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Gainesville ready to start the Christmas season with Jingle Mingle
Downtown to ring in holiday with annual Jingle Mingle
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“Polly” waits as carriage driver Diane Teaver loads up riders at Jingle Mingle on the downtown square last November. The rides were free but Polly and Teaver work weddings and other occasions through Carriage Deluxe Inc.

Jingle Mingle

When: 5-8 p.m. Nov. 20

Where: Downtown Gainesville square

Cost: Free

More info: www.facebook.com/Historic.Downtown.Gainesville

As the holiday season creeps closer, Gainesville’s downtown merchants plan to kicking off this year’s festivities with the annual Jingle Mingle event.

Ushering in the holiday season from 5-8 p.m. Nov. 20 will be the jolly old elf, Santa Claus. He will take his seat on the square to accept letters, pose for pictures and hear Christmas wishes from the younger crowd.

Kiddie train rides and free carriage rides provided by Moore’s Wealth Management will entertain old and young alike. Adults may also marvel at the beautifully lit trees adorning the square.

The most anticipated lighting of the night is Main Street Market’s Holiday Chicken, which sits atop the building. The large chicken has become an annual tradition for the holiday season.

This year, Deb and Don Harkrider have prepared a sound and light show to accompany the chicken’s lighting.

“The stores are really going all out that night,” said Regina Mansfield,  manager of Main Street Gainesville, which is organizing the event.

Stores on the square also will extend their hours, allowing shoppers extra time to find and purchase Christmas gifts.

Besides stocking up for the season, stores contribute to the holiday atmosphere. Every year, they decorate the inside and outside of their stores. Some even book live entertainment.

In addition to the carolers performing outside, the Voices of North Georgia will sing at Rahab’s Rope, the Believers Band will perform at Main Street Market and Brian Ulrich will play saxophone at Frames You-Nique.

Ulrich has been performing at the store for the past four years, Frames You-Nique owner Don Griffin said.

“It’s kind of like a downtown open house, where we invite people to come in and if they had forgotten about us, then remember us again,” said Griffin, who plans to make his store as festive as possible, including putting up a Christmas tree inside the shop and decorating the windows.

Many stores will have special discounts and refreshments, too.

Mansfield noted that shopping options on the square are different from other, larger options.

“We like to encourage people to shop downtown and get your unique items downtown that you wouldn’t be able to find at a large chain,” she said.

Mansfield encourages everyone to attend, even if it is only to enjoy the decorations.

“It’s just nice to come downtown and look at all the pretty decorations in all the stores because they go all out,” she said.

For those who will not be able to see Santa at the Jingle Mingle, he will return for the annual Mingle with Kringle event at Main Street Market.

Santa will be available for pictures from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 1, 8, 15, and 22. Professional pictures also will available for $15.

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