Your Guide to Small Business Saturdays and Holiday Events

Since American Express first launched it in 2010, Small Business Saturday has become a household name, with Main Street organizations and stores encouraging people to keep their money in the local economy.

The weekend after Thanksgiving also serves as the unofficial kickoff to the winter holiday season, with tree lighting and other Christmas-related events. Here is a summary of what is happening in the region.

Before Saturday, however, is Merry Days & Jolly Nights in New London on Friday, with the tree lighting in Parade Plaza at 5pm followed by music and dance performances and a meet-and-greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Stonington Township

Returning this year is what became a major regional attraction when it began last year: the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree at Stonington Town Docks, the brainchild of Lisa Konicki of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce. The tree lighting takes place on Saturday at 4:30 pm and will be lit every night from 4:30 to 9:30 pm until January 15.

From Saturday through December 31st, the Stonington Borough Merchants Association will be holding a Find the Buoy Christmas Scavenger Hunt. To participate, people can pick up a postcard at the Stonington Free Library or other participating locations, have the postcard stamped at all 18 locations, and drop off the postcard by December 31. The list of participating locations is available at stoningtonboroughct.com/find-the-buoy.

The four prizes are $950 gift cards, a week of half-day camping at New England Science & Sailing, a sterling silver charm and necklace, and a membership to the Stonington Historical Society plus four concert tickets. at the La Grua Center.

The Velvet Mill will host Velvet Christmas at the Mill on Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm with local vendors, free photos with Santa, face painting, raffles and live music.

Bali Bungalow is running its Black Friday sale through Sunday, 20% off in store and online with code BLACKFRIDAY20, and Fun and Funky Vintage is running 20% ​​off vintage fabrics and drapes. Through Wednesday, people who buy two or more bottles of beer at the Beer’d Brewing Company can get a $2 discount per beer.

Mystical

In downtown Mystic, Santa arrives in a tugboat at Mystic River Park at 2 pm and visits with the children until 4 pm. The Christmas tree lighting is at 6 pm, followed by the parade of illuminated boats.

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 will offer free shipping on orders over $50 through Monday .

Olde Mistick Village also participates in Small Business Saturday, and Santa will greet the children at the Chapel Meeting House from 12 to 3 pm The Holiday Lights Spectacular also continues.

Niantic

Niantic’s holiday ride returns on Saturday for 19 years. The courtesy trolley runs from 12 to 6 pm and the festive characters will roam throughout the day. Walsh Waffle Wagon, Whisktopia and Short Rib Café food trucks will be at Pro Tek Auto from 3 to 7 pm

At Liberty Green, Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, during this time there will be a DJ and reindeer games, a coloring contest and hot chocolate. The tree lighting will take place here at 5 pm, followed by visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

According to the Niantic Main Street guide, deals include group classes and 50% off gift certificates at Arthur Murray Dance Studio, 20% off purchases at Grace, 15% off purchases at Azalea, 15% off at 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, complimentary gingerbread decorating while supplies last at auctions past to present and a kids’ scavenger hunt at Smith’s Acres.

Kids can also get a prize for finding five of the elf mermaids hidden in shop windows.

Elsewhere in the region

The Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual Christmas Bazaar at the Holiday Inn Norwich from 9am to 2pm with over 70 vendors. Items for sale include home decor, goat’s milk soaps, crochet items, fine art photography, and wooden toys and puzzles.

Groton Inn and Suites is hosting a vendor shopping market from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring Santa photos, kids’ activities, food and more.

Some places to donate toys and more

  • Downtown Mystic ― The Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center is collecting unwrapped toy donations
  • 30 Broadway Ave., Mystic ― Taquerio will hold its first Toys for Tacos toy drive, starting Saturday at noon and running through December 20.
  • 24 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic ― William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty is hosting a toy drive for young children
  • 278 Main St., Niantic ― The East Lyme Police Department will be holding its annual Stuff-a-Cruiser toy drive from 3-7 pm and will be accepting 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 will hold its annual toy drive at the Norwich Walmart from 9 am to 5 pm

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