Holidays are steeped in tradition. For 56 years on the Friday before Thanksgiving, Duluth, Minnesota has kicked off the Christmas season with a parade through downtown, filled with festive floats, marching bands, and dance troupes. Rain or snow, balmy or brisk, the Christmas City of the North Parade brings people out, bundled for whatever the weather brings, filling the curbs along the parade route as they look for family, friends and holiday favorites.
The parade staging area is filled with the energy of sled dogs and horses …. last-minute adjustments are made to lights and float décor … a group of brightly clad girls skip along the sidewalk with their dance leaders, excitedly waiting for the parade to begin.
I tucked my hand warmers in my mittens and we bundled up with the rest of the parade goers, as the parade signaled the holiday season had officially begun.
Santa Claus makes his first appearance, and children can be heard squealing his name, and calling out to Mrs. Claus as she asks whether they have been good this year.
And the rhubarb stalk was decked out in colored lights, to remind us that CHUM’s summer Rhubarb Festival will be returning in June.
Royalty from towns and competitions in the region waved with mittened hands.
While some may be counting down to Christmas, others can count down to the Lions’ Pancake Days, an annual event as longstanding as the holiday parade.
The Disney musical movie hit “Frozen” was popular during the community procession, with dancers dressed as “Frozen” characters dancing to the popular tunes, and everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf guiding a float from one of the local auto dealerships.
High school marching bands from northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin looked sharp in classic uniforms, layered over stocking caps and ski gloves.
As the band moved past, the beat of the drums kept marchers in line and spectators’ toes tapping.
We age and often become jaded about holiday — traditions like the Christmas City of the North parade. But, when we leave ourselves open to possibility, that childhood magic can be recaptured — in the young parade goers’ hopeful anticipation of the first sighting of Santa, in the classic carols played in harmony by sons and daughters, or in the mesmerizing glow of brilliant strings of holiday. We are reminded why the tradition has endured for over a half-century, and is certain to last another half-century more.
Ciao! ~ Kat