Hudson -- Even Mother Nature seemed to be in the Christmas spirit Dec. 8 for the annual Hudson Holiday Walk, as predicted freezing rain and sleet missed the area and allowed crowds to enjoy visits with Santa, concerts of carolers, rides in a horse drawn carriage and gazing upon the live Nativity scene on the downtown Green.
"The weather was wonderful, but a little cold," said Liz Murphy, of Destination Hudson. "Horse and carriage rides lent a wonderful old fashioned air to the whole event and carolers sang in locations all over town, adding a festive sound.
"Several merchants told me it was busy," she said. "The visitor center was busy -- our first order of jigsaw puzzles is almost sold out, but more will be here by Christmas."
Debra Sherman is the marketing coordinator for the Merchants of Hudson and First & Main.
"Despite the chilly temperatures, thousands of families strolled Main Street, First & Main and the adjacent areas taking in the holiday activities and making memories," Sherman said.
Holiday music wafted through the streets courtesy of the Western Reserve Community Band and the Salvation Army Brass Ensemble as well as the Girl Scouts and A Children's Theatre of Hudson kids singing carols throughout the afternoon, she said.
"Favorites with the kids were feeding the live reindeer and viewing the Nativity scene on the Clocktower Green including the live camel," according to Sherman.
Sherman said the horse drawn carriage rides led by "the handsome horses Charlie and Buddy were very popular again this year."
Santa was able to "carve out some time to visit with kids at Epiphany, Janet Rhodes Brings You Fair Trade and Hudson's Restaurant before heading back to the North Pole to assume his busy schedule preparing for the big night," Sherman said.
"It was our first year having Santa in our store," said Eric Pickering, owner of Epiphany. "He stopped by from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We had nice groups of families visiting the whole time he was here."
Rhodes called the walk wonderful.
"We had many people come to the store, shop, enjoy wassail, send holiday greetings to our troops oversees through the Bring Home the Holidays to Our Soldiers campaign -- and to visit Santa," Rhodes said. "It was adorable to see all the children crawl into Santa's lap."
Rhodes had a "lovely turnout" at her store.
"I love being right across the street from the live Nativity," she said. "I got to look up all day at angels and shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and sometimes I even got a glimpse of Baby Jesus."
The live Nativity was built and presented by members of the First Congregational Church.
"It was a wonderful year at the live Nativity," said Dee Buchanan, children's ministry director. "People were so joyful and so happy to see us! We had a couple of parents place their babies into our 'Mary's' arms in order to have their baby pictured in the Nativity. One was just two weeks old."
There was a slight problem as a pregnant cow escaped the pen as the handlers were putting the 8-month-old baby camel into the pen.
Buchanan called it a near miss.
"The son of the handler caught up with her and grabbed her by the horns right next to the clock tower before she got to Aurora Street," he said.
Three camels helped with the realism.
"Before the Nativity opened we had the opportunity to walk H2 (Herbie the Second,) who is the oldest and tallest of the camels, up to the church to take some pictures in front of the building," Buchanan said. "That caused a wonderful stir along Aurora Street as he walked there and back."
Three babies played Jesus, Eli Zarges, Clara Hockstra and Brooklyn Lopick.
"All three of them were delightful," Buchanan said. "They each enjoyed their time inside our little three-sided, heated stable. And of course, all of our visitors 'ooohhhed' and 'ahhhed' over them."
Rhodes expressed gratitude for the support shown by the Hudson community.
"They are such a loyal group of citizens who come out to support us every time," she said.
Murphy also wanted to express her thanks to everyone for visiting and shopping locally.
"Lots of effort went into making the day a wonderful experience -- it's what makes Hudson so special," Murphy said. "And the best way to ensure that this sort of celebration happens again is to support local businesses."
Attendees were also invited to "Christmas in Vienna: Holiday Concert of Hudson Community Chorus" at the First Congregational Church Fellowship Hall.
"The concert was beautiful and very well attended," according to Holly Harris, chorus president. "For many, our concert is a tradition and a great way to kick off the holiday season. It sets the mood."
The performance featured works by Mozart and Bruckner and was underwritten by The Richard A. and Michelle R Schultz Family Fund.
"There were definitely more in attendance than last year," Harris said. "Extra seating needed to be added twice."
"All in all, the Hudson Holiday Walk was a great success and was a great representation of what makes Hudson such a wonderful community to work, live and play," Sherman said.