Get your Christmas lists and your smiles ready -- Santa Claus is coming to Greenwich.
Old St. Nick and his herd of live reindeer will return to the town for the fifth annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival and Santa's Workshop, beginning Friday, Nov. 29.
McArdle's Florist and Garden Center will host the event again this year, turning the Arch Street shop into a winter wonderland of all things festive. Visitors are welcome to peruse McArdle's sale of holiday wares, see a reindeer feeding (every day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and take photos with Santa.
"For the past five years, we have been thrilled to host this incredible event and watch people marvel at the reindeer and meet Santa," McArdle's owner James McArdle said. "Last year, there were over 1,100 photos with Santa and we look forward to even more people coming out to enjoy the experience this year."
The guest of honor will touch down in Greenwich during a parade kick-off on Greenwich Avenue on Friday at 2 p.m. Starting at the First Presbyterian Church on Lafayette Place, Santa and his reindeer, along with town officials, event sponsors and the Greenwich Police and Fire departments, will make their way to McArdle's Florist and Garden Center for a "We're Back Party" with refreshments provided by Eatalian Style.
Families, children and corporate groups who have their photo taken with Santa can enter a raffle to win a Mercedes-Benz pedal car. Two lucky winners will be named on Tuesday, Dec. 24.
"It's wonderful to have an event like this in downtown Greenwich to infuse the community with the holiday spirit and to drive people to our town and our excellent stores and restaurants," First Selectman Peter Tesei said.
But the celebration hardly ends there. A week later, on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, Greenwich will erupt in a flurry of activity as the town hosts its Holiday Stroll on Greenwich Avenue. Professional ice sculptors will show off their skills, musicians and singers will perform holiday-inspired tunes and New York-style horse-drawn carriages will take riders up and down Putnam Avenue. Retailers will get in on the fun as well, offering special sales and activities and the opportunity to write and send letters to Santa. (For a full schedule of events, visit greenwichreindeerfestival.com/holiday-stroll.php.)
"It's a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays and the town and all the great businesses here," said Tammy Ketler, president of TMK Sports & Marketing, LLC and a co-organizer of the event. "It's really exciting to be a part of."
Of course, Santa, along with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Blitzen, will be on hand as well. Just keep in mind that the jolly cavalcade has to be back in the North Pole on Christmas Eve. After all, Santa, just like the Greenwich community, has a lot of holiday joy to spread.