There’s a party goin’ on this weekend in downtown Walker — and you’re invited.
The 25th annual Festival of Lights Celebration, always held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, has become a tradition for many as it heralds the start of the Christmas holiday season.
From Saturday morning’s Reindeer Ramble 5K walk/run to the post-parade Tree Lighting at Village Square, young and old gather for a day of holiday festivities, shopping, dazzling lights and decor, shopping, food, fun and shopping, all in the spirit of the season.
Nov. 30 also happens to be Small Business Saturday, a national promotion that emphasizes the importance of supporting hometown small businesses. Many Walker merchants will be offering in-store specials, samples, free gifts and other surprises.
The morning kicks off with registration at 8 a.m. for the Reindeer Ramble 5K Run-Walk at Chase on the Lake Hotel. At 10 a.m., runners and walkers head off down a marked course on city streets to a turn-around point, then head back to the Chase. The entry fee includes a commemorative cap for early entrants. Prizes go to the top three finishers in age and gender categories.
At 11 a.m., the “Miracle on Fifth Street” Ten Party opens, offering Legion Kids’ activities; photos with Santa; a live reindeer; horse and buggy rides; and a gingerbread contest.
The Traveling Art Pub’s Holiday DIY Art Session runs from 2-4 p.m., also under the Tent on Fifth.
The Festival of Lights Parade and Lighting of the City start at 5 p.m., with Joe and Barb Sherman as parade grand marshals. Motorized floats, decorated vehicles and groups of marchers will greet spectators standing along Minnesota Avenue. Many marchers will be handing out candy or other items, so dress warmly, arrive early, stake out a good spot, and bring a bag to hold your stash.
Parade line-up is 4:30 p.m. in front of Subway. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. Just let the Leech Lake Area Chamber know the name of your group or business, and what you want the parade MC to announce as your entry proceeds down the street. The first place entry will receive $300 in Chamber Bucks; second place, $200; and third, $100.
A Light Up the Storefront competition will be held for the best decorated businesses in two categories: best lighting display and best window display. Winners will each receive $300 in Chamber Bucks. The team of judges will travel up to 5 miles out of Walker to judge a business, but ONLY if the Chamber has been notified ahead of time.
At 6 p.m., the Holiday Tree Lighting will be held at Village Square (corner of Minnesota and Fifth). This is a special “Giving Christmas Tree,” adorned with colorful paper mitten ornaments listing classroom supplies compiled by WHA teachers. The cost is estimated at $10 or less. Choose a mitten, purchase the items listed and bring them to the Chamber to be distributed to classrooms by student members of the Rotary Interact Club.
After the parade and tree-lighting, many shoppers will head for local restaurant for something to fill the tummy and warm the soul.
The 25th Festival of Lights Celebration (established in 1995) is sponsored by the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Northern Lights Casino and Event Center, Spencer-Ross American Legion Post 134, Walker Bay Theater, SuperOne Foods and Traveling Art Pub.
For more information call the Chamber at (218) 547-1313 or visit the website,www.leech-lake.com