Children and their families walked through downtown Burlington Saturday, visiting local businesses and participating in Christmas-themed activities for the fourth annual Miracle on Jefferson Street.

The event, hosted by the Art Center of Burlington, can be summed up in one word, according to Carrie Bloomer of Mundt Piano and Organ Co.: unity.

Miracle on Jefferson Street not only brings families together and local businesses together, she said, but encourages the whole community to share in an experience. 

The walk invites families to get in the holiday mood. Children decorated sugar cookies at Tastefully Yours, created a festive garland at the Art Center, read Christmas stories at Burlington by the Book, took family photos at Wendi Riggens Photography, painted a ceramic ornament at The Medium, created a musical instrument at Mundt's, made reindeer food at Nature’s Corner, did a coloring activity at Olive Wine, visited Santa at his cottage, and watched a movie at the Capitol Theater. 

The event will run again on Saturday for a morning session at 9 a.m. and an afternoon session at 1 p.m. More than 200 children signed up for the event so far between the two dates. 

There are still a few open spots available, for $10 per child. Those interested should contact the Art Center of Burlington.

This year marks Wendi Riggens' third time participating in Miracle on Jefferson Street. She said she loves to see the downtown community come together during the Christmas season to do something out of the goodwill of merchants' hearts. 

The participating businesses that set up activities volunteer to. Proceeds from the event go directly back into the Art Center.

Riggens said she often hears people saying there is nothing to do in Burlington, but she thinks this event offers just a glimpse of what is available to those who take advantage of it.

“We’ve got the Art Center, we’ve got live music, we’ve got wine bars, we’ve got events for children,” said Riggens. “We’ve got knitting and music and photography and gifts all in a few blocks.”

For children, Christmas often is a time of receiving many gifts and indulging. This year, Art Center Director Tammy McCoy wanted to add something to the event to encourage children to give back.

The organization Take Away Hunger set up shop in the Art Center, and children were able to package bags of food to be distributed to children in need both internationally as well as locally, through the Backpack Program. 

Take Away Hunger volunteer Ruth Gaudian said the response was heartwarming. 

“It’s to balance out the ‘me, me, me’ and then to give,” Gaudian said. “I think this probably makes kids feel as good, if not better, as getting.”

Debbie Bessine of The Medium rushed around the room filling paint palettes and washing sponges. She has been involved in the downtown Christmas walk since it started, and said the most important part of the event is spending time with family.

“Kids grow up quick,” Bessine said. “And things like this, you think ‘Oh, I remember the year we did that!’”