Third Annual Cocoa Crawl Draws Visitors to Downtown Saline


Saline Main Street held its third annual Cocoa Crawl on Saturday, attracting many visitors who came to sample hot cocoa and shop at the twelve participating businesses. The event, which was held from 12 to 6 P.M., was followed by the Merry Mile, the tree lighting, and the holiday parade.

Participants in the Cocoa Crawl received a passport to collect stamps from twelve local establishments. Fully stamped passports could be entered into a drawing at the Cultural Exchange 109, where the lucky winner would receive a gift basket filled with prizes and gift cards from local shops and restaurants.

Organizers for the event were Joanne Dence of Whitepine Studios, and Jen McPherson of McPherson Local.

“The traffic today has been unbelievable. We marketed this event for the last month and a half, and it’s been non-stop in here,” Dence said.

“Jen and I were co chairs of this event. We really made the effort to make sure that this was marketed on social media on a consistent basis, and we are seeing the fruits of that labor. We also engaged over thirteen businesses to take part in this, so people are having fun going around. There are shops open, and even pop ups everywhere. We are very excited about this opportunity. It’s been great.”

Whitepine Studio hosted a craft fair to coincide with the Cocoa Crawl, where vendors were selling their creations. Kaili Dence and Hollyann Stewart, who were dressed as Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, mingled with patrons and posed with children for photographs.

“We have drop in ornament making, we have face painting for the kids, and tonight we will be hosting Santa after the parade,” Dence said. “We have free cookies and we are giving out hot chocolate packets and free crafts for the kids. Lots of stuff going on at Whitepine today.”

Adults on the Cocoa Crawl could enjoy the Chocolate Martini Cocoas at Dan’s Downtown Tavern, as well as the Who Dat S’More at Mac's Acadian Seafood. Carrigan Café passed out chocolate truffles and served patrons from their full menu of hot beverages.

At Fine Print Bookshop, visitors could help themselves at the hot cocoa station and enjoy a beverage while browsing through the shop to find the latest in books, games, and gifts.

“It’s been wonderful. Lots of people in and out, lots of people getting cocoa,” said owner Bill Gibson.

“We’ve seen the energy level going up and up for the younger people, and down and down for the older people,” Gibson said with a laugh. “This is one of our favorite days of the year.”

At McPherson Local, shoppers could sample hot cocoa from Harvest Chocolate in Tecumseh.

“We make chocolate from scratch at our shop in Tecumseh,” said Matt Cross from Harvest Chocolate. “We bring in whole cocoa beans from across the world. We roast them and grind them in our storefront, and use them to make our hot chocolate. There are just three ingredients: chocolate, cocoa powder, and sugar.”

Jen McPherson and her niece, Mia Williams, were on hand to greet customers.

“It has been very busy,” McPherson said. “We are super excited. We love this day.”

“I would like to thank my co chair, Joanne Dence, for the Cocoa Crawl. We worked really hard and it’s been successful so far. I hope everybody enjoys the tree lighting and the Merry Mile and the parade and Santa after. It’s such a great day downtown,” she said.

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