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Chamber director Katie Magozzi, with the help of Santa, reveals Parker at the Jingle Bells gala Thursday. He was a present from the North Pole. (Riham Feshir / Enterprise)

Parker introduced as mascot to lighten up Main Avenue project

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This summer's Main street construction project brings to mind detours, noise and a general state of commotion.

But a Main Street Promotional Committee, meeting weekly since October, has come up with marketing plans to add some merriment to the hullabaloo, while invoking long-term elements of harmony and strength in the community.

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The committee is comprised of business owners, managers and employees, Tyson Doke of Northwoods Bank at the helm.

The team views the project as an avenue of opportunity to generate awareness and interest in Main street promotions, activities and businesses in order to increase foot traffic and stabilize business during construction, he said.

Members studied area communities' initiatives during construction to determine just what captures the imagination, while promoting the concept of revitalization.

Main street guests will be privy to alternative (back door) store entrances, parking locations and other logistics to ensure their experience is convenient.

Parker, a chartreuse four-foot-four fellow in a hard hat, will serve as official construction ambassador.

He is being deployed by the committee to generate awareness of Main street promotions, while putting a positive spin on jackhammers.

He'll be making surprise appearances at businesses, schools and events. His schedule, whereabouts and photos will be available for viewing on Facebook.

Other promotional tactics being considered is a branding strategy, to convey Main boulevard's unique charm.

A "passport promotion" will encourage shoppers to collect stamps from participating businesses and enter a grand prize drawing.

Marketing plans have been developed for utilization not only prior and during construction, but also upon completion of the project.

In order to successfully implement all of the promotional and economic improvement activities in the final marketing plan, a fundraising committee is being assembled," Doke explained.

Monetary support will be sought through sponsorships, donations and additional fundraising activities.

"The committee views the construction and revitalization project as a key opportunity for the local community and businesses to come together to promote a strong, unified and positive Park Rapids that will last throughout the construction and revitalization and beyond," Doke said.

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