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Mingle with Kringle brings holiday cheer to downtown square
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Elizabeth, 8, and Benjamin Conti, 5, speak with Santa during Mingle with Kringle Saturday morning at Main Street Market in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith

At age 11, Malaya Brown is familiar with the man in the big red suit. Unfortunately, her younger siblings were not as willing to have their picture taken with Santa Claus.

Inside the Main Street Market on the historic Gainesville square, Saturday’s Mingle with Kringle event welcomed children of all ages and all temperaments to spend a little time with Santa.

“He’s funny,” Malaya said, adding that he’s also pretty good about delivering on those Christmas lists.

Ashley Lemley of Sautee has been coming to Mingle with Kringle the last five years because of the entire experience, including photographer Fox Gradin of Celestial Studios who took the photos.

“She’s an awesome photographer and the Santa is just really, really great,” Lemley said.

Her family looks forward to the event every year, and each time she has another child it’s a special moment, not just a picture but a memory.

“It’s just more personal, they take more time and this Santa really talks to the kids and makes them feel comfortable,” Lemley said.

For grandmother Darnelle Lund from Virginia, being there to see Joanne and Ryan visiting with Santa makes the Christmas time she spends with them last longer.

“It’s just something that I don’t get a chance to do often anymore,” Lund said. “These are the two littlest ones in my family so I enjoy it.”

Knowing that not every child enjoys seeing Santa for the first time, Lund wanted to be there for Joanne.

“(Santa)’s perfect, and he’s so good with the kids, like getting Ryan to smile,” Lund said of her grandson’s normally serious expression.

That relaxed atmosphere is what prompted Joey Bruce of Gainesville to bring his 2-year-old daughter, Lyla.

“It’s more of a hometown feel, less of the big mall thing. It’s not as intimidating for her,” Bruce said.

Each child enjoys a small chat with the Santa, a photo, and leaves with a candy cane in their hand and a smile on their face.

For those who haven’t been able to attend, Santa will again be on hand for Mingle with Kringle from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 19, before he returns to the North Pole.

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