Thousands of people celebrated the holiday season Thursday at the annual Winter Walk festival in downtown Northfield.
Friends Sheryl Docken, Laurie Robideau and Joyce Moore gathered at The Rare Pair as the festivities began. The women make an annual event out of Winter Walk.
“It’s a girls get-together,” Docken said. “It’s a tradition that we’ve been doing for I don’t know how many years. And then it just kind of gets you in the Christmas spirit and you support your local businesses.”
“We hope Northfield continues to do this for many, many years.”
Heidi Rubenstein, who attended the event with her sister, parents and three children, Adelaide, 11, Laya, 8, and Abe, 7, said the trains in the library were her favorite part of the event.
Sponsored by the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Winter Walk included a tree-lighting ceremony in Bridge Square, followed by a performance from the Northfield Middle School Choir. Luminarias, horse-drawn wagons, a snowflake ornament hunt, entertainers, activities and festive specials inside stores and businesses took place. More than 2,900 people were estimated to have gone to Northfield Public Library, which housed a toy train display. The Northfield Arts Guild had more than 1,000 visitors. Northfield Middle School had two singing groups with each having 100 on stage. Wagons were full all night. Non-downtown Chamber businesses like Maurice’s, Chuck and Don’s and Hometown Credit Union set up shop downtown for the festival.
Seasonal weather seemed to add to the crowd. The temperature was warmer than earlier in the week, and snow earlier in the day stopped well before the event.
Following the event, Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Peterson and Membership and Event Coordinator Jane Bartho spoke highly of the event.
“It was awesome,” Peterson said.
“It was very well-attended, well-run, well-sponsored, well-received, well-weathered,” Bartho added.
To Peterson, Winter Walk is a symbol of the extraordinary sense of community Northfield has compared to cities of similar size.
“You see in Northfield time after time after time people showing up because they care about our community,” she said. “And they take great pride in living here. And it’s not just Winter Walk, it’s every event. It’s the community dinner, super well-attended, it’s Defeat of Jesse James Days, it’s Crazy Daze.”