Temperatures dipped into the teens Thursday evening, but that didn’t deter families from coming to downtown Columbus to enjoy the holiday season.

Santa, however, was a different story. For him, the night was too co-co-cold.

Outdoor features planned as part of “A Not So Silent Night” — including Santa Claus, who was to set up outside The Commons, horse-drawn carriage rides and carolers — were cancelled because of the cold, said Erin Hawkins, director of marketing for the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

It may have been “A Not So Warm Night,” but businesses reported brisk sales anyway during the 4 to 8 p.m. event created to help local shoppers find last-minute Christmas gifts close to home, Hawkins said.

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“We’re always happy to bring people downtown,” she said. “Despite the chilly weather, the merchants felt like it was a worthwhile event.”

People of all ages braved the cold for the upside of a night of fun and bargains.

Children traipsed to 14 different locations for an elf scavenger hunt, hoping to win a grand prize or one of four other prize packages, which included items from downtown Columbus businesses.

Allie Gibbins, 11, had already found elves at several downtown businesses before coming to the kidscommons children’s museum with a group of friends as part of their next stop. Gibbins said the weather wasn’t a concern for her.

Lydia Stuart was part of a three-generation party of six, including her mother, her three sons and one of their friends.

“We have been doing window-shopping, but there are shops I want to return to now,” Stuart said. “It’s a family-orientated town and everywhere we go, people receive us very well.”

Lockett’s Ladies Shop was busy in the 400 block of Washington Street helping customers with their needs.

“It’s really important that downtown merchants are working together, and we have such a great variety (of stores) downtown right now,” said owner Lynne Hyatt, who has owned Lockett’s since 1989.

“It’s fantastic that we have everybody down here to see this, because folks are still not used to having a vibrant downtown,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt said she has been having weekly events to boost store traffic, while offering free gift-wrapping for customers.

Columbus resident Karen Molen was among the Lockett’s shoppers, picking up some gifts in preparation for a Christmas visit with her daughter.

“Everything is very festive,” she said. “It’s really just a pleasant place to be.”

Tricia Gilson, who lives downtown, said she came out to the “A Not So Silent Night” event to support local businesses.

“Most of the shops I go into are locally owned,” said Gilson, archivist and curator with the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives.

“And they have things in their shops that you don’t find anywhere else,” she said.

Downtown shopping

Downtown Columbus offers a variety of specialty shops ranging from bookstores to jewelry. For more information, visit columbus.in.us/see-do/specialty-stores/.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com