Almost Midnight Madness boasts largest shopping day

The biggest shopping day in Ponoka is around the corner and businesses are readying themselves for big sales.

As Christmas spirit slowly makes its way through the community

The biggest shopping day in Ponoka is around the corner and businesses are readying themselves for big sales.

Set for Nov. 29, the evening kicks off with a Christmas tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall and even Santa Claus is expected to make an appearance.

And at 6 p.m., the Ponoka sky will be lit with fireworks to get residents in the mood for shopping.

Almost Midnight Madness has been growing every year, said Jim Hamilton, president of the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce. He has spoken with many retail owners who say they have seen strong community support for the shopping event. “It’s good for the town of Ponoka,” he said.

The evening is piggy-backing on Black Friday in the United States, which has seen steady growth in Canada. Originally the chamber planned the event for the week before but some retail owners were considering their big sale to coincide with Black Friday. The decision to change was an easy one, said Hamilton.

“We definitely want to piggy-back on the national companies,” he added.

Keeping with the spirit of giving, Ponoka News is working with companies to provide shoppers with gift certificates and raise money and food for the Ponoka Food Bank at the same time. Manager Judy Dick said 975 pounds of food was collected last year for the charity organization. Shoppers provide food or money in exchange for gift certificates, which can be found on a Christmas tree in the Ponoka News’ office. People usually line up outside.

“We have some great prizes,” said Dick.

“Some of them (businesses) are really good at giving more than they have to,” she added.

Shopping starts at 6 p.m. and the streets of Ponoka are usually busy for some hours. Stores will stay open until 11 p.m.

“It’s a year in planning for a lot of the businesses,” explained Dick.

Stock and merchandise is usually ordered in advance to prepare for the many shoppers who come to buy gifts. Dick said for many retail businesses this is one of their busiest nights of the year. Expect to see carollers from St. Augustine Catholic School warming up people’s hearts at the tree lighting.