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New Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue winter village hopes to warm up the strip’s winter blues

Local business owners in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue have turned the waterfront into a beautiful winter village. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports.

The Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue merchants association hopes some Christmas cheer will liven up the main drag during the slow winter months.

A winter village scene has been installed along Sainte-Anne Street.

Tall wooden reindeer, Christmas trees sporting Santa hats and bright red Adirondack chairs complement the waterfront green space.

The goal of the village is to entice people to visit the West Island town in the winter, according to organizer and owner of Pragai Couture Jennifer Pragai.

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Business booms in the summer but once winter hits, several restaurants in the area close up shop for the season, leaving merchants in the cold, Pragai said.

“The point is to get people to come back in the wintertime so those who do visit us in the summer can see us as a winter destination,” Pragai said.

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To make that winter destination dream come alive, local merchants have transformed the main drag into a winter wonderland.

The sidewalks and storefronts are lined with up to 80 individually decorated evergreen trees.

Events to get families involved and into stores have also been organized, with an elf scavenger hunt.

“You can go into any store that is participating and you can look for their little elf, then the owners will give a treat,” she said.

The hunt is based on a story written by one of the residents involved in the project.

Locals who work in the area say the decorations have really added festive cheer to the area.

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“It’s fantastic,” Maggie Dunn said.

“Oh my gosh, it puts people in such good moods. It changes everything. It’s Christmas.”

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The city approved the initiative and funded less than half of the estimated $24,000 budget for the decor.

Pragai says the support from local merchants and residents is “the most incredible part,” with several volunteers helping install and put up many of the decorations.

The winter village will be up all winter long.

If it’s successful, the merchants association hopes to make the scene an annual tradition.