Two- and four-legged visitors scampered merrily throughout the annual Christmas Walk on Sunday at Scott County Park.

The yearly walk at Scott County Conservation’s Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village, Long Grove, drew a considerable crowd who walked through buildings heated by cozy fires, listened to music, shopped for homemade gifts and enjoyed food and beverages at the soda fountain, Admission was a pet item or donation for the Humane Society of Scott County or Down by the Creek Companion Animal Sanctuary. Rescued animals from both organizations were on hand.

Children and pets alike visited Santa — in fact, some of the children wrote letters to Santa at the vintage post office with the help of Melody Paulsen, a member of Friends of Walnut Grove Pioneer Village.

“We had a lot of kids come in today,” she said. She guided the letters with a template on which children could indicate they had been “very nice,” “nice,” “a little nice,” “a little naughty” or “naughty,” along with what they would like for Christmas.

“It’s super-fun to see their excitement, and see their parents’ excitement,” she said, adding the letters often reveal kids' wishes to parents who didn’t know exactly what their children wanted.

Meanwhile, all ages enjoyed that magic of cute animals, including adoptable cats from the Humane Society. “We’re trying to get everybody adopted,,” said Humane Society volunteer Sharon Roesger, of Durant, Iowa. A few adoptable adult cats were on hand at the event. “Adult cats – they don’t tear everything up,” Roesger said, adding the Humane Society has a visiting room where potential adopters can take animals “and see whether they’re compatible.”

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Sue Herrera, of Milan, and Debbie Wallace of rural Long Grove, proprietor of Down by the Creek discussed the sanctuary and its residents with visitors, many of whom petted and cuddled the assorted dogs, bunnies and other critters. “Sad beginning, happy endings,” Herrera said.

Years ago, Wallace decided she was going to be the voice for the animals. “We must never treat cruelly any living thing.”

Most of the animals at the sanctuary are not adopted. Instead, the ones with calm personalities are part of the sanctuary's program that visits nursing homes, schools and other organizations.

Visitors also took in the faith base of the season in St. Ann's Church, where two huge trees twinkled near its altar. John and Kay Retzl played carols and other Christmas songs with keyboard, accordion and vocals to help set the mood.

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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Broadcast Film Critics Association member. College instructor for criminal justice, English and math. Serves on Safer Foundation and The Salvation Army advisory boards. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church