If you happen to be walking by Elm Street at 6 p.m. on Friday, you may get a faint aroma of hot chocolate, maple syrup and pine. The trees that have been lit up for days already will be unusually dark and you may wonder why. In the midst of the wintry haze you'll catch a glimpse of a red figure on Old Faithful, the antique fire engine, slowly making its way through New Canaan. All of sudden, the darkness fades and you are surrounded by a winter wonderland of lights and decorations with Santa Clause at the center of it all. This is the sensation all New Canaanites are familiar with: It's the start of the annual Holiday Stroll.

The New Canaan Chamber of Commerce will put on the event that encompasses the night of Dec. 3 and the day of Dec. 4. Santa Clause, refreshments and live entertainment will be on hand to put all of New Canaan in the holiday spirit.

"We are trying to tell the people of New Canaan that this is our gift to you," Tucker Murphy, head of the Chamber of Commerce, said. "All the stores will be open late for people to shop. We will have a stage set up in front of the movie theater for entertainment and we'll have food and refreshments for everyone."

However, in addition to Holiday Stroll favorites like the Gingerbread House tour, Murphy seems most excited about something new.

"We are getting waffles Friday night from Okemo," she said with a huge smile. Okemo Mountain Resort will be providing waffles for the many in attendance Friday night. "Those are some great waffles. You can smell it from a mile away," she gleefully added.

The event itself has involved some very meticulous planning from everyone.

"There is so much involved," Murphy said. "We have been meeting since July and have been working around to clock to get all the decorations up."

Dan Mulhern, owner of M. Milestones, founded the event more than six years ago. He hopes that the stroll will bring a lot of traffic into downtown.

"We'll be open late along with many of the other stores around here," he said.

"We are definitely looking forward to the Holiday Stroll," Ann Lathrop, owner of the Toy Chest said. "New Canaan is such a beautiful town during the holidays and this event really shows it. We'll have refreshments and be open late as well."

Design Solutions on Elm Street will also add to the holiday cheer. "We have a lot of food stuff going on," owner Pauline Dora said. Red Barn Applesauce, locally owned by Melinda Fager, will be providing the highly sought after treat to those lucky enough to get a taste before they run out. "The applesauce is great," Dora said. "We sold out of the jars last year." Additionally, Fabulous Feasts, the catering service located at 31 Vitti St., will be making fresh hot crepes at Design Solutions. "We have all local people, which I love," Dora reiterated.

Local shops, food and entertainment will indeed be the theme this weekend. Despite economic setbacks around town and the country, Murphy hopes that the stroll's motto will ring true for everyone in attendance.

"It's still a wonderful life in New Canaan."