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It's time to 'Light Up the Lakes'!: Santa's seeking entries for his Nov. 27 Parade of Lights in DL

The Detroit Lakes Fire Department's entry in the 2015 Santa's Grand Parade of Lights was a big hit with the crowd. (File photo)1 / 6
Lots of candy was handed out at last year's Grand Parade of Lights in downtown Detroit Lakes. With warmer-than-usual temperatures for late November, the event was very well attended. (Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)2 / 6
The DL Jaycees' brightly-lit Toonerville Trolley was a big hit at last year's Grand Parade of Lights in downtown Detroit Lakes. (Vicki Gerdes/Tribune)3 / 6
Santa drove a tractor for the Detroit Lakes Eagles' entry in last year's Grand Parade of Lights, which brought big crowds for both the pre-parade festivities and the parade itself.4 / 6
The kids were eager to grab onto the candy handed out by these friendly elves at the 2015 Santa's Grand Parade of Lights. (File photo)5 / 6
With a light snow gently falling, the 2015 Santa's Grand Parade of Lights drew big crowds to downtown Detroit Lakes to enjoy brightly lit floats, fire trucks, and even a yeti. (File photo)6 / 6

Santa Claus is headed back to Detroit Lakes — and he's looking for local residents, businesses and organizations that are willing to brave winter's icy (and sometimes snowy) chill to take part in his annual Grand Parade of Lights, set for Monday, Nov. 27.

"We're encouraging people to get dressed up, decorate a float with lights and come on down," says parade chair Natalie Bly. "It's free to register, and it's open to anyone. The only requirement is that we ask for their entry to be lit up in some way."

Santa will be there to start off the parade promptly at 5:30 p.m., but the lineup of participants gets underway approximately an hour earlier, she added. Parade participants can travel the route by car or other motorized vehicle, by horse-drawn carriage or on horseback, roller skates, roller blades, bicycle, skateboard... or even on foot.

"It's a short route, about six blocks long, so it's fairly easy to walk," she added. "Just make sure to dress warm!"

Though participants are asked to sign up at the Chamber offices no later than this Friday, Nov. 17, "we will take last-minute entries," Bly said. "We won't turn people away for signing up late."

The problem with last-minute registration, however, is that there will be a master of ceremonies announcing each entry, so the script needs to be done as far in advance as possible, to avoid mistakes. "It's a good opportunity to promote your organization or business," Bly said.

In addition to the parade itself, there will be a pre-party taking place downtown, at the intersection of Holmes Street and Washington Avenue, starting at 5 p.m.

"There will be fire pits, Christmas trivia, holiday music, hot chocolate, and a s'mores station," Bly said, noting that the latter was brought back by popular demand.

Holmes Street will be blocked off to motorized traffic during the pre-party and parade, she said.

At approximately 5:15 p.m., the American Cancer Society will be hosting a tree lighting ceremony on the front lawn of the Detroit Lakes Public Library (1000 Washington Ave.), and following the parade, there will be Photos and Wishes with Santa at the Washington Square Mall from 6 to 8 p.m.

The evening marks the official kickoff of the Christmas shopping season in Detroit Lakes, Bly said, though "Light Up the Lakes" holiday happenings actually start in November.

For more information, or to sign-up for the parade, please contact the Chamber of Commerce at 218-847-9202 or send an email to A regularly updated list of "Light Up the Lakes" events can also be found at the Chamber's website,

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454