Christmas Walk revamped to make holiday event more family-friendly and to encourage people to shop local
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Organizers and planners for the 42nd annual Christmas Walk made a blast into the past to add more variety and activities to kick off the holiday season in the community.
Events will be held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 16, in the downtown business district for this year’s Christmas Walk.
The event was started by Flowers by Josie, then Weaver’s Gifts, and the Icehouse Quilt Shop came on board as sponsors and organizers for several years.
The former Grayling Uptown District Association also planned the Christmas Walk for a number of years.
In recent years, representatives from the Grayling Main Street Program, the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Grayling Promotional Association (GPA), and individuals planned the event.
Businesses involved with the Grayling Main Street Program are now hosting the kickoff event for the holidays.
Merchants have held weekly meetings to bring in activities for people of all ages, and a dozen sponsors have helped fund the Christmas Walk.
There is a focus to hold more events during daylight hours, to be family-friendly, and to encourage participants to shop local as they prepare for the holiday season.
“We’re hoping to make it a really good event this year, and keep expanding it,” said Anne Tuck, the owner of The Sweet Life in downtown Grayling.
The day’s activities will begin from 9 a.m. to noon with a Breakfast With Santa at the American Legion Post #106.
From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., pictures can be taken with Santa at the AuSable Artisan Village.
From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., live reindeer will be at the gazebo located adjacent to Ron’s Fly Shop. Also from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., pony rides will be offered in the Huntington Bank parking lot. And from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. a petting zoo will be located in the Crawford County Veteran’s Services Office and Crawford County Michigan State University Extension parking lot.
From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., a shopper’s showcase, a cookie walk, and a small dinner will be served at the Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church.
From 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Q100 will host the X-Box Challenge for youth in a traveling trailer, which will be parked in the 100 Block of Michigan Avenue.
Vendors such as the Buffalo Plaid Candle Company, Boy Scouts of Grayling, Girl Scouts of Grayling, and the Grayling Lion’s Club will be selling items and promoting their causes throughout the day.
Christmas characters will be frolicking up and down the sidewalks.
“As always, the elf, snowmen, and penguins will be out and about,” Tuck said.
The traditional trolley will in Grayling for the Christmas Walk, making stops at the Huntington Bank, Rolling Oak Brewing Co., and the Festival of Trees at the Grayling Mini Mall.
A new addition to the Christmas Walk is a larger horse drawn carriage, which will take participants throughout the community to see events and attractions.
The carriage and team of horses are coming from Mackinaw Pony Co. The carriage is being sponsored by the GPA.
Instead of a $20 charge for a ride during the Christmas Walk in a smaller carriage, tips are being accepted to pay for the attraction.
“They have two horses and it fits a lot of people,” Tuck said.
The Christmas Walk parade will be bigger and better this year, and will go from the Grayling Middle School to the parking lot at the Crawford County Courthouse.
“We’re hoping to expand the parade a little more and we’ve had people reach out and want to be in it,” Tuck said.
The parade line up will be held at 4:45 p.m. and will start at 5:15 p.m.
Santa will be featured in the parade. Amy Wakefield and Melanie Wakefield, the daughters of former Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield, will be representing him in the parade since he was recognized in January of this year as the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year.
Wakefield passed away at this home on Tuesday, April 16, after a brief battle with cancer. He was 68. Wakefield retired from serving as the Crawford County Sheriff on December 3, 2018 after holding the position for 17 years, the longest sheriff to continuously hold the office in the history of Crawford County.
A military color guard, the Grayling High School marching band, and Grayling Homecoming Queen CeCe Cvitkovich and Homecoming King Eli Jackson will also be in the parade.
Grayling Elementary School, Grayling Middle School, and Grayling High School students will be making handcrafted ornaments to go on the Christmas tree, which was set up in front of the Crawford County Courthouse.
An official lighting of the Christmas tree will be held at the conclusion of the parade.
“When Santa gets down there, he will light the tree at the end,” Tuck said.
The Sweet Life will be crafting personalized ornaments, the Old Lumberyard Shoppes will have refreshments and giveaways, and the North Country Corner will have snacks and refreshments.
“Keep an eye on Facebook to see what the individual stores will be doing and have to offer during the Christmas Walk,” Tuck said.