By Emily Blackmarr

Both Hattiesburg and Laurel are hoping to give holiday shopping a boost by rail.

The City Beautiful and the Hub City both got together Saturday to promote both cities’ local businesses.

Locals from Hattiesburg got the chance to support their neighbors and Laurel shoppers got to do the same.

Nadine Armstrong, Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation Department program coordinator, said she was pleased with what she saw Saturday, but even more excited about what the promotion could turn into down the tracks.

“Everybody’s been really appreciative and very chill and patient and I’ve told them they’re my guinea pigs [Saturday],” Armstrong said. “So, I’m just glad that it went smooth and it’s going smooth.”

Participants got the chance to explore downtown Laurel when they departed from Hattiesburg this morning.

“We got to Laurel, and everybody kind of did their own thing,” Armstrong said. “They went shopping, they ate, had a good time, got on the train and came back.”

The event even brought out-of-towners to explore the two cities.

Caitlen Smith, a first-time visitor to Laurel, said it was a great way to kick off the holiday season.

“Laurel was decorated. Christmas music everywhere, lights everywhere. Just beautiful,” Smith said. “It really got you in the Christmas spirit.”

Armstrong said the event will happen again next year.

“The thing I learned [Saturday] is that maybe we base it around events, so we might not do both trips like at Laurel and Hattiesburg trip at the same time,” Armstrong said. “We’ll base it around if Laurel has a specific event, we’ll bring people to Laurel, and if we’re doing something, we’ll try to get Laurel people to come to us.”

The event will continue throughout Saturday night, this time letting people stay in Hattiesburg and returning to Laurel Sunday afternoon.