Holiday Stroll returns to Wilton Center

The Wilton Chamber of Commerce invites all to this year’s return of the annual Holiday Stroll in Wilton Center on Friday, Dec. 4 at 5:30, to enjoy local shopping and seasonal fun.

Promptly at the start of the two-hour event, Santa Claus and First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice will ride into the center on a “red sleigh” — a fire truck provided and ushered by the Wilton Fire Department.

They will sleigh their way through the downtown area until they reach the Town Green, where they will commence 2015’s ceremonial lighting of the town holiday tree.

Santa won’t be heading back to the North Pole right away; after the tree is lit, he’ll remain in the Town Green gazebo so that children of all ages will be able to share with him their holiday wishes, and he’ll have a special treat for each child.

The Wilton High School band will join Santa at the gazebo to play some holiday tunes. In the event of inclimate weather, Santa will be at Wilton Library, which has its own special events planned for the Holiday Stroll.

Members of the public are invited to Wilton Library at 137 Ridgefield Road, which will be open from 5:30 to 7:30 offering refreshments and a fireplace to warm by. “Ornaments” — or wish list items — can be taken from the library’s Giving Tree by people interested in benefiting the Wilton Library Association.

Weather permitting, a telescope will be set up in the library parking lot for stargazing.

Adding to the festivities, all downtown merchants will have extended hours the evening of the 4th, and the Chamber encourages “those who are in town to stroll through and shop,” said Carol Johnson of the Chamber’s board of directors. “Many of the merchants will be offering refreshments for people to enjoy during their shopping.”

But retailers aren’t the only businesses that will be open during the Holiday Stroll, Johnson said. “Some of the real estate offices will be open serving refreshments, as well as the Chamber.”

“It’s a really nice opportunity to kick off the holiday season for people who live in town,” Johnson said of the stroll, “and it’s a really nice opportunity for people to shop Wilton, dine Wilton and enjoy Wilton.”

The Wilton Chamber of Commerce has coordinated the annual Holiday Stroll since its inception in 1989.

This year’s stroll, however, will differ from those of years past, as a result of fundraising efforts spearheaded by outgoing First Selectman Bill Brennan and several members of the Chamber.

Fresh garlands and new bows decorating Wilton Center lamp posts will premiere at the Holiday Stroll, as well as the addition of a big red chair that kids can climb on for play and their parents can use for holiday photo-opportunities.

Also resulting from public donations and efforts of the holiday working group, which was composed of Brennan, Ann Nash from Signature Style, Nancy Saxe from Sweet Pierre’s and Peg Koellmer from Realty Seven, all 6,000 lights on the holiday tree have been replaced with bright, efficient LED bulbs, purchased at discount from Wilton Hardware.