CHANDLER — There’s no better place to support small businesses than the small towns across East Texas. This year for Small Business Saturday, some of those cities took novel approaches to getting shoppers to drive just a few minutes out of their way.

From a scavenger-hunt- type list to cash giveaways in Lindale to ornament decorations and snowfall in Edom, small towns made the drive out worth it.

This year, Chandler hosted a Christmas parade for the first time in decades, followed by an exclusive breakfast and lunch event with Santa Claus himself.

Chandler Library and Museum Director Nancy Berthols said the breakfast with Santa has been a tradition for nearly two decades, but the parade was added this year to convince shoppers to take a trip out to Chandler.

More than two dozen young children attended the breakfast, their faces lighting up as they made their way into Chandler Country Store’s adjacent eatery, Wade’s Place.

“The little ones are just in awe of him,” Berthols said.

During breakfast, Santa read the children a story about how he found a new suit, told them facts about Above,the North Pole and its inhabitants, and sang an updated version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to reflect the fact that only female reindeer have antlers in winter.

Berthols said she hoped families would head over to the museum and visitors center after shopping to see everything Chandler has to offer.

The National Retail Federation estimates more than 165 million Americans will shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which covers Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sales.

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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