SEBRING - When downtown Sebring holds what is possibly its first organized Black Friday event on Nov. 29, shoppers probably won't find a 60-inch television for $50 or a new computer for $100.
But Lora Todd, a downtown business owner and owner of Plan B Promotions, says focusing on such bargains offered by box stores and chains isn't what downtown is about.
"If you want some unique gifts, you should shop downtown," Todd said. "You can't find custom art work at Wal-Mart."
Black Friday in downtown Sebring will be part of a newly created Heartland Holiday Festival - the first of several new or expanded festivals over the next year - that will include events from Nov. 29 to Dec. 23 that will include a Circle tree lighting ceremony, an arrival by Santa, the Carousel of Lights, a Christmas parade and Cookie Fest.
Casey Wohl, owner of Gray Dog Communications, said the holiday festival is expanded over what has occurred during previous years.
Sebring always has the Carousel of Lights, but "people come one time and see it and there's not another reason to bring them downtown again (for holiday events)," she said. "A lot of people around the holidays are looking for things to do."
Wohl and Todd, who are working together as Push Event Productions, are also planning five other new or expanded festivals during the upcoming year.
Most of impetus for new events seems to be in Sebring, however. Lake Placid and Avon Park have no new events planned.
In Avon Park, the Blueberry Festival, a relatively new event, will continue in April, according to the Avon Park Chamber of Commerce.
In Sebring, besides Black Friday downtown, Santa will arrive Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. and the Circle lighting ceremony will be at 6 p.m.
Other events during the multi-week holiday festival will include the Christmas Parade on Dec. 6, "Shop, Wrap and Roll" on Dec. 13 with live music and late night shopping from 5 to 8 p.m., Cookie Fest at the Sebring Civic Center from Dec. 11 to Dec. 14 and the Holiday Gift Mart at the Sebring Civic Center on Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In February, the annual Roaring 20s Festival will be expanded to two days and will likely include a 1920s style Bootlegger's Ball and music from the era.
One of the more successful events of this year, the Girls Gone Out event, held around Mother's Day, will be expanded to two days and include wine tastings, cooking seminars, music, a Champagne brunch and a wine down party.
Wohl said more than 500 people attended last year's event.
The Red, White and Blues Festival will expand the customary Fourth of July event to two days and will include live blues and bluegrass music, food vendors and things to do for children.
An armadillo festival is scheduled for August or September.
Not everything has been finalized, Todd said.
"There are so many things we're still trying to finalize," she added.