GAINESVILLE - Gainesville children came to see Santa arrive in downtown Gainesville while their thrifty parents came looking for bargains during the annual 'Jingle Mingle' on the Square Thursday afternoon.
The Voices of North Georgia was one of the music groups that helped get everyone into the spirit. Santa arrived on a fire engine and held court on the square.
Mary Beth Alexander brought her sons, three year old Cash, and one year Davis, to meet Saint Nick. They were first in line and it was the first time for little Davis.
Mom said Christmas is on a budget this year.
"We're thrifty," she said. "We'll be looking for sales, we have a budget and we save all through the year."
Children also had pictures taken with Santa and the young and 'young at heart' rode the Kiddie Train from Dahlonega.
There was a kid's candy station at Cozy Corner and holiday surprises throughout the evening, and since Gainesville is the Poultry Capitol of the World it was only fitting to hold the Lighting of the Great Chicken above Main Street Market at 7:00 pm. Jingle Mingle also served as the monthly Business After Hours event for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Merchants all around the square opened their doors and invited the shoppers inside, enticing them with discounts and treats. Linda Orenstein at Gem Jewelry said 'Jingle Mingle' is held to remind shoppers downtown has a lot to offer; that's especially important in this year of economic uncertainty.
"People have been buying what they absolutely have to," she said. "Life goes on, however, and we hope they will decide to go out and spend money."
The National Retail Federation predicts seasonal sales to increase four percent this year.