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MainStreet of Fremont will once again be hosting its annual Christmas Walk in downtown Fremont, with downtown businesses offering dozens of festive events, entertainment, food and deals throughout the day on Nov. 24.

The earliest events on the schedule begin at 7 a.m., with festivities carrying on into the night.

This year will feature a new twist: a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in the Schweser’s parking lot, featuring a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Clause and a photo opportunity with live reindeer, kicking off evening events like free rides in a horse-drawn carriage from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the southwest corner of sixth street and Main Street.

That day is also Small Business Saturday, where shoppers across the country are encouraged to do their Christmas shopping at local businesses.

“Small Business Saturday and the shop local campaigns are really really important to these downtown businesses,” said Shannon Mullen, executive director of MainStreet of Fremont. “So we wanted to make sure that people were thinking local, shopping local, putting their money back into the community.”

Downtown businesses will be offering a wide array of opportunities to get in the holiday spirit. Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., the May Brothers Building and Milady Coffeehouse will be hosting an artisan Christmas market. MainStreet of Fremont and Keep Fremont Beautiful will be running a free gift wrapping station out of their office at 529 N Main Street.

Several businesses will be offering food and refreshments, alongside discounts and other attractions: Don Peterson & Associates will be serving hot dogs and chips from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Chestnut Market is one of several businesses that will have cider and holiday snacks, along with in-store specials, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fia + Belle will be serving hot cocoa, caramel corn and will have visits from the Grinch from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Buck’s Shoes will have wine and cheese tasting along with in-store specials from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and many more.

Others are featuring live music: The “Happy Players” polka band will be playing outside of Abe Krasne’s Home Furnishings from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and live holiday music will also be playing at Precious Treasures, along with Wine-A-Rita’s and gourmet fudge.

Santa Claus will greet children near Don Peterson & Associates from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., while Mrs. Claus will be at the Fremont Area Art Association, where children can enjoy story time, face painting and holiday crafts from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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The event wraps up at Milady Coffeehouse, where the “Fremonts and Bottle Tops,” an Americana band, will be playing starting at 7:30 p.m.

For a full list of events, discounts and specials, go to http://www.mainstreetfremont.org/ or visit MainStreet of Fremont’s Facebook page.

“It’s just a very festive, family-oriented event,” Mullen said. “We know that we battle a lot of the big box stores for business at this time of the year. This is a really good opportunity for our organization, MainStreet, to be able to showcase the downtown atmosphere. As you can see as you walk up and down the streets, we have brand new wreaths and bows, there’s lights on the tops of the buildings down here.”

The wreaths and bows are a new touch added to downtown Fremont this year, through a donation from the Fremont and Dodge County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Fremont Business Improvement District.

Attendance at the annual event often depends on the weather, Mullen said. Last year, a particularly warm day brought out a big crowd. But this year, Mullen hopes the new decorations and Christmas tree lighting ceremony will help bring people out.

Additionally, most of the events and holiday celebrations are free — from the entertainment to the horse-drawn carriage rides.

“For me, I just love to see people come down and enjoy our downtown atmosphere,” Mullen said. “It’s such a great downtown. It’s doing really well. We have a lot of great retail shops, boutiques, restaurants, so people can take advantage of all the different things and see what other service-based industries we have down here, which is kind of nice too.”

“Any time that we can create a synergy in the downtown area, we want to do so,” she added. “Main Street’s purpose is not just for historic preservation, we want to make sure that there’s business retention downtown.”

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