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(Photo by Dale Smith). Adele Aletti, owner of Gone Bonkers, 314 Flagler Ave., wraps festive garland around the handrails of her shop, as she readies for Light up Flagler on Friday and NSB Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Editor's note: The following story was submitted by contributing writer Dale Smith:
NEW SMYRNA BEACH – When Adele Aletti made the decision to move to New Smyrna Beach in 1988 to open a store on Flagler Avenue, she said she thought she had gone bonkers.
“Really, I did,” she said Monday, remembering having second thoughts of “Oh, what have I done?”
But once the realization set in that she was now here to stay it wasn’t difficult for her to come up with a name for her store. Gone Bonkers, 314 Flagler Ave., is now celebrating its 22nd year in business and has been a destination for shoppers because of the eclectic style of clothing and accessories that’s offered.
Aletti characterizes the women’s clothes she carries as funky, casual, comfortable and whimsical.
“You can take your basic clothing and come in here and find accessories that will give you a whole new look,” she said. “Shoppers know they’ll always find something different. Very few items are the same.”
Aletti said Flagler Avenue merchants strive to carry products unique and far different from what is typically found in shopping malls. “We take pride in that,” she said. “It’s what brings customers back. But we all have to work hard to achieve that goal.”
Aletti said this shopping season has been a lot better than last year’s when the poor economy kept shoppers at bay.
NSBNEWS.net photo by Henry Frederick.
“The economy is loosening up People are finally beginning to feel confident again.” -- Adele Aletti
“The economy is loosening up,” she said. “People are finally beginning to feel confident again.”
Through her leadership, Flagler Avenue is a busy, thriving beachside shopping avenue.
Just one year after she moved to New Smyrna Beach in 1988, Aletti organized what is today known as the Merchants of Flagler Avenue for the purpose of promoting the many unique shops.
Today there are approximately 70 members in the association. But when it came time for merchants to promote and decorate for the Christmas holiday back then, well, Aletti said there wasn’t much to cheer about.
So she organized the first Christmas lighting event on the avenue in hopes of creating a new and festive shopping experience for years to come. Today, it’s known as Light Up Flagler and Friday is the day when the avenue comes alive with lights, music, and other entertainment.
Here's a rundown of Flagler Avenue holiday activities:
Light Up Flagler begins at 5:30 p.m. with the grand lighting of the avenue at 6 p.m.
Many of the merchants will have an open house, serving refreshments and most will be decorated for the season.
Merchants will be competing for the best window display and best building. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. at the gazebo.
The Dream-A-Wish Foundation will be at the corner of Flagler Avenue and Cooper Street with Santa, his helpers and his big bright red sleigh.
Live entertainment by school groups, choirs, strolling carolers and light displays will provide just the right holiday atmosphere. Strolling the avenue will be the Marine Discovery Center carolers and Friends of the Little Theatre of New Smyrna Beach.
The annual Christmas parade will be held 4 p.m. Saturday. The parade route begins on Flagler Avenue and will cross over the North Causeway Bridge and on to Canal Street.
The 23rd annual boat parade, presented by the Anglers’ Yacht Club, begins at 6 p.m. Prizes will be given in five categories, including best overall boat. That winner will receive $500 from the yacht club. Four other prizes worth $250 each will be awarded to best sailboat (from Edward Jones), best musical boat (from Bert Daniel Insurance), best boat over 24-feet (from Merk’s Bar and Grill), and best boat under 24-feet (from The Grille at Riverview, The Riverview Hotel, and The Spa at Riverview).
Boats will float from Edgewater, past Riverside Park to the Riverview Hotel and back to Riverside Park where judging will take place.
NSBNEWS.net videos by Sera Frederick. Several thousand people lined the streets to watch the 2009 NSB Christmas Parade led by Mayor Adam Barringer who was the grand marshall.
About the contributing writer:
Dale Smith is a resident of New Smyrna Beach, who has reported on local news in Volusia County since October 2009. His writing background includes a mix of journalism and public relations in several community newspapers and a p.r. firm in northern Virginia. He attended Barton Academy in Barton, Vt., and the Cambridge (Mass.) School of Broadcasting for radio & TV broadcasting.