Madison Street sidewalks were full of revelers at Friday’s Holiday Walk, despite temperatures dipping into the teens.
Cold weather meant merchants had to get creative to lure holiday walkers into their shops – they used live music amplified by P.A. systems, gave away hot meatballs and cocoa and some just left doors open to the elements.
As usual, the merchant’s shop windows were the hit of the Holiday Walk.
Jef Anderson of Yearbook, 7316 Madison St., created a snow-covered tinker’s cabin in the woods and documented the creation of the display in a photo-collage on Facebook.
Santa Claus made an appearance at Stencib, 7503 Madison St., stenciling Christmas patterns in the front window. Children watched Fred Bryant work on a creative creation next to a toy train at Accents by Fred, 7519 Madison St.
Attendance was a bit down due to cold weather, said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurie Kokenes. “But we had a good-sized happy crowd with lots of smiles and great comments heard throughout the street,” she said.
At Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St., Historical Society of Forest Park Director Diane Hansen sold Forestparkopoly board games and copies of Des Plaines River Anthology, accompanied by Christmas music played by the Elmhurst Brass Ensemble.
In the window of Schauer’s Hardware, 7449 Madison St., a human dancing puppet flailed in the window. Santa was taking Christmas requests with Mrs. Claus in the lobby of Forest Park National Bank, 7348 Madison St., where walkers could warm up with hot cocoa, cider and cookies. The Madrigal sounds of the Pippins floated through the lobby.
“I was pleased to see more merchants participating,” Kokenes said. Consolidated Auto Service was the Title Sponsor which kept the event free, she added.
“It isn’t possible for everyone to do a live window, but merchants had raffles and gave away delicious cupcakes, had beautifully decorated windows, singers or story tellers in their window or in their stores.”
Jimmy’s Place, 7411 Madison St., offered piping hot meatballs and more hot chocolate to participants.
Everyone wondered what pugnificent display would be awaiting at dee dee and edee, 7415 Madison St., where a cohort of pudgy pug pals make an appearance in costume every year. This year did not disappoint with the theme of “knights in shining armor.” The dogs wore tiny knights on saddles around each portly paunch as they sniffed each other near a pugged-up princess with a blonde wig. Deb Dworman left her windows open for pug-petting opportunities and more dogs were lounging with their owners in the shop.
Recorder music was performed in the windows of Team Blonde, 7442 Madison St., and Daniel Gasse and his cello-plying kids from Gasse School of Music performed behind glass with an amplifier pumping out their music. Forest Park Emporium antique mall, 7345 Madison St., sponsored a throwback window to the early sixties with a live go-go dancer – in a beaded cage.
Revelers lined up to pet two live reindeers, sponsored by Todd & Holland and Montessori Language Academy. The two bell-wearing creatures were on a brief visit from their home at Summerfield Farms to Forest Park before their sleigh schlepping duties later in the month.
Next door, at Todd & Holland Tea Company, 7311 Madison St., dancing ballerinas performed wind-up doll dances in Swedish-influenced costumes surrounded by a festive holiday living room setting, with, of course, a tea tray and silver tea service.
Camile et Famile, 7418 Madison St., also went Victorian with Oak Park actors Claire and Tim Cooke dressed as characters from the PBS series Downton Abbey. Children warmed up and had their faces painted at Paulson’s Paint, 7400 Madison St.
Yellow-suited “minion” elves at Flavour Cooking School, 7401 Madison St., had perhaps the most surprising flavor on the holiday walk. They created delicious Christmas cookies for walkers to devour mixing up cranberries, raisins and butterscotch and chocolate coating. The secret ingredients in each cookie were chow mein noodles.
“It’s just a great feeling to be out there seeing folks enjoying themselves,” Kokenes said. “They were marveling at the live reindeer, roasting marshmallows, enjoying a carriage ride or special treats compliments of the merchants and observing the windows.”