Parade floats lit up downtown Cloquet and parade goers lined Cloquet Avenue Saturday evening for the return of "Santa's Home for the Holidays" festivities.
Leading up to the parade, families hovered over bonfires in front of the fire hall roasting marshmallows, and enjoyed hot chocolate and holiday music from the Cloquet High School Madrigals choir. A long line for photos formed in front of people dressed as the Grinch and and Cindy Lou Who.
"We love doing stuff for the community and we like seeing the community in events like this," said Sarah Buhs, the public education officer with the Cloquet Fire Department. Buhs estimated roughly 200 people joined them at some point.
The festivities, organized by the United Way of Carlton County, began Thursday with a chili feed and holiday crafts. A favorite event of 14-year-old Katelyn Lokling of Cloquet is the spaghetti dinner with Santa on Friday night, something her family has done every year since she was just a toddler. They have photos taken with Santa each year to show for it.
Lokling sat, warm and waiting for the parade, inside a small one-person hunting blind her father, McGee Lokling, assembled on the sidewalk Saturday evening. He bought the tent to use during cold football games after seeing soccer moms with them.
"I was jealous of their tents," he said. "They work out good for parades, too."
Shannon Swegle, of Duluth, and originally from Cloquet, attended the parade with her two sons and husband, favoring a smaller, less crowded holiday parade to Duluth's Christmas City of the North Parade. It was her 2-year-old son's first parade.
Cloquet High School's basketball teams followed behind a float carrying Santa Claus. Miah Snesrud, of Esko, spotted his 15-year-old son Calvin among the students, whistled and yelled: "I love you!"
"I feel there was some embarrassment, but he's used to it," Snesrud. "If he couldn't handle it, I wouldn't bring it."
Kids scavenged the ground for candy as a menagerie including a fire engine decorated in holiday lights, tots in tinsel, dogs in sweaters representing Northern Lights Animal Rescue in Twig and a second Santa float, passed.
The annual festivities ended with fireworks over Veterans Memorial Park and a round of car horns honking for applause.
1/5: Cindy Lou Who, left, smiles while the Grinch snarls ahead of the 2021 Santa's Home for the Holidays Parade in Cloquet on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. The characters from the Grinch met fans and posed for photos at a gathering outside the Cloquet Area Fire District. Dan Williamson / Cloquet Pine Journal
2/5: Wren Cummings, 5, of Cloquet, smiles as she prepares to cook two marshmallows on a roasting stick in a fire pit outside the Cloquet Area Fire District during a gathering ahead of the 2021 Santa's Home for the Holidays Parade in Cloquet on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Dan Williamson / Cloquet Pine Journal
3/5: People begin to line up on Cloquet Avenue ahead of the 2021 Santa's Home for the Holidays Parade in Cloquet on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Dan Williamson / Cloquet Pine Journal
4/5: Members of the Veterans Combined Honor Guard march down Cloquet Avenue to help kick off the 2021 Santa's Home for the Holidays Parade in Cloquet on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Dan Williamson / Cloquet Pine Journal
5/5: Emilee Holland, 6, of Cloquet, looks on from along Cloquet Avenue and waits for candy to be tossed her direction during the 2021 Santa's Home for the Holidays Parade in Cloquet on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. Dan Williamson / Cloquet Pine Journal