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Small Business Saturday, an annual event meant as an alternative to the big-ticket scramble of Black Friday where smaller local retailers and shops invite invite patrons to get a little early holiday shopping done, will have a special guest this year in Madison.
For the first time, Santa Claus himself will take part in the event on Nov. 30, arriving in his sleigh to add an extra degree of holiday cheer, turning the day into an even bigger holiday extravaganza.
Madison Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eileen Banisch said that Santa’s inclusion is a matter of both timing as well as spirit. Santa has traditionally made his appearance in Madison on the first Sunday of December, which this year, falls the day after Small Business Saturday.
Combining Santa’s visit with the other holiday celebrations and shopping opportunities just made too much sense this year, according to Banisch.
“People will be downtown shopping anyway, it’ll be a nice family event. It just adds more excitement and more activities for people,” she said.
In Madison, Small Business Saturday always includes a variety of festive activities sponsored by local businesses and the town. This year, Banisch said those will include Christmas caroling, free hay rides complimentary of Madison Earth Care, an opportunity to write letters to Santa sponsored by R.J. Julia Booksellers, and cookie decorating with the Madison Newcomers Club among many others.
It will also be one of the first opportunities for residents to see downtown fully decorated for the holiday season, Banisch said, with Christmas trees along the median of Boston Post Road, lit-up wreaths on the lamp-posts, and various colorful and fun holiday items on the store-fronts which have been slowly going up over the past couple weeks.
Santa’s part will include a dramatic early entrance on a horse-drawn wagon, where he will then take time for one-on-one picture and lap-sitting opportunities with local children—something that Banisch said is always a nice experience, though sometimes a little overwhelming for very young Santa fans.
“We get at least two criers every year,” she laughed.
Santa will also be accompanied by an elf and tin man this year, Banisch said, and afterward will mingle and meander around downtown, visiting with residents and wandering in and out of the stores.
Banisch said that it is likely that Madison will combine Santa’s visit with Small Business Saturday events in future years, particularly if this year is a success.
While Santa has been coming to Madison for more than 40 years, Small Business Saturday is only in its 10th year. Banisch said that prioritizing local businesses in town, especially around the holidays, is always a wonderful opportunity for residents to meet, share holiday spirit, and shop for the kind of unique gifts that can’t be found at big box stores.
“If you go into our stores, you’re not going to find what you’re finding in Walmart, for instance. You’re going to find unique gifts at different price points. It’s kind of a way to support the small brick-and-mortar businesses that are there 12 months a year,” said Banisch.
Santa’s sleigh will arrive downtown at 11 a.m. sharp on Nov. 30, Banisch said.
Jesse Williams covers Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email at .