Crowds traveled from shop to shop looking for good deals, good times with friends and family, free activities, carriage rides, treats and even a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus.
In addition to the community and holiday activities, the Mom-and-Pop shops took the opportunity to celebrate Shop Small Saturday, when all are encouraged to patronize local businesses.
The annual event was a hit, according to Kelly Lippus, the Huron County Chamber of Commerce’s executive director. The chamber offices hosted a meet-and-greet with Saint Nicholas and provided sugar cookie decorating.
Light Up Norwalk “went very well,” she said.
“What better way to get festive?” Lippus said. “It’s a wonderful success and it’s a great thing for the community. It’s a great success for our community to bring people downtown, to bring people together.”
She said having both Light Up Norwalk and Shop Small Saturday on the same day “builds up the hype” and helps everyone — shoppers and business owners alike — “make the most of the day.”
“Everyone (was) out hopping around, shopping, going through the small businesses,” she said. “The vendor building has been doing really well, helping those home-based businesses get a little bit of the action.
Norwalk High School football players are cheerleaders were on hand for the tree lighting. The Truckers reached the state final four before falling to Kettering Alter on Friday night.
Lippus said the community celebrated the Truckers’ success and were proud of them, even if they didn’t reach the state title game.
Having the increased foot traffic was good for the businesses, according to Lisa Hiler, owner of When Pigs Fly.
“It’s really an exciting time to be uptown for this Light Up Norwalk,” Hiler said. “It’s been really busy for us here. We’ve been really excited and really happy. It really helps our businesses and that’s important for our organization. ... We’ve helped over 90 families this year. It’s a good way to wrap up the year. It’s really sweet.”
When Pigs Fly is a non-profit shop is affiliated with the PiggyBack Foundation, which helps families facing life-changing illnesses.
This Light Up Norwalk was especially memorable for 13 children invited to be first in line to meet Santa Claus and receive a gift. Each had received help from the PiggyBack Foundation earlier this year.
Hiler said two of the children had health problems and were not able to attend the event.
The opportunity meant a lot for those who did attend.
“It’s really awesome and a big deal for our families,” she said.
While not among the PiggyBack invitees, Keirra Jamison, 11, of Norwalk, got to meet Santa. The daughter of Tammy Jamison said she was asking Santa for Rollie, My Kissing Puppy — a fluffy, animatronic dog that wags its tail, blinks, gives kisses and makes sounds.
“I’m excited,” she said. ”I maybe want to get that one. And games for my Nintendo Switch, like Mario Cart.”
The young girl said she also was looking forward to seeing the city’s big Christmas Tree lit up, as well as getting to take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
“I’m looking forward to the sleigh ride,” she said. “I do like horses. Horses, even baby horses, are cute. I love them.”
Her mother, who was working at CLI’s Seminary Street vendor location helping CLI clients sell cards they’d made together, said she was glad she was able to bring Keirra to the event and to support her community.
“We’ve shopped all the small shops here in town and gotten a lot of things. She (Kierra) doesn't know about everything that I’ve gotten,” she added with a laugh. “We just love the small-town feeling and all the small town shops; we love it. I try to shop locally whenever I can. I always try to go there before I go to any of the big box stores.
“Norwalk is a unique town like that, so I try and help to keep those small-town shops going. The small-town shopping with Light Up Norwalk encourages everyone to come up and try these shops as well, so it’s really nice.”