by Leanne Loy
The holidays are here and as we begin to slowly emerge from the isolation that Covid 19 forced us into, some of our community traditions are starting to come back. On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4, WinterWalk will return to the St. Joseph area and this year you’re not going to want to miss it.
Ray Sjogren, the organizer of the event is excited to share quite a few new things this year. Sjogren’s goal is to stick with the original mission of what the community has set out to do with WinterWalk throughout the years. He loves the community here in St. Joseph and the people too
This year at WinterWalk the events start at 4 p.m. Friday evening with a jazz band on the second-floor balcony at Krewe. Bring the kids to visit Santa and his village located in the patio off Bello Cucina’s and enjoy the warmth of the outdoor heaters.
Don’t forget to take a walk around to see the 100 decorated and lit up Christmas trees throughout the downtown area. And if the outdoors starts to get too cold, head on over to Heritage Hall for some shopping and food. There will be roughly 15-20 vendors set up this year to help you get some of your Christmas shopping done.
Then head back outside at 7 p.m. to witness the 40– to 60-foot tree being lit up right outside the St Joseph Catholic Church.
This year something special is headed your way at WinterWalk. Amazed by the St. John’s Preparatory school’s performance of the opera, “Amahl and Night Visitors” (see related story on the front page), Sjogren had to invite them to perform at this year’s event.
“The hope is that this is the first annual, that it becomes the signature piece,” Sjogren stated.
The puppets themselves are life-sized and tell the story of a young, crippled boy named Amahl who the three kings happen to meet along their way to see the baby Jesus. The play will be performed inside the church starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. There is no cost to attend the show.
Last year, WinterWalk consisted of Christmas trees lit up around the town, including the 40-foot tree outside the church, and Santa and Mrs. Claus driving around downtown St. Joseph which resulted in about 20 or so other vehicles following along and creating a parade of their own.
Even though the event was downsized last year due to Covid, numerous residents showed up to see the many trees and Santa and Mrs. Claus as they cruised around on the back of Andy Loso’s truck.
“The people were hungry for it,” Sjogren said. After being locked up for so many months people needed to feel that sense of community.
This year will be rather different with some added touches such as homemade mini cottages built by Dan Hanes. There will be four of these cottages around downtown, including one at the Santa village.
“We want a quality program,” Sjogren said, “adding qualitative things that go back to the original mission statement.”
And his hope is it just grows from here. With it’s many sponsors and authentic feel the idea is to give people an event that they will talk about and look forward to every year.
Hosted by the Y2K Lions, WinterWalk will have something for everyone.
For more information and a schedule of events, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Joetown-WinterWalk-100742511404609/
UPDATE: Both the Friday and Saturday showings of the opera of Amahl and the Night Visitors has been cancelled. A potential reschedule is being looked at for some time in January. More to come.