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Bonfire, parade light way into the season

Christmas cheer was shared by many during Monday night's pre-Santa's Grand Parade bonfire in Detroit Lakes' City Park. About 50 attendees enjoyed hot cocoa and cookies while keeping warm by the fire. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Compared to last year, Santa's Grand Parade of Lights on Monday night looked to be a success with a good turnout.

Last year's event was hampered by bitter cold on the night of the event.

"It was much better than last year," said Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce President Kris Tovson. "The weather was much better."

"People seemed to be in good spirits," she added.

Parade Chairwoman Skye Larson said that the parade and related festivities made for a great start to the holiday season.

"It's got everyone in the holiday spirit," she said. "Especially the kids, who were excited to see Santa."

The streets were lined up from City Park all the way to the mall.

Nearly 20 floats and groups participated in the parade. It was down from the 25 entries that were expected.

"We just need to keep making the effort to get businesses participating and have a float," Tovson said.

The Jaycees Trolley took away the prize for Lightest and Brightest. The Minnesota State Community and Technical College entry won for most creative float.

They will receive a promotional package. For non-profits, it was a tie between Polar Fest and the Becker County 4-H. The 4-H will take the cash prize and Polar Fest receives the promotional package.

Larson said that she had a great experience with the parade in her first year being involved with the event.

"It went exceptionally well," she said. "This year, there were more floats."

The Mt. Tabor Masonic Lodge lit up the Christmas tree near the library, and Santa took time out of his busy schedule to let kids tell him what they want for Christmas at the Washington Square Mall.

While Tovson hasn't heard from specific businesses regarding their success with post-Thanksgiving shopping numbers, she saw plenty of activity around town this weekend.

"There were quite a few people out shopping this Friday and during the weekend," she said.

With the nice weather and the recession ending, Tovson said that local businesses are looking for a good holiday season.

"They're guardedly optimistic," she said.

She said that area residents could do their part by shopping locally.