All that was missing was snow...
The lights, the tree, the red-cheeked cheer — some elements of a winter European-style outdoor market were in place on Sunday in downtown Rochester.
All that was missing from the kickoff Market Strasse event was the snow — not that some people seemed to mind.
"This is nice weather," said Dave Timmermann, helping out at the RL-L Baked Goods shop. "Usually, we're down here in about four feet of snow."
Sunday's opening night began a four-week run of the event, and included live entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides, small shops selling gifts and treats, and the lighting of the city holiday tree by Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede.
Brede described Rochester as "the city of lights" moments before plugging in the extension cord that illuminated the two-story tree.
Elsewhere on the plaza, lights strung back and forth criss-crossing at the second-story level were meant to soften the business-like building facades with a warm-looking glow, said Wayne Flock, of Rochester Lefse Co., who helped plan the event.
"It's more European-feeling," he said.
Shoppers were smiling, including Christine Smith of Rochester, with her mother, Peggy Espey of Byron, who bought a package of baked goods from 10th Street Treats.
They heard about the market and became curious to check it out.
"It's very cool. It's very festive," Smith said.
Kelley and Greg Reich of Byron, who own 10th Street Treats, sell what they call "cookie cups" — a cupcake-shaped cookie with caramel and peanuts inside.
"Family and friends really like the cookie cups," Kelley Reich said. "So we thought we'd try it (selling at the market)."
"It's nice to give people a reason to get out in the cold," she said.
Dancers from Allegro School of Dance performed pieces from The Nutcracker before a good-sized crowd.
Bonnie Snyder, visiting Mayo Clinic from Philadelphia, said she has seen perhaps 50 performances of The Nutcracker, and "This studio did a beautiful job."
The Market Strasse is "homey and welcome," and a nice diversion during her visit, Snyder said.
This is the fourth year of the event, Flock said, and changes made this year are intended to draw more local residents than before.
For one thing, a warming house was placed more centrally than before — some people don't seem to feel comfortable seeking warmth in the hotels, Flock said — and there are children's activities going on inside it.
There's also "a lot more" live entertainment and "a really nice mix of vendors this year," Flock said.
The name was changed to Market Strasse in order to more clearly evoke the old-world flavor the event is meant to have, said Heidi Zunker of the Rochester Downtown Alliance, which hosts the event.
"The ambiance in general is really great this year," she said.