Elegant Evening Downtown draws people to local shops

People were in a festive mood Saturday evening as they streamed in and out of local shops for the annual Elegant Evening Downtown, sipping specialty wines and hot cocoa and eating small bites.

One of the many highlights of the night were the costumed live mannequins in the businesses’ display windows. They were promoting North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation’s upcoming production of “The Nutcracker Ballet” at the Templeton Performing Arts Center.

Some people walking by questioned aloud if the mannequins were alive and after staring for a minute concluded they were living. Other passersby tried to get the live mannequins to smile or break their pose by making funny faces. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.

Paso Robles High School senior Payton Beasley was one of two live mannequins in the Ambiance clothing and lifestyle boutique window displays. 

Two people look at live mannequin Payton Beasley, a Paso Robles High School senior, in the Ambiance window display on Saturday during the Elegant Evening Downtown. Beasley has been a live mannequin for the past six years. Photo by Brian Williams

“It’s really fun,” Beasley said of being a live mannequin. “It’s really hard because it starts to hurt after a while — your muscles tense up. But it’s really fun to watch everyone walk by and see their reactions and stuff. They will try to make you laugh, but that is what also makes it fun, trying to keep a straight face.” 

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Beasley has been in the displays for the past six years and been in “The Nutcracker” since the age of 9. “Nutcracker” performances at TPAC are Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., Dec. 7 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and Dec. 8 at noon and 5 p.m. 

Elegant Evening Downtown is organized each year by the Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association and considered the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season in North County.

Park and Pine streets were blocked off between 12th and 13th streets to traffic. Live performances by Artistry in Motion, Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation and the St. Rose Youth Choir, just to name a few, drew large crowds and plenty of applause throughout the three hours of the event.

Nearly all of the businesses in the Downtown area were open later than usual on a Saturday night and all of them saw a steady stream of visitors coming into see what they were selling. Restaurants and tasting rooms were also filled by revelers.

Downtown Main Street’s upcoming events include the Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 29, at 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., Mrs. Claus turns the switch on in the City Park to light up downtown for the holidays. A Holiday Craft Bazaar is open that day in the City Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 58th annual Paso Robles Holiday Light Parade will be on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m., the Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase will be on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. and the Victorian Teddy Bear Tea will be Saturday, Dec. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information on upcoming events, visit pasoroblesdowntown.org.