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Newfallen snow, Parade of Lights, bring in the Christmas season

The annual Parade of Lights made its way up Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes Monday night. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham1 / 4
Santa Claus waves to parade watchers Monday night. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham2 / 4
As a light snow fell, Parade of Lights spectators warm themselves by several bonfires built on the corner of Holmes Street and Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes Monday night. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham3 / 4
Zach and Zoey Rousu of Frazee posed for a picture with Santa at Washington Square Mall following the parade. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham4 / 4

With snow falling thickly, bonfires and hot chocolate, the stage was set for the Parade of Lights in downtown Detroit Lakes Monday.

The guest of honor, of course, was Santa Claus, who rode in the front of the parade as a guest of the Masons.

“We’re just coming up here to see Santa and to see the Parade of Lights,” said Chris Braaten, who was there with 3-year-old Sully.

“We’re here because it’s happening — somebody put some work into it, so the rest of us should come watch it,” said Roger Lee, who was there with his wife, Jan.

Several hundred people were at the event, which started with music from two large speakers on each side of Washington Avenue outside the mall. A DJ led the crowd through Christmas trivia, giving out ice scrapers as prizes.

Holmes Street was blocked off and people warmed their hands at two fires burning in barrels and drank hot chocolate, courtesy of La Barista.

The parade started at the Holy Rosary parking lot on Lake Avenue, moved east on Frazee Street to Washington Avenue and then traveled north two blocks to Front Street.

Led by the Shriner honor guard, the Masons’ float carrying jolly old St. Nick was next (trailed by children on the sidewalk running, waving and calling “Santa!”).

Several dozen floats followed, sponsored by banks, churches, fraternal groups and businesses.

The Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center’s float featured six giant copper “pennies,” mounted lollypop style, in honor of the DLCCC’s penny floor project.

The Eagles Aerie put a trailer with hay bales behind a tractor, with people throwing candy to the kids.

Zorbaz brought out its “beach buggy,” with snow hanging off the grass roof.

Community Alliance Church had a live nativity scene.

The Detroit Lakes Fire Department brought its ladder truck, and the public works department brought a plow truck, which brought up the rear and — the weather being what it was — may well have gone right to work on the streets afterwards.

After the parade, many of those with children raced into the mall to line up for a visit and photo with Santa, courtesy of the Masons.