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Jingle Mingle ushers in holiday season
Crowd cheers lighting of big chicken atop Main Street Market
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The lighting of the chicken during the annual Jingle Mingle in downtown Gainesville, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

By Kayla Elder

The merriment of Christmas was aglow Thursday in downtown Gainesville as young and old gathered in the square for Jingle Mingle.

The Gainesville fire truck siren could be heard for blocks as Santa, Mrs. Claus and their jolly elves rode down Main Street. The event began with the ladder truck lowering the Clauses to join the crowd for photos in a big red and green chair.

“It is amazing and this is bigger than I even imagined,” Main Street Gainesville Manager Kristen Howard said. 

Families also stood in line for horse and carriage rides, as well as kiddie train rides around the square. 

“The letters to Santa have been a big hit, they are really excited about the chicken and people love walking around to see all the stores’ decorations,” Howard said.

More than 1,000 people showed up.

Her third time at Jingle Mingle, Tiffani Hendrickson of Gainesville said it is a great tradition for her family.

“I love to get ice cream and see Santa,” said Addykate Hendricks, 7. “For Christmas I want a dog.”

Ashley Alwing of Flowery Branch visited the event for the second year in a row. 

“We are getting ready for the holidays,” Alwing said. “We are very thankful for this opportunity to bring everyone out.”

With garland wrapped around each light pole, storefronts were decorated for the season with snowflakes, wreaths and Christmas trees. Some stores even set out Christmas cookies for customers.

Upsy Daisy Boutique Owner Dawn Parks said this is the shop’s third year participating.

“I love seeing all the people come in,” Parks said. “It is joyous to us and fun.”

Involved in the event since the beginning, Rahab’s Rope CFO David Moore shared similar sentiments.

“This is something that brings people to the square and brings them together,” Moore said. “This is a time we can think about families and children, which is nice.”

Ushering in guests from the cold, Rahab’s Rope and Main Street Market featured Voices of North Georgia Chorus and The Believer’s Band, respectively. 

Live music from the University of North Georgia’s Hawkapellas also filled the streets, kicking off the ceremony of lighting the 20-foot chicken atop Main Street Market.

Side by side with children sitting on shoulders, the community crowded the streets of downtown to see the new chicken light up for the first time.

The city partnered with Lanier Tech, and students worked to create the “new and improved” chicken.

“We were so proud to have this opportunity. We continue to be the fabric of this community with projects like this,” said Tim McDonald, executive Vice President of Lanier Tech.

After an exciting light show, the giant chicken was lit and the crowd erupted in applause.