More holiday hoopla: Parades, music and Santa visits galore

Parades, band concerts, theater shows and more have been filling up the local events calendar — and there's plenty more still to come.

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Members of the Minnesota National Guard Able Company, 136th Infantry Division, marched through downtown Detroit Lakes Saturday afternoon, Dec. 3, 2022, making their way to the Becker County Food Pantry on Rossman Avenue, as part of the National Guard's Operation Hunger Resolve. Along the route, the soldiers collected donations for the Food Pantry from spectators. More than 200 pounds of food and $240 in cash were collected and carried by the soldiers in their backpacks, then dropped off at the Food Pantry that afternoon.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — The holiday season is in full swing for Detroit Lakes area residents. Parades, band concerts, theater shows and more have been filling up the local events calendar — and there's plenty more still to come.

Here's a glimpse at some of the recent holiday happenings, as well as a sneak peek of what's to come.

Parade of Lights returns to downtown Detroit Lakes

For the first time since 2019, the Parade of Lights reclaimed its spot in Detroit Lakes holiday tradition on Monday, Nov. 28.

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The Detroit Lakes Shrine Color Guard got Monday night's Parade of Lights festivities started, marching to the beat of their own drummer(s) down a snowy Washington Avenue on Nov. 28, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

As fluffy flakes of white snow gently fell on the proceedings, roughly two dozen parade entries of varying shapes, sizes and speed made their way through the city's downtown business district shortly after sundown.

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As might be expected from an electric company, Malstrom Electric's entry in the Detroit Lakes Parade of Lights was one of the more brightly-lit vehicles making its way down Washington Avenue on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Proof that the holiday parade was missed could be seen all along its route, as hundreds of lakes area residents lined both sides of Washington Avenue.


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The giant polar bear that sat atop Mi Cartegena Cafe's entry in the Detroit Lakes Parade of Lights on Monday night drew a lot of attention from parade-goers.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

From the Detroit Lakes Shrine Color Guard, which marched at the front of the procession, to the horse-drawn wagon from Rush Meadow Farm that drew the event to a close, the parade lasted just a little over half an hour.

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The giant eyeball mounted atop Morrison Eye Care's vehicle in Monday night's Parade of Lights drew a lot of stares as it made its way down Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes on Nov. 28, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Local National Guard soldiers were on the march Saturday

For those who missed last week's festivities, another parade made its way through downtown Detroit Lakes on Saturday, Dec. 3, as a large contingent of the Minnesota National Guard's 136th Infantry Division marched down Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive, collecting donations for the Becker County Food Pantry along the way.

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Members of the Minnesota National Guard's 136th Infantry Division began gathering at the entrance to Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, shortly before 1 p.m., to begin their Operation Hunger Resolve march down Washington Avenue to the Becker County Food Pantry, where they would drop off more than 200 pounds of food and $240 in cash donations gathered along their route.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The annual food collection event is part of the National Guard's Operation Hunger Resolve. Despite the bitterly cold wind that made conditions a bit uncomfortable for spectators, the soldiers marched south from Veterans Memorial Park at the Highway 10 intersection, down Washington Avenue to West Lake Drive, continuing west to Rossman Avenue before turning north toward its final destination at the Food Pantry. Along the way, the soldiers collected food donations from the crowd and carried them in their packs, before dropping them off outside the Food Pantry for collection and weighing.

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After completing their march through downtown Detroit Lakes for Operation Resolve, the members of the Minnesota National Guard's Able Company, 136th Infantry Division stopped to drop off the donations they had collected for the Becker County Food Pantry along their route. Altogether, the soldiers collected 203 pounds of food and $241 cash.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"They brought in 203 pounds of food and $241 in cash," said Brad Carlson, the Food Pantry's executive director.

Final weekend coming up for Lake Park's Parade of Trees

The Lake Park community's 17th Annual Parade of Trees has been enjoying a longer-than-usual run since opening on Thanksgiving night, Nov. 24.

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Lake Park visitors will have two more chances to catch the community's 17th Annual Parade of Trees display this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10-11, 2022. This year's trees are decorated with everything from stuffed farm animals to glittering, jewel-like ornaments that sparkle in the light. Visitors can also enjoy some refreshments and vote on their favorite tree.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

With a new location at the corner of Highway 10 and County Highway 5, organizers were able to stay open for two additional weekends: The event will draw to a close this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10-11, with more than 30 beautifully decorated and lighted trees available for viewing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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Entries for this year's Parade of Trees in Lake Park include everything from the humorous, such as Deanne Anderson's "Don't Be a Christmas Grouch," at right, to the elaborately designed "Christmas Eve Dress" from Old Skool Boutique, shown at left. Viewers can still catch the display this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10-11, 2022, in the building on the southwest corner of Highway 10 and County Highway 5 in Lake Park.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Visitors can also vote on their favorite tree, enjoy some holiday treats and maybe even sample a little wine: Terri Nelson, who was the greeter for Saturday's tree viewing, has organized an online fundraiser for the Lake Park American Legion through One Hope Wine, and had a few bottles on hand for adult visitors to sample. The Legion hall, which was the Parade of Trees' home for its first 16 years, was destroyed in a fire last spring and local American Legion members are in the process of raising funds to rebuild the facility. Proceeds from this year's Parade of Trees will also go toward that project.


'Santa's Workshop' at Lincoln Education Center

Detroit Lakes' Lincoln Education Center, which houses the school district's preschool and school readiness programs as well as some community education programming, will be transformed into the North Pole on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8-9, when 'Santa's Workshop' opens for families with preschoolers to enjoy a little holiday magic.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be ready by the fireplace to visit and have pictures taken with visitors, and there will be opportunities for families to participate in games and activities, make holiday ornaments, enjoy snacks and hot chocolate, and pick up a free book for each child from the Detroit Lakes Breakfast Rotary .

