Santa to come ‘Home for the Holidays’ again next yearTake 588 toasted s’mores, 480 decorated Christmas cookies, 3,000 cups of hot chocolate, and 1,000 pounds of food for the Salvation Army, and what do you get? A return visit from Santa Claus!
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Take 588 toasted s’mores, 480 decorated Christmas cookies, 3,000 cups of hot chocolate, and 1,000 pounds of food for the Salvation Army, and what do you get? A return visit from Santa Claus!
That’s the good word that came out of last Sunday night’s wrap-up meeting of this year’s highly successful “Santa’s Home for the Holidays” celebration in Cloquet. After the annual holiday event almost didn’t happen this year for lack of organizers, Robbie Thompson of Members Cooperative Credit Union and Alan and Renee Birman of Cloquet Ford Chrysler Center stepped up to the plate with only a little over a month to go.
With a core group of some 20 volunteers and a large group of local sponsors, the festival returned with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, a number of brand new events, and a new lease on life.
“We look forward to an even bigger and better event next year,” said Al Birman.
In fact, he reported the committee of volunteers has already set a new date for next year’s event – Saturday, Dec. 4.
“In an effort to get away from the distractions of the Thanksgiving weekend and encourage more marching units to take part in the parade,” said Birman, “we have decided to hold it the first Saturday in December from here on out.”
Thompson and the Birmans reported that afternoon activities at their respective businesses, as well as the downtown bonfires and other attractions drew several hundred children and adults over a three-hour period.
“We could have used twice the number of tractor-drawn hayrides between Cloquet Ford and MCCU,” said Thompson. “There was a steady stream of people riding them non-stop throughout the afternoon.”
Both sponsor businesses had children’s activities such as face painting, cookie decorating, Santa visits and refreshments.
Alan Birman reported that an estimated 4,000 people attended the hour-long parade, with some 70 units taking part – more than twice the number in past years.
Approximately 100 adults and children also attended the showing of the popular holiday movie “Elf” at the Cloquet Armory following the parade. Trophies were awarded on Monday for the top winners in the celebrations various events.
Taking first place in the light pole decorating contest was the Nifty Fifty Cruisers with their pole at the corner of Seventh Street and Cloquet Avenue. The Pine Journal, 122 Avenue C, won top honors in the window decorating contest, and Cloquet Ford was awarded the “Grand Marshalls’” honor for its window lighting display.
Parade awards went to: Queen of Peace for “Most Entertaining”; Queen City Federal, “Most Creative”; Northwoods Credit Union, “Best Lighting;” Scanlon Fire Department, “Best Decorated Fire Truck”; and the Wrenshall High School Band, “Best Musical Group.”
Judges for the various competitions included Eric Blesener, city councilor and police officer; Pastor John Napoli of River of Life Church; John Gust of the Medicine Shoppe pharmacies; Lisa Karulak of Enbridge Pipeline; Julie Deters, Cloquet High School art instructor; and Leola Rodd, mayor of Carlton.
A meeting to start planning next year’s event is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. at Cloquet Ford. Prospective volunteers, participants, vendors or groups willing to hold concurrent events are encouraged to attend.
The committee has set its sights high for next year’s celebration, hoping to attract some 100 units for the parade, add a grandstand area along the route, revamp the announcing system, increase the number of food vendors and add activities throughout the community.
“None of this happens without people,” reflected Thompson. “If you enjoyed it this year, please consider helping us out next year.”
Anyone interested in more information about becoming involved should call the Birmans at 218-879-4668 or Thompson at 218-879-3304.