Erika Spence: Business in the Park

Fashion Week successes

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  • | 9:01 a.m. October 24, 2012
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - A show-stopping wedding proposal interrupted a model's walk down the runway during The Collection Bridal and Bay Hill Jewelers on Park's show Oct. 20.
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - A show-stopping wedding proposal interrupted a model's walk down the runway during The Collection Bridal and Bay Hill Jewelers on Park's show Oct. 20.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Downtown Winter Park is still enjoying the success of Park Avenue Fashion Week 2012. The annual seven-day celebration of fashion and design in our community held more than 100 events, showcased 25 local boutiques and salons and honored the city of Winter Park’s 125th anniversary. That’s a tall order and the volunteer committee pulled it off with style and grace. Kudos to the event chair, Paige Blackwelder, co-owner of Tuni, for her leadership in this fabulous event that attracts regional attention to our unique retail community.

The most-anticipated event of the week is always the Runway Show. This year The Collection Bridal and Bay Hill Jewelers on Park stole the show with a surprise proposal for one of the models walking the runway. Her boyfriend met her at the end of the runway with a ring and an offer she couldn’t refuse. The model is the daughter of Mimi Goldman, fashion director at The Collection and she is head-over-heels excited to be planning a wedding.

After the show-stopping performance (we had to take an intermission after that much excitement), the team from Bay Hill Jewelers went back to preparing their new location. They’ve closed up their store in the Shoppes on Park. Look for them soon in the old Jacobson’s space on North Park Avenue. They promise to be open in time for Red Bag Days and the next Sip & Stroll event.

Under the tent

Fashion Week isn’t the only group using the tent constructed in Central Park’s West Meadow. This year’s tent served as the venue for the Winter Park Historical Association’s Peacock Ball. This weekend it will also host the Winter Park Food & Wine Classic, a unique pair of foodie events benefiting local charities. The brainchild of John Rivers, chef and owner at 4 Rivers Smokehouse, and David and Tina Larue of ABC Wine & Spirits, the weekend features a James Beard Tribute Dinner and the return of Cows & Cabs.

Next up, look for the tent to get a little smaller – and cooler – as the city welcomes Winter in the Park, the annual holiday ice skating rink mid-November. The opening of the rink coincides with Red Bag Days, a pre-holiday shop local event at 45 participating Park Avenue area merchants.

Shopping locally

Now that I’ve mentioned it twice, I might as well explain Red Bag Days. The event is modeled after a downtown shopping event in a small New England town that resembles Winter Park in many ways, from streetscape to familiar names of shops found in both communities, such as Eileen Fisher and Ten Thousand Villages. During Red Bag Days, shoppers can support local businesses and check off their holiday shopping lists. Special savings are planned but they are being kept under wraps at the moment. Details will be released at soon.

And, as part of Red Bag Days, the Park Avenue merchants will hold their final Sip event of the year. The success of the Sip, Stroll & Celebrate event in September has inspired a new theme: Sip, Stroll & Shop. Attendees will enjoy food and beverage pairings at participating stores (more than 25 have already signed up) and take advantage of the Red Bag Days savings on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Erika Spence is the senior director of marketing and communications at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Visit for more information.