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Black Friday with relaxing twist
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Nov 28, 2013 | 1559 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contributed photo -- John Ascuaga, right, mingles with children during the 2012 Crafts for Christmas inside the Rose Ballroom at the Nugget. Ascuaga will be on hand again this year as he reads the childrens book The Polar Express on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Contributed photo -- John Ascuaga, right, mingles with children during the 2012 Crafts for Christmas inside the Rose Ballroom at the Nugget. Ascuaga will be on hand again this year as he reads the childrens book The Polar Express on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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No doors will be busted down during Black Friday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget as the fourth annual Crafts for Christmas holiday shopping event takes place in the Rose Ballroom of the Sparks resort.

The Nugget, and Reno-based event planner Jason Williams, are shunning Black Friday stereotypes in many ways, the first of which is opening the craft festival at noon Friday. Nugget Special Events Manager Lisa Jansen said the event caters to local shoppers looking for unique or handmade holiday gifts, and it comes with a variety of entertainment, demonstrations and children’s activities.

“We think of it as the anti-Black Friday,” Jansen said Monday. “It is very leisurely, fun shopping in a ‘winter wonderland’ feel. We have food, drinks, cocktails and all sorts of fun stuff. It is a much slower pace. It is much more like going to a special event where you get to relax and enjoy yourself, rather than rushing inside to get the best deals. It is a much better experience and it is also the winter/Christmas extravaganza.”

The event opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and runs until 6 p.m. except Sunday when it closes at 4 p.m. Jansen said booth and vendor numbers are slightly up from last year with more than 100 participants.

Entertainment has been elevated this year as well with the Survey Dance Complex and the Spanish Springs High School marching band performing throughout the day. There will also be demonstrations from Nugget chefs, local crafters and Sparks Florist.

“We have set it up to where there is something live happening every hour on the hour,” Jansen said.

Spanish Springs High School will also be providing a gift wrapping station and raffling off prizes during the event, which Jansen said is an expansion of a partnership with the school.

“It’s great because some of the students and their parents have been making crafts, and they get the chance to wear their Christmas sweaters and really get into the holiday spirit,” she said.

Children also have their own options at the Crafts for Christmas event as a Santa’s workshop area has been set aside where children can create their holiday wish lists and much more while parents enjoy the booths. Santa Claus will also be available to interact with children from 12 to 3 p.m. each day and parents can take pictures of their child with Santa during their stay.

Jansen noted a special surprise for children and parents on Sunday as John Ascuaga will read The Polar Express children’s book at 1 p.m.

“The children often times bring pillows to sit on and they all surround John while he reads,” Jansen said. “It is also a fun thing for the parents because a lot of them grew up in this community and they have seen the Nugget grow. It is great for them to have that experience from a man who has been so prominent in this area.”

Jansen said organizing Crafts for Christmas has helped her leapfrog Thanksgiving and begin thinking all about Christmas. After a busy summer planning signature Sparks events, she said what little rest the staff received was short lived.

“I say it slows down for about a week and a half,” Jansen said, “And then we start moving on and working on some of the fall events like Halloween, Street Vibrations and Crafts for Christmas. New Year’s Eve this year is going to be really exciting because we believe the transition (to new ownership) will be done by then.

“The new owners were really impressed with the Rib Cook-Off and Star Spangled Sparks, which is great for us because those are events we are working on all year long.”
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