Marshalltown kicks off the season with annual Holiday Stroll

The weather outside was frightful but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from attending the Holiday Stroll Saturday night.

With a variety of activities from a lighted parade to a live nativity scene, locals kicked off the holiday season in downtown Marshalltown with the temperature at 12 degrees.

“I think it went great,” said Dorie Tammen, Holiday Stroll chairperson. “I think the cold weather has kept people in the stores. As I’ve been walking up and down Main Street I stopped in a fair number of the stores and they all seem to be filled with lots of people inside, I think it’s really neat.”

Melinda Wolken, of Marshalltown, was drinking a warm beverage inside Rhubarb & Lace.

“It’s just really cold,” Wolken said. “It’s too cold to be going out, but we go every year. This year is one of the coldest I think.”

Pam Swarts, owner of The Perfect Setting, visited with people gathered in her store.

“I think the turnout is fantastic,” Swarts said. “There’s a lot of conflicts going on with the schedule tonight, I’d be home watching Iowa State football, but we are delighted with the number of people that are here that have never been here before so that’s neat. It’s a nice way to gain exposure.”

McKenzie Standley, of Marshalltown, was serving warm beverages in the hallway outside of Rhubarb & Lace.

“We had a lot of little kids and families that come in and warm up and drink hot chocolate and venture back out,” Standley said. “At least tonight everybody will be visiting the stores which is a plus. People come in and look around for a little bit which is very nice, it’s kind of in our benefit.”

In addition to filling stores, Jenny Etter, Marshalltown Central Business District director said the Tiny Tim Tree Festival had a great turnout.

“We’ve had a better turnout this year,” Etter said. “I think it’s just because people are getting inside.”

Santa’s Workshop offered a place for children to visit Santa, eat cookies and make a craft.

The singers inside the window of Denny’s Hometown Appliance Center drew a small crowd outside.

Linda Johnson has been singing in that window at the Holiday Stroll for 17 years.

“It’s kind of cold so it doesn’t seem like very many are out there but it’s fun to sing for one, or 100, it doesn’t matter,” Johnson said.

Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper, a guest singer, sang “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” with Johnson and Denny Grabenbauer.

“It was embarrassing,” Tupper said. “I had a lot of fun. I’ll do anything for my friend Denny.”

Tupper said the Holiday Stroll is a great event for Marshalltown.

Grabenbauer has been the emcee of the Holiday Stroll event for years.

“The weather can be a deterrent to an event like this but this is the Holiday Stroll, and the theme of it is ‘Meet Me Downtown’ – we’re meeting everybody downtown, there is a lot going on,” Grabenbauer said. “The courthouse looks beautiful with the lights turned on. All in all it’s a great event.”

This was the 22nd annual Holiday Stroll.

“If we could’ve turned the heat up it would’ve been better,” said Keith McDonald, of State Center. “But it was good and we enjoyed the music a lot. It’s a good way to kick off the season. It’s been a wonderful tradition.”