The Santa House, manned by Santa Claus, enjoyed brisk traffic during the chill December evening as the event opened at 5 p.m. By 7 p.m., there were still stragglers coming in to have a talk inside the small structure lit with Christmas lights.
At Depot Square, crowds lined up for the Stroll's most anticipated attraction — horse drawn carriage rides from the depot to Market Square. The carriages, driven by Roland Barrett of Barrett Farms, delivered several groups of cheerful riders up and down Main Street, past carolers and pedestrians who were eager to call out, "Merry Christmas."
In between, businesses were open with special offers and street performers, including a clown making balloon animals all night for kids.
In Market Square, City Side offered free hot chocolate and cinnamon buns along with respite from the cold. Next door, RiverzEdge served up games and a potluck, and LeMoulin was decorated for the season with a faux fireplace, couch and a full-occupancy array of businesses new since last year's Stroll.
Ainsley Morisseau Cantoral said there were fewer people this year than last, due to a few canceled events, including the caroling contest and a closing of the City's 125th anniversary celebration planned for the lot across from the Woonsocket Call. Al Beauparlant, architect of the 125th Anniversary Block Party, had planned to re-build the Arc de Triomphe in the lot with an added feature to the spectacle, The Woonsocket Rocket, a 5-foot high model that was to be pulled to the top of the Arc with fireworks, but arrangements and permits for the show were not in place in time.
The annual winter-themed event is intended to bring neighbors together to celebrate the holidays while enjoying Woonsocket’s historic downtown, which the Stroll still pulled off, said Morisseau Cantoral.
She said the cold seemed to draw many members of this year's smaller crowd inside, but, "That means they were all packed in the businesses," Morisseau Cantoral said.