Melissa Walsh

Rochester at Christmas: A Magical Winter Wonderland

Pointe Media | November 2011

Rochester at Christmas: A Magical Winter Wonderland

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.  —Laura Ingalls Wilder

It was our first December living in Rochester. The 2006 Hometown Parade theme was “The Magic of the Holidays.” Only three months earlier, I had moved my family from the lower Wayne County community that we had always known to northern Oakland County, unfamiliar territory. I was still getting accustomed to the area’s roads, stores, and schools. Though I liked Rochester, in late 2006, it didn’t quite feel like home yet. What was missing in the collective heart of my family were tender memories made in Rochester.

I heard about the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade. And since we lived pretty close to Downtown and the weather was mild that early December, I walked with my young sons to town, following crowds of people flowing from their homes or vehicles toward the parade’s route along Main.

We found a viewing spot near the end of the route. My boys were young enough to be excited for the parade’s grand finale — Santa’s sleigh. I remember soft snow beginning to fall as the parade gained momentum, our anticipation to see Santa building. Looking around Downtown and observing the smiling families, I saw images Norman Rockwell would have painted. It was a great American Christmas memory.

And suddenly, Rochester felt like home.

Not long after that, we ventured again Downtown to see the new, amazing lights everyone was talking about. The cheerful lights of the DDA’s inaugural Big, Bright Light Show were the finishing touch that forever endeared me to Christmas in Rochester. Our new, wonderful home felt like a true Michigan winter wonderland.