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Santa Claus stopped in Evanston even earlier than usual this year, on Noc. 16, to help Mayor Elizabeth light the Christmas tree in Fountain Square, talk with kiddies and, of course, plan his return route on Dec. 24.

Veterans Plaza at Fountain Square was jammed with onlookers and packed with holiday cheer as “jolly old elf” and the mayor switched on the lights of the colorfully decorated tree, signalling the beginning of Evanston’s holiday, shopping and winter party season.

Evanston appears to be one of Santa’s favorite cities, as he makes a point of visiting even before Thanksgiving each year. Visits with Santa continue on Saturdays at Sherman Plaza