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Jingle Mingle arrives tonight in Gainesville square
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Santa makes his entrance in downtown Gainesville during last year’s annual Jingle Mingle on the square to usher in the holiday season. The event includes kiddie train rides and free horse-drawn carriage rides with the evening culminating in the lighting of the Main Street Market’s Holiday Chicken.

Jingle Mingle

When: 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19

Where: Gainesville downtown square

Cost: Free

More info: www.gainesville.org

Much like the song “Here Comes Santa Claus,” the jolly old elf is coming to Gainesville when Jingle Mingle returns to town tonight.

Complete with the annual Holiday Chicken lighting, the free event will be from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in the downtown square.

“The lighting of the chicken this year is going to be even bigger and better with a light show,” said Regina Mansfield, the Main Street Gainesville manager.

The chicken is just one aspect of the special Christmas event that rolls around annually, bringing Santa Claus and sweet treats to the city.

Jingle Mingle started over six years ago. However, Mansfield has “started building the event up and added the lighting of the chicken.”

Deb and Don Harkrider created the chicken out of metal several years ago and included it in the Jingle Mingle tradition, Mansfield said.

“We really just started focusing on local shopping, so that our stores downtown would have a great holiday season,” Mansfield said.

All stores on the square will be adorned with lights and festive window displays. The businesses will also extend their hours with specials going on throughout the night.

Sweet treats such as cookies and hot cider or hot cocoa will be served, Mansfield said.

Voices of North Georgia will entertain visitors to Rahab’s Rope while the Believers Band performs inside Main Street Market. A saxophonist and the Enota show choir will perform as well.

For $2, children can catch a ride on a small choo-choo train around the square and see all of the Christmas displays. Then they can visit with Santa Claus, who will arrive at 5 p.m. on the  Gainesville fire truck.

Children also may write their Christmas wish list to Kris Kringle and drop it in a special North Pole mailbox. Kids who have already written their letters may slip them into the mailbox as well.

Parents may have professional photographer Fox Gradin of Celestial Studios take pictures of their children with Santa for $15. She will place them on a CD, Mansfield said.

Or they may snap pictures of their own, according to the city of Gainesville website, www.gainesville.org/jingle-mingle.

Free horse-drawn carriage rides will run from 5-8 p.m. And after a trip around the square, shoppers are encouraged to check out the stores.

“This is just a great way to kick off your holiday season, and I think that we have such a great collection of stores downtown that you could probably get most of your holiday shopping started that evening,” Mansfield said. 

Parking on the square is available or on the two parking decks boasting 2,495 parking spots, Mansfield said.

For more information, visit Facebook and search Downtown Gainesville. 

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