Joyful Traditions deemed a success
Last updated 1/11/2007 at Noon
The ‘Joyful Traditions’ promotion that brought the holidays to life in downtown Fallbrook during the month of December has been deemed a success by several local retailers and the organizer, Fallbrook’s Honorary Mayor, Rhonda Reinke.
Reinke, who estimates she spent over 400 volunteer hours promoting downtown Fallbrook from September through the end of December, said, “We know now that it can be done. In the past we have not promoted ourselves properly and have not been open for people’s convenience.”
After retiring from the day-to-day management of her retail business, Jasmine Rose Boutique/ Benjamin Carson Corner, Reinke said it was her desire “to give back to the community.”
And give back she did, tenfold. Reinke was the driving force behind the Joyful Traditions promotion held on Sundays, December 3, 10 and 17, to bring residents and visitors to Fallbrook’s historic downtown in order to increase retail sales and restaurant patronage. Downtown holiday activities kicked off November 25 with the community Christmas tree lighting in the Village Square, followed by the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Parade on December 2.
Reinke credits local businessman Jim Tudor (Coldwell Banker Landmark Group) for being “the reason the seed grew.”
“He told me he would help me and he did, by donating fliers, gift cards and more,” Reinke said. “He stepped up with a $1,000 donation and said he would continue to help.”
Another vote of confidence for Reinke came when she approached community philanthropist Arlyne Ingold for a donation to sponsor Joyful Traditions.
“I asked Arlyne for a $500 donation and she gave me $2,000” Reinke said. The cost to stage Joyful Traditions topped out at close to $20, 000 – with the lighting of the trees downtown being the most costly expense at $15,000.
Volunteers Sandra Buckingham, Casey Antolini, Carol Eastman, Walt Parry, Budd Sutliff and Bob Leonard came forward and pledged their time to Reinke, as did the young ladies of the Miss Fallbrook court.
“On each of the Sundays, we had at least two members of the Miss Fallbrook court, if not all three,” Reinke said. “They were a huge plus and they did not hesitate to say that they would love to help.”
Bob Kilgore, a close personal friend of Santa Claus, said he would gladly arrange for Santa to be at each and every Joyful Traditions event.
“Bob did a great job and he even did lots of maintenance to get things ready in the Village Square,” Reinke said. “He gave and gave and gave.”
Speaking of generous giving, Ace Party Productions, a local party supply company, donated $1,500 each week in materials and labor for the Joyful Traditions events.
“They set up tables and tents and then tore them down at the end of the day,” Reinke said. “They worked really hard. I want to extend a special thank you to Henry and Lido Favela and Alex Martinez of Ace Party Productions for doing that each and every Sunday.”
Thirty-three merchants vowed to stay open on the three Sundays in order to offer more convenient hours for retail shopping. The consensus is that it was worth it, according to a sampling of businesses.
“Merchants commented how wonderful it was to see such activity on the downtown streets,” Reinke said. “One merchant said he had several new faces in his store and many of them commented what a wonderful ‘find’ Fallbrook was. Some expressed disappointment in not having come downtown sooner. The Gem and Mineral Museum reported their highest sales ever.”
“For me, it was definitely worth being open on Sundays and participating in the [Mayor’s] Scavenger Hunt,” said Vikki Fulkoski of Yesterday’s Garden Basket, located in Jackson Square. “It brought people in here who didn’t know we were here. Many people said they would come back and did come back later on to shop!”
“We saw positive results from the Joyful Traditions events,” said Amy Rowland, owner of Wee Little Sprouts children’s store. “More people discovered downtown Fallbrook <and> enjoyed shopping and dining here. It was apparent that people got caught up in the holiday spirit. It was clear that it exceeded people’s expectations.”
Rowland also complimented Reinke’s efforts to make a positive difference in Fallbrook retail business.
