Kids can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus when they visit Mandan the Saturday after Thanksgiving, plus sip a cup of hot cocoa, take home a toy, listen to carolers and tag along with their parents to get in some holiday shopping.
Starting at Hardee's, the Clauses will ride into town on a horse-drawn wagon around 10:30 a.m. and continue down Main Street for their annual arrival in Mandan.
Children can visit with them once they stop at the Morton Mandan Public Library.
“Either they are screaming and crying and don’t want anything to do with him, or they’re in awe or wonder and loving it,” said Kris Haug, administrative assistant with the Mandan Progress Organization, which is running the event.
She said families should pick up a free ticket at the library with a time to visit Santa to avoid a rush of people swarming the door. Tickets will be available around 10 a.m., and families should come with their own phones or cameras to take photos.
Kids will receive a goody bag filled with snacks. Nearby at the Beanery -- the smaller building next to the depot -- they will find Santa's workshop and can pick up a toy courtesy of the Toys for Tots program. There, they also can roast marshmallows, munch on a hot dog, and sip cocoa or apple cider.
Attendance varies year to year, Haug said, but organizers put together 300 goody bags and often hand them all out.
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Meanwhile, downtown and elsewhere in Mandan, numerous stores are holding specials for Small Business Saturday. The day follows Black Friday and is meant to encourage people to shop local.
At one participating store, Hirsch Florist, the holiday season is already well underway, with people eager to bring home poinsettias, floral centerpieces and tree ornaments.
Designer Kaylee Welch said it’s important, in a world where it’s easy to place an order with a few clicks of a button, to remember that small businesses like the flower shop are there.
“We should try to support each other,” she said.
A lot of customers choose to order flowers online. Welch encourages people to visit the website of the florist they’re looking to buy from and place an order there, rather than go through a third party website that essentially dispatches orders out to local shops across the country and charges extra fees.
People who come in to Hirsch in person on Small Business Saturday can fill up on coffee and cookies.
More than 30 Mandan businesses are signed up to participate in Mandan’s “Shop Hop” event that day, said Ellen Huber, business development and communications director for the city.
People who want to take part can pick up a free passport at the library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or find one online at www.mandanprogress.org or www.cityofmandan.com/thingstodo. They should take the passport around with them to five businesses and follow the instructions -- organizers say to bring a smartphone -- and turn it in at Bennigan’s by 3 p.m. They will be entered into a drawing to win $200 or $500 in Mandan Bucks, which are gift certificates good at participating Mandan businesses.
Saturday night also marks the first day of the lights display at Dykshoorn Park. Sixty-five pieces -- everything from a bison to a Christmas tree to a riverboat -- will be lit up each night through the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6.
Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or email@example.com.