Holiday Stroll brings cheer to the Wayland Town Center (with gallery!)


Credit: Kally Proctor

Children stand and watch Wayland’s annual Christmas tree lighting, the final event of the town’s Holiday Stroll. The Holiday Stroll took place on Saturday, Dec. 11 as a way of spreading holiday cheer amongst Wayland residents after over a year in quarantine.

Katya Luzarraga and Kally Proctor

The Wayland Town Center hosted the 2021 Holiday Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event included many attractions and activities sponsored by the businesses of the town center. The Holiday Stroll allowed members of the Wayland community to discover new businesses and socialize with their neighbors while also spreading holiday cheer.

Heavy rain preceded the event, causing some uncertainty about how the Holiday Stroll would pan out. Fortunately, the heavy rain didn’t stop the festivities planned for the Holiday Stroll, with many eager to restart the tradition after a missed year due to COVID-19. From “Touch-a-Truck” to meeting Elsa and Olaf and Wayland’s annual Christmas tree lighting, there was no shortage of holiday excitement.

“We had this a couple of years ago, pre-COVID,” Wayland resident and btone Fitness owner Suzanne Thornfeldt said. “I remember bringing my kids and doing the tree lighting, and we were totally due to have this again. [This was] a chance to kind of feel like life is resuming as it was.”

The Holiday Stroll has been hosted at the Wayland Town Center since 2018, with the exception of last year due to the pandemic. Each year, the businesses of the town center sponsor activities that people can participate in to win prizes that correlate to the businesses.

“A lot of [businesses] are doing a giveaway,” Thornfeldt said. “A version of a raffle, or fill out the QR code and they can enter to win. In our case, it’s a five-class [fitness] pack and a ski hat.”

In addition, the events also offer a chance for people to spend time with friends and family and connect with their community.

“I think it’s a great outdoor activity,” Wayland resident Karen Kelly said. “Families of all ages can come together and participate in the event while supporting the local retail.”

As people walked around the town center and absorbed the holiday decorations that adorned their surroundings, they had the opportunity to sing carols with the girl scouts, build gingerbread houses on the green, sit with Santa at Ace Hardware and enjoy many more festive activities.

As a long standing Wayland tradition, “Touch-a-Truck” allows kids to learn about different types of trucks that they may see and why they’re important to their community. This event is hosted by the Wayland Fire Department, but all different types of trucks are displayed, like tractors, police cruisers, backhoes, pick-up trucks, front-end loaders and more. Touching trucks isn’t all that children can do at the “Touch-a-Truck” event, they can get their face painted, play in bouncy houses and watch live entertainment.

Wayland firefighters welcomed Santa and Elsa by parading them around the town center, kicking off their “Touch-a-Truck” event that has been going on for 19 years in Wayland.

“[‘Touch-a-Truck’] teaches kids not to be afraid of firetrucks, firefighters and the police officers who come out around here,” fireman Todd Winner said.

Children of all ages swarmed the fields at the Wayland Town Center. The importance of instilling the holiday spirit in people of all ages is what Holiday Stroll is all about.

“My favorite thing to do is see the children that come in,” Wayland High School sophomore Graham Schwendt said. “It’s really wholesome that the whole community has gotten together for this experience.”

The W Gallery, an arts gallery which features local musicians and artists, hosted students from Wayland High School during the Holiday Stroll, including members of the band as well as Tri-M musicians. They performed a collection of holiday classics during their appearance from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., adding to the festive spirit of the event.

“I think [the performances] are good for spreading holiday cheer,” Wayland High School freshman Josh Proctor said.

Proctor, a saxophonist in the high school’s Honors Wind Ensemble, performed at the W Gallery during the event.

“I think after being quarantined for a year, we all need a little bit of joy in our lives,” Proctor said.

Around 5 p.m., the crowd gathered together on the East Green at the town center to witness the annual tree lighting, a staple of Wayland’s Holiday Stroll. The 17-foot tall Christmas tree stood out in front of the dark sky that blanketed Wayland. Celebrating the holiday season, the tree will be lit all through Dec. until Jan. 2, each night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.