Every family has a list of Christmas traditions; one of the season’s first is the Annual Holiday Walk at the Cultural Center, a free event. During this event, the beautiful 33-acre Cultural Center campus is transformed into a winter wonderland with holiday light displays, festive music, holiday theatre performances, seasonal craft demonstrations, refreshments and much more. Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Santa Claus kick off the walk every year when they light the Christmas tree at the annual tree lighting ceremony, says Sarah Dunne, Event Coordinator. Walling has been part of the tree-lighting tradition since 2009 and looks forward to it every year, she said. The evening’s most popular event, according to Sarah, comes after the tree is lit, when Santa makes his way to The Whiting for family visits and photo opportunities. “There is something so magical about getting your photo taken with Santa at the Whiting,” says Sarah, “Visitors line up for hours!”
The Holiday Walk has been going on for 30 years and began as the Cultural Center’s way of giving back to the community, Sarah reports. Thousands of visitors attend the free event each year and there is something for everyone. Applewood, Flint Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Music, Flint Public Library, Flint Youth Theatre, Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum, Sarvis Conference Center, The Whiting, and the Whaley Historic House Museum offer a variety of free fun activities. “There is so much going on!” exclaimed Sarah. “Every building is always packed.” She explained that each building has its own specific activity, most of them related to what their respective organizations offer: musical performances at FIM, ornament decorating at the Library, a children’s holiday film at FIA, etc.
And of course, when it’s cold outside, visitors can warm up with a steaming cup of rich cocoa or coffee and enjoy a variety of refreshments at the different buildings, says Sarah. Donations are accepted and visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food or personal care item to be donated to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “Our main goal is to thank the community for supporting us,” Sarah said. “This truly is a community event.”