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Parade of Trees

"Jingle Bells and Shotgun Shells," this tree was last year's winner. It was created by Sherri Lefebvre and her mother, Mary Lu Madson. Submitted Photo

As the holidays approach, homes and businesses will begin to light up like a Christmas tree -- especially the American Legion in Lake Park.

That's because folks there are preparing for the seventh annual Parade of Trees, which starts Thanksgiving Day at 3 p.m.

"This is where individuals, families, groups or businesses can come in and decorate a tree for the year," said one of the event coordinators, Melanie Hanson, "and then it's displayed at the American Legion for other people to come in and view all of the different trees and lights."

Hanson says people are really beginning to make this event a holiday tradition, as they are expecting around 30 trees.

"It can be something crazy, eccentric, traditional, color-themed, bazaar, or a memorial tree," said Hanson, who says participants will often decorate a tree in memory of a loved one they have lost, donning the tree with photos or decorations that convey that person's loves or interests.

Such was the case for last year's winner, Sherri Lefebvre and her mother, Mary Lu Madson, who decorated a tree they named "Jingle Bells and Shotgun Shells."

"It was in remembrance of my two uncles that passed away -- my dad's brothers -- because they always hunted together," said Lefebvre. "We had the picture of them sitting there, little Christmas shotgun shell lights, hunting ornaments, and then a little stove, a little chair and some hunting boots sitting there as props."

Hanson says community members tend to get pretty creative when decorating their trees, which they then name.

"We've had Hillbilly Holiday, Candyland Christmas, Merry Halloween," she laughed. "Or some businesses will do a tree decorated with some sort of message."

Props placed around the tree are also used to spice up the décor, according to Hanson, who says the end result is fun family event that seems to be growing every year.

As viewers go through, they are given a poker chip to vote on their favorite tree, which will then be given the people's choice award.

There aren't any prizes, just bragging rights.

Event organizers will be seriously setting the holiday mood for the Parade of Trees by turning down the lights, turning up the music and serving up holiday goodies, coffee and hot apple cider.

"It actually is really peaceful and beautiful with all those lights in the dark room -- it can be kind of emotional," said Hanson.

There will be commemorative ornaments for sale during the event for $5 each and a free will offering at the door.

Money raised will go towards beatification projects throughout the city, like landscaping, park benches and up keeping.

"It's just fun to come out and see everybody and see the different things that people come up with," said Hanson.

The Parade of Trees goes from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and November 22-24.

It opens back up for the final viewing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 25.

For more information or to enter a tree, call Melanie Hanson at 218-530-0385 or Abby Anderson at 218-238-5872.