I tend to be a surreptitious shopper, sliding quietly through stores like a sylph on a mission, waiting for an item to communicate with me telepathically: "Here I am. Just what you need." What I don't need is help, and I don't want it, either. Beware, shoptenders. Just leave me alone. It's my basic right as a shopper to be allowed to make my own decisions, no matter how much time it takes me to consider. (Once, when I was in junior high, I spent such a long time trying to pick out the best hair conditioner at Super Drug that the "help" ended up chasing me out of the store, to a round of employee applause. But the joke, I wisely figured, was on them. They lost a sale, and I learned to shop somewhere else.)
Shopping, after all, is an art, and shopping in the season of overdrive is all that and more. What about you? Do you blow into a store like the North Wind, vacuuming up stuff with blustery bravado, or do you stick to a list and a budget, fastidiously comparing prices or picking through the sales tables? We shoppers all have a style.
As the true national pastime rolls into high gear for the holidays today, the folks at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, 3000 East First Avenue, will be cheering us all on with the Early Bird Gets the Deals celebration, a fun welcome designed to make the shopping bags seem less heavy and the crowds less suffocating. Because the day after Thanksgiving and the Saturday before Christmas merely trade places from year to year as the top two shopping days, it goes without saying that you're going to have to deal with the crowds if you brave the stores today, so why not make friends with each other before it all starts?
Arrive bright and early at the mall for free Cinnabons and coffee, a bracing aerobic workout or introspective yoga routine and a round of silly shopping games, such as Know Your Bling and my personal favorite, Fastest Credit Card Draw in the West, offered from 7 to 9 a.m. in the Grand Court. The earliest birds will also be treated to various giveaways, including an undisclosed holiday gift.
Christmas consultant Kris Kringle and his team of entrepreneur elves have been invited to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder to help poke the holiday season in its retailing ribs this weekend at the inaugural Switch on the Holidays. Shoppers can buck the bah-humbugs with a Claus-led countdown tonight at 5 p.m. at the Boulder County Courthouse, where they'll turn on the jingle juice for a Flagstaff Mountain star. Santa and friends will then glide over to the Light Up the Ice ceremony, followed by a two-hour free skate at the Ice Rink at Boulder One Plaza. A children's holiday train will tug tots up and down the mall, which will be lined with strolling carolers, live reindeer and North Pole pixies handing out tinsel-time treats. Paparazzi parents can also grab a photo op with their kids and the jolly old elf inside the Dickens store at 15th and Pearl streets.
Switch on the Holidays lights up at 5 p.m. tonight and twinkles through the weekend from 1 to 4 p.m. on Pearl Street. Additional ice-skating sessions and Santa seatings are scheduled throughout the season. Call 303-449-3774 or visit www.boulderdowntown for more information. -- Kity Ironton
Hey, Watch This
The new Regency Theaters in Tamarac Square, 7777 East Hampden Avenue, is specially designed for those who love the art and entertainment of the movies.
Coming from the birthplace of film, Regency Theaters brings a Los Angeles flavor to Denver audiences. And with a tasty mix of independent, foreign and documentary programming presented in Dolby Digital sound, Tamarac will do its best to satisfy cineastes. Upcoming movies include Almost Peaceful and Go Further, a documentary featuring Woody Harrelson.
Tamarac theaters feature a cafe lounge where guests can snack on sandwiches, salad and pizza and wash it all down with beer and wine. Other treats include the traditional movie favorite, popcorn, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
Winter Wonder Wasteland
Belmar turns scraps into seasonal shimmer
One community's trash is another's tree trimmings. Just ask Belmar spokeswoman Eliza Prall, who is dreaming of a green Christmas this year.
To spruce up its main plaza, Belmar is erecting eight ornamental holiday trees made from recycled materials, turning it into a jingle-junkyard forest. The 10- to 24-foot trees have been crafted from such objects as discarded street signs, bed coils, cell phones and over 10,000 ceramic tiles -- but this isn't the first time Belmar has come to the rescue of refuse.
Downtown Lakewood's new redevelopment and shopping center is based on re-use, which recently earned the site a national Phoenix environmental award. The $750 million, 104-acre mixed-use resurrection of the old Villa Italia rose from the ashes on the corner of Wadsworth Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue. Abandoned concrete was crunched into new sidewalks, potholed asphalt was polished into smooth roadways, and 140 adult trees were transplanted from the original site into nine acres of pristine parks, plazas and green space. "The holiday display is completely within our mission," says Prall. "Over 85 percent of the mall was recycled back into Belmar, and this is an extended example of that message."
The garbage will start glowing tonight and flicker through January 2. Call the Belmar visitor center at 303-742-1520 or visit www.belmarcolorado.com. Totally tree-rific! -- Kity Ironton
World AIDS Day honors victims
It's isn't a celebration, exactly. But World AIDS Day is a global event that honors the millions who've succumbed to the disease -- and raises awareness about the sustained threat it poses to new generations at home and abroad. In Colorado, that message needs to get through. Since the late '80s, AIDS has claimed more than 5,000 people in our state, and the disease remains a leading killer of people of color. Women, in particular, have seen their rates of HIV infection surge over the last decade. Today, Denver will mark the day with a candlelight vigil in City Park. At sundown, observers will be arranged to form the word "One" -- which symbolizes both the need to recognize AIDS as one disease and the power of individuals to fight it. The public is encouraged to participate in the event as a welcome show of unity in divisive times. For more information, call the Colorado AIDS Project at 303-837-0166. -- Laura Bond