The holiday season kicked off Friday, Dec. 2, in downtown Oswego with the annual Christmas Walk presented by Allied First Bank and the village.
Thousands poured into the downtown streets for the free event that featured performances by local choirs, a visit by Santa and his reindeer, live ice sculpting and an emergency vehicle light parade.
Downtown was filled with tents and booths from area businesses offering games, crafts and giveaways. Local restaurants such as Fay’s Pork Chop Bar B Que and Freddie’s Off the Chain had lines waiting at their stands and trucks throughout the evening.
Village Administrator Dan Di Santo said this year’s Christmas Walk had one of the highest turnouts he has seen, reporting more than 5,000 in attendance.
“We were thrilled with the weather and the attendance,” Di Santo said. “It was an incredible experience for the people of Oswego to come together and be able to enjoy an event outdoors together again.”
The event kicked off with the annual tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. led by Village President Troy Parlier at the corner of Main and Jackson streets.
The tree lighting ceremony featured live choral music from Traughber Junior High School and Oswego East High School’s Spotlight choir, and performances by the Oswego High School’s Standing O Theatre Company.
Several downtown stores opened their doors to allow participants to enjoy holiday décor and browse for gifts.
Children enjoyed rides on the Toyland trains and inflatable slides, and those who brought their Christmas wish lists got to visit Santa at Locked In Photography to share their lists and take pictures with Santa.
Wendy Greenslade, owner of Locked in Photography, has volunteered her services for the past four years and said this year that more than 400 families came through her business to share their lists and get a photo with Santa.
Greenslade said some of the most popular wish list items shared with Santa were American Girl dolls, Barbie dream houses, remote control cars, dinosaurs, Squishmallows, pets, Play-Doh, slime and Paw Patrol toys.
Greenslade said the request that stood out to her most was one child’s wish for a new house for their parents, as they are expecting a new baby.
Greenslade wasn’t the only member of her family spreading Christmas cheer during the walk. She said her husband dresses as Buddy the elf every year, strolling through the downtown streets and businesses, getting people excited to see Santa.
“We just love Christmas,” Greenslade said.
Later in the evening, the Oswego Fire Protection District led the illuminated emergency vehicle parade down Main Street. In addition to decorated trucks and cars, several Disney characters and superheroes, took part in the parade.