WALLINGFORD — As the sun set and holiday lights illuminated downtown on Friday, residents and businesses came together to enjoy the season and a sense of community once again.
“We always find something to buy from the local shops,” said Germaine Valentine, of Wallingford. “For the shops it really helps get the traffic into the stores.”
Valentine, who has been coming to the annual Holiday Stroll every year, missed the event last year when it was canceled due to the pandemic.
Natalie Guisto was walking downtown with her family to the Dude’s Donut truck. She said it was her family’s first time at the event and they were looking forward to some doughnuts and warm drinks.
The Holiday Stroll featured roasted chestnuts, kettle corn, a bonfire, ice carving and holiday music. Many businesses along the route stayed open late and featured special deals. The event was put on by Wallingford Center, Inc. and the Parks and Recreation Department. A total of 45 downtown businesses participated.
Shelby LaChance, assistant coach of Sheehan High’s cheerleaders, said this was the group’s first year participating in the stroll with a bake sale. LaChance said the team has been longtime patrons of the stroll and decided to have a booth this year. They were ready to enjoy the night in their spot next to the bonfire, saying they are planning to bring s’mores supplies next year.
“It’s the spirit and tradition of Wallingford,” LaChance said. “Coming together not just for the sad, but to celebrate the good. It’s more important than ever to celebrate the good.”
Rachel Herbst-Vasas was also excited to have a booth with her handmade jewelry this year. She participated in the Celebrate Wallingford festival earlier this year and was excited to be a part of the Holiday Stroll. Herbst-Vasas said Celebrate Wallingford was a great event for her company, Rachel Ashley Designs, which includes Bohemian inspired crystal jewelry.
“I love that its able to be going on again” Herbst-Vasas said of the Holiday Stroll.
Patrons started filling the sidewalks by 4:30 p.m., looking into the shops and checking the maps for their favorite stops.