Newark's downtown merchants are sponsoring a holiday open house on Friday, Dec. 5.

Newark's downtown merchants are sponsoring a holiday open house on Friday, Dec. 5.

"It certainly puts downtown back in the light," said Steve Ehret, owner of H L Art Jewelers and president of the Downtown Newark Association (DNA). "We want people to see our businesses and it gives people a reason to come downtown."

This is the second open house the DNA has sponsored this year. The Aug. 2 Art Walk featured live music, art displays, and other entertainment and was declared a huge success.

"It was our first one and it was fantastic," Ehret said. "We had more than 1,000 people downtown walking around and visiting different shops."

Ehret said DNA members talked about doing an open house monthly. While planning a more regular event, the group decided to sponsor a holiday open house.

Virginia Patterson, owner of Memory Lane and DNA committee chair, said the stores downtown will be open all day on Dec. 5, with many staying open until 8 p.m. Each business will feature art work or live music, and most will serve refreshments.

Three groups will perform holiday music in the arcade, where Santa will be available to hear children's Christmas wishes.

Ehret said several downtown businesses have participated in the annual window decorating contest, so people can view those during the event.

Downtown also will be even more lighted than usual, with the Licking County Courthouse decorations and 500 luminaries, put in place along the streets downtown by workers from Kraner Behavioral Health.

"We've wanted to do something like this for a long time," Patterson said. "It's an old-fashioned alternative to other types of Christmas shopping."

Christmas carolers will stroll around the square and there will be horse-drawn carriage rides.

"It should be a neat winter feeling, a Christmas feeling," Ehret said.