Warning of trolls and labyrinths, markers guided children Sunday down the Quinnipiac Linear Trail. Along the way, they collected prizes to decorate gingerbread men, Christmas trees and snowmen.
“We had a blast,” said Dan Casella, of Cheshire, who came to the Holiday Celebration on the Linear Trail at Lakeside Park with his son Jack Casella, 6. Casella said after he told his son one of the hints mentioned a troll under the trail’s bridge, his son stopped to check for the monster when they reached the crossing.
At four markers along the trail, children could collect craft items to decorate their ornaments and a hint to help find the next stop. The Linear Trail Advisory Committee, which organized the celebration, set out food donated by local businesses and rented two horse-drawn carriages visitors could ride around the park.
After returning to the pavilion at the park, Jack Casella decorated a foam gingerbread man with glitter and other supplies brought by members of the committee. “This was kind of the kickoff for Christmas for us,” Dan Casella said.
“It’s nice to see the child-parent interaction,” said Barbara McCoy, a Wallingford resident and a member of the Linear Trail Advisory Committee who set up the scavenger hunt and arts and crafts area.
She said committee members wanted to have the celebration, now in its fourth year, to show all the trail has to offer. “It’s a safe, beautiful trail,” said McCoy, who is a teacher at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
She said the best part of the day for her is “seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces.”
Cathy Granucci, co-chair of the committee, said they aim to give families a relaxing Sunday after the Thanksgiving and Black Friday week.
“It’s back to the basics about what a good, simple life is about,” she said. “It’s really like something out of another time.”
The scavenger hunt, which covered half a mile of the trail, also shows off the trail to kids and their families, Granucci said. “It gives the kids an introduction to walking the trails without getting too tried.”
“The scavenger hunt was really fun,” said Garrett McHugh, 10, of Wallingford. When he returned to the Lakeside Park with his mother, Cindy McHugh, he crafted his rewards into a Christmas tree and another ornament which he decided to give to the Santa Claus at the park.
“It was a great event. The kids had a great time,” said Cindy McHugh, also of Wallingford.
Marlene Rubin, a friend of McHugh’s, said the event brings “a little festive spirit, a little community” to Wallingford. While the arts and crafts, scavenger hunt and horse carriage rides were their kid’s favorite activities, Rubin said “the hot chocolate might have been the best thing. The hot chocolate and the cookies.”