FREDERICKTOWN — The Christmas spirit was all over Fredericktown on Sunday afternoon during the annual Fredericktown Christmas Walk, held each year to benefit Food For the Hungry in the Fredericktown area.
There were activities for families and people of all ages throughout downtown. Jill Linhares, Christmas Walk committee co-chairwoman, said the event was successful because of the hard work of several volunteers. Linhares, along with her husband, Paul, has been involved with planning the walk for the past few years.
“People kept calling Paul and volunteering,” Linhares said of the planning of this year’s walk. “They really took ownership of it.”
Although many adults volunteered their time, there were children and teenagers involved in the event as well, along with some four-legged participants at the Christmas Walk. Sophia’s Petting Zoo was set up on the square for the third year. Goats, a llama, chickens and bunnies were all popular with the children at the walk.
Linhares said Sophia Oster is always one of the first volunteers she hears from each year.
“She wants to do it,” she said. “Every year she’s standing out here shivering, and she’ll be here next year with a smile on her face.”
Horse-drawn carriage rides provided by Owl Creek Clydesdales could be taken for a donation. Free wagon rides were also popular, carrying passengers from one event to another.
Farther up Main Street, the jolly old elf himself talked with children at First-Knox National Bank. Each child had a turn telling Santa his or her secret wishes and having a picture taken.
Linhares said the photos were available again this year because of the generosity of some Fredericktown moms.
“We were really worried we wouldn’t be able to print the pictures because Polaroid film is no longer available,” she said.
However, the Tots to Teens Mother’s Club in Fredericktown saved the day by donating a printer to print the digital photos on the spot.
The live ice sculpting done by Elegant Ice Creations of Columbus draws visitors from all over to the Christmas Walk. Fredericktown Chevrolet and First-Knox National Bank sponsored the ice sculptures. Three teams comprised of University of Akron students worked to complete several sculptures while crowds gathered to watch the men with chain saws and chisels work on the giant blocks of ice.
Every year there are new and unique ice creations, and this year was no exception. Students Andy Zamaghias of Alliance and Erik Freay of Medina worked for several hours on a sculpture of a giant squid, while Chef Alford and his students worked on a sleigh big enough for children to sit on.
Kane and Gage Johnston of Fredericktown declared the large ice sleigh with a reindeer in front, “awesome.” Their 6-year-old friend, Jada Stamp of Mount Vernon, said she had never seen such a large piece of ice.
The auction held each year during the walk raised $2,586.50 for FFH. Antique donations were down a little bit this year, according to Linhares, but the donated baked goods with heirloom recipes sold well, raising a big chunk of money to help families in need.
New Life Community Church organized Santa’s Toy Shop, where gently used toys could be purchased at garage sale prices. A crafts bazaar was held at the Presbyterian Church.
The Fredericktown Community Fire District sold enough chili to raise a few hundred dollars for its annual toy drive, which will benefit at least 66 families this year through Interchurch Social Services.
The Order of Eastern Star sold food throughout the afternoon at the Masonic Lodge while people listened to Christmas karaoke with Marcy Rinehart and Chris Johnson from WNZR Radio.
The commemorative ornament, which this year depicted the old firehouse which used to stand on the square, was selling very well, as were the poinsettias. All of the funds raised by both sales will also be given to FFH.
A group of musicians who call themselves the Owl Creek Buskers provided Christmas music in the old coffee house for walkers who wanted to look at the ornaments and poinsettias and take a break from the cold.
Over 20 volunteers helped children create handmade ornaments at the First Baptist Church of Fredericktown. Organizer Carlolyn Fergus said over 200 children stopped into the church during the walk to make ornaments.
Food for the Hungry chairman Sandy Rhoton said the Christmas Walk is very important to FFH fundraising each Christmas, providing funds which will help Fredericktown families throughout the year. By the end of the day, $4,295.73 had been raised.
She said the sprit of giving in Fredericktown touched her deeply.
“It is just fantastic. I have been so impressed with how everybody wants to do something to help people in need,” she said, adding that everyone had something to offer to help with the walk. “They’re using their strengths and giving what they can.
“Everything that happens today stays with Fredericktown Food For the Hungry,” she explained. “Food For the Hungry is not a small organization; it’s a whole lot of people doing what they can to contribute.”