Every parking space on Broad Street was full Saturday during the half hour leading up to the annual Parks and Recreation Candy Cane Hunt on the Town Green.

While the candy cane hunt itself didn’t last but just a few minutes, people were lined up for most of the three-hour window for trolley rides with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Recreation Department personnel spread 20,000 mini candy canes across the Town Green, a process that took a whole lot longer than it took hundreds of children to snatch them up once Santa gave them the green light.

The event helped kick-off the holiday shopping season downtown as Broad Street merchants welcomed visitors to the downtown area with Christmas decorations and holiday specials.

Matt and Annette Moore were jewelry shopping at Ford, Gittings & Kane Jewelers.

“I did two laps around and was wondering what was going on downtown,” Matt Moore said. Annette Moore chipped in that once she saw the trolley and Santa on the back she knew that it was a special day.

Jan Fergerson said that special event days like Saturday are always a plus for business.

“It’s exciting and fun,” Fergerson said. “It’s great to see so much activity on Broad Street.”

Megan Treglown, marketing director for the Rome Downtown Development office, said the day couldn’t have been much better.

“It’s absolutely beautiful and the crowds have really come out,” Treglown said. “We’ve had a couple of sidewalk sales and the Christmas decoration competition kicked off. I’ve stopped in to see a few of them and they (merchants) all seem pretty happy.”

Many of the downtown Rome merchants plan special activities for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30, and a special late hour shopping event for the Broad Street businesses has been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 12.

Sunday is also going to be a special day downtown as Forum on Ice opens its run through Jan. 6. Skaters are able to purchase wristbands good for all day so they can skate a while, go shop or eat downtown, and then return to the rink to skate of use the new ice slide this year. The rink will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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