Moonlight Madness was one of the best on record, downtown merchants said of the annual Christmas promotion that's been a tradition for four decades.

Lines snaked out doors last Thursday night and the huge crowds wore happy retailers out, they said.

At a gift shop, two separate check-out line extended to the back of the store with customers holding arm loads of Christmas gifts.

One business owner didn't leave the store until 10:30, 30 minutes after closing time because shoppers lingered.

More merchant participation is credited with the success, retailers said.

Dawn Lea Chalmers said Moonlight Madness was the best day in the 18-year history of Kademi.

"We had a great day. Our best sellers were the Ronaldo bracelets and the Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments," she said, noting that people were looking for deals.

Even away from downtown, one participating merchant who was back in the promotion for the first time in years reported record sales.

Linda Griffis at Magnolias and Sassafras downtown said they had a bigger turnout than last year due to the store's new location.

"We were able to have more merchandise this year because we have a bigger store. So, we stayed really busy," said Griffis.

"We sold out of Spoonfudge," she said. "The Red Leaf Pottery, Delta candles, hot chocolate and apple cider were also big hits."

Griffis also said the store saw some new customers as well as some of their regular customers at Moonlight Madness.

She said the reason Moonlight Madness continues to be a success is because it is a Philadelphia tradition.

"I remember going to Moonlight Madness when I was a little girl and it's something that other people remember doing as well. It's that tradition that keeps it going," said Griffis.

Steve Wilkerson, owner of Steve's on the Square, attributes the success to businesses doing more this year.

"We've had some new businesses to open and the variety of business is better. All this really helps," he said.

Wilkerson said his Moonlight Madness sales were about a third more than last year.

"We had a crowd! I think it was about 64 people at the door when we opened," he said.

Moonlight Madness was started in the early 1970s by what was then the Downtown Merchants Association.