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Parade kicks off month of holiday fun

Christmas carolers, horse-drawn sleigh rides, holiday treats and shopping specials at downtown retailers... and the downtown streets alight with the glow of luminaria.

It's all part of the first-ever "Luminate the Lakes" event set for Friday, Dec. 6, in downtown Detroit Lakes.

"It is going to be the ultimate Christmas shopping experience," says Lori Bachmann, coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce's annual "Light Up the Lakes" holiday campaign. "It's a new event this year, which is exciting."

Special holiday luminaria will be placed along Washington Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway to light up downtown Detroit Lakes, and there will be horse-drawn sleigh rides available to view the downtown lights from 6 to 8 p.m.

"All of the shops downtown will be open, with their (holiday) lights on and offering deals and specials and samples," said Chamber President Carrie Johnston.

"And of course, Lakes Liquor will be having their grand opening that night as well," Bachmann said, adding, "You can hang out in downtown Detroit Lakes, listen to the music, hop on the sleigh for a ride, and hopefully, shop!"

Parade of Lights

But of course, "Luminate the Lakes" is just one of the special holiday festivities planned in the lakes area between now and the end of the year.

A month's worth of fun gets underway Monday night in downtown Detroit Lakes with Santa's Grand Parade of Lights.

"We've got about 25 floats signed up, and they're all going to be lit," Johnston said.

But before the parade starts, attendees can enjoy a pre-party at the corner of Holmes Street and Washington Avenue at 5 p.m. There will be holiday music, hot chocolate and Christmas treats, fire pits to warm up your hands and a live announcer, who will stay to emcee the parade.

The parade lineup begins at 4:30 p.m. in the parking lots of Zion and Holy Rosary churches on Lake Avenue, with the parade step-off set for 5:30 p.m.

It will proceed north on Lake Avenue, turn east, then continue north on Washington Avenue to the mall, where Santa will disembark and head inside for the first of several "Photos & Wishes with Santa" events taking place before Christmas Day.

Santa will be at the mall from 6 to 8 p.m., and there will be "Merry Money" and prize drawings starting at 6 p.m. inside the mall as well.

Also at 6 p.m., the American Cancer Society will host a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Detroit Lakes Public Library.

More holiday events

On Friday, Nov. 30, the Historic Holmes Theatre welcomes back the Church Basement Ladies for a special holiday presentation, "Away in a Basement," with performances set for both 2 and 7:30 p.m.

That Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2, is the first of three jam-packed weekends of holiday fun in the lakes area.

Washington Square Mall will be offering a free kids' movie at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 (attendees are asked to bring a donation for the Becker County Food Pantry in lieu of an admission fee), and there will also be free sleigh rides offered at the mall's west entrance from noon to 3 p.m.

Santa will be at the mall from noon to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2.

Also on Saturday, Ecumen-Detroit Lakes' Emmanuel Nursing Home will be offering its annual Christmas at Emmanuel holiday bazaar and luncheon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the Forest Conference Center.

SuLaine's Antique Mall will host its holiday open house from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and The Depot, located at the corner of Washington Avenue and Highway 10, will host a Christmas Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Over in Frazee, the Event Center will open its doors for the annual Christmas Extravaganza craft and vendor sale from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, and the Forest Edge Gallery in Vergas will have a holiday open house on both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Santa will be back in Detroit Lakes for "Breakfast with Santa" on Sunday, Dec. 2, which will be hosted by Lakes Crisis & Resource Center inside the M-State cafeteria from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Along with a chance to get your photo taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, there will also be craft vendors, baked goods, a toy shop and more.

Sunday evening, the Washington Square Mall will open its doors for a special "Holiday Magic" shopping extravaganza from 5 to 7 p.m. Ticket holders can enjoy in-store specials, holiday treats and more.

On Monday, Dec. 3, Norby's Department Store in Detroit Lakes will host its annual Holiday Customer Appreciation Night, with music, holiday treats and beverages, and of course, some really good shopping deals from 5 to 9 p.m.

