Firing up the Winter Walk luminarias

Mark Olsen, Olson Brothers ConstructionI’ve been under the impression that youth groups in town prep the luminarias that are set out each year along downtown streets and sidewalks for Winter Walk.  Not so.

The Northfield Chamber staff and adult volunteers fill the bags with sand and a candle and place them on the downtown streets.  At 4 pm, one group of youth volunteers (this year, it’s the Honor Society)  lights the luminarias. At 9 pm, another group picks them up. At noon today, I saw Mark Olsen, Olson Brothers Construction, setting out luminarias along Division St.

New this year: Arts Quarter luminarias which Dean Kjerland blogged about on last night:

Arts Quarter luminarias We will light up the river tonight from 4:30 p.m. until maybe almost midnite with red, candle-lit luminarias.

We’re placing the candles along the two bridges, the footbridge, the handicapped access paths, and both sides of the riverwalk itself.


  1. Dean Kjerland said:

    The red luminarias are a celebration of all the work done so far by Northfield Riverwalk Arts Quarter in meeting the conditions of our grant to create another Northfield destination in the riverwalk neighborhood. The amazing Judy Code (with my help) filled 400 red luminarias with sand this afternoon, ready for The Key to put in place and light. Thanks to those who supplied the funds and to those who supplied the labor…. Dean

    December 4, 2008
  2. David Koenig said:

    Kudos to all involved in Winter Walk this year!

    The crowds were great and the atmosphere was the best I recall.

    Way to go Northfield!

    December 4, 2008
  3. David Ludescher said:

    Kudos to the Chamber AGAIN!

    December 4, 2008
  4. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    Just a little FYI. You were initially correct Griff about youth groups helping with the luminarias. The Northfield Union of Youth (The Key) has helped with all aspects over the years with the luminarias (bagging, placing the bags, and lighting) but chose to scale it back this year to help with the new Art Quarter group and their radiant red luminarias. We knew the Chamber would have a decent amount of help and thought that the Arts Quarter could probably use some help as it was a first time for them. Thanks to Dean for the planning and Judy for the help with bags. And of course thanks to the wonderful kids who helped out to make it look so beautiful.

    December 4, 2008
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for the clarification, Josh.

    Yes, last night was magical… I took about 275 photos but won’t have time to delete/crop/publish an album of them till the weekend.

    December 5, 2008
  6. Peter Schleif said:

    My family and I attended our first Winter Walk last night, and had a marvelous time. As new residents, we are increasingly impressed with the level of involvement, enthusiasm and plain fun that this community offers. Our one year old sat in his backpack, amazed and enthralled by the horses, reindeer, trains and krumkake for nearly two hours!

    December 5, 2008
  7. Kathleen Jasnoch said:

    The Winter Walk was awesome. The Rice County Humane Society adoption event was a huge success. 6 animals found new homes, and we had a huge turnout of supporters. It is heartwarming to see such support in Northfield for our efforts on behalf of the animals. Thanks to everyone who organized the event, especially Abby at By All Means Graphics, who has been instrumental in helping us with adoption events in Northfield, the NDDC and Chamber, and all of our supporters downtown, too many to mention. And we loved being in the Parade! Thanks to Merilyn Calcutt and Sandy Vesledahl for lending their organizational talents! On behalf of the animals who cannot speak for themselves, THANK YOU! Kathy Jasnoch, Vice President, Rice County Humane Society.

    December 5, 2008
  8. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I’m sorry to say word did not reach me that the Chamber was not including the West Side (Water Street) in the luminarias this year. So when I walked out into the street and saw none lighting the way toward my store, I locked up and went home.

    No Winter Walk for me this year.

    December 7, 2008
  9. David Ludescher said:

    Stephanie: I talked to Kathy at the Chamber. Apparently, no one on the West Side donated to Winter Walk. Hence, no luminaries.

    Unfortunately, some West Side Chamber members did not get luminaries, while some on Division who didn’t give to Winter Walk or who aren’t Chamber members got luminaries.

