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Jingle Mingle, Santa kick off Christmas downtown
Donations made to agencies
The Believers Concert Band performs Christmas carols Thursday inside of Main Street Market during downtown Gainesville’s official opening of the holiday season during the annual Jingle Mingle event.

The possibility of dreary weather didn’t damper the Christmas spirit that filled Gainesville’s downtown square Thursday evening at this year’s annual Jingle Mingle.

Visitors wandered through downtown shops and restaurants to partake in children’s activities, food and drink samples and special discounts the merchants offered to those wanting to get started on their holiday shopping.

The event, put on each year by Main Street Gainesville and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, gives visitors the opportunity to celebrate the square’s festive decorations and the lighting of the Christmas Chicken on top of Main Street Market, Gainesville’s unofficial start to the holiday season.

In addition to shopping and dining, the Believers Concert Band from Gainesville First United Methodist Church and musician Brian Ulrich performed, along with carolers who surprised some visitors with their Christmas tunes.

“I guess I think of caroling as kind of a long-lost tradition, like something you only see in the movies,” said Denise Mallberry, who drove from Forsyth County to experience the lights with her husband and son, Connor. “This is really great and something you don’t get to see all the time.”

But one of the highlights of the night was an appearance by Santa Claus to talk with children and get their pictures taken together at Mingle with Kringle.

“I get happy when I see Santa because it means Christmas is going to be soon,” said 9-year-old Lydya Chabonski, who saw the jolly old elf for the first time this season on the square. “I told him I wanted an iPod so I can listen to my music.”

In the spirit of giving, visitors were also able to make donations at select merchants to benefit Meals on Wheels and LifeLine Mission.

Children will have the opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa as Mingle with Kringle continues from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 at Gainesville’s Main Street Market, 118 Main St.

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