Thousands of people were out and about to welcome the holidays at Sunday’s 34th Annual Corona del Mar Christmas Walk.
“This year, there’s a lighter feel,” said Mike Curtin, owner of the Toy Boat Toy Boat Toy Boat shop, where 90 percent of the day’s sales were donations for Toys For Tots. “People seem more hopeful. It’s been a very good day.”
Bands played live music throughout the village, including the OASIS Senior Center’s ukulele strummer’s group, which played Christmas music near Sherman Library & Gardens. In the windows of the White Dress wedding shop, live model in bridal gowns stood in the windows, waving and toasting Champagne flutes to passersby.
Rain was in the forecast, but the drizzle held off until late in the day. The cooler, gray weather gave the event a wintry, holiday feel, said Linda Leonhard, president of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event. About 5,000 to 6,000 people attended Sunday’s Walk, she said.
In the city parking lot below Bandera restaurant, a snow machine blew faux snow on the crowd that gathered to buy tickets to the beer and wine garden and to grab free candy cane balloon art.
At the Brown and Stowell Surterre Properties office, U.S. Navy Capt. Donald Bittner talked to friends and passersby after spending the past two Christmases overseas in military hospitals. Two years ago, Bittner served at a trauma center in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and last year, he was deputy director of Naval personnel at a military hospital in Germany.
In Afghanistan, he said, soldiers from around the world decorated a boardwalk area on the NATO base to represent their country’s holiday traditions.
“I liked ours best,” he said. “We had a tree with flags, decorated with red, white and blue ribbons.”
Many of his patients there were Afghan children, he said.
“Children are children, no matter what part of the world they live in,” he said. “They want to be loved and be happy. We tend to think we’re so different, but our basic needs are all the same…It’s nice, today, to see all the children, all their smiling faces.”
Mayur Cuisine of India made fresh naan in a tandoori oven on the sidewalk, and other restaurants had small bites they sold on the sidewalk.
The Christmas Walk also featured vendors who offered samples and prizes, the Newport Beach firefighters’ barbecue, stilt-walkers who roamed the village, a bounce house and a bungee jump for kids.
“I flipped twice,” said Bella Pouliot, a Harbor View fourth-grader. “It was the best part of the day.”