The Monday after Thanksgiving may be known as Cyber Monday to online shopping enthusiasts, but in downtown Detroit Lakes, it has become known as the official kickoff to the holiday season, as Santa arrives to lead off his annual Grand Parade of Lights.

Set to take place Monday, Dec. 1, at 5:30 p.m., the parade typically includes between 20-30 entries — though determining the final lineup is usually a last minute endeavor, according to Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston.

“We always get a few late ones,” she said, adding that there is no cost to register. “The only real requirement is that the entry must be lit up in some way, usually with Christmas lights.”

Some of the local businesses and agencies set to participate this year include Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, BTD Manufacturing, Lakes Area Kinship, Mi Cartagena Cafe, Arvig, the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, TS Dock & Lift, the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, the Detroit Lakes Shrine Color Guard, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Lakeshirts, Leighton Broadcasting, J&K Marina, and both Zion Lutheran and First Lutheran churches.

For more information, or to sign-up for the parade, please contact the Chamber of Commerce at 218-847-9202 or email

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Some changes to parade party

As has been the tradition for several years now, there will be a parade party getting the festivities started at the intersection of Holmes Street and Washington Avenue, starting at 5 p.m.

“There will be holiday music, hot beverages and some fun trivia," Johnston said. There will not be any fire pits set up this year, however (which means no s'mores as well).

Santa will arrive just in time for the 5:30 p.m. “step off," but parade participants actually begin assembling about an hour earlier, in the church parking lots at Zion Lutheran and Holy Rosary, which are across the street from each other on Lake Avenue.

From the starting point on Lake Avenue, the parade winds its way north to Frazee Street, then turns right and proceeds west on Frazee Street for one block before turning left onto Washington Avenue, continuing north to its final destination, the Washington Square Mall.

Santa will then hop off his sleigh and head inside the mall, where he will hear kids’ Christmas wishes and pose for photographs from 6:30 to approximately 8 p.m.

"Families are asked to bring their own cameras (or phones) for photos, however," said Johnston, as there will be no on-site photographer available this year.

Light Up the Lakes

While the Chamber and local businesses have been hosting “Light Up the Lakes” holiday events since early November, Monday’s parade will mark the official kickoff to the Christmas shopping season in downtown Detroit Lakes, with many fun events planned through the end of December.

Here's a little sneak peek at some of the highlights for the first week of December:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 4: First Lutheran Church kicks off a month of Advent Mini-Concerts with a noon performance by the Lakes Area Barbershop Chorus, and Rich Johnson playing saxophone. A soup and sandwich lunch will follow the concert, with a free-will donation for the lunch being the only cost to take part in the festivities.
  • Thursday, Dec. 5: Harry Potter Ornament Make and Take, Detroit Lakes Public Library, 4-5:30 p.m. Kids ages 6 and up are invited to come and make some Harry Potter-themed holiday ornaments — one to help decorate the library, and another to hang on the family tree back home. Call 218-847-2168 for more information.
  • Friday, Dec. 6: The annual Tuxes & Tails fundraiser for the Humane Society of the Lakes gets underway at 5:30 p.m. in the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom, 806 Summit Ave. Tickets are $60 each and are available at the HSL animal rescue shelter as well as Sapphire Sushi Hibachi & American Cuisine in Detroit Lakes, or online via the Eventbrite link found on the HSL Facebook page. Call 218-847-0511 for more information. Also that evening, there will be live music at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area starting at 6:30 p.m., and a concert by the Little River Band at Shooting Star Casino starting at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 7: Not just one, but two concerts are set for this evening. The first gets underway at 7 p.m. in Detroit Lakes' Holy Rosary Catholic Church, featuring a "Holiday Brass" performance by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by Holy Rosary organist Scott Mehlhaff. The second show is a 7:30 p.m. "Christmas Stories & Songs" concert with country superstar John Berry at the Historic Holmes Theatre. Tickets for the Holiday Brass performance are $15 each and can be purchased at the door. For John Berry ticket information, visit the Holmes Theatre website, or call 218-844-7469.
  • Sunday, Dec. 8: Central Market's ever-popular "Taste of the Holidays" open house runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring a wide variety of tempting holiday dishes and sweet treats. Tickets will be sold at the door. Also, local piano students will be performing a free holiday concert at the Washington Square Mall from 12 to 3 p.m. After the concert, Lakes Area Chorale will be hosting a Meet & Greet at First Lutheran Church, 912 Lake Ave., Detroit Lakes, between 1-3 p.m. Call director Barbara Schramm at 218-443-0697 or email her at for more information. And, last but not least, Faith Lutheran Church, at 24688 County Highway 6, Detroit Lakes, will host its annual "Taste of Christmas" starting at 5 p.m. Invite your family, friends and neighbors to bring along a favorite Christmas dish to share and enjoy an evening of delicious food and fellowship. You can even help decorate the church Christmas tree.

For more information on events happening throughout the month of December, a regularly updated list of “Light Up the Lakes” festivities can also be found at the Chamber’s website,, under the “Events” tab.