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Many East Aurora village merchants are banding together to urge shoppers to patronize their businesses for Christmas shopping by extending their hours during the holiday season until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

"We're just trying to create interest and hopefully it will catch on," said Gary Grote, executive director of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce. The extended shopping hours begin Thursday and will continue on Dec. 5, 12 and 19 until 9 on each of those evenings.

It's been several years since East Aurora's downtown business district offered extended holiday shopping hours, but the influx of some new shops sparked renewed interest in the idea.

"We tried a long time ago, but it's tough to get interest," Grote said Tuesday. "But with so many new businesses in town, it seemed like a good idea."

Of 200 merchants contacted, 42 are participating in the effort.

The holiday promotion sends an even stronger message to residents: To shop in their backyard. The theme of the promotion is "Rediscover the Warmth that is East Aurora: Shop Local . . . Shop Proud."

Special activities also are planned for Thursday, featuring the Village Singers and the Steif Bear at the Toy Loft on Main Street. Participating merchants will display a symbol of a glowing lantern in their windows.

"This promotion will also encourage shoppers to rediscover the unique merchandise and gift ideas that our retailers have to offer," Grote said. "The group hopes this is a step to encouraging merchants to stay open later, not only for future holiday events, but also on a regular basis during the remainder of the year." The Chamber also is encouraging area businesses to light up their shops during the shopping season, especially for the community's Carolcade event on Dec. 21.


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