The World Cinema Class at M State's Detroit Lakes campus will be offering free holiday movies on Dec. 3 as well. Showings include "Wall-E" at 10 a.m., "White Christmas" at noon and "The Avengers" at 2:30 p.m., with war shorts and cartoons in between. All movies will be shown in the M State conference center.

On Friday, Dec. 7, country music's sweetheart, Sara Evans, will be performing at Mahnomen's Shooting Star Casino, starting at 8 p.m.

That Saturday, Dec. 8, the mall will once again be offering a free kids' movie at 10 a.m. and sleigh rides from noon to 3 p.m. In addition, there will be a Kids' Christmas Party inside the mall from 12 to 2 p.m., with special crafts, ornament-making and much more holiday fun.

Another new event in Detroit Lakes this year is being offered by one of its newest restaurants, Maid-Rite, on Dec. 8. Using the theme, "A Christmas Story" (based on the popular holiday movie), the store will offer opportunities throughout the day to decode a secret message for free ice cream, sample some 'fuuuudge," and enter a free drawing for a Red Rider BB gun.

Holy Rosary Church in Detroit Lakes will be hosting its annual Holiday Cookie Walk on Dec. 8 as well, from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

Photos & Wishes with Santa continues at the mall on both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Also on both days, Vergas's Forest Edge Gallery will be offering another holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, the Lakes Area Community Concert Band will be hosting its annual Holiday Concert at 4 p.m. inside the Historic Holmes Theatre. Admission is by free will donation.

The Becker County Museum's annual Holiday Open House is Wednesday, Dec. 12, from noon to 2 p.m. Bring your lunch or reserve a boxed lunch for $5, enjoy Christmas treats and listen to some live music.

Then on Friday, Dec. 13, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train returns to Detroit Lakes for its annual Christmas show, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Holmes Street Crossing. Attendees are asked to bring a donation for the Becker County Food Pantry.

Also on Dec. 13, the Historic Holmes Theatre will once again open its doors for a special holiday show, "At Christmas," featuring musician Mick Sterling and former members of the Dudley Riggs Brave new Workshop. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 15, the Christmas Market continues at The Depot in Detroit Lakes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there will once again be free sleigh rides outside the Washington Square Mall's west entrance from noon to 3 p.m.

The Eagles Auxiliary will host a holiday bake sale at the Eagles Club in Detroit Lakes on Dec. 15, starting at 9 a.m.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16, Photos & Wishes with Santa continues at the mall from noon to 4 p.m., and the Forest Edge Gallery in Vergas hosts another holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The Detroit Lakes High School Choir presents its annual holiday concert on Monday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m., and on Thursday, Dec. 20, the Holmes Theatre presents its final holiday show of the season, the Rock & Roll Christmas Spectacular, at 7:30 p.m.

The last Christmas Market of the season at The Depot will include a visit by Mr. and Mrs. Claus from noon to 4 p.m. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature Native American artists Wendy Roy and Cathy Leff.

Santa will also be back at the Washington Square Mall for one final session of "Photos & Wishes" on Dec. 22, with this one starting at 10 a.m. and continuing until 2 p.m.

"This will be the last chance to see Santa in Detroit Lakes before Christmas," Johnston said.

Speaking of Christmas, First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes will once again be hosting "Christmas at Our House" on Dec. 25.

New Year's Eve

Finally, several New Year's weekend celebrations are being planned in the lakes area this year, starting with a special wine tasting dinner and "Live at the Lodge" concert at Detroit Lakes' Lodge on the Lake, both on Monday, Dec. 30. The dinner gets underway at 5:30 p.m. (reservations required), with the concert to follow at 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, Dec. 31, another "New Year's Eve On Ice" celebration takes place at the Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes.

The festivities will include a dinner hosted by the Kiwanis Club starting at 6 p.m., and a live performance by Face for Radio starting at 9 p.m. There will also be ice sculptures and a live "ball drop" at midnight.

Over at New Horizon Resort in Waubun, there will be a New Year's Eve dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.

More festivities will be announced as the holidays get closer. A complete listing is available at the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce website, The calendar is updated regularly as new events are added.

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.

(218) 844-1454