My family thought I was nuts when I decided that we were going to First Saturday Downtown Frederick in the pouring rain. Their doubts subsided as the rain became snow. By the time we arrived, downtown Frederick had become a winter wonderland complete with ice sculptures, holiday lights, s’mores, and hot chocolate.
First Saturday is a free event held the first Saturday of every month from 5 to 9pm in downtown Frederick, sponsored by the Downtown Frederick Partnership to promote the town. Each month, there are live performances, activities, gallery openings, giveaways, and special promotions centering around a theme. The night we went, February 4th, the theme was Fire and Ice. Forty ice sculptures decorated downtown Frederick in front of a number of restaurants and business establishments. Our favorites included two penguins, a seahorse, and a squirrel. Many of the sculptures tied in to the shops. For example, an Indian chief sculpture with a real cigar in its mouth was outside the cigar store; an ice chair was outside a furniture store. Most of the sculptures and activities were along the main drag of Market Street. An ice playground had a bean bag toss ice sculpture, shuffleboard, and a penguin chair for photo opportunities. Unfortunately, we just missed the fire dance performance. Upcoming themes are Casino Night on March 3, 2012 and Hollywood on April 7, 2012.
Normally kids and shopping do not really mix but Frederick has a number of stores that kids will love. Dancing Bear is a great store with educational toys that do not require batteries. Flights of Fancy has everything from purses and jewelry to a large selection of Playmobil and other toys. Ec’clectibles has soaps, garden accents, jewelry, plus a number of kids pop-up books. Kids will adore Candy Kitchen, an old fashioned candy store with fudge, and Sweet Memories, a candy store specializing in nostalgic candies by the barrel. My kids’ favorite shop is Earthly Elements, featuring rocks and minerals and fossils. Some shops have special offers just for the event. Around 80 shops stay open until 9pm. Frederick would be the perfect place to find a unique holiday gift with its many boutiques. Most months, a free trolley car takes you to Everedy Square/Shab Row and other retail sections of Frederick every 20 minutes.
BB&T Bank gave away complimentary cocoa and all of us enjoyed making free s’mores at 30 N. Market Street. Restaurants were very busy. I recommend that you make dinner reservations before you go. By 6:30pm, we had to try six restaurants until we found a place that could seat us immediately. Most could not seat us until 8 to 10pm. Olives Restaurant had affordable Italian food. The meal started with complimentary fried dough squares and olives, which were a big hit. The kids menu had three choices for $6 each: bowtie pasta with sauce, grilled chicken breast with waffle fries, and grilled cheese sandwich. There are about 40 restaurants in Frederick ranging from bagels or pizza to fine dining.
If you want to turn your evening into a date night, The Evangelical Lutheran Church at 31 E. Church Street offers babysitting from 6 to 10pm for $10 a child.
We arrived at 5 pm and had no trouble finding parking along Market Street only a couple of blocks from the heart of the activities. Parking is free after 5pm. Parking is also only $1 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays in all the parking garages: 44 E. Patrick Street, 2 S. Court Street, 17 E. Church Street, and 125 E. All Saints Street.
Note: Print out a map and schedule before you go. We only found handouts at 30 N. Market Street.