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Santa watches the Snowflake Waltz dancers at last year's stroll.

Featured Article

Bring on the Cheer!

The Holiday Stroll and Fire on Ice Celebrate All Things Christmas and Chanukah

Article by Eileen M. McNamara

Photography by Blue Back Square, Chabad House of Greater Hartford

Originally published in West Hartford Lifestyle

‘Tis the season to make merry and that means it’s time for the annual Holiday Stroll and Fire on Ice celebrations that commemorate the season’s two major holidays; Christmas and Chanukah. 

This Holiday Stroll is a town-wide celebration coordinated by Blue Back Square, the West Hartford Center Business Association, the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and the Town of West Hartford. It will be held Thursday, Dec. 1, from 5-8 p.m., come “Snow, rain or shine!” 

Fire on Ice is a festive event intended to “spread the light” of the Chanukah message and is organized by Chabad House of Greater Hartford. It will be held on the first day of Chanukah, which this year is Sunday, Dec. 18, in West Hartford Center. 

This marks the 35th year for the Holiday Stroll, an event that draws thousands to West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square. 

“We are so excited to bring the people, businesses, and organizations together for multicultural festivities,” said Kate Kolb, of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce. “It’s wonderful to see our community celebrate the winter holidays.”

 The Center and Blue Back merchants will be fully decked out in holiday style, with beautiful and creative window displays. There will also be live entertainment on two stages, one at Webster Walk in Blue Back Square, and the other at the Showmobile at the corner of Farmington Avenue and LaSalle Road. Isham Road in Blue Back Square will be closed off to vehicles during the stroll, which runs from 5-8 p.m. 

From 5-6:30 p.m., St. James’s Episcopal Church, at 1018 Farmington Ave., will offer a four-scene nativity walk, telling the original Christmas story. It will take place around the outside of the church in small groups.  Each group will have its own tour guide who will tell the story. 

Businesses in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square will offer special treats and goodies to strollers. Blue Back will also offer complimentary balloon animals, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, carolers and numerous beverages, treats and giveaways. 

For a comprehensive list of businesses and what they’ll offer visit

“Chabad’s Fire on Ice celebration is part of the worldwide Chanukah campaign launched by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 1973. The campaign highlights and encourages the central theme of the holiday—publicizing the story of the Hanukkah miracle and the victory of light over darkness, a message of hope greatly needed today,” says Chabad’s current rabbi, Shaya Gopin. 

Fire on Ice, which drew about 1,200 participants last year, is attended by both Jewish and non-Jewish celebrants and is intended to spread the message and faith of Chanukah. 

“Chanukah has a universal message and the dominant theme is that of light over darkness, not just the physical light, but the idea of the light each of us has and that we can spread; the light of our souls and our goodness,” Rabbi Gopin says. “We don’t understand how important that can be.” 

“Fire on Ice makes people feel connected with this community. It’s a really welcoming event, it’s open to all and you don’t have to be Jewish. It’s an opportunity for people to learn new traditions and maybe even bring some of that into their own traditions. 

Fire on Ice includes a variety of family-friendly entertainment starting at 4 p.m., including music, gifts and candy giveaways. The band 8th Day, which plays a mix of alternative rock, world music, reggae and Jewish music, will headline the entertainment this year, Rabbi Gopin said. 

The event will feature a Chanukah Gift Drop by the West Hartford Fire Department, sprinkling Chanukah gifts and chocolate from atop a ladder extended from a firetruck. 

There will be hot drinks, food for sale, free raffles and prizes, and arts and crafts. The event is free. 

For more information visit

  • Lighting the menorah at Fire on Ice
  • The Holiday Stroll horse-drawn carriage
  • Santa and Mrs. Clause will make an appearance again at this year's stroll.
  • Santa watches the Snowflake Waltz dancers at last year's stroll.
  • A huge crowd turns out each year for the Holiday Stroll
  • Lighting the menorah at Fire on Ice