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Washington Avenue was filled with music as carolers serenaded sleigh riders during last Thursday night's Luminate the Lakes shopping event in Detroit Lakes. Photo by - Brian Basham

Light up the lakes

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Christmas carolers, horse-drawn sleigh rides, holiday treats and shopping specials at downtown retailers ... and the downtown streets alight with the glow of luminaria.

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It was all part of the first-ever "Luminate the Lakes" event, held Thursday in downtown Detroit Lakes.

The Lakes Liquor grand opening celebration was a success, but colder-than-expected weather made for a disappointing turnout for other downtown events.

Special holiday luminaria were placed along Washington Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway to light up downtown Detroit Lakes, and there was horse-drawn sleigh rides available to view the downtown lights from 6 to 8 p.m.

All of the shops downtown were open, with their holiday lights on and offering deals and specials and samples.

The only thing missing were the crowds.

"We could always use more people downtown," said Chamber President Carrie Johnston.

"It was the first time we tried it," she said Monday. "We actually have a (Chamber Promotions and Events) Committee meeting tomorrow to see if we want to make changes for next year. We always love ideas and input, so if there are ideas that people have seen in other locations, we'd love to hear about them."

Holiday happenings

But of course, "Luminate the Lakes" was just one of the holiday festivities planned in the lakes area between now and the end of the year.

The Becker County Museum's annual Holiday Open House is Wednesday, Dec. 12, from noon to 2 p.m. Bring your lunch or reserve a boxed lunch for $5, enjoy Christmas treats and listen to some live music.

Then on Friday, Dec. 13, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returns to Detroit Lakes for its annual Christmas show, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Holmes Street Crossing. Attendees are asked to bring a donation for the Becker County Food Pantry.

Also on Dec. 13, the Historic Holmes Theatre will once again open its doors for a special holiday show, "At Christmas," featuring musician Mick Sterling and former members of the Dudley Riggs Brave new Workshop. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 15, the Christmas Market continues at The Depot in Detroit Lakes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there will once again be free sleigh rides outside the Washington Square Mall's west entrance from noon to 3 p.m.

The Eagles Auxiliary will host a holiday bake sale at the Eagles Club in Detroit Lakes on Dec. 15, starting at 9 a.m.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16, Photos & Wishes with Santa continues at the mall from noon to 4 p.m., and the Forest Edge Gallery in Vergas hosts another holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

On Sunday, Dec. 16, Trinity Lutheran Church will hold its popular Candles and Carols celebration, a candlelight service with Christmas stories, followed by a turkey dinner. There is a charge for the meal.

The Detroit Lakes High School Choir presents its annual holiday concert on Monday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m., and on Thursday, Dec. 20, the Holmes Theatre presents its final holiday show of the season, the Rock & Roll Christmas Spectacular, at 7:30 p.m.

The last Christmas Market of the season at The Depot will include a visit by Mr. and Mrs. Claus from noon to 4 p.m. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature Native American artists Wendy Roy and Cathy Leff.

Santa will also be back at the Washington Square Mall for one final session of "Photos & Wishes" on Dec. 22, with this one starting at 10 a.m. and continuing until 2 p.m.

"This will be the last chance to see Santa in Detroit Lakes before Christmas," Johnston said.

Speaking of Christmas, First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes will once again be hosting "Christmas at Our House" on Dec. 25.

New Year's Eve

Finally, several New Year's weekend celebrations are being planned in the lakes area this year, starting with a special wine tasting dinner and "Live at the Lodge" concert at Detroit Lakes' Lodge on the Lake, both on Monday, Dec. 30. The dinner gets underway at 5:30 p.m. (reservations required), with the concert to follow at 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, Dec. 31, another "New Year's Eve On Ice" celebration takes place at the Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes.

The festivities will include a dinner hosted by the Kiwanis Club starting at 6 p.m., and a live performance by Face for Radio starting at 9 p.m. There will also be ice sculptures and a live "ball drop" at midnight.

Over at New Horizon Resort in Waubun, there will be a New Year's Eve dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.

More festivities will be announced as the holidays get closer. A complete listing is available at the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce website, visitdetroitlakes.com. The calendar is updated regularly as new events are added.

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