    December 8, 2008
  10. Dean Kjerland said:

    David L.

    Each year, either River Walk Condominiums (or ArtOnWater Gallery in the building) have generously ‘donated’ to the Northfield Chamber of Commerce Winter Walk program. Each year there have been fewer luminaries lighting the westside. Last year only David Hvistendahl and ArtOnWater donated. So, the westside was isolated from the crowds (and retail business) except to the extent of my extra advertising.

    A fortunate opportunity arose this year – the new presence in the downtown of a group devoted to the riverwalk and linking it with the downtown through the numerous approaches. We chose to complement Winter Walk by lighting up the entire otherwise dark and gloomy riverwalk as well as all the pedestrian access routs to it from the rest of ‘downtown’. These included the handicapped access between the Archer House and the Nutting Block, the access along Ooh LaLa, the steps from the 4th St bridge, the footbridge path on both ends of the footbridge, and the access from 2nd St behind ArtOrg.

    Donations in cash and in kind were received and 400 beautiful red luminarias were set in place by the amazing kids from The Key. And we lit the otherwise neglected westside including a connector from the 4th St. bridge around the corner passed Hvistendahl’s property, Barb Matz’s studio, The Key, Basil’s and on to the riverwalk path.

    Every one got lit whether they contributed or not; we’re all in this together and I believe we created a win-win situation for the ‘downtown’. (and we picked up EVERY used luminary and recycled the sand, candles and bags). Private enterprise and action without the carping (except for me).

    Dean Kjerland
    River Walk (Condominium) Association
    ArtOnWater Fine Art Gallery
    Riverwalk Arts Quarter Project

    December 8, 2008
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    David L, are merchants told ahead of time to either donate to Winter Walk or they won’t have luminarias places in front of their business?

    If so, what’s the rationale for that?

    December 8, 2008
  12. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: The Chamber’s approach is to have the luminarias on Divison St. first, whether the businesses are Chamber members or not, and whether the businesses donate or not.

    If there are additional monies available, more luminarias are put out in an expanding area.

    Essentially, the Chamber donates all of the administrative expenses. Donations pay for the direct costs. I have suggested to Kathy that non-Chamber members should pay for all the direct costs, plus cover some administrative costs so that the burden of Winter Walk is allocated more fairly. To date, the Chamber has chosen to be a generous benefactor.

    Dean: No doubt we are all in this together. Please remember that quite a few Chamber members are giving part of their membership dues to pay for the Winter Walk, and they don’t receive the benefit.

    December 9, 2008
  13. kiffi summa said:

    Well, I think, David, that your explanation of the Chamber’s position is really sad. So much for the idea that “a rising tide floats all ships”.
    The west side of the river has worked very hard to be included in the downtown mix.; look at Art on Water, the new Larson building, and the improvements to Basil’s pizza. Are they some kind of second class citizens? If some of the West Siders gave $$, and only some of the Division St merchants gave $$, then I see no reason to treat them differently, unless the west side is just considered, by the Chamber gods, to be lesser.
    Too bad …

    December 9, 2008
  14. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Again, there were no luminarias on the West Side block (Hvistendahl’s, Key, Basil’s) when I left after dark except for the new red ones in front of Art on Water.

    By the way, what was the vandalism at Erbert’s & Gerbert’s? They indicate they are closed indefinitely.

    December 9, 2008
  15. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: The sad reality is that there were not enough contributions to help everyone. Still, the Chamber makes a significant, uncompensated contribution by its administrative assistance. We can’t, in fairness to the rest of the Chamber, give away Chamber money to help those who are unwilling to contribute. We aren’t a charity.

    So, if you wanted to help, rally all of your neighbors to contribute so that all the downtown merchants can have lumininaria. Or, perhaps enlist the aid of the NDDC to put some pressure to ensure that the expenses of Winter Walk are shared by all of the merchants.

    December 10, 2008

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