YOUNGSTERS and the young at heart will be invited to visit local businesses throughout November as Ballarat's first gingerbread mouse trail gets underway.
In a very 2020 kind of way, a friendship developed through Instagram has been the catalyst for the promotion, which aims to give children a fun activity to be involved in, as well as help to promote local businesses.
The initiative has been a big success across the other side of the state, thanks to Phillip Island's Belinda Phillips, and has been picked up through an online friendship Ms Phillips developed with Ballarat chiropractor Stephanie Blyth.
"My five-year-old daughter puts up a small piece on Instagram (#thursdaythinkers) and a famous dancer saw it, and reposted it and Belinda, who owns a dance studio, saw it," Ms Blyth said.
"Belinda invited my daughter to be part of an online production, and she sent her a costume as a thankyou for being involved.
"When I heard she had started this, it was suggested that we could do something like this in Ballarat, so I gave her a list of contacts around town that might be willing to get involved and it's grown from there."
The hunt will feature character Marrina Mouse, who Ms Phillips has created. Marrina Mouse will be on the shopfronts of 20 businesses around Ballarat.
"Belinda has put such a lot of time and effort into this," Ms Blyth said.
"Each of the businesses has a character that will be displayed in windows, we've created a map that people can go around searching for the characters.
"How it will work is we are asking people go around and take a photo of the shop front and upload it to instagram @marrinamousegingerbreadtrail. Every photo uploaded will be an entry into the prize draw where we have a lot of prizes that have been donated by local businesses. It's really nice to have a feel good, positive thing out there at the moment.
"We're hoping to get the message out that it is a fun thing to do with the kids and also great for promoting local businesses."
Ms Phillips said she was grateful for all the businesses that had volunteered.
"Kwik Kopy, I will be forever grateful for their support in sponsoring the event. They have printed all the characters and stickers," Ms Phillips said.
"Stephanie is a kind force of nature, what an amazing human. She is so community spirited and anything is not too much trouble for her.
"She has organised, sorted and been an ambassador to spread the light.
"I hope families can come out and enjoy the city, grab a treat or pop into the local stores just even to say hi to them."