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Light Up the Lakes to have new route

Right about now businesses and organizations around the Detroit Lakes area are pulling out their trailers, dusting them off, and preparing to make them shine -- literally.

"We've made a float that has our name in lights," said M State's Pam Cummings, "and every year we try to add more and more lights to it."

The Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual Light Up the Lakes Holiday Parade is coming up Monday, Nov. 28, and momentum already seems to be building.

"Last year we had 22 floats," said event chair Jill Mack, "and that's up from the previous years, so we're really trying to build this up every year."

Event organizers are hoping a newer, more tight-knit route will shine the light on the Christmas spirit.

Previously, the route went from the city park all the way up to Highway 10.

"It was a long walk, it was dark, and it was too spread out," said Mack, who added that this year's parade will be shorter and sweeter, as it begins in the parking lots of Holy Rosary and Zion Lutheran churches.

"They'll go up one block to Frazee street, take a right, which is the library and Lakes Sport Shop, then they'll take a left and go two blocks north to Washington Avenue," said Mack, "so, it's basically the 800 and 900 block of Washington Avenue...and then they'll take a left at the end of the mall where the Veterans Park is and circle around."

The new, tighter route is meant to also pull the community tighter for more of a cozy 'holiday feel' for the kick off of the season.

"Downtown is so much more conducive to this," said Mack. "You have eves and overhangs and street lights, and so many of the businesses already have lights and displays, so it's more bright, central, together, homey, festive, and old-timey," she laughed.

And nothing says 'old-timey' like hot cider and holiday treats, which is what La Barista is providing for free to parade watchers.

Instead of the traditional bonfire at the park, Mack says this year there will be four fire pits for people to warm their mitts on east Holmes Street, between the ERA building and DL Floral and Gifts.

This pre-parade party starts at 4:30 p.m., as a sound system will also be set up for holiday music.

"An emcee will be announcing the floats as they go by, and then we'll also do some holiday trivia with some fun giveaways before the parade," said Mack.

The Detroit Lakes Lions Club members will be out there organizing the floats, which will begin rolling into the streets at 5:30 p.m.

"Our float will be promoting our Rotary's Poles and Holes Fishing Derby," said Morning Rotary member Deb Pratt, "so we'll have the Silverado Pickup that's the grand derby prize for our event, as well a trailer that's pulling a four wheeler that's another one of our prizes, so we get to promote the derby and start to get people excited about it."

Mack says this parade is a great opportunity for organizations and businesses to get free promotion, but says anybody can enter a float.

"If your family wants to do a float, go ahead. If your church wants to, your organization... everybody is welcome," said Mack, who adds that building a float can be as easy or as hard as a person makes it.

Typically float participants have generators for the lights, but for smaller entries that may just be driving a vehicle, an adaptor that plugs into the cigarette lighter will suffice for power.

Up for grabs again this year is a media package for the winning floats, including radio spots, newspaper promotions and Chamber letter inserts.

Last year, that winner was M State (who threw 800 homemade popcorn balls made to look like snowballs), which then turned the free promotions around to further help the community.

"We used it to promote some of our campus events and used it in my event planning class so that my students could place ads for our Night New York event, which is our college fundraiser for scholarships," said Marcus Lacher of M State.

The parade is free to enter and free to watch.

"It doesn't cost you anything to go and have a good time," said Mack. "There's going to be the tree-lighting afterwards at the library; there's photos and Santa wishes in the mall afterwards, so there's a whole bunch stuff that same night that all ties into just kind of kicking off the Christmas season."

For more information or to register to be in the parade, call the Chamber at 847-9202 or Jill Mack at 844-8518.