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In downtown Towson, businesses are painting windows, tying ribbons and putting up other decorations, as the Towson Chamber of Commerce preps for its sixth annual Winterfest.

Nancy Hafford, the chamber’s executive director, said Winterfest will be “a bit shorter” this year, because Thanksgiving came so late in November. But it’ll still be a nice community event, she added.

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The nearly monthlong celebration began with Black Friday deals downtown, but really kicks off with the Baltimore County Tree Lighting on Friday, Dec. 6. As usual, Santa will arrive on a firetruck and there will be live music and dancing. The tree is already standing in Olympic Park at the Towson Circle.

Through the whole month, businesses will have their storefronts decorated. At Nacho Mama’s, it’s the National Bohemian mascot dressed as Santa Claus. At the Rec Room, it’s lighted deer and at Charles Village Pub, large red ribbons.

“We’re hoping the decorations will really get more people involved in the holiday spirit,” Hafford said.

More businesses have indicated to Hafford that they’ll be decorating, and the chamber hung string lights in trees around Towson, too.

Hafford said Winterfest brings new people into Towson, and gives regulars a reason to come back every year. The activities and decorations help establish “a sense of community and a sense of place,” she said. “We realized years ago that you can have a lot of restaurants and shops, but unless you have activities and events, it doesn’t create a sense of community."

More than 7,000 people flock to Towson during Winterfest, she said.

At Bliss Hair Studio, a family-owned business attached to Grillo Jewelry on Allegheny Avenue, that sense of space is apparent. Laura Grillo, a hairdresser and owner of Bliss, said she’s “always” a big decorator for the holidays, at home and at her store.

The theme she chose this year is “wintry, winter wonderland-y,” she said. There’s a white tree with white lights, and snowflake and ornament icicles hanging above the window that faces the street. She said Towson is a good area for people and businesses who enjoy decorating and seeing decorations, because so many people participate.

“It just helps you get into the holidays,” Grillo said.

In addition to the tree-lighting ceremony, other Winterfest events include “Ugly Sweater Happy Hours" on Thursday, Dec. 5, 12 and 19, breakfasts with Santa and other holiday characters, and Fire and Ice Family Night on Dec. 13.

The following events are also part of Towson Winterfest:

Visits with Santa

When: Mondays-Saturdays, noon-8 p.m., and Sundays, noon-6 p.m. through Dec. 24.

Where: Towson Town Center grand court Level 1

What is it: Take photos with Santa Claus. Dogs and cats welcome to pose on Monday nights. Go to towsontowncenter.com for pricing details.

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Baltimore County Tree Lighting

When: Friday, Dec. 6, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Olympic Park at Towson Circle

What is it: An annual tree-lighting ceremony with a Santa Claus appearance, live music and sweet treats.

Procrastinator’s Shopping Night

When: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m.

Where: Downtown Towson. Participating shops may vary.

What is it: Shops offering special promotions. Free gift wrapping at The Greene Turtle.

Ugly Sweater Happy Hours

When: Dec. 5, 12, and 19, 5-7 p.m.

Where: Participating restaurants will be posted online at towsonchamber.com.

What is it: Go to your favorite Towson bar decked in an ugly sweater for food and drink specials.

Breakfast with the Grinch and Buddy the Elf

When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-noon

Where: Charles Village Pub, 19 W. Pennsylvania Ave.

What is it: Eat breakfast with holiday film favorites. $6.99 for ages 2-9, $13.99 for ages 10 and up.

Fire & Ice Family Night

When: Friday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m.

Where: Downtown Towson. Participating locations will be posted online.

What is it: View ice sculptures and decorated storefronts around Towson. Street performers and free s’mores.

Breakfast with the Snow Queen

When: Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-noon.

Where: The Point in Towson, 523 York Road.

What is it: Meet the Snow Queen, do crafts and pose for pictures. $10 for ages 12 and under, brunch menu for adults.

Breakfast with Santa & Friends

When: Saturday, Dec. 14, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

Where: The Greene Turtle, 408 York Road.

What is it: Enjoy breakfast with holiday characters, crafts and storybook readings. $8 for ages 9 and under, $15 for ages 10 and up.

Breakfast with Santa

When: Sunday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Nacho Mama’s, 2 W. Pennsylvania Ave.

What is it: All-you-can eat breakfast buffet, picture with Santa, picture frame craft and a seasonal cocktail for the grown-ups. $19 for all ages.

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