Christmas kickoff on track for Saturday

Hop on board the Polar Express on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, where the destination is downtown Princeton and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

The Polar Express is the theme of the annual Mini-Dazzle Parade, too. Saturday’s parade kicks off at 5:30 p.m. from city hall, heads east to Rum River Drive and winds up at the South Mall where parade winners will be announced at about 5:45 p.m.

Many Princeton retailers will open their businesses Saturday with special discounts, treats and refreshments, said Mary Chapman, coordinator of the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce, the event’s organizer.

“Businesses have committed to being open until 7 p.m.,” Chapman said.

That’s important, she said, because downtown shoppers can then hit their favorite stores for at least an hour after the parade.

Downtown Princeton is set to come alive with activity, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday. It’s a day known nationally as “Shop Local Saturday” and is geared towards supporting our local downtown merchants.

The first event on the day’s activity-filled agenda is the “Paws to Read” program at the Princeton Area Library. From 10-11:30 a.m., library-goers can read with Jerico, a certified therapy dog.

Keeping in line with the Polar Express theme, a model train show will be featured at the Princeton Depot from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Then, at both 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., a boxcar outside the depot will be the site of a special showing of the movie “The Polar Express.” There is limited seating for the movie showings, Chapman warned.

Sleigh rides will be offered between the library and depot between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Back downtown, the South Mall will be alive with activity, locally-owned home businesses like Creative Memories, Partylite, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef will be set up for a day of Christmas selling. The businesses will be set up in the mall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. At 2 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive at the mall. He’ll be there to greet youngsters until 5 p.m. (Then he has to get ready for the parade!) Children can have a picture taken with Santa for $5, or $3 with a donation to the Princeton Area Pantry.

Children can also bring their copies of the book “The Polar Express” to the mall and have their books autographed by Santa. Chili will be served at the mall, too.

Just prior to the kick-off of the parade, Mayor Jeremy Riddle and Mayor-elect Paul Whitcomb will gather at the clock tower on the northeast corner of Rum River Drive and First Street for the reading of a special proclamation. Following the parade, head on back to the South Mall for s’mores.