church Street Plaza, next to the Davis Street Metra station, instead.

There’ll be performances, starting at 5 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 9, by Evanston Owns it and the Evanston Children’s Choir, leading up to Santa’s arrival

This Saturday, Nov. 25,  the Small Business Saturday event will feature a Cookie Crawl — with businesses offering free cookies while supplies last. Restaurants will have breakfast and brunch specials and many merchants will be offering special events and discounts.

Shoppers who spend a total of $75 at one or more businesses that day will get “We Love Evanston” tote bag, coffee mug and phone stand, and will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift card to a downtown restaurant. The tote bags will be available for pickup at Vinic Wine, 1509 Chicago Ave., from noon to 6 p.m. that day.

Coakley told Downtown Evanston board members at last Thursday’s annual meeting that the organization has had success with recent promotions, including Octoberfest, which she hopes to expand to a two-day event next year and the Open House Chicago program sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

More than 20,000 people visited sites in Evanston during the Oct. 14-15 Open House event — making Evanston the third most visited neighborhood of 20 on the tour — behind only the Loop and the Gold Coast.

Coakley says Downtown Evanston plans to launch several new promotional events in 2018 — including a weeknight farmers’ market at Fountain Square, as well as movies and Tuesday Tunes in the square.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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