WALLINGFORD — The town holiday celebration that started Friday evening with the popular downtown holiday stroll continued Saturday afternoon with the Seasons of Celebrations event at Town Hall.
“Our town is all dressed up for the holidays,” said Roz Gallagher, chair of the town’s public celebrations committee.
Little kids danced and hula hooped to a disk jockey spinning songs. People had the usual slate of holiday refreshments, like cookies, popcorn, and hot cider. Kids and parents crammed into a photo booth to capture memories of the day. There was a small petting zoo on the Parade Ground – some children were really into feeling the goats and alpacas, while others chose to observe from a distance. This reporter got high-fived by both Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
The celebration culminated in a holiday parade from Town Hall, down Center Street, to the Johanna Manfreda Fishbein Park for a tree-lighting ceremony.
Lots of parents with small children toddling along or in strollers attended. That’s intentional, Gallagher said. Friday evening’s Downtown Holiday Stroll is more oriented towards adults, while Saturday’s party is enthusiastically for the little ones.
The highlight for most of the kids was a visit with Santa. A toy soldier who looked suspiciously like Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. blew his bugle and summoned each family up the steps of Town Hall when it was their turn to meet with jolly St. Nick.
Grant and Nancy Kolton snapped to attention and grabbed their little boys Hudson and Jack as soon as the horn blew.
“It’s like a Hallmark movie. You just can’t not go,” said Grant Kolton, a native of Wallingford.
“This is one of the last places that has that small town feeling,” Nancy Kolton said.
Rachel Jones and her mom Linda Simonson waited in line with Jones’ sons Noah and Odin. Simonson also mentioned the Hallmark perfection of the day. What were the boys planning to ask of Santa?
“I want football stuff. NFL,” five-year-old Noah said.
His four-year-old brother Odin had a longer list.
“I want helicopter stuff and a fire truck and a toy monster truck. It’s going to have remote control,” Odin said.
About 44,000 people live in Wallingford, but that wasn’t apparent when talking to people on Saturday. They spoke of a small town, a welcoming, easy going community that knows how to have fun.
“The town engenders a beautiful old New England spirit. People come together and we do things together joyfully,” Gallagher said.
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