Santa’s Home for the Holidays a successIt might have been the sunshine that broke through the gloom last Saturday morning, or it might have been the snowflakes spinning through the air off and on Saturday afternoon, but one thing was for certain – the annual “Santa’s Home for the Holidays” celebration had all of the picturesque charm and youthful enthusiasm area folks needed to kick off the season.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It might have been the sunshine that broke through the gloom last Saturday morning, or it might have been the snowflakes spinning through the air off and on Saturday afternoon, but one thing was for certain – the annual “Santa’s Home for the Holidays” celebration had all of the picturesque charm and youthful enthusiasm area folks needed to kick off the season.
This year’s event sported a new date – the first Saturday in December – spanned the entire three-day weekend, and included more venues than ever before.
“By all reports, it was a huge success,” said organizer Reneé
Birman and her husband, Al, who own Cloquet Ford Chrysler Center and co-sponsor the holiday event, said their business alone was “packed,” with some 300 children decorating cookies and enjoying the magic show performances.
Co-sponsor Members Cooperative Credit Union’s branch manager Jackie Rudolph likewise reported “a terrific turnout” at the credit union’s open house on Saturday afternoon. She said some 600 children left with bags of treats and goodies after enjoying Christmas crafts, cookies, popcorn, hot chocolate, visits with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus and face painting with Mara of Shadowmasters
“I know a lot of them must have ridden the hayrides because every once in a while we’d have big groups come in and want to do everything all at once,” said Rudolph.
Three tractor-pulled hayrides traveled between Cloquet Ford, MCCU and the parking lot of Curves in downtown Cloquet throughout the afternoon, carrying festival-goers to the various events.
“It was just fun to see everyone so happy!” commented Rudolph.
A record number of units participated in this year’s “Santa’s Home for the Holidays” parade, which took place at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Winners in the various categories included: Pine Journal/Northland Smart Shopper, “Most Entertaining”; the Scanlon Fire Department, “Best Fire Truck”; Gail Hamre School of Music, “Best Music”; and Queen of Peace School, “Most Creative” (there was a tie between Northwoods Credit Union and Queen of Peace, with Queen of Peace winning the drawing for the trophy).
The winner of the competition for the “Best Lit Store” was Reliable Agency of Cloquet.
Volunteer judges for both competitions were Cloquet School Superintendent Ken Scarbrough, Nicole Behm of Northwoods Credit Union and Loel Seboe of the Human Development Center.
Making her first appearance as the newly crowned 2011 Miss Cloquet in Saturday’s parade was Laura Bakken. Bakken, the daughter of Mary and Scott Bakken, is a senior at Cloquet High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a cheerleader for basketball, football and hockey, a volunteer for the Salvation Army and involved in her church youth group. Bakken plans to study English and Spanish at The College of St. Scholastica and hopes to become a high school English teacher.
Runner-up for the title of 2011 Miss Cloquet was Krystyna Bork of Carlton.
The “Santa’s Home for the Holidays” celebration also included Friday night festivities at Queen of Peace School and Veterans Park and a holiday performance at County Seat Theater; a holiday expo and craft sale at Churchill Elementary on Saturday and Sunday; and a bonfire, food vendors, and coffee and hot cocoa in downtown Cloquet.
The committee of sponsors and volunteers plans a wrap-up meeting in coming weeks, but one sentiment stands out loud and clear.
“We absolutely will do it again next year!” said Rudolph. “Anything like this that we can do for the people of Cloquet is worth doing, and I think every year it will attract more and more people to Cloquet.”