There is something that I find magical about this time of year. Maybe it is the first snow, the lights, the music, or perhaps the friendly atmosphere. Many of these qualities are showcased every year at Winter Walk. Winter Walk is one of those traditions that I think really lets a small town, like Northfield, shine! It lets people get out and about, to meet people they might not have seen before, which in small town Minnesota is a rarity, and it gives friends an excuse and chance to catch up. Usually winter comes around and the cold sets in and everyone seems to hunker down for the winter, but Winter Walk seems to draw people out of their homes.
This year was no exception. There were plenty of people roaming downtown, stopping in the shops and supporting the local VFW or TORCH’s soup dinner at the armory. Each year has a slightly different feel, while this year, the mild temperatures might have drawn more people out onto the streets, last year’s light fluffy snowfall also seemed to have a magical effect on the town.
So far I have written posts about community connections and about pursuing activities in fields that individuals are passionate about. Again, Winter Walk seems to rise to the occasion and supports both of those themes. It is a great time to have a community gathering, facilitated by local stores giving out hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies, and more. It also gives local businesses and artisans, this year hosted at the armory, a chance to share the things they love doing and also get support, typically monetary, to continue doing what they enjoy.
My reasons for enjoying Winter Walk every year are not because of the great sales. I like the feeling that I get of being part of a community, being involved in a group larger than myself, which supports its members, especially when they are doing things they enjoy. I also think that it would be great if there was that kind of support and community year-round. Granted, Northfield does have more of a sense of community than most other places, but there are still groups who are left out, individuals who are not supported or considered part of the community. So my challenge to those of you who live in Northfield, and even if you don’t you can still do this in your own community: I challenge you to continue that warm spirit and supporting nature, that seems infectious during this time of year, as long as you can. Whether that is a couple weeks after Christmas or a couple months, maybe if enough people start doing it we will get it to be a yearlong feeling. And Northfield might really be able to exemplify the third noun on its welcome sign “cows, colleges, and contentment”. Perhaps instead of being defined by the first two nouns Northfield can be defined by the third, wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?