Doesn’t a chocolate walk sound like the perfect setting for a holiday romance movie? That might be the case in Hallmark Land. Can’t you just imagine the colorful booths, carols piped over speakers, awkward quilt batting snow, a cozy sleigh ride, and of course a Christmas tree lighting ceremony next to an outdoor skating rink with lovers snuggled together gazing at each other with that knowing glow in their eyes as they sip hot chocolate? Sounds great, doesn’t it?
The Casper Downtown Development Authority thought the same thing. Their chocolate walk vision to create such a homey atmosphere is in the 7th year now, offering holiday shoppers a sweetly unique downtown experience. This marketing event goes on it in spite of the likely interference of inclement Wyoming winter weather. In fact, a modified postal worker’s creed seems to fit fine here; “neither snow nor ice nor wind nor gloom of night stops the Casper Chocolate Walk.”
In case you haven’t attended this event before, I will share our experience. The evening is akin to a scavenger hunt. An official chocolate map is picked up at the lovely Sierra West and once completed can be turned in for a prize drawing. Each store on the map has unique chocolate treats as well as special sales.
Tom and I got a late start since we attended a perpetually conflicting customer appreciation party first. That catering by Silver Fox couldn’t be missed even though getting from the car to the party was a trick. As we parked on an icy hillside, a freezing gale strength wind seriously began blowing me across the street against a red light. I had to scream for Tom to grab me so I didn’t skate all the way under a moving vehicle. I would say it was 50% terrifying and 50% laughable in hindsight.
After our fill of tasty hors d’oeuvres and tantalizing dessert bites we picked up our coats, scarves, hats, and gloves from the kind coat-check teens and left the safety of the mezzanine for the acclaimed Chocolate Walk. With temperatures nearing zero we skipped picking up the map and ducked into the first shop on our path. Of course, that would be the bookstore which I’m sure Tom felt he’d been roped into.
Time was running short so we passed up other stores and plunged with our heads down into the fierce west wind to the David Street Station where hot chocolate was served and marshmallows were available to roast over fire pits for s’mores. Believe me, there was no romance here even though the majestic Christmas tree lighted up in the center of the skating rink was very Hallmark charming. By now, we were almost the only stragglers left and I had ultimate brain freeze, my forehead aching with cold as I pursed my lips together to breathe through my nose, hopefully avoiding my teeth being racked with that tell-tale, over-the-hill cold sensitivity. Even so, bundled up, my shoulders were pulled in tight knots to my neck, feeling like knives were stabbing and twisting in them. I didn’t want to remove my gloves to make a s’more but Mr. Sweet Tooth Tom himself was all about it (no surprise). I don’t see how the cheery volunteers stood there so long without becoming ice sculptures. I did grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate and begged Tom to walk back to the car with me. At this point, the wind was to our backs and we slipped and slid ungracefully trying to keep our balance down the icy incline to the vehicle which I had thankfully started from half a block away to get it warming up.
As I’ve observed perky promotions for the 2020 Chocolate Walk, I can’t help chuckling, considering my own personal chocolate walk from one candy dish to another with a cozy Hallmark fire warming us right at home. I might add that a certain pedestal salad bowl on the buffet morphed into a candy dish bigger than our Halloween treat basket. Then there is the double-decker heart-shaped dish on a nearby bookshelf that was overflowing.
With our company for the holiday last week, it seems every person who went shopping for Thanksgiving week groceries came home with chocolate. It all started when Tom arrived with one of those upright boxes of truffles. They’re quite festive in pretty red wrappers and the creamy smooth texture is heaven to me though no one else likes them. Andy and Emily grabbed a variety bag of Hershey minis. I couldn’t leave Natural Grocers without several Chocolover bars. Then Tom found a box of Russel Stover chocolates that had to be from last year and a couple packages of marshmallow Santa’s at Big Lots. Someone else brought a bag of Hershey Kisses with almonds. If that doesn’t sound like enough chocolate it was noticed that there were no Reese’s Peanut Butter cups so some of those appeared in tiny packets shaped like Christmas trees. Thankfully we had nearly two dozen people coming and going for days so we didn’t just pig out all by ourselves.
With one snowstorm after another last week, I stayed inside and waddled from one candy dish to another as I relished holding our new little grandson who was visiting. I used to say my favorite sport was reading books and eating chocolate but my eyes have been opened! What can be better than a baby and chocolate together? I’ll need to restrain myself in the near future since his parents don’t want him to know about sugar.
The chocolate walk doesn’t end at our house. In fact, the fun is only starting as our dental office break room turns into Treat Central this month. The oral surgeons, orthodontists, endodontist, dental labs, dental supply companies, and even patients are gifting us with a parade of over-the-top yummy foods. In addition to specialty breads and spreads, cheeses, Eileen’s cookies, and Marsha’s cupcakes, there is, of course, more chocolate. Donell’s Chocolates are at the top of my list, made right downtown.
I don’t pretend that the calories expended on this truncated chocolate walk I speak of would in any way burn off the calories I’m ingesting. I realize my extra steps from the computer or music room to the candy dishes at home or from my dental operatory to the break room don’t make up for not walking to work on wintery days. To be honest I don’t even care. This too shall pass.As much as I’ve been humoring traditions and excess, in all reality, there are people among us who are very cold without warm shelter and hungry beyond what we can imagine. As we enjoy our own circumstances of plenty, may we give generously of our resources, our time, and most of all our love, not only at this time of year but all year long. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ we can attune our hearts to His gentle teaching from Matthew 25:40 – “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” May our holidays be most about sharing love.