Local businesses hope free sleigh rides will draw more shoppersSubmitted: 11/30/2013
Story By Lauren Stephenson

EAGLE RIVER - Small businesses in Eagle River hope free sleigh rides will draw more shoppers.

Saturday kicked off the 5th year of free sleigh rides around the downtown area.

The Eagle River Business Association sponsors the rides.

Small businesses believe the free rides down Eagle River's main street will make visitors more aware of local businesses.

"We thought that it would be a good idea to get people downtown to see what businesses we do have downtown. Even if they don't shop on the day that they come down for the sleigh rides, you know they can still see what businesses we have and what a great little town we have here in Eagle River," says Eagle River Business Association president Gail Newitt.

Hundreds of people come out each year to take a scenic ride around town.

The Christmas season is the second biggest shopping season for downtown Eagle River.

Businesses depend on it to carry them through the winter.

"It definitely brings people [to] downtown Eagle River. And during the Christmas season it really helps. You know, we've got to draw as many people as we can down here. There's a lot of good shopping down in this little town. You might not find everything you want, but you certainly can find a lot of things," adds Newitt.

You can get a free sleigh ride every Saturday in December from 11am to 2pm.

Just stop by the Eagle River Historical Society Museum on Railroad Street.

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

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"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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The Natural Resources board approved putting about 1,400 acres up for sale in 2014.

Another 5,700 acres went up for sale this past February.

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