Christmas Walk 2011 Turns Geneva Into Winter Wonderland
On Friday night, chestnuts were roasting over open fires and carolers could be heard on every street corner as Geneva warmly welcomed this Christmas season with the annual tradition of the Christmas Walk.
Freshly made warm candy canes, sugar cookies, cocoa, carolers, a nativity scene and friendly merchants transformed downtown Geneva on Friday night as Santa Claus was welcomed and persons young and old were enveloped in a winter wonderland.
For more than 40 years, Geneva residents have eagerly awaited the first weekend in December, when the town is filled with a festive glow and merriment of the holiday season. Presented by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce with the support of the city, police, Fire Department and Public Works Department personnel, the Christmas Walk drew a large crowd of people who ushered in the holidays by enjoying a relaxing evening mingling with friends while casually strolling about the well-decorated streets of Geneva.
Following Friday’s close of the annual Christmas House Tour (this also takes place on Saturday), swarms of people gathered to witness the ever popular event to kickoff the Christmas Walk—the lighting of the Christmas tree on the Courthouse lawn and the arrival of Santa Claus to his seasonal Geneva home, located at South Third and James streets.
Groups of Christmas carols sang in front of the courthouse as Santa Lucia, the Swedish symbol of the Christmas season, arrived by horse-drawn carriage with her attendants. The crowd got involved, merrily singing songs such as Here Comes Santa Claus as the jolly old elf arrived just after 6 pm. The event was jovially emceed by Mayor Kevin Burns and the Garcia family of Geneva got the privilege to join hte mayor on stage and be the first to officially greet Santa Claus.
And then, finally, the great tree on the courthouse lawn was illuminated by thousands of colored lights surrounded by shimmering handmade ornaments, ribbons and garland.
As the night went on, merchants served up traditional holiday refreshments ranging from various sweet treats to warm cider and hot chocolate, keeping all stomachs happy and warm. And for those who were not completely satisfied with warm chestnuts, warm candy canes provided an enticing opportunity for both an exciting demonstration, and a scrumptious sample at the end.
The owners of Graham’s Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream, Bob and Beckie Untiedt, once again observed Geneva’s Annual Christmas Walk with their traditional old-fashioned candy cane pull. Visitors watched as Graham’s candy makers brought to life the old-age custom of pulling handmade peppermint into colorful yuletide candy canes. Batches were made and samples were distributed to long lines of spectators.
For those who came ready to bust out a holiday tune, St. Mark’s Church once again hosted its “Carols by the Candlelight” in the historic Chapel located behind Graham’s Chocolates. And for those who wanted lots of cookies, the Unitarian Church’s Cookie Walk was a popular stop, as well.
Apart from mouthwatering treats, the Christmas Walk would not have been complete without the Live Nativity presented by the Geneva Lutheran Church. The youth of the Lutheran Church performed 30-minute tableau-style scenes of a living nativity throughout the evening. The costumed actors were accompanied by live animals, background music and props on the front lawn of the Church at Third and Franklin streets. The Lutheran Church has been providing this display for more than 15 years, and it stands as an admirable gift to the Geneva community at Christmas.
So be it sweets, drama or musical performances, the Christmas Walk offered a little bit of magic and a lot of fun to put Geneva residents and visitors in the holiday mood. Adorned with holiday cheer, the ambiance of Geneva was remarkable during the Christmas Walk this year. Numerous people were able to get a head start on their Christmas shopping by choosing from more than 50 unique Geneva merchants, saying farewell to the legendary Merra-Lee Shops, witnessing the arrival of Santa Claus, indulging in some delectable Christmas treats, enjoying music and nativity and of course, gazing upon the boughs of twinkling lights, garland and greenery that filled the festive streets of Geneva.
The Christmas Walk welcomed countless visitors this year to embrace the warm glow of Geneva and allowed residents to joyfully congregate with their neighbors and begin their own personal celebration of the Christmas season.