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Holiday Walk warms hearts: 17th annual event brings merry sounds, sights

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By Vicky Gits

A balmy evening couldn’t melt the Christmas spirit in downtown Evergreen at the 17th annual Holiday Walk, where merchants were merry and visitors reveled in the small-town spirit.

Sponsored by the Evergreen Downtown Business Association, the event was the perfect chance to get out of the house for a couple of hours and get in the holiday spirit.

The warm weather Friday evening, Dec. 5, made for a comfortable night to take in the Christmas tree lighting at the Lake House, trek around Evergreen Lake, and check out the holiday happenings downtown, with all the shops and galleries open late.

Some said they expected from 1,500 to 2,000 people to turn out for the event, but turnout figures weren’t available. Chris Vinci, president of the business owners’ association, said there were “a lot more people than usual compared to the last few years,” and that “merchants were all excited about their sales.”

With the temperature a balmy 40 to 50 degrees, Santa and Mrs. Claus took the opportunity to take a spin up and down Main Street on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Here and there, fire pits were blazing away, infusing the clear mountain air with the traditional aroma of burning pine. Java Groove was giving away free coffee and cider, and many merchants brought out beverages and cookies.

By 6 o’clock, the streets were starting to fill. By 7 o’clock, the shops were hopping, and crowds were gathering in the Evergreen National Bank Plaza.

The Conifer High School Jazz Band contributed cool sounds, while a couple dozen dancers from Kinetic Arts in Evergreen got the crowd warmed up to a nonstop medley of tunes like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Run Run Rudolf.”

The Mountain Ringers bell-ringer chorus set up shop inside the bank, making an excellent stage for their unusual musical art and amazing collection of bells.

Community feel

Kristin and Todd Owen of Evergreen, who moved here a couple of years ago, were impressed by the small-town feeling of community and the age range of the participants.

“In Minnesota, we lived in suburbia, and you had to go far away somewhere else to see the lights,” Kristin Owen said.

Their daughter, Faith, 11, seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to hug a lap dog from the Evergreen Animal Protective League. Sammy, a chihauhau mix, came along with volunteer Sharon Ryan, who has fostered 130 dogs.

“Everybody comes out. It makes you feel like it’s a small town. You see everybody you know,” Ryan said.

The busiest venue was the Ice House Café, where Wendy Schott Photography was taking pictures of Santa Claus and a few of the multitude of children who were out for the occasion. About 100 people had the chance to pose with Santa, Vinci said.

For the adults, a band rocked the Little Bear, while belly dancers in full costume with bangles and bare midriffs steamed up the atmosphere in front of the Marrakech store.

Providing relief from the Christmas themery, Shadow Mountain Gallery showed a multimedia conceptual-art tower made of about 500 prescription bottles the artist borrowed from friends and volunteers. Projected on the ceiling was video of an ant colony. It was titled “Drugs Facilitate Conformity,” the artist, Robin Ringrose of Lakewood, said via the cell phone of her husband, Jacob Brown, who was answering questions.

A time to say thank you

The Silver Arrow jewelry store was packed with lookers, who would come back later for a special gift. “It’s a thank-you for the community,” said owner Shirley Anderson.

Around the corner, Melody Coleman of Girlfriends was feeling festive after what she described as a pretty good fall season for women’s apparel. The Holiday Walk is a good time for wives to bring in their husbands and show them what they would like for Christmas, she said.

The Holiday Walk offers Coleman a chance to give a thank-you back to her “girlfriends,” who have supported her and kept the business alive and successful after she was burned out in the Holly Berry fire the summer of 2007.

One of the busiest shops on the street was Seasonally Yours gifts, where Janice Stutters, in her Rapunzel wig, and a team of elves were working on personalizing ornaments and building toy cars.

This was Stutters’ fourth Holiday Walk in a row. Why does she do it?

“It’s just fun. It’s the ultimate party for us,” she said.