The annual roster of local shopping events is about to begin with the idea to bring fun and camaraderie during the 2021 holiday season.

The Gloucester Merchants Association hopes that residents will stay close to home and shop local.

Deals kick off on Black Friday, Nov. 26 (hours vary by business), followed by Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27, with hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Many businesses are also taking part in “Winter Lights on Cape Ann,” which runs Friday through Jan. 2, by setting special windows or displays that will be illuminated from 4 to 10 p.m.

Joe Ciolino, a member of the Merchants Association and owner of The Weathervane on Main Street, said the association’s mission is to entice people to shop local and shop downtown.

“We try to provide interesting activities for people who come to our downtown, and we are all offering specials,” he said.

One of the changes that started last year during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue is that the usual “Ladies Night” has become “Ladies Night — All Day.”

This year that event, the 48th, takes place on Thursday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. when downtown shops will offer specials all day.

The merchants have worked to create safe and comfortable places for shoppers.

“This is one of the changes that we started last year because of COVID concerns and it was such a success so instead of a crush of people getting into stores for the evening, we expanded to all-day promotions,” Ciolino said. “Some people liked it because they didn’t want to go out at night and it worked out very well.”

This year’s ladies event also will feature some strolling carolers for an added festive touch.

When shoppers make a purchase at participating stores, they will get a ticket that goes into the Shopping Spree Drawing.

The following day, Friday. Dec. 3, The Weathervane, 153 Main St., will again host Mark Parisi, a Gloucester native and nationally syndicated cartoonist whose strip appears on the Times’ comic page. Parisi will sign his 2022 “Off The Mark ‘’calendars and books from 6 to 8 p.m.

On Dec. 13, the Shopping Spree Drawing takes place when three people will win gift certificates, amounting to well over $200 each, to participating businesses.

And the 45th “Men’s Night — All Day” takes place Thursday, Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with specials all day.

“We are trying to get people down here and show up to see what’s in stock and not worry about whether it’s coming in on a freighter and stuck out at sea,” said Ciolino. “It’s going to be a strange season and we’re being told to buy it if you see it because we don’t know what the supply situation is like. and we appreciate the people who come downtown so we can all survive. It’s been tough but we are getting through it.”

Gloucester’s Kristin Michel wanted to applaud those who try to shop local.

“We are so grateful for all of the local businesses who help the community in so many different ways. Please choose to shop local this holiday season and help the circle of giving thrive on Cape Ann, and support the local businesses who support the area where you live, work and play,” she said.

Winter Lights

Discover Gloucester is celebrating the spirit of the season with its second annual Winter Lights Celebration on Cape Ann featuring businesses throughout Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester-by-the-Sea that are decorating their establishments with twinkling lights and/or creative window displays. More than 100 lighted locations will be illuminated from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2.

Elizabeth Carey, executive director of Discover Gloucester, suggests taking a drive around to enjoy the lights and enjoy what local businesses and restaurants have to offer.

A digital map provides the locations of each participant, as well as a downloadable brochure at:

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at

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