MANKATO — A holiday event that started as a way for Mom and Pop’s to close out their season has quickly turned into a collaboration between Old Town Mankato businesses to spread Christmas cheer and support the community.
Dozens of Mankato residents braved the chilly temperatures Saturday to partake in last minute Christmas shopping, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, listen to carolers and of course, visit Santa Claus.
But what is now known as Holiday in Old Town started out in Mom and Pop’s backyard.
Casey Neitzel, owner of Mom and Pop’s and treasurer of the Old Town Association, said the business first started bringing reindeer to their shop to close out its season a few years ago.
The Old Town Association started hosting the event in 2021.
“It includes everybody in the association and businesses that wanted to participate. They kind of threw their hats in the ring and grew it into this beautiful event,” Neitzel said.
Neitzel said getting other Old Town businesses involved came naturally.
“We’re really active in the association and the community, so it just was natural that everybody else who was as well and everybody who wanted to participate was encouraged,” she said.
Community members who visited Saturday’s event could experience a little bit of holiday magic along each of Old Town’s shops.
Heather Clark-Esser, of Mankato, said walkable events like Holiday in Old Town help make the city unique, adding that her family enjoyed a little bit of everything.
“The fact that they’re offering a winter activity that’s fun and free for the family is wonderful. We decided to come down. We wanted to watch Elsa sing and then we visited Mrs. Claus down at Bonita. We stopped there and got some Christmas shopping done. Our next stop here is Santa at Mom and Pop’s, and next we’re going to go to Artifact to paint some pottery.”
Several local vendors also joined in on Saturday’s event.
Tricia Johnson, owner of SootheFizz, which makes fizzing bath bags, said the market was a way for everyone to support each other and small businesses.
“I think small businesses have the best interest at people’s heart. The reason I started my company in the first place was my kids have sensitive skin and I wanted something better than a bath bomb. I feel like small businesses really do have something greater in mind.”
Neitzel said she was excited to see great community turnout as Mom and Pop’s marks the end of its season and that she’s happy to see the Old Town event grow.
“We just wanted to close out our season with really a fun event, and then if we can get more people to see what Old Town is and share our heart, that became most important to get people into the stores and enjoying Old Town.”