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Winter festivities in Cloquet start the holiday season

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This time Santa Claus did not bring any fiercely cold weather with him, but he did bring some fireworks, which were well received by parade-goers at this year’s Santa’s Home for the Holidays parade in Cloquet Saturday.

This year marked the 26th year for the annual winter celebration, which was organized by Harvey Benko for the first 19 years before Members Cooperative Credit Union and Cloquet Ford Chrysler took over seven years ago, with some help from the city of Cloquet.

Renee Birman, who owns Cloquet Ford Chrysler with her husband, Al Birman, said the turnout was fabulous for nearly all of this year’s events, noting that they had some 250 visitors to the car dealership to decorate cookies and watch magic shows and even a surprise appearance by the Christian “Team Extreme” group that had visited the elementary schools earlier in the week.

“This year was definitely better; the turnout was great,” Birman said, noting temperatures were above-freezing most of Saturday. “It helps when temperatures are not below zero, especially for outdoor activities.”

A popular new outdoor activity this year were visits with Santa’s Reindeer at MCCU, where people could see live reindeer outside the credit union.

Avery and Quinn Davey, twin 21-month-old girls from St. Paul, visited the reindeer, Mrs. Claus and Santa with their grandparents, Gail and Earl Ulvi of Cloquet. The girls were wowed by the reindeer, Grandma Ulvi said.

When the sun went down, families headed to Cloquet Avenue for the annual parade, which features brightly lit floats and dancers like the toy soldiers from Elite Dance studio in Duluth (pictured). As usual, Santa and Mrs. Claus finished out the parade, waving goodbye before heading back to the North Pole.

Parade-goers could vote for their favorite floats and business front during this year’s parade, and a list of winners follows. Each winner received a Santa trophy.

  • Best Lit parade entry — Black Bear Casino

  • Most Creative parade entry — Kolar Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac “Kolar Express”

  • Most Festive Business Front on the parade route — Sara’s Vac Shack

The winners of a second contest, the “Make Your Business Shine” competition, follow:

  • 1st Place — Hanft Fride

  • 2nd Place — Necessities Salon and Day Spa

  • 3rd Place — North Country Gutters

  • Most Festive Window Display: Pine Journal  

The Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored and judged the “Make Your Business Shine competition.