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Merchants across Evanston will be offering special deals Saturday as part of the “Small Business Saturday” event that’s now in its sixth year.

The post-Thanksgiving event is designed to provide a local counterpart to “Black Friday” sales at many national chains.

In Evanston there’ll be free trolley rides sponsored by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. traveling a continuous loop through business districts from Central Street to Downtown Evanston and the Dempster and Main street shopping districts along Chicago Avenue.

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After 4 p.m. the trolley will also make a stop at Howard Street and Chicago Aveneu.

Santa will visit the Downtown Evanston Visitor Center, 820 Davis St., Ste. 151, from 2 o 4 p.m. — and parents are encouraged to bring a camera to capture the moment with their children at the free event.

More than a baker’s dozen of locations will offer free cookies as part of the Downtown Evanston Cookie Crawl. They include 522 Envy, Asha SalonSpa, Becky and Me Toys, Spice and Tea Exchange, Pure Barre, Bottle & Bottega, Bookends & Beginnings, Ayla’s Originals, Evereve, Relish, The Barre Code, Levis, The Merion and Gigi Bottega

And Downtown Evanston gift cards, accepted at over 150 downtown businesses, will be available for purchase at the Downtown Evanston office and the Church Street headquarters of First Bank & Trust.

Free parking is available in the city’s three downtown self-park garages all day on Saturdays from now through Jan. 2.

More information about Saturday’s events can be found online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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