By Ken DeLaat
“Look at all the people!”
Nearly everyone we ran into last night delivered the same impression at the Christmas Walk in downtown Newaygo Friday night.
Perhaps the weather had something to do with it since we were pitched a nearly perfect early winter evening. One of those beauties with enough of a chill to require layering but nearly crystal clear and lit by a full moon. A great one for walking about and checking out the downtown doings.
Accompanied by LSC Lil (a woman whose level of patience knows no boundaries) the Christmas Walk immersion began immediately as we arrived just when the streets were being closed.
And once again the charm and appealing nature of this festival, this gathering so utterly embraced by our community took hold for the next couple of hours.
We headed for Brooks Park for the opening ceremony but I was immediately derailed while passing the General Store due to the wafting aroma of freshly done, just taken out of the fryer and cooling down Donuts!
The Hilltop Bakery folks from Bailey were doing up donuts right there on the street. In front of me. With no line since they just opened.
It was truly one of those Carpe Diem moments.
“Can I get 2?”
“They’re not quite ready.”
”Hmmm. How long?"
“3-5 minutes maybe.”
Lil had walked ahead but being accustomed to my tendency to veer off at times (physically as well as mentally) she doubled back.
“I’m just waiting on a couple of donuts.”
“Oh you got one for me?”
“Uh... yes….of course…. that’s why I got two.”
She looked a bit skeptical, having long been aware of my food-sharing shortcomings, but as I said a patient woman.
When we got to the park the NHS Jazz Band was putting some heat into the air with some snappy versions of Christmas favorites. It became apparent there would be a pretty good crush of humanity wandering the streets and shops this night. From the warming fire to the stage to the soon -to-be-lit tree people were out in force.
The arrival of Santa and the lighting of the finely festooned fir sent us off for a stroll. We weaved in and out of several shops made purchases and ran into folks we know. The entire collection of Newaygo’s desirable downtown dining options were jammed to the gills and staffed by brave and hardy souls working to serve up food and drinks in what proved to be an ongoing onslaught of customers.
We wandered into the bookstore and listened to a young lady on the violin then cruised through the intriguing newcomer to town MB Woodworks & Company where the sounds of a hammer dulcimer drew the attention of browsers.
The wagons were rolling through town as carts of happy horse drawn riders cruised the main in equine-powered fashion. Everywhere clusters of people gathered to chat it up and a sense of good cheer seemed to permeate.
There was that familiar mist of magic in the air, an aura associated with this holiday happening. Several groups from the wandering chorus of Santa Hat guys who saunter through stores and eateries to the younger kids crooning carols outside of The Stream provided a musical backdrop to what has evolved into community favorite.
This is a coming together of people from throughout the area and beyond who take part in a little drift back in time. A time when people roamed the streets dodging only the occasional animal driven wagon or two. When groups of kids ran amok taking part in their separate mini-adventures and parents with toddlers or smaller ones in strollers stopped to chat it up a bit. A time when life was perhaps less hurried
It’s a reminder that Christmas is a time to slow it down a smidge. To gain a little perspective in this busy world of ours and perhaps reflect a bit more and react a bit less.
Something kind of warm and wonderful seems to blanket the town during Christmas Walk and this year’s version most certainly did not disappoint.
And if you’re asking?
Neither did the donut.