Hancock Christmas walk dazzles, delights
City’s business association puts on event
HANCOCK — As a line of families along Quincy Street watched and took photos, Santa Claus pulled up in his sleigh — or rather, on the back of a Hancock fire truck.
So began the annual Christmas Walk, which drew families for wagon rides, toasty treats, fun activities, and of course, a visit with Santa.
The Hancock Business Association puts on the festival, now in its 53rd year. They start preparations in August or September, said event co-coordinator Shelley Lucchesi, who’s coordinated the event with Carol Freeman for the past six years.
It gets bigger every year, Lucchesi said. This year’s changes included a food truck from Griffin Cafe, and fresh popcorn outside City Hall.
“We like to try new things and make more things for people to do, so it’s not just the tree,” she said.
As it’s gotten bigger, it’s drawn more volunteers, to the point where Lucchesi and Freeman were able to spend part of Friday night just enjoying the fun, Lucchesi said. The city’s Department of Public Works and firefighters assist in the event. So do the Hancock Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, whose members handle numerous tasks throughout the night, such as playing Santa’s elves.
“It’s great to see us all work together and accomplish such a great event,” Lucchesi said.
After Santa Claus presided over the lighting of the tree in Veterans Park, he sat down on a bench to meet with a line of kids that stretched down Quincy Street.
Lindsey Kovala’s children were some of the first who got to give Santa their Christmas list.
“They’re so happy,” she said. “This is their first year here. We’re going to go walk around and check it out.”
Families could ride down the street on a wagon, or around Quincy Street in a vehicle pulled by sled dogs. A mailbox was also set up in Veterans Park where kids can drop off letters to Santa until Dec. 20.
Crafts stations were also set up at spots throughout downtown.
Kate Van Susante and her son Xander, 9, of Houghton, painted pottery at Magic Kiln Studio.
Xander’s favorite part of Christmas Walk is “everything.”
He especially likes the decorating and eating cookies, Kate said.
“And we absolutely loved seeing Santa,” she said.
Having the crafts spread out across several locations was a good move, said Xander’s grandmother, Lynne Robertson of Allouez. This year, cookie decorating was moved to the Copper Country Community Arts Center.
“When I was here before and it was at City Hall, it was so crowded and it was such a long line that we couldn’t do the cookies,” she said.
Outside New Power Tour, people made bird feeders by filling the empty spaces in a pine cone with peanut butter, then rolling the cones in a tub of birdseed. Once they’re done, they put a hanger on it and stick it in a plastic bag for the ride home.
The idea came from the late Deb Mann, who formerly ran the booth, said New Power Tour Executive Director Melissa Davis.
“Out of everything she planned, this was the thing she did at this event,” Davis said. “It’s really cute. People like it.”
Amber Alzabaidi, a Ph.D. student at Michigan Technological University from Atlantic Mine, stopped by to make one of the feeders. It was their first time at the Christmas Walk for Alzabaidi, originally from Saudi Arabia.
Her favorite part had been the tree lighting.
“It’s pretty nice,” she said of the event. “It’s interesting to see what they have. We had fun.”
Todd Gast, the city’s community development coordinator, was stopping in to see businesses in the downtown, who he said had been busy Friday night. Many of them were also stops on the HBA’s Scavenger Hunt, which enable children to be eligible for prizes if they can collect every sticker.
“These are the type of events that we just love that get everybody out,” he said. “Nothing like hearing some live music with some Christmas carols going,” he said. “…It’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.”