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Smashing pumpkins? Christmas comes early to Mount Pearl's Glacier

While many are gearing up for Halloween, it's Christmas in Mount Pearl.

Arena plays host to 25th annual Christmas show

A difference of 25 years: the first Christmas at the Glacier is seen on the left and this year's version is on the right. (CBC/Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

While many are gearing up for Halloween, it's Christmas in Mount Pearl.

This October marks the silver anniversary of the popular event Christmas at the Glacier, Sandra Flynn's brainchild. 

"Going back 25 years people thought we were crazy," Flynn told CBC News.

"A Christmas show before Halloween? You're nuts!' [But] it obviously works."

The annual craft fair is considered by many to be the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. 1:43

Since 1993, Christmas at the Glacier has put hockey on hold at the Mount Pearl arena. Instead, vendors, gifts and shoppers fill the space.

Back when grunge topped the charts, Flynn spent a lot of time on the telephone trying to convince people to come to the show and sell their stuff. Now, she turns people away.

Organizer Sandra Flynn now calls Victoria, B.C., home, but travels across the country to attend the event every year. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"A unique shopping experience is what stands out," she said.

"Over the past few years, we sort of try and get a lot of unique vendors who have totally handcrafted products and keep the gifty stuff to a minimum."

With leaves still hanging on the trees, Christmas music blares through the sound system of the rink.

The middle of October is the time Flynn wanted, and is one she has kept for a quarter of a century. 

"After 25 years, it's very well established as the kick off to the Christmas season."

It's also a big boost for small businesses, like Aunt Sarah's Chocolate out of Trinity. Owner Sarah Rochacewich runs a retail shop during the tourist season, but shuts down and moves her operation online when September ends.

Aunt Sarah's Chocolate owner Sarah Rochacewich is fairly new to Christmas at the Glacier, but says it opens up her business to a wider audience. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

This show is her third time appearing at Christmas at the Glacier.

"It's really important," she said. "[It] let's us extend our season beyond our retail store. It exposes us to a lot more people in St. John's and the surrouding area that we wouldn't necessarily see during the summer."

While Rochacewich does her best to keep up with the crowds at the other end of the arena, Creative World Inc. out of Clarenville has one of the biggest booths.

Gerald Hunt is one of three vendors who has managed to make it to every single Christmas at the Glacier. 

"This is a very important part of our business," he said.

"We are exposed to St. John's, Mount Pearl and the spin-off from it is amazing."

Creative World Inc. is one of the few businesses that can boast about attending all 25 Christmas at the Glaciers. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Hunt said car loads of customers show up in November and December after seeing them at the event. His secret to being able to survive the 25 years is adaptation.

"We always change our product every year and it keeps the customer interested to see it," he said. 

In an age when online shopping is so easy, it's impressive to see the aisles filled with prospective buyers — a sight that isn't lost on Flynn. 

 "It's amazing that it's still going so strong after 25 years, and it's even bigger and better than ever," she said.