If shopping and Christmas songs on the radio haven’t lifted the spirit of locals, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce hopes the annual Christmas Walk did the trick.
Thousands packed the courthouse square for the event in downtown Geneva.
“This is an opportunity for the community to join in celebration of the holidays, to enjoy the beautiful downtown, the retailers, the restaurateurs and all those who make our community special,” Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said. “It’s a way to kickoff the festive Christmas season.”
Laura Rush, communications manager for the chamber, said the event’s popularity is clear.
“Not only do they come back year after year, they enjoy it,” she said.
Alexa Sommer, of St. Charles, was mingling with friends as the tree was lit.
“I feel like (the turnout’s) crazy,” she said. “There’s so many people and all ages. It’s pretty good.”
Sommer said attending the Christmas Walk is a tradition she and her friends share.
“I feel like we come every year and just kind of hangout and see the lighting of the tree and everything,” she said.
Sommer said it’s also her favorite time of year.
“I feel like it’s so fun,” she said. “The All Chocolate Kitchen does like the longest candy cane and Grahams will give out like the … candy canes. Everybody comes down to walk around and kind of hang out even when it’s freezing.”
Molly McKay, of Geneva, also enjoyed the Christmas Walk, and it was her first time attending.
“We love everything about Geneva and all the activities that Third Street has to offer,” she said. “We’re just trying to kickoff the holiday season and enjoy the lights.”
This year was McKay’s first time attending the Christmas Walk.
McKay said she was looking forward to visiting some of the stores and restaurants in downtown Geneva.
Noting that she had some trouble finding a parking spot, McKay said coming out was worth it.
“We’re just excited to see all the little kids running around and everyone just out and about,” she said. “I saw that (some businesses) had some… live mannequins and music in the windows and the stores. It’s really cool all the shops are getting involved and just making it really special for everyone.”
Cyle Stevenson, of Geneva, mirrored that sentiment.
“I think it’s a good way … to kickoff the holiday season,” he said. “I think, the end of the year is kind of a chaotic time for everybody, and you know, it’s a way to kind of hit the refresh button. It’s a ‘forget everyone’s troubles and just kind of come together as a community and start to celebrate the holidays.’”
Stevenson said he was surprised by this year’s turnout.
“When I was younger, I used to come every year,” he said. “It was a lot smaller, though, than it is now. Over the past 10 to 15 years, I would say it’s grown exponentially.”
Burns said the event’s importance rings true for many.
“I think it’s critically important that we as a community come together through the festivals and the opportunities that are run by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our togetherness, to celebrate our fellowship, to celebrate our trust and faith in each other to make our community strong and bright,” he said.
As people look forward to the Christmas Walk every year, Rush said the main thrust of the event remains the same.
“We just don’t want to mess with tradition,” she said.