Downtown Owensboro's 12th annual Holiday Stroll is coming Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m.

But it will be without Jim Zabek, a volunteer coordinator for 10 of the past 11 strolls.

Zabek, who lined up the entertainment each year, died Nov. 21 at 72.

"Jim called about a month ago and said he wouldn't be able to line up the music this year," Debi Ford, owner of Simply Chic Home Accents, said last week. "I know we'll have some music in the stores, but I'm not sure how many stores."

She said, "We were shocked when we heard Jim had died."

Tim Ross, the city's public events director, said this year's Stroll "will be very similar to what we had planned last year. Eight to 10 downtown businesses are participating."

The "Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt" returns for the fifth year with clues, rules and prizes on the @cityofowensboro Instagram page on the day of the Stroll.

The hunt starts at 3 p.m. and people don't have to preregister.

Ross said there will be 10 elves hidden downtown.

The Christmas tree lighting in Smothers Park is scheduled for 5 p.m.

"Last year, we had ice, sleet and rain and canceled the tree lighting," Ross said. "We're hoping for better weather this year."

The Kentucky Youth Chorale and the Daviess County High School jazz band will perform at the tree lighting, he said.

Ford said she expects most participating stores to have refreshments.

The Stroll began back in 2008, when the Executive Inn Rivermont closed and the nation was sinking into the Great Recession.

The We Are Downtown booster group formed that year and created Holiday Stroll to bring people downtown to shop.

The downtown business group folded in 2017 and the city took the program over.

Ford said merchants are talking about taking the Stroll back next year.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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