For many years, the city of Walton has been celebrating the beginning of the Christmas season by holding a special event on the first Friday of December. This year the day falls on December 2.
This celebration always starts with a parade right down the center of Main Street, usually with several floats, and at the end, there is a horse drawn wagon that carries Santa and Mrs. Claus to the entrance of City Hall.
“I don’t know when the event started,” said Walton Mayor Gabe Brown. “It could be over 20 years old. But everyone enjoys it.”
The parade starts at 6 p.m. It begins at the Baptist church on Main Street and travels down to City Hall, but sometimes the entries proceed over the railroad tracks to the Main Street Cafe to turn around. There are usually wagon rides up and down Main Street.
While current mayor Brown is unclear of how and when the tradition started, former Mayor Phil Trzop recalls quite clearly.
“I remember how it started,” Trzop told LINK nky. “Connie Goins, who worked in the office, came up with the idea, and the other ladies in the office, Peggy Gray and Joyce Bryant started working on it. I thought it was a good idea for the city to have a special event that would focus on the businesses on Main Street.”
Trzop said that the first time it came together as an event was back in 2002. Coincidentally, that day saw 5 or 6 inches of snow, Trzop said, but that did not deter the organizers.
“They wanted luminaries, the candles inside bags, all along Main street, and the snow made them look so good,” said Trzop. “I think that first year we also had the high school band march in the parade.”
All of the businesses on Main Street are usually involved, decking their store fronts with lights and decorations, and most of them have treats for the people who come out to kick off the Christmas season.
“Sometimes they have hot cider or hot chocolate,” Brown said. “Some places give out candy canes, or little bags of candy.”
One year, the city dedicated an entire lot to laser tag, an activity that was at the top of the list for teens and pre-teens. Some years there was a live Nativity scene. This year the city will host the petting zoo, which they’ve also done in years’ past.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Christmas on Main event was not held in 2020, but the event was resurrected in 2021, and the tradition will resume this year.
“We never knew if the weather would be cold or not, so there were always fire pits along the street, and people could go into some of the stores to get warm,” Trzop. “The group the Good Gals used to set up in the city garage across from the city building and give out hot dogs and cider.”
Organizer Peggy Gray remembered how fellow organizer Connie Goins had gone to her hometown of Somerset, Kentucky, and had come back with a lot of ideas on what Walton could do for a Christmas celebration.
“She had so many good ideas, and Phil thought it might be a lot of work, but everyone worked together,” Gray said. “It became a fun, community event.”
The same people usually played Santa and Mrs. Claus for years, and the line of children who wanted to tell Santa their fondest desires was long every year, no matter what the weather.
“Somebody donated the big red Santa chair that we put in front of city hall,” Trzop remembered. “We had somebody donate the nativity set next to city hall too. The people in Walton are great. They’re generous and they like to celebrate their city.”
The event kicks off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2 and lasts till 8 p.m.