Since its launch by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has become a household name, with Main Street organizations and businesses encouraging people to keep their money in the local economy.
The weekend after Thanksgiving also serves as the unofficial kick-off to the winter holiday season with tree lighting and other holiday-themed events. Here’s a summary of what’s happening in the region.
Before Saturday, however, there is Merry Days & Jolly Nights in New London on Friday, with the Parade Plaza tree lighting at 5pm, followed by music and dance performances and a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
This year returns what became a major regional attraction when it started last year: the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree in Stonington Town Docks, the brainchild of Lisa Konicki of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce. The tree lighting takes place at 4:30pm on Saturdays and will be lit every night from 4:30pm to 9:30pm until January 15th.
From Saturday to December 31st, the Stonington Borough Merchants Association is hosting a Find the Buoy Holiday Scavenger Hunt. To enter, people can pick up a postcard at the Stonington Free Library or other participating locations, have the postcard stamped at all 18 locations, and return the postcard by December 31st. The list of participating locations is available at stoningtonboroughct.com/find-the-buoy.
The four prizes are $950 gift cards, a week-long half-day camp at New England Science & Sailing, a sterling silver buoy pendant and necklace, and membership in the Stonington Historical Society, and four tickets to a concert at the La Grua Center.
The Velvet Mill hosts a Velvet Christmas at the mill on Saturday from 10am to 6pm featuring local vendors, free Santa pictures, face painting, raffles and live music.
Bali Bungalow is running its Black Friday sale through Sunday, with 20% off in store and online with code BLACKFRIDAY20, and Fun and Funky Vintage is offering 20% off vintage fabrics and curtains. Through Wednesday, people who purchase two or more bottles of beer from Beer’d Brewing Company can receive a $2 off per beer.
In downtown Mystic, Santa arrives at Mystic River Park by tugboat at 2:00 p.m. and visits with children until 4:00 p.m. The Christmas Tree Lighting takes place at 6:00 p.m., followed by the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade.
Rochelle’s Boutiques is offering 20% off in store and online with code SAVE20, online orders at Peppergrass & Tulip are 20% off through Monday, and Mystic Knotwork is offering free shipping on orders over $50 through Monday.
Olde Mistick Village is also participating in Small Business Saturday and Santa will greet the children at the Chapel Meeting House from 12pm to 3pm. The Holiday Lights Spectacular is also underway.
The Niantic Holiday Stroll returns for the 19th time on Saturday. The free trolley runs from 12pm to 6pm, and holiday characters roam throughout the day. The Walsh Waffle Wagon, Whisktopia and Short Rib Café food trucks will be at Pro Tek Auto from 3pm to 7pm
At Liberty Green – Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue – there will be a DJ and reindeer games, a painting contest and hot chocolate during this time. The tree lighting takes place here at 5pm, followed by visits to Santa and Mrs Claus.
According to Niantic Main Street’s Guide, the deals include group classes and 50% off gift cards at Arthur Murray Dance Studio, 20% off purchases from Grace, 15% off purchases from Azalea, 15% off Grab & Go and retail items at La Belle Aurore , 20% off an item at Bayberries, 15% off a purchase of $25 or more at Tumbleweeds and more.
There will also be s’mores at Berkshire Hathaway and Niantic Yoga, free decorating of gingerbread cookies while supplies last at Past to Present Auctions and a children’s scavenger hunt at Smith’s Acres.
Children can also win a prize if they find five of the mermaid elves hidden in shop windows.
Elsewhere in the region
The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce holds its annual Bank Holiday Bazaar at the Holiday Inn Norwich from 9am to 2pm featuring more than 70 vendors. Items for sale include home accessories, goat milk soaps, crocheted items, fine art photography, and wooden toys and puzzles.
The Groton Inn and Suites is hosting a grocery store from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm featuring Christmas photos, children’s activities, food and more.
Some places where you can donate toys and more
- Downtown Mystic – The Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center collects donations of bulky toys
- 30 Broadway Ave., Mystic – Taquerio is hosting its first Toys for Tacos toy sale, starting Saturday noon and running through December 20th
- 24 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic ― William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty is hosting a Toys for Tots promotion
- 278 Main St., Niantic ― East Lyme Police Department hosts its annual Stuff-a-Cruiser Toy Drive from 3pm to 7pm, collecting new, unwrapped toys and gifts for Care & Share of East Lyme
- 334 Main St., Niantic ― LJ Shoreline Realty is hosting a pet food drive for the Connecticut Humane Society
- 220 Salem Turnpike, Norwich – The Mohegan Fire Company hosts their annual toy ride at the Norwich Walmart from 9am to 5pm