WATERLOO — Most children could not contain their excitement at Winter Wonder’Loo in downtown Waterloo on Saturday night.
But Chloie McDonald, 9, and her brother, Jackson, 5, were content to calmly sit in the back of the Black’s Building and draw on a Christmas-themed activity page.
It wasn’t that they were unimpressed with the multitude of offerings at the Christmas kick-off and Small Business Saturday extravaganza. No, the Waterloo siblings had simply beaten their peers in getting through all the activities.
They weren’t anxiously waiting to talk to Santa, or squeezing in at a table to make Christmas crafts, or seeking presents for family and friends. They’d already done it all.
“My favorite part was seeing Santa,” said Chloie. “I got to tell him what I wanted for Christmas.”
She giggled as she recalled how Santa Claus misheard her request, believing at first she wanted a dog rather than a doll. But she managed to convey her point.
Jackson agreed with his sister’s observations, but he was committed to his drawing.
Chloie said she also liked the opportunity to go to the North Pole shopping area, where kids could get items for $1 and shop with a volunteer for secret gifts to give family members on Christmas Day. Half the proceeds from the sales will go to the Waterloo West High chorus for its spring trip.
Randi McDonald brought her children to Winter Wonder’Loo because of the “unique” opportunity for children to shop for family members. It was their first time at the holiday event.
Though the McDonalds considered staying for the tree lighting, Chloie said they were awaiting the chance to spend the night with grandma.
The tree lighting was added to this year’s Winter Wonder’Loo, along with a date change so it coincided with Small Business Saturday, a chance for people to shop locally and downtown. In Waterloo, shoppers could sample fudge at participating locations.
Harry Carson, owner of Tri-City Clothing, said this was the first year he participated in the fudge walk. Carson said he saw more foot traffic, if not necessarily sales, thanks to the downtown event.
“We had quite a few people come by,” Carson said, adding things only just calmed down as the other festivities downtown began to pick up.
Outside the shop — and throughout downtown — West High School students sang carols starting at 4 p.m. before gathering by the tree for a choral Christmas concert after the tree lighting.
Both Mayor Quentin Hart and Main Street Waterloo Executive Director Tavis Hall offered brief comments about why Waterloo is a great place. But they spent little time on the remarks so they could join the community in counting down from 10 to light the tree in Newton’s Park.
West High choir director James Healy summed up the sentiments: “It’s a real community event,” hesaid, before asking the audience to sing along as the choir kicked off its concert with “Silent Night.”
Meanwhile, Santa quietly went back to work, taking present requests from children, offering candy canes and smiling for parents and relatives to snap photos.
Hall had anticipated about 750 people, but thought the number was larger thanks to the grander offerings of activities and great weather.
“All in all, I think it’s been a good night. It’s been great,” he said.