Have you ever had chestnuts roasting on an open fire?
How about a cookie baked curbside as the snow flutters down on the griddle?
Have you been in a town where the broad main street is closed to all but pedestrian traffic and a horse-drawn sleigh (okay, it’s a wagon, but shut your eyes and pretend) decked out with boughs of holly?
If not, get yourself to Red Lodge, Montana the first weekend of December to indulge in their traditional, everyone-goes-all-out Christmas stroll and have a taste of … well, everything.
When I was a regular attendee (ah, to having once been a resident!), the magic of stroll started off with a play performed at the, as of this year, 100-year-old Roman Theatre, where high school students dazzled you with their talents. The first time I went I was awed that this tiny high school—grade 9 through 12 totals about 165 kids—was filled with so much natural pizzaz. In all my years of going, I never stopped being amazed. Sadly, this tradition has faded away, but never fear, lots of other fun things are happening.
You dive into the evening walking up and down and zigzagging across Broadway—Red Lodge’s main drag—and you eat and you visit and eat and visit some more. Businesses open their doors for Christmas gift shopping, enticing you in with various smells … like red beans & rice, hot cocoa and cider, kettle-cooked popcorn … and more.
If you want to indulge in a holiday beverage or two, that’s on hand also. (Just know that so are the police and sheriffs, so don’t over imbibe if you’re the one getting behind the wheel for the drive home.)
Music plays over the loud speakers affixed to quaint street light poles, setting the mood. If you’re fortunate, the perfect amount of snow will be dropping its fresh white coat over the whole scene. But be prepared—it’s Red Lodge, after all, and the weather could be ten below or fifty above. Layers, people! This is the land that demands dressing in layers. Peel them off or pile them on.
The Stroll Evolves
New since my last stroll, is the Blade Parade on Friday night. Red Lodge’s humor shows through in the imaginative way snow plows are decorated. Anything for a chuckle.
Santa puts in an appearance—riding around town on the plow of his choice or that sleigh, er, wagon. He’s also available for photo opps Saturday afternoon if you pop into the Elks Lodge.
The stroll advertising poster is always a treat—competition is held for local artists and range from the Norman Rockwell to the totally whimsical. Look for them in the windows and admire the talent.
Red Lodge, and its varied events, is diverse and attracts all manner of individuals to live and visit. Make sure that when you get to Stroll, you’re taking time to converse with old friends and gift yourself some new ones.
Need a place to stay? Check out a stroll-deal at Red Lodge Rentals!
When you go:
Be prepared for walking and for extreme cold or comfortable weather.
If there’s enough snow, don those cross country skis and scoot around town on them—you won’t be the only one.
Events begin at 6:00 p.m. Doors close at 9:00.
Attendance is free, but be ready to support local shop owners with your purchases.
Read: So this is Christmas