Santa Claus is coming to town!

Hope you haven’t been too naughty this year, because Santa Claus will be making a personal appearance in Wilton on Friday, Dec. 6, thanks to the hard work of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce.

At 5:30 that night, Mr. Claus will arrive on a big red fire truck with special help from the Wilton Fire Department. Before he gets ready to hear Christmas wishes, and pose for a quick photo, he will help First Selectman Bill Brennan with the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Wilton Center.

Afterward, Santa will be available until 7:30 in the gazebo for pictures and to hand out tasty candy canes.

Mr. Claus’s appearance will mark the end of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce’s Shop Wilton week, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 30, to Dec. 6.

Shop Wilton week

Shop Wilton, which piggybacks off American Express’s Shop Local Sunday, is in its second year.

“We are certainly supporting their initiative, but for our community, rather than do it for one day, we extended it for an entire week to the following Saturday to incentivize people to shop in town,” said Carol Johnson, a member of the Chamber’s program committee, and a vice president of Fairfield County Bank.

Rather than just ask people to shop local next week, the Chamber has introduced a “passport” contest. Anyone who “fills” a complete passport — which may be picked up at any participating business — will be entered to win one of 10 $50 American Express gift cards.

“If you get the passport stamped at minimum of four participating vendors at which you spend a minimum of $25, you can enter that passport into a drawing, and we will be giving out 10 $50 AMEX gift cards on Dec. 7,” the day after shopping ends, Ms. Johnson said.

Regardless of the incentive to shop in Wilton for the holidays this year, Ms. Johnson said, supporting local business is much more than helping someone keep a job.

“Small business is the fabric of our society,” Ms. Johnson said. “When you live in a small town, you should support the local merchants because these are the people that do give back to the town. Isn’t that the reason why you live in a place like Wilton?”

Charity organizations and community action groups, Ms. Johnson said, depend on local businesses to support their many initiatives. This support is often apparent at community events like golf outings, she said.

“Generally speaking, you’re keeping the dollars in your town, and you’re making your town a destination. When you open a program for an event, you’ll see it’s the small businesses that support local not-for-profit organizations,” Ms. Johnson said. “When you go to a golf outing, or a concert, or a school event, it’s always the small business owner and the community business that has the ads in the programs.”

At an even more basic level, Ms. Johnson said, small businesses provide a depth of customer service unmatched by any big-box national chain.

“When you shop locally, those people get to know you,” she said. “There is a different level of service because the people who own these businesses are committed to the business and committed to the areas they serve. It’s a more pleasant shopping experience when they learn you, and learn your taste and style. It’s more pleasant because it’s more personalized.”