Santa's Workshop will be open from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, and 10 to 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 9. Lincoln Education Center is located at 204 Willow St. East, Detroit Lakes.

Holiday open house, sing-along events at the library

The Detroit Lakes Public Library is preparing to host its annual Holiday Open House on Friday, Dec. 9 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Join staff and fellow library lovers for a celebration of the season featuring live piano music, refreshments and delightful conversation. This event is offered free-of-charge and is open to all.

The following Friday, Dec. 16, the library will be hosting a Christmas Sing-along from 2 to 3 p.m., featuring an opportunity to belt out some of your favorite holiday carols.

The library is located at 1000 Washington Ave., Detroit Lakes.

Burgers, Brews and Bands at Detroit Mountain

The Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is hosting a brand-new event, titled "Burgers, Brews and Bands," on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m.


The event will feature live performances from area musicians Mick Klein and Wayne McArthur, freshly-grilled burgers and a selection of beers on tap.

The mountain's new general manager, Mark Knutson, is hoping for a great turnout because he'd like to make it a regular event: A second "Burgers, Brews and Bands" event is planned for Jan. 21, featuring local favorites The Front Fenders.

Community band concert set Dec. 11 at First Lutheran

The Lakes Area Community Concert Band is in final rehearsals for its annual holiday concert, set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. For those who arrive a little early, there will also be an opportunity to listen to some music from local home-schooled students, directed by Kendra Mohn.

Though it is marketed as part of the Historic Holmes Theatre's holiday concert season, the event actually takes place at Detroit Lakes' First Lutheran Church, as has been the tradition for several years now.

"We really love to be there (at First Lutheran)," says LACCB Director Gene Gaffney, "because it’s all decorated for Christmas and it’s such a nice setting, with wonderful acoustics — and we get to use their organ for two of our numbers."

Organist Anne Jorgenson will perform with the band on its opening piece, "Festival Fanfare for Christmas," and the concert's finale, "The Halleluja Chorus."

The opening number was originally written for the Dallas Symphony, Gaffney noted. "It's based on 'O Come, All Ye Faithful,' and it's very powerful," he said.

The "Hallelujah Chorus" was originally written as part of George Frideric Handel's oratorio, "The Messiah," and is based on the book of Revelation in the Bible's New Testament.

In between these two powerful pieces, the band will perform a few more light-hearted numbers, including "a couple of sing-along songs that the audience seems to thoroughly enjoy," Gaffney said. "We'll also be doing themes from 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and 'The Nutcracker,' and of course we'll do 'Sleigh Ride.'"

The concert will include roughly 50-55 musicians from 18 communities in the lakes area, Gaffney said. Though free-will donations to support the band will be gratefully accepted, this holiday concert is free and open to the public.

More holiday happenings

Here are a few more holiday events coming up over the next couple of weeks, fresh off the Tribune's Happenings calendar:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 7: Advent Mini-Concert featuring saxophone soloist Rich Johnson, vocal soloist Emma Duncan and piano accompanist Karen Bimberg, 12:05 p.m., followed by a soup-and-sandwich lunch in the fellowship hall at First Lutheran Church, 912 Lake Ave., Detroit Lakes (concert can also be streamed live from the church website, ).
  • Thursday, Dec. 8: John Berry Christmas , 7:30 p.m., Historic Holmes Theatre, Detroit Lakes (with special meet-and-greet in the Holmes Ballroom at 6 p.m.).
  • Saturday, Dec. 10: Holiday Market Shops at the Washington Square Mall, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a free screening of the Christmas movie "Elf" at 11 a.m. and Photos and Wishes with Santa from 12 to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 11: "That Old Country Christmas" with the Heart O'Lakes Men's Chorus, 3 p.m., Pelican Rapids High School Fine Arts Auditorium.
  • Thursday, Dec. 15: Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, Holmes Street Railroad Crossing, 2:30 p.m. (music starts at 2:45, lasts approximately 30 minutes); "Rock and Roll Christmas," 7:30 p.m., Historic Holmes Theatre (this show is sold out).
  • Friday, Dec. 16: Tanya Tucker in Concert, 8 p.m., Shooting Star Casino, Mahnomen.
  • Saturday, Dec. 17: Free screening of Christmas movie, "The Grinch," 10 a.m., Washington Square Cinema 7, Detroit Lakes (concessions open at 9:30 a.m.); Wreaths Across America, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Veterans Memorial Park, GAR Park, Crovisier Memorial Park (Boys and Girls Club), Oak Grove Cemetery and Holy Rosary Cemetery, Detroit Lakes; Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, 5-11 p.m., Third Crossing Bar and Grill, Frazee.
  • Sunday, Dec. 18: Santa and Mrs. Claus visit Detroit Lakes VFW Post 1676, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with old-fashioned candy bags for each child, door prizes and two bike giveaways, at both noon and 1 p.m.; Holly Jolly Holiday Concert with the Lakes Area Chorale, 4 p.m., First Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 20: "Medora Christmas Memories," 7:30 p.m., Historic Holmes Theatre.
  • Sunday, Dec. 25: "Christmas at Our House," First Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes, 12-2 p.m. Holiday ham dinner with all the trimmings, free and open to the public. On-site, take home and delivery meal options available. To reserve a meal for delivery within the Detroit Lakes area, call 218-844-2808 before the deadline (12 noon on Dec. 23) and leave your name, address, phone number and the number of meals needed. To-go meals will be ready for pickup starting at noon on Dec. 25. This meal is served at no cost, as First Lutheran's gift to the community.
A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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