The Short North Arts District held its annual Holiday Hop and Tree Lighting event on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Credit: Michael Lee | Outreach and Engagement Editor

The rain couldn’t wash away the holiday spirit.

Despite the poor weather, the Short North District held its annual Holiday Hop along with a tree-lighting event in Poplar Park on Saturday.

On the first Saturday of each month, the Short North holds Gallery Hop, where visitors can see new gallery exhibitions, street performers, special events, as well as eat and drink throughout the district.

But in December, the Short North District gets festive. It not only held a Holiday Hop Pop-Up Shop last weekend, but some art galleries in the Short North, such as Studios on High, provide slightly different experiences than they usually do during a normal Gallery Hop.

Nancy Nearing, a polymer clay artist who makes art for Studios on High, said normally during Gallery Hop the studio has extra people there to answer visitor questions about the art.

Holiday Hop also includes a special art show called “The Art of Gifting,” where the studio features smaller, more accessible works created by the artists that visitors can purchase as gifts.

“We have some lovely paintings this month by an artist who usually does precious metal jewelry,” Nearing said. “It’s a very special show. It’s exciting to see the artists working outside of their normal realm, and it’s exciting to see the smaller-format pieces.”

Nearing said whenever she works on a Holiday or Gallery Hop, she enjoys the influx of people who are not necessarily interested in buying a lot of art, but come to the galleries to learn about the works and see what is going on.

“It’s really lovely to interact with people in Columbus who are interested in seeing what we do,” Nearing said. “People are always cheerful during Hop, and it’s just fun to be around that many happy people, and it’s fun to be able to share some of the things I love about the art here.”

At 6 p.m., under canopy tents keeping the rain and wind away at Poplar Park, the district held its tree-lighting ceremony.

The ceremony, hosted by renowned local drag queen Nina West and NBC4 anchor Monica Day, included a performance by the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, which sang songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, said the main purpose of having both the Holiday Hop and the tree-lighting ceremony is to get people down to the Short North to support local businesses.

“We have so many small businesses and in particular small retailers, and the holidays are a big time for them so we always like to make a big deal,” Pandora said.

Pandora said despite the weather earlier that night, the Holiday Hop was still able to “make a big deal” of the small businesses and retailers, and provide a great experience for those who visited the district.

“I think people love enjoying time with friends and family and enjoying the holidays in the Short North, particularly tonight,” she said.

As the Christmas tree was lighted, the weather began to let up, and people gathered around Poplar Park taking photos and celebrating the beginning of the holiday season.