Annual Holiday Walk drew crowds ready to celebrate the holidays

Fiona Betzold, 11, coloring holiday pictures at The Whiting.

Fiona Betzold, 11, coloring holiday pictures at The Whiting.

FLINT – Visitors did more than just walk at the annual Holiday Walk this last Tuesday night. Free performances were available, free planetarium shows, lots of smile and let’s not forget cocoa, cookies and Santa Claus.

The Holiday Walk occupied the decorated 33-acre campus of the Flint Cultural Center. Holiday light displays welcomed visitors. Food trucks were available, as well as snacks at all the venues. The event was free, but visitors were encouraged to donate non-perishable food and personal care items to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, which was collecting donations on site.

The Flint Institute of Music held musical performances during the evening, and visitors took selfies in a giant Nutcracker rocking chair and explored the instrument playground.

Meanwhile, a bell choir, “Ringspiration,” performed at the Flint Public Library, right across the street.

Throughout the night, the Flint Institute of Arts hosted musical performances, a showing of the movie “Bugs Bunny Loony Christmas Tales,” and an Art School Open House. Also, right next to the Flint Institute of Arts, the Longway Planetarium will show sneak peeks of Cosmic Christmas every 30 minutes.

One of Santa’s visitors was Carter Wheat, 4, who was visiting The Whiting with his little brother Logan, 2, and his mom, Jennifer. Santa was set up on The Whiting’s stage, so all of his visitors were accommodated.

In a post-Santa lap sitting interview, Carter shared his impressions of Santa. “I like him, he’s friendly, he’s nice.” And when Carter was asked if he thought he would get everything he wanted for Christmas, Carter replied unequivocally, “Yes.”

At the Sloan Museum, two lovers, who turned out to be a married couple, were taking a selfie in front of the Christmas tree in the Sloan Museum lobby. Jessie and Brad Pittenger have been attending the Holiday Walk for seven years, “We come every year. It’s just a good event for fun, really. We’ve been coming here for seven years, and we have lived in Flint for about eight years,” Jessie said.

A popular exhibit at the Sloan was Winter Wonderland, a miniature Christmas village, made up of over 200 miniature buildings, people, and lights, all set to holiday music.

Steven Waterstradt is one of the organizers behind Winter Wonderland. “This is the work of about four dedicated people, there’s actually seven total that helped work on this, it took seven months to plan and build.”

Waterstradt explained his love of model trains and his involvement in this project, “I ‘ve been into model trains pretty much all of my life, so Scott Schneider, who is responsible for all the Christmas village portion of the display, knew someone here at the Sloan, and he told me that the Sloan wanted model trains going through it, so then he asked if I would be interested in doing it.

When asked what Waterstradt wanted for Christmas, he said, “I could always use some more trains. I’ve got a full basement, but I can never have too many.”

Holiday Walk is sponsored by ABC12, United Way, Cars 108, MTA, View Newspapers, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The date for the 2018 Holiday Walk has already been set for Dec. 4.

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