Thanksgiving is almost here — which means Lake Park volunteers are busily putting the finishing touches on the community's annual holiday celebration, the Parade of Trees.

Past Parade of Trees favorites have included this "Rock 'n' Roll" themed tree, festooned with vinyl records and album covers. (Submitted photo)
Past Parade of Trees favorites have included this "Rock 'n' Roll" themed tree, festooned with vinyl records and album covers. (Submitted photo)

This Monday through Wednesday, community businesses and nonprofits, a variety of church groups and artistically inclined individuals have been setting up more than 30 festively festooned trees inside the Lake Park American Legion, once again transforming the building at 2015 2nd Street into a sparkling winter wonderland of lights.

Instead of a "winter wonderland of snow," the Lake Park Parade of Trees is a wonderland of colorfully decorated and lighted trees.  Guests can also enjoy holiday treats, hot cider and coffee every day from Thanksgiving night through Sunday, Nov. 28. (Submitted photo)
Instead of a "winter wonderland of snow," the Lake Park Parade of Trees is a wonderland of colorfully decorated and lighted trees. Guests can also enjoy holiday treats, hot cider and coffee every day from Thanksgiving night through Sunday, Nov. 28. (Submitted photo)

Though the holiday tradition started 17 years ago, this will be the 16th annual event, as last year's festival was a casualty of COVID pandemic restrictions.

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Some Parade of Trees entries are of the non-traditional variety, such as this past entry from Wagner Insurance that features wood and roof shingles fashioned into a tree. (Submitted photo)
Some Parade of Trees entries are of the non-traditional variety, such as this past entry from Wagner Insurance that features wood and roof shingles fashioned into a tree. (Submitted photo)

As has become a tradition for the annual event, the Parade of Trees will once again open on Thanksgiving Day — Thursday, Nov. 25 — at 4 p.m., continuing daily through Sunday, Nov. 28.

"I think we have about 32 trees this year," says Abby Anderson, who has been a member of the Parade of Trees planning committee since its inception.

Sponsors of this year's trees include sportsmen's clubs from both Frazee and Cormorant as well as Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools, the Lake Agassiz Regional Library's Lake Park LINK site, and the Lake Park Pool Committee.

"They're trying to get a new pool, or get the old one refurbished," said Anderson of the community pool committee, so the group decided to decorate a tree for this year's festival.

Businesses, organizations and individuals are all invited to decorate trees, and themes can range from humorous to heart-warming to awe-inspiring. There is no fee to participate, so all entrants have to do is design and decorate their own trees and bring them into the Legion by Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Some of the Parade of Trees entries, like this one from Jeremiah and Sheila Baer, are of the more humorous variety. This one is titled "Grandma got run over by the John Deere." (Submitted photo)
Some of the Parade of Trees entries, like this one from Jeremiah and Sheila Baer, are of the more humorous variety. This one is titled "Grandma got run over by the John Deere." (Submitted photo)

Past examples have included "A Starry Night," embellished with stars and sparkles; "A Gardener's Christmas," with seeds, watering cans and a hose for the tree skirt; and "A Charlie Brown Christmas," decorated with a single ornament and a blanket.

"They can sparkle and shine, or be simple and plain, and some reflect a message," said a post on the Parade of Trees Facebook page.

The Legion will be open for public viewing on Thanksgiving night, Nov. 25 from 4 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Though there is no cost to attend, free will donations will be accepted at the door, Anderson said, with proceeds to benefit future Lake Park beautification projects.

One Parade of Trees tradition, the annual commemorative ornament, is returning this year, with the Lake Park State Bank as its sponsor, though another, the Uncorked fundraiser on Saturday night, has been canceled.

Parade of Trees guests can enjoy a cup of hot cider or coffee as well as a sweet Christmas treat or two while strolling through the lighted tree displays. They can purchase a commemorative Parade of Trees ornament, and even vote for their favorite tree, though there aren't any prizes involved for the participants other than bragging rights for the following year.

After the event closes on Sunday, exhibitors are asked to remove their trees promptly; some just wrap them up and take them home to display in their living room or business through the holiday season. All trees must be removed by 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Volunteers are also welcome, Anderson said, either by donating their time to act as hosts and hostesses during the tree viewing, by making goodies to serve, or assisting with the cleanup on Sunday.

For more information, to volunteer, or to register your tree for the event, call or email Anderson at 218-238-5872 or anderson_56554@yahoo.com; Melanie Hanson at bmhanson@loretel.net; or Karen Erickson at 218-849-1627 or juicer@loretel.net.

These yard decorations took first place in the 2020 Light Up Lake Park holiday yard decorating contest, which was held despite last year's Parade of Trees being canceled. (Submitted photo)
These yard decorations took first place in the 2020 Light Up Lake Park holiday yard decorating contest, which was held despite last year's Parade of Trees being canceled. (Submitted photo)

‘Light Up Lake Park’

The Parade of Trees planning committee is bringing back another popular tradition this year, the "Light Up Lake Park" community home and yard decorating contest.

"Judging will take place at 6 p.m. on Dec. 19," said Anderson.

Open to all residents and businesses in Lake Park, the contest will offer cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 for first, second and third place, respectively.

To sign up, contact any of the committee members listed above.