Arvada: Lagniappe tradition offers a little extra

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The holiday season is inspiring businesses to pause and thank the Arvada community through a holiday event filled with food, gifts and festive celebrations.

Lagniappe (pronounced lahn-yap) is a Creole tradition that practices giving a 'little something extra,' and during the holidays, Arvada and the Historic Olde Town Arvada organization strives to exemplify the tradition by hosting an annual event in Olde Town.

Residents and businesses will ring in the holidays Dec. 3 by hosting a Christmas-themed, holiday event rooted in the tradition of Lagniappe.

“Lagniappe is a tradition because it is so important for our businesses to have a close relationship with their customers,” said Historic Olde Town Arvada President Karen Miller.

The free event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with retailers handing out small gifts to customers with every purchase. Following the official start of Lagniappe, Mayor Marc Williams will light the Christmas tree in the Olde Town Square, unofficially kicking off the holiday season.

“It really is a customer-oriented event,” said Kathy Nelson, owner of the specialty gifts store, Chipeta. "It goes hand in hand with Thanksgiving as a grateful event; we're grateful for our customers like we're grateful for our families at Thanksgiving.”

Started by Sophie Kenny of the Village Saltbox, 21 years ago, Lagniappe provides businesses an opportunity to offer small gifts, discounts and refreshments to customers — going that extra mile to show their appreciation.

For Laura Wrede, co-owner of Paws and Play, this event focuses on the important role customers play in small businesses.

“Lagniappe is truly about customer appreciation.” Wrede said. “We have street fairs and festivals, but this one zeros in on the customers; without them, we don't have a business, and we don't have the fulfillment that they bring to us throughout the year.”

While shoppers bustle in and out of the different retailers, Olde Town will transform into the quintessential hometown for the holidays scene. From the What the Dickens carolers strolling along the sidewalks, to horse-drawn carriage rides, Santa appearances and a chili cook-off, this event provides both businesses and customers a festive opportunity to give back to one another and celebrate the holidays.

“The fact that Olde Town has traditions that we continue to maintain reminds us that we are all part of a great community,” Miller said.

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