GENESEO -- The only thing missing from Saturday night's Christmas Walk in Geneseo was the snow.|
But the lack of the fluffy white stuff didn't stop the hundreds who gathered on the streets of downtown from having fun.
Tony and Clare Rosata, of Geneseo, wandered the streets with their grandson, Joe VanDeWoestyne, 6, to check out the sights and sounds.
And there were plenty of them. Beautifully decorated and lit-up storefronts lined the streets, Christmas music lulled through overhead speakers and the smell of kettle corn wafted from the stands.
It didn't matter that it was more than two weeks early -- it was Christmas in downtown Geneseo.
It's a community event, said Mr. Rosata, adding he thinks everyone should at least see it once.
He said he especially enjoyed the unique window displays.
"It's a fun family gathering," his wife said, with plenty to see and do, food, and the popcorn is "to-die-for."
Joe said he was very excited to have met Mrs. Claus, who also was on hand throughout the evening. He said he was hoping for a remote-control helicopter, remote-control monster truck and an iPod for Christmas.
"And what's the $64,000 question?" his grandfather asked. "Have you been a good boy this year?"
"Yep!" Joe shouted back.
The annual Christmas Walk featured a 5K Jingle Run; an obstacle course; elementary and middle school choir performances; family activities including cookie decorating and writing letters to Santa and more.
Folks could even have their picture taken with Buddy the Elf from the 2003 film, "Elf" withWill Ferrell.
A waist-high, shiny black great dane with red and green antlers stood by Buddy's side inside Maple Leaf Medical, greeting kids and their families who wanted their pictures taken.
"It's our guard reindeer-dog," said Buddy, also known as Randy Stach, of Geneseo.
Dressed from head to toe in yellow and green with white fur trim and a bottle of maple syrup in hand, Buddy excitedly recited the same four "food groups" from the movie: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and, of course, syrup.
David Parsons' daughters, Stacy, 7, and Jenny, 6, giggled.
Mr. Parson said the Geneseo family came out to enjoy the festivities, which, of course, included a photo with Buddy and the reindeer-dog.
"(We're) just having fun, doing all the fun stuff," Stacy said.
Mr. Parsons said his girls, who are Girl Scouts, were excited to be walking in the lighted parade on Saturday evening.
Also in to meet Buddy was Sheila Schultz, of Hillsdale, who brought her daughter, Sarah Cobert, and son, Joshua Schultz, 13. Ms. Cobert said the Schultzes have attended the event before, but this was her first.
"It's really great," Ms. Cobert said, adding the family just finished writing letters to Santa, and Joshua got to pose with Buddy and his "reindeer."
"It's something to bring everyone together for the holidays," she said.
Ms. Schultz said the family has attended the walk for years.
"We love the windows all decorated," she said. "It's getting you in the holiday spirit."
Christmas Walk committee co-chairwoman Sara Solberg said the event was going on its 27th year.
"People are smiling," she said. "They're having a good time."
Between the little shops that were open, the parade, the food and all of the activities going on throughout the walk, Ms. Solberg said there was a little something for everyone.
"I think that's what makes it fun," she said.
After several lit-up floats made their way down State Street, the crowd grew anxious for Santa. But soon, he was in sight.
"Here comes Santa and Mrs. Claus!" one woman shouted from the crowd.
"Merry Christmas," another shouted as Santa rode by.
After a countdown from 10, Santa pointed an illuminated cane as green and white lights on a larger-than-life Christmas tree sprang on. The crowd cheered.
Just before the countdown, Santa asked the crowd whether everyone had been good this year, and, of course, they shouted they had.
But for those who hadn't, Santa said,"You've got time before Christmas -- be good!"
East moline, IL Details
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