GUTHRIE, Oklahoma -- There's nothing special about taking a stroll downtown. Unless you're taking that stroll in Guthrie, Oklahoma this weekend.
Merchants and residents alike will be decked out in period costume this Saturday for Guthrie's Annual Victorian Walk.
The walk began in 1996, after Clarence "Smitty" Watts made a visit to Geneseo, Illinois. Watts was on a committee to find a new and different type of holiday festival for downtown Guthrie. What he found was Geneseo's Christmas Walk, a holiday tradition there since 1985. The festival featured not only residents in Victorian dress, but living displays in store windows of Christmas past.
Watts figured if it could work in Geneseo, it could work in Guthrie. When he got back from his trip, he worked to convince the Christmas committee.
"As I remember I think we had around 60 days before it started," Watts laughed. "That was terribly short notice to advertise and get the word out and so forth."
It was another matter to convince the downtown merchants.
"We said if we don't have at least 20 windows we'll forget it, and try something else," he said. "But we got 22 windows that first commitment, and then when people saw then what we were doing, they wanted to get into the act."
The walk has grown quite a bit since that first year in 1996, but a few things haven't changed.
The cookies and wassail are still free, and Smitty and his wife Shirley still stroll through downtown with their Victorian outfits.
"Saturday nights Victorian walkin', and many days workin' towards doing the Victorian Walk," said Watts.
A Territorial Christmas in downtown Guthrie continues this weekend with the Victorian Walk on Saturday December 20 from 5-9pm. See living Christmas cards in the shop windows, carolers, peanut vendors, and carriage rides. For more info, contact the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce at (405) 282-1947, or check the associated links to the right.