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RUPERT — The Rupert Square and Wilson Plaza will become a holiday utopia this year as officials continue to add events downtown so residents and visitors can fully enjoy the newly transformed city center.

“It’s time to take Christmas City to the next level,” said Lori Wilson, chairwoman of the new Christmas City Christmas Market.

For two weekends in November and December, about a dozen quaint market shops will appear around the city’s new synthetic skating rink and along the Wilson Theatre Plaza to offer sweet and savory treats, unusual gifts, decor and toys for sale.

“We are trying to build a Norman Rockwell community by holding special events that will create moments and memories for people that will last forever,” said City Administrator Kelly Anthon. “That’s how you revitalize a downtown.”

The city completed major renovations on the Square that included installing a new fountain, revamped the streets and sidewalks and changing Fremont Street along the theater into the Wilson Theatre Plaza. The city purchased a synthetic skating rink that will be set up on the plaza during the holidays.

For decades, Rupert has transformed into Christmas City during the holiday season, which officially launches each year with a Christmas lighting ceremony on the Square on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving.

Hundreds of people flock to the park to eat cinnamon rolls and chili and Santa Claus arrives by firetruck on the Square to pull the breaker to light the city decorations. Afterward, Santa enters his house on the Square to visit with the children and city fire department lights off fireworks.

The 21st annual Caring and Sharing Christmas Tree Festival also starts Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, a block from the Square at the city’s civic gym, 505 Seventh St. Admission is free.

Anthon said the general idea of the Christmas market is to continue to build on the assets and events the city already has and to provide “an experience” for people.

“There’s nothing else like this in Idaho that I’m aware of,” Anthon said.

It’s about the community coming together and building up businesses, he said.

“Everyone craves that sense of wonder and magic at Christmas,” Wilson said. “Everyone wants to live in a Hallmark movie.”

The market shops will be decorated for the season and offer unique holiday items like fudge and candy apples, fresh-cut evergreen swags and wreaths that people can choose the ribbons for, customized holiday cards, farmhouse wooden signs, handmade wooden nativity sets and a house of gnomes, fresh mistletoe and vintage styled toys. One shop will offer Santa’s keys for children’s homes and the tots can watch as the key is “sprinkled with magic,” Wilson said.

“The market will be a feast for the senses and we hope people feel like it is just gorgeous eye candy,” Wilson said. “It will definitely be Instagram worthy.”

The second weekend of the market will dovetail with the Christmas at the Wilson event. On Dec. 6-7, the theater is offering a three-hour package that includes a horse-drawn wagon ride, visit with Santa, choice of holiday movie, ice skating, Home Alone obstacle course, scavenger hunt, cookies and hot chocolate and a make-and-take craft, along with an ugly Christmas sweater contest. The cost is $10, or $25 for a family of five. Tickets are non-refundable and available at the theater.

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