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Village merchants kick off season with open house today

What started 60 years ago as an anniversary celebration for Adelaide’s Florists & Decorators in La Jolla has evolved over time into a Village business district block party “happening” ushering in the holiday season.

Hard economic times notwithstanding, the Holiday Open House will go on again from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today Sunday, with eight businesses in the 7700 and 7800 blocks of Girard Avenue — Adelaide’s, Ascot Shop, Burns Drugs, Geppetto’s, Girard Gourmet, Meanley and Son, Muttropolis and Warwick’s — participating.

Festivities include food and refreshments, store drawings, book signings and demonstrations, strolling musicians and a live performance by the La Jolla Country Day Madrigals choir starting at noon. Adelaide’s will give red roses to ladies. Participating retailers’ storefronts will be marked by green and gold balloons.

“There isn’t a store on this list that isn’t struggling because of the economy,” said Gina Phillips of Adelaide’s. “But we’re still doing this because we want people to understand that we’re here for them. What we’re trying to do is get people up for the holidays. It just becomes warm and fuzzy during a time when things are so uncertain. It’s a real community event. Plus, it’s giving back to the community.”

Phillips, the third-generation owner of the floral and gift store, said her grandmother started the open house for the store’s anniversary after they opened their second store in La Jolla.

“But then it morphed over the years into a Holiday Open House as some of the older businesses around asked to participate, so we opened it up a little more, made it more accessible,” she added. “We decided to have it segue into the holiday. It gets people motivated.”

In recent years, something new has been added to the Holiday Open House: charitable contributions.

“Now every store is giving a percentage of their sales on Nov. 8 to charity,” said Phillips, adding that Adelaide’s charity will be San Diego Hospice Foundation in honor of her father, who died from Alzheimer’s disease.

Other participating businesses and their charities are:

Ascot Shop, La Jolla High Foundation.

Warwick’s, the Spay Neuter Action Project, which will have a van parked outside of Muttropolis at 7755 Girard Ave. with animals available for adoption.

Girard Gourmet, La Jolla Athenaeum Music & Arts Gallery.

Burns Drugs, Scripps Polster Breast Cancer Center.

Meanley’s, Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit raising funds for children’s hospitals.

Geppetto’s, Words Alive Literacy Program, a read-aloud program at preschools and child development centers.