After a relatively dark and dreary 2020 holiday season, Downtown Moline will absolutely be hopping the next two weekends, to gear up for a nearly normal holiday season.
Moline Centre is presenting the 4th-annual Holiday Hop — and instead of only a Friday night like past years, it will be twice as big, Friday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 13, 12 noon to 6 p.m.
There will be deals and specials galore at the 41 participating businesses downtown — there are some new and old businesses this year, after being canceled in 2020, with the same total number as in 2019, said Geoff Manis, Main Street program manager for the city of Moline.
And instead of just one free Holiday Hop trolley ferrying visitors throughout downtown, there will be two both days.
There are seven stops – at Bass Street Landing; 15th Street at River Drive, 5th and 6th avenues; 19th Street at 5th and 6th avenues, and 5th Avenue and 17th Street.
“It’s a nice, charming way to celebrate the holidays in downtown Moline,” Manis said of the trolleys. “Trolleys used to run through downtown.”
For many businesses struggling after nearly 20 months of COVID, Holiday Hop is a great opportunity to get customers through the door and shopping local again.
“For the small businesses, it’s an early kickoff to the shopping season,” Manis said. “It’s vital for them; Black Friday is important; Small Business Saturday is important. It really starts happening for them much earlier. That is why the Holiday Hop happens well ahead of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.”
“Especially this holiday season, as a business improvement district within the Quad Cities, we’re really hoping to capitalize on this holiday shopping season,” he said.
With all the shipping problems worldwide, this is the perfect time to shop local, and support local artists and business owners, Manis said.
Inside the Spotlight Theatre and Event Center (1800 7th Ave.), The Market: A Journey to Joy is unveiling their holiday look, and the theater is presenting “Frozen Jr.” Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Each participating business has a new Holiday Hop stop sign out front. “That’s what I was doing on Friday morning at 4 o’clock in the morning, before traffic came in downtown,” Manis said.
Places that are pulling out all the stops for Holiday Hop include Dead Poets Espresso, WaterMark Corners, Shameless Chocoholic, and Lagomarcino’s.
“There’s been a lot of hard work in programming their space for this event,” Manis said.
Alan Sweet (of RME and All Sweat Productions) will be performing music up and down the area, with about eight of his musician friends. “There’ll definitely be curbside caroling during Holiday Hop,” Manis said.
Roberto Orozco, manager of Los Portales Mexican restaurant, at 1231 5th Ave., Moline, is really looking forward to crowds from Holiday Hop, after being open less than a month.
“A lot of people don’t know we’re open,” he said Tuesday, noting Los Portales has operated a restaurant in Davenport over six years, at 1012 E. Kimberly Road. His partner wanted to open across the river and they found the perfect location, just two blocks from the TaxSlayer Center, and near Mercado on Fifth.
“I like downtown Moline, with the bars and restaurants,’ Orozco said. “I wanted to join in the city of Moline, helping events, let people know we’re open.” For Holiday Hop, he’s offering half off margaritas and appetizers.
Los Portales regular hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 to 6 on Sundays.
Colorful murals deck out downtown windows
Local mural artist Atlanta Dawn has helped add to the festive nature of Moline Centre with some very colorful murals on commercial buildings. The Moline Foundation helped pay for two major ones — on vacant commercial spaces at the Heart of America building on River Drive (and 15th Street), and next to the Axis Hotel on 5th Avenue (near 17th Street).
Dawn also painted a large “Whoville” mural on the river-side of the Kone Centre off 17th Street north of River Drive.
“It’s a great way, for vacant storefronts during the holiday season, to add some vibrancy and color, to what is typically a dark space in downtown Moline,” Manis said.
The window paintings will stay up through Christmas. “It’ll help keep downtown Moline front of mind for people through this holiday season,” he said.
Lighting on Commons includes huge fireworks
Manis is still finalizing the program of performers for the Nov. 20 Lighting on the Commons, at John Deere Commons, including the 6 p.m. lighting of the new Christmas tree (with 60,000-plus lights) at the TaxSlayer Center. The event will include a couple Harlem Globetrotters there, part of promoting their upcoming game at the TaxSlayer Center on Saturday, Jan. 1.
“There’s been a lot of collaboration with the downtown businesses and downtown stakeholders this holiday season – as much or more than any other time, to my knowledge, in downtown Moline’s history,” Manis said. “We’re here to make history this year.”
The Lighting on the Commons (which also didn’t happen last year) is a free event, starting at 3:30 p.m. for all to come and enjoy with horse-drawn carriage rides, kids crafts, holiday choirs, fireworks, tree lighting, and Santa himself. You can enjoy cookies, hot cocoa and cider too.
Manis said the fireworks will be twice as big, since it wasn’t done last year.
“It will be a substantially more impressive fireworks display than our community has typically seen for that event,” he said. The John Deere Pavilion and TaxSlayer Center put up decorations last year, but there was no outdoor Christmas tree.
“What we did in place of that was, I rented some really advanced, 21st-century holiday lighting,” Manis said, noting they were on the Historic Block plaza. The John Deere Pavilion (closed since the pandemic began in March 2020) remains closed for renovations.
The Spotlight Theatre in Moline will feature about 25 3rd-8th-graders from their “Frozen Jr.” cast to perform during Lighting on the Commons, at about 5:30 p.m. For more information on the festivities, visit lightingonthecommons.com.
For more on Holiday Hop, visit its Facebook event page.