Annual OPERATION: Fill The Police Cruiser Holiday Toy Drive. Guests are encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy to fill the cruiser for children in need in Atlantic County. Activities will take place at the Margate Ball Field from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24.

MARGATE – The holidays will be here before you know it and Margate will be celebrating in grand style during Shop Small Business Weekend, Saturday, Nov. 24. The Margate Business Association is hosting its annual Shop Local extravaganza, while Downbeach police and fire departments will be holding their fourth annual Fill the Police Cruiser Holiday Toy Drive.

Families can enjoy free amusements and games on Essex Avenue noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24.

The weekend kicks off with a jam-packed day of family friendly activities, shopping discounts, city-wide sidewalk sales and give-a-ways, starting at noon on Saturday. Santa Claus will make his way from the Margate Fire Department Station No. 1 on Washington and Ventnor avenues and be transported on a fire truck to Bocca Coal Fired Pizza at Essex and Ventnor avenues where he will be met by everyone’s favorite mascot, the Phillie Phanatic.

Children and their families are invited to visit with Margate’s very special Santa who is fluent in American Sign Language, and enjoy children’s activities plus a free slice of pizza.  After meeting with Santa, families can make their way to Essex Avenue where they will enjoy free amusements, music and activities until 4 p.m.

Don’t forget to pick up your free reusable shopping bag, courtesy of the MBA.

The fun and excitement continues into the evening hours with the Holiday Toy Drive being held 6-9 p.m. at the Margate City baseball field (off Jerome and Amherst avenues).

Families are asked to bring donations of unwrapped toys and canned goods to be distributed to children in need in Atlantic County. The event is a collaboration between the police and fire departments in Longport, Margate, and Ventnor, PBAs, FMBAs, local businesses, Margate Public Works, Toys for Kids and the Margate Business Association.

The evenings activities include a holiday movie, treats, activities, train rides, photos with Santa by local photographer Erin McDevitt, Hanukkah crafts, face painting, musicand of course, featured guest Santa and his helpers.  Bring a homemade ornament to hang on the tree and enjoy the Christmas tree and Menorah lightings.

Meet Santa and his helpers at two events on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Bocca and the Margate Ball Field.

Sponsors of both events include Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program, Margate Business Association, Ventnor Business Association, Ventnor, Margate, Longport Police and Fire Departments, PBA’s, FBMA, Bocca Coal Fired Pizza, Colmar Home Center, 95.1 WAYV and 100.7 WZXL.

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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.