Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Strolling down Christmas Lane

New London community comes together for holiday tradition
Dec 05, 2017
Photo by: Grace King Oscar the Grouch welcomed holiday strollers at one end of New London’s Main Street and Santa and Mrs. Claus welcomed them on the other on Saturday, Dec. 2.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Oscar the Grouch greeted holiday strollers in New London on one side of Main Street with a teasing “Get off my street.” On the opposite end of Main Street, Santa and Mrs. Claus listened to what children want for Christmas. In between was the real excitement.

The New London Holiday Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 2, featured a petting zoo in the Fire Department, horse drawn carriage rides, kiddie barrel rides, face painting in the various businesses and several food vendors accepting freewill donations.

Five 10-year-old boys independently ran into The Hair Company on Main Street, excitedly looking for the caricature artist, trying to finish munching on their heavily frosted sugar cookies before impatiently waiting in line.

Only 30 minutes into the holiday stroll, Nick Powero said the boys had already decorated cookies, checked out the petting zoo and were eager to get their caricature portrait done by artist Bill Douglas.

Owner of The Hair Company, Shannon Wellington said that this was her 12th year opening her doors to the stroll. “It’s fun,” she said. “I used to actually run the holiday stroll, but it got to be too much,” Wellington added, as her two-year-old son, dressed as an elf, squirmed in her arms.

Across the street, music spilled out from the Linkin Center where people sat with family and friends eating chili and watching people from the community perform.

Teyanna Lane had just finished her hip-hop routine. She said it’s a good practice for performing in front of judges at competitions. This isn’t her first year performing at the holiday stroll, and afterward, her favorite part is decorating cookies at the fire station.

When asked what his favorite part of the holiday stroll is each year, Teyanna’s brother, Jordan, pointed at his sister. “Watching her perform,” he said.

After Teyanna finished her dance routine, she tagged along with her parents, Lashay and Tyler Lane, and her siblings to take a picture with Santa Claus.

In the front of the fire station, Doris Dickey placed sugar cookies from Hy-Vee bakery on individual napkins. “We got 60 dozen cookies we’re giving away,” she said, adding that they used to bake all the cookies themselves, but it got to be a little too much over the years.

Past the sticky children frosting Christmas cookies and parents trying to catch them before they put the frosting knife in their mouth, the garage of the fire station was filled with animals showing off in their holiday best.

“Have you seen the kid’s faces?” Linda Smith said as she sat on a chair in a pen with a pig named Hamlet dressed in red and green frills. “Between the pig and the spotted horse, it’s so unique to see kids not afraid. They want to pet them and their faces just light up. There’s such a connection between kids and animals and you see it in here.”

Jesse Logan picked up one kid after another to let them sit on his horse Maizy, swinging them onto her saddle. “She’ll be ready to get back home when the night is over,” he said with a chuckle as a little girl sat proudly on the horse beaming at her mother as she got her picture taken. “We’ve been coming to the holiday stroll for the last six years,” Logan said.

Deedra Graber was beaming too, but for a different reason. As the elementary school student sat with her sheep Mary and Doddy, she encouraged other children to come up and pet them.

“It’s really awesome when I see people crowding around the pen because I feel like my sheep are famous,” Graber said, as she played with a ball of fur she had groomed from Mary.

Six-year-old Kylie Loyd enjoyed showing off her Iowa State Fair award-winning mini herford cows as well. “She likes showing off her cows,” her uncle Culley Loyd said.

A little way off leaning against his truck, Dewey Loyd, watched his granddaughter Kylie interact with her cows. “She makes the rest of us look bad,” he said with pride.

Throughout the rest of the fire station garage, children were sticking their chubby hands through cages, petting docile cats, bunnies, even a goose. Some of the animals were up for adoption from the New London animal shelter. Other more exotic animals, like snakes, were brought by the Fairview Zoo.

At the end of the holiday stroll, Dover Museum’s “Little White Chapel” with only two rows of pews beckoned in the dark, twinkling night.

“This is kind of dedicating it,” Marvin Klos said. The Little White Chapel was relocated next to the Dover Museum, reroofed and fixed with a new steeple recently thanks to a grant from Enhance Henry County Communities.

Above all, holiday stroll-goers appreciated the mild December weather and the tradition of the holiday stroll.

Waiting in line for Santa Claus, Halee Lane, of Mt. Pleasant, reminisced on the holiday strolls she went to as a child growing up in New London. Now with her three children, it’s “a little different experience,” she said.

“It’s fun watching them see it all. One of my favorite memories were a lot of the live window displays,” Halee said. Although they aren’t as prevalent during the holiday stroll this year as they were in years past, Halee spoke fondly of the Whoville display in the window of the New London Public Library.

“It’s fun taking our kids here,” Halee’s husband, Adam Lane, said. “They have a blast.”

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