"Love Always" co-writer and star Jay Black

Christmas is coming early to Northfield. The Minnesota town, best known as home base for students at Carleton College and St. Olaf College, takes center stage in "Love Always, Santa," premiering 8 p.m. Sunday on Hallmark Movies and Miniseries, a channel that gets into holiday season well before you've even thought about making your gift list.

Producers shot in the town for four weeks this past December and January, utilizing everything from Twin Cities actors -- Guthrie veteran Isadora Swann plays the lead child -- to local landmarks, including the Content Bookstore and The Hideaway Coffeehouse and Winebar.

There are no huge names in the cast, although you may recognize Marguerite Moreau from her roles in "Wet Hot American Summer" and "The Mighty Ducks."

She plays a widow who thinks she only has room left in her heart for her daughter. Santa has other ideas.

To celebrate the occasion, the city of Northfield is holding a sneak preview screening at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Northfield Middle School. Some of the film's local actors, including Swann, will be on hand. The event is free, but the public is encouraged to make donations or bring non-perishable items for the Northfield food shelf.

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