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Needleman: Happy Thanksgiving! Shop Small and Upcoming Holiday Celebrations

By Norm Needleman, State Senator.

Shop Small this Holiday Season

Small Business Saturday and the holiday season are right around the corner after Thanksgiving. I know many people are getting ready to start their shopping for gifts and find good deals. I encourage everyone to make it a priority to visit and shop at local small businesses this holiday season. Small businesses help to make our communities thrive and many are still working to get back on their feet after the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve compiled a few links to help you find a small business to visit in your area:

Upcoming Holiday Celebrations in our Area

Gillette Castle in East Haddam Open for Holiday Tours

The Department of Energy & Environmental Protection will offer special holiday tours of Gillette Castle in East Haddam beginning this weekend. Gillette Castle, located at 67 River Road in East Haddam, will host decorations and be open for self-paced tours Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Thanksgiving weekend and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through to the weekend of December 19. Entrance fees are $6 for 13+ and $2 for 6-12 year olds, with 5-year-olds and under admitted free. Advance tickets for the limited tours can be pre-purchased here.

Haddam Holiday Pop-Up Market November 27-December 12

A Holiday Pop-Up Market at 272 Saybrook Road will take place in Haddam from November 27 to December 12, supporting small businesses, crafters, artists and confectioners. A total of 33 vendors will be at the market, and half of vendor fees will be donated to local charities due to Higganum’s Economic Development Committee. To see vendors and learn daily hours, please click here.

Deep River Vehicle Light Parade and Holiday Stroll December 4

On December 4 from 4 to 7 p.m., Deep River Parks and Recreation will host the “Light Up Deep River” Vehicle Light Parade & Holiday Stroll downtown. In addition to the lighting of the town tree, the event will include a vehicle light parade, in-store specials from merchants, a fire performer, a gingerbread house contest, Yuletide carolers and a visit from Santa Claus. To register and learn more, visit

State Business Registration System Simplified

Connecticut’s business registration system has been fully integrated with, the state’s business portal helping businesses and entrepreneurs more efficiently navigate state government requirements. This new update allows business owners to login fewer times in order to do business with the state, with a build-in registration system available after creating a checklist at

Since launching Connecticut’s business portal in summer 2020, more than 17,500 new business checklists have been created and more than 19,000 new businesses have registered with the state, and of those, 56% were created by women or minority entrepreneurs. Accordingly, business support call lengths have dropped in that time to just three-to-four minutes per call.

With this update, business owners need only account to handle all business filings online, including business registration, business lookups, filing annual reports, making business amendments and filing liens. New business owners can register their businesses online, while all business owners can track filings, payments and get alerts and notifications to stay compliant with the state.

More Than 90% Of K-12 School Employees
Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

According to a survey conducted by the state Department of Education, 93% of employees at both public and private school districts in Connecticut are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In total, 163 public school districts have employee vaccination rates about 90%, with 73% seeing results above 95%. These results correlate with Connecticut having one of the highest vaccination rates among most populations in the country and bode well for healthy classrooms in the future.

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