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Saturday was warm and snow-free, but thousands still showed up to share their holiday cheer at Bozeman’s 41st annual Christmas Stroll.

The headliner, of course, was Santa Claus.

Parents led children through streets packed with parked cars. Kids could be heard whispering, “where is Santa?” before families reached the intersection of Willson Avenue and Main Street.

There, young children sat in strollers or carts or were perched atop adults’ shoulders so they could get a better view of the man with the red hat. With his wand in hand and gray beard waving in the wind, Santa sat at the helm of a sleigh full of Chief Joseph Middle School choir carolers.

Christmas stroll

Hundreds of people fill Main Street in downtown Bozeman during the Christmas Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

Christmas stroll

Members of the Chief Joseph Middle School choir sing carols while riding on a flatbed trailer through during the Christmas Stroll in downtown Bozeman on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

The singers hummed “Jingle Bell Rock,” and the crowd joined in. A countdown began, Santa waved his wand and the silver spider above him lit up, much to the delight of the crowd.

The steps were the same at the next spider a block down Main Street, and the one after that, though songs switched to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Feliz Navidad” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” which the conductor said was Santa’s favorite tune.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear,” she told the choir and crowd.

Christmas stroll

Illuminated Christmas trees hover above hundreds of pedestrians walking through Main Street during the Christmas Stroll in downtown Bozeman on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

Christmas stroll

Owen D'Angelo, 4, looks up at the illuminated Christmas trees above Main Street in downtown Bozeman during the Christmas Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

Holiday spiders at every intersection on Main Street swayed in the wind before they lit up, and before Santa could reach the final one at Bozeman Avenue, it toppled over. Still, onlookers cheered as he and the choir left the hubbub at Black Avenue.

The Christmas Stroll Parade was just one part of Saturday’s festivities. Vendors from local businesses served food along Main Street, Cirque406 aerial dancers performed circus acts at Rouse Avenue and kids swarmed the alpaca enclosure from Alpacas of Montana.

Ahead of downtown Bozeman’s spider-lighting ceremony, there was a Santa Run for Education 5K on Saturday morning and a gingerbread house contest. Christmas Stroll buttons were available at various businesses leading up to Saturday.

Ellen Stephenson brought her two golden retrievers Dosi Do and Daisy to Saturday’s Christmas Stroll. She made sure the dogs matched the festivities by dressing them up in a Santa hat and reindeer antlers.

Stephenson has been going to the Christmas Stroll for decades, and this year, she noticed the distinct lack of snow. She remembers that at 1992’s stroll, it was 42 degrees below zero, and she had to run from store to store to get warm.

“I love seeing the kids and some adults react to the dogs, because it makes them smile, and that’s the reason to do this,” she said.

Christmas stroll

Santa Claus waves to people crowding Main Street in downtown Bozeman has he rides in the back of a car during the Christmas Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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