“Rhonda set a strong foundation this year,” Rowland said. “She did an outstanding job. I think people were really ‘wowed’ by the events.” While Wee Little Sprouts is regularly open on Sundays for the convenience of shoppers, Rowland said it was apparent that Joyful Traditions increased traffic in her store.
“We were ecstatic how much heavier the traffic was downtown,” said Dave Fenn, owner of Chattels. “We saw a lot of new faces in our store, double the new faces this year.” Sales were up at Chattels, whereas he heard that sales were down in surrounding areas.
“A lot of it had to do with Rhonda Reinke; as a volunteer, she was able to focus on Joyful Traditions
,” Fenn said. “It was very generous of Rhonda to do that.”
To showcase Fallbrook as an art community, Joyful Traditions included art activities, thanks to the Fallbrook School of Art and local plein art artists. Fallbrook School of Art contributed supplies and volunteers for the effort.
“The art projects were very popular – a huge hit,” Reinke said. “And the plein air artists added a lot of character to the event and the overall ‘Village’ feel.” Five plein air artists participated in the December 3 event and four artists participated on both December 10 and 17.
Live entertainment gave enthusiasm and atmosphere to the holiday events. Performances were given by the Fallbrook Chorale, Resto’s Music Center, CAST, Boys & Girls Clubs of North County, Zion Lutheran Church and School and more.
A Family Fun Run was a great addition to the December 17 event. The newly formed Fallbrook Running Club turned out to enjoy a healthy run and encourage others to join in. (The club normally meets every Saturday at 7:30 a.m. in the parking lot by Fallbrook Library.)
“They are a wonderful, friendly group,” Reinke said.
Horse-drawn carriage rides were popular with all ages at Joyful Traditions. They afforded the perfect photo opportunity for families out enjoying the holidays. Individuals and families from near and far came to downtown Fallbrook to enjoy the event.
“People of all ages came from Fallbrook and surrounding areas, as far as Orange County, Riverside and San Diego, to explore our Historic Downtown and partake in the festivities,” Reinke said. “The crowd grew each Sunday, as did the excitement. We had more than $2,700 in prizes to give away for the Scavenger Hunt and golf raffles.”
For the convenience of shoppers, Potter Junior High School students and parents offered a gift wrapping booth in the Village Square during Joyful Traditions. Girl Scouts took pictures of little ones with Santa and husband and wife team Dave and Cynthia Thompson offered ceramic ornament making and free refreshments. Sweet Leilani’s offered barbequed food for sale for hungry visitors.
For Reinke, it was gratifying to see the success that came about because of her efforts, but she admitted it wasn’t without its challenges.
“I was so exhausted at one point; then I would see the joy on people’s faces and they would thank me,” she said. “That’s what kept me going. Next year, more volunteers would be good.”
The biggest challenge Reinke faced was getting downtown retailers to commit to being open on those Sundays.
“They don’t feel there is enough demand on Sunday and don’t usually feel it is worth it,” Reinke said. “The stores that stayed open made a strong effort. I think this showed that the town will support them on Sunday if they would stay open. I think the merchants were surprised.” Reinke said the Gem and Mineral Society reported higher sales than ever before at their store on Alvarado Street.
“Many downtown shops told me they had record sales days,” she said. “One store owner said people told him they didn’t even know he existed.” Reinke said one big challenge remains for next year: getting restaurants to stay open. She also said she plans to get information on the events earlier to area radio stations.
“I feel in my heart that Fallbrook has so much to offer,” Reinke said. “We have a population of 47,000 and it has been estimated that only about 5,000 of those utilize our downtown area. This is just not acceptable. If you support the local businesses, the businesses can support your kids and community activities. The businesses here get hit up for donations all the time. I know many of the businesses owners think, ‘Where are you when it comes to shopping?’”
“I think it’s our responsibility to give back to the community in order to make it stronger for the next generation,” she said. “I expect the events only to improve. We know now that it can be done!”
Lucette Moramarco contributed to this article.