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A Parade of Trees

‘Jingle bells, Shotgun shells’ is a past winner of the People’s Choice Award in the Lake Park Parade of Trees, which opens this Thursday, Nov. 28 and continues through Sunday, Dec. 1 at the Lake Park American Legion. The tree was created by the mother-daughter duo of Mary Madson and Sherri Lefebvre. FILE PHOTO

Every Thanksgiving weekend since 2005, the American Legion Club in Lake Park has opened its doors to the public for the annual Parade of Trees.

The 9th annual event will open this Thursday, Nov. 28 — Thanksgiving Day — at 3 p.m., and continues through Sunday, Dec. 1.

According to organizer Melanie Hanson, she and her friend Abby Anderson began putting together the annual event as a fun way of bringing the community together.

“It’s a fun way of getting people in the holiday spirit, and it’s really neat because individuals can participate as well as families, church groups, businesses and community organizations — there are lots of ways that people can be involved in it,” Hanson said.

Not only are there no limitations on who can participate, but the decorations they can use are also limitless.

“Whatever their imagination can create — the sky’s the limit,” Hanson said. “They can use a typical evergreen and decorate it with a theme or message behind it, or they can do something totally quirky, like turning a ladder into a tree.

“They can decorate it any way they want,” she added. “Sometimes, family members will ask to do one in memory of a loved one who has passed away, and we’ve had everything from a ‘Charlie Brown’ tree (basically, a decorated stick) to an elaborate tree bedecked in silver and gold. Some people use props around their tree to get their messages across — we’ve had people bring in outhouses and old wooden sheds and create waterfalls… it’s completely open ended.”

The only real requirement is that the tree has to have a name that somehow relates to its theme.

The reason for this is that every year, visitors to the Parade of Trees are each given a chip to vote on their favorite tree. The one receiving the most votes is given the People’s Choice Award.

“Bragging rights is all it is,” Hanson said, noting that there are no prizes involved. “I think it’s fun for people to pick their favorites, although sometimes it’s really tough to choose.”

For the past two years, those bragging rights have belonged to the mother-daughter duo of Mary Madson and Sherri Lefebvre, who brought home the People’s Choice Award in both 2011 and 2012.

“Last year, it was for ‘Fishing You a Merry Christmas,’ and the year before that, it was ‘Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells,’ with a hunting theme,” Hanson said. “They were both really cute. They’re pretty creative ladies.”

There are about 20 trees entered for this year’s Parade of Trees, she added, and while participation is “mostly local,” there are a few entries from the surrounding area, including the Becker County Museum and the Detroit Lakes Women of Today.

Besides viewing the trees, guests will also have an opportunity to enjoy refreshments and holiday goodies, listen to Christmas music and purchase an “Ornament of the Year” for just $5 each.

“People can just wander through at their own pace,” Hanson said.

There is no admission fee, although a free will offering will be taken, with all proceeds benefiting various Lake Park community projects.

“We’ve used some of the money for refurbishing of the Legion hall where the event is held, and we’ve put in some benches around town,” Hanson said. “The money all goes toward community projects.”

The hours for the Parade of Trees are as follows: Thursday and Friday, 3 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 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.

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