Christmas Walk participants will mark 40th anniversary
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Grayling will celebrate four decades of kicking off the holidays and promoting local retail stores for Christmas shopping on Saturday.
The 40th annual Christmas Walk will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Grayling on Saturday, Nov. 18.
“We really just want to bring the community together,” said Erica Blair, chairwoman for the Christmas Walk and the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for the Grayling Main Street program. “We of course want people to shop locally and to realize what we have here locally for retail, but we would like to bring in as many of the community organizations as we can that will have their vendor booths downtown, because it really has been a great way for the community to come together on that one night and celebrate.”
Families are encouraged to start out the day from 9 a.m. to noon with a Breakfast with Santa at the American Legion Post #106. Proceeds will benefit the AuSable Boosters for Competitive Dance.
The snowball drop will start Christmas Walk activities at 3 p.m., when about 1,000 snowballs are dropped from the Grayling Fire Department’s ladder truck on the lawn at Huntington Bank. The promotion will have a new twist their year, with the Grayling Main Street program hosting a booth in the back of the AuSable Artisan Village.
“They will get some of their gifts or vouchers there or they will get a ticket to take into the corresponding businesses,” Blair said. “We also want to encourage people with a lot of the same vouchers for the same businesses to trade and share with other people because a lot of them you can only use one that day or one per store. They can donate them back and we can give them to people who may have missed the original snowball drop. It’s all about community building and sharing. We want to make sure everybody can participate.”
A trolley will be available to take people to businesses participating in the Christmas Walk as well as to the 12th annual Festival of Trees at the Grayling Mini-Mall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“If people want to park at the outlying businesses, they can just hop on the trolley to get around and they can get a ride back out,” Blair said.
Trolley passes will be given out, which will be punched at participating Christmas Walk businesses for a chance to win prizes through bucket drawings. Free shopping tote bags, commemorating the 40th anniversary for the Christmas Walk, will be given to adults.
Carriage rides, sponsored by the Grayling Promotional Association (GPA), will be available during the Christmas Walk with a covered carriage in case there is inclement weather.
Also, photos with Santa will be taken in the AuSable Artisan Village. A professional photographer and Rite Aid have partnered with the Grayling Main Street Program to provide the photos. The Grayling Lions Club is providing free photo frame kits.
Kid’s activities, including pony rides and a display of reindeer from Antler Ridge Farms based out of Williamsburg, will be in the North Country Corner parking lot.
Downtown businesses will go all out for a chance to win the Clark Griswold decorating competition, based on the classic holiday movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
“The Clark Griswold decorating competition is for businesses downtown and that’s also a juried competition,” Blair said. “There’s a traveling trophy that is in the shape of Clark Griswold’s head.”
The X-Box Challenge, sponsored by Blarney Stone Broadcasting, will be held at Family Video this year.
A shopper’s showcase will be held in the basement of the Michelson Memorial Church, while a Cookie Walk will be held at the main level of the church.
The float competition and Christmas Walk parade will be held at 7 p.m., starting at the Grayling Elementary School and ending at the Crawford County Courthouse.
A tree lighting ceremony, with Santa Claus lighting the tree, will be held in front of the courthouse.
Christmas Walk activities will cap off with prize drawing and award winners at the AuSable Artisan Village.
Blair said a number of Grayling High School students have volunteered for the Christmas Walk to earn their required community service hours. Pastor David Longstaff, from Grayling Baptist Church, has also stepped up to organize the Christmas Walk parade.
Check the Grayling Main Street program’s Facebook page for more information and last minute updates.