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Christmas stockings were hung with care on the R.P. Broadcasting float, the Media Challenge winner, in the annual First City of Lights Holiday Parade Friday evening. Pioneer Photo/Laurie Swenson

First City of Lights: Parade opens holiday season

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news Bemidji, 56619
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Muffled and mitted, cuddled and huddled happy revelers lined Beltrami Avenue Friday night to celebrate the First City of Lights.

The parade at 6 p.m., followed by the lighting of the Lake Bemidji waterfront, has been a Bemidji tradition for 15 years.

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Even single-digit temperatures (9 degrees at 6 p.m.) and a stiff, 10 mph west wind didn't deter the gathering, although there was some discussion about which side of Beltrami Avenue was colder.

"This is our third year," said Tera Wilson of Cass Lake.

She was celebrating the beginning of the holiday season with Clinton Fairbanks and their children Amira, 6, and Julian, 8.

"I've been here since I was a little kid," said Fairbanks.

"And he's 24 now," said Wilson.

Bonnie Weidenborner was muffled with a Gator face mask and tucked under a double wedding ring quilt with her family - her husband, Blaise, son Hunter, 15, and daughter Whitney, 12.

Whitney said she would climb out from under the quilt when the candy started flying.

A first-timer at the parade was Dick, a 2-year-old, 140-pound white American bulldog, whose people, Laura and Jesse Johnson, describe him as a big baby.

However, Laura said she always watches the First City of Lights Holiday Parade.

"Every year - I make it a habit," she said.

Tami Jo Cook and her son, Dominic, 7, dusted several inches of snow off a sidewalk bench as the parade got under way. She said she looks forward to welcoming back the Pioneer's Dancing Snowmen.

The businesses that stayed open downtown enjoyed the activity, too.

"It's the prettiest parade they do in Bemidji," said Janel Hart, owner of Chocolates Plus.

"It's been a busy night - it's been fun," said Jessie Fisher, cashier at the candy store.

The family of Great-Grandma Pat Moen got even more in the spirit of the event in holiday costumes. Family members included a tall Grinch, two large elves and one small one - Lily Krona, 7 - a Santa - Bjorn Krona, 4 - and a snowman - Jayda Everhart, 6.

Bjorn said his favorite part of the parade is the finale when the fire truck carries Santa in triumph into downtown.

Parade winners

E Best All-Around Parade Unit: Frohn Willing Workers 4-H Club, $250, sponsored by First National Bank.

E Best Use of Lights: Beltrami Electric Cooperative, $250, sponsored by Deerwood Bank.

E Best Community Unit: Bemidji National Guard, $250, sponsored by RiverWood Bank.

E Best Commercial Unit: MarketPlace Food and Drug, $200, sponsored by Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

E Best Club Award: Go & Whoa Harness Club, $250, sponsored by Bemidji Woolen Mills and Ken K. Thompson.

E Best Youth Unit for Creativity: Bemidji Youth League Baseball, $250, sponsored by TruStar Federal Credit Union.

E Best Youth Unit for Use of Lights: Bemidji High School Blue Angels dance team, $200, sponsored by Bemidji American Farm Insurance, Bob Sandbo, John Carlson and Ron Otterstad, and Tutto Bene Ristorante.

E Media Challenge: R.P. Broadcasting.

Muffled and mitted, cuddled and huddled happy revelers lined Beltrami Avenue Friday night to celebrate the First City of Lights.

The parade at 6 p.m., followed by the lighting of the Lake Bemidji waterfront, has been a Bemidji tradition for 15 years.

Even single-digit temperatures (9 degrees at 6 p.m.) and a stiff, 10 mph west wind didn't deter the gathering, although there was some discussion about which side of Beltrami Avenue was colder.

"This is our third year," said Tera Wilson of Cass Lake.

She was celebrating the beginning of the holiday season with Clinton Fairbanks and their children Amira, 6, and Julian, 8.

"I've been here since I was a little kid," said Fairbanks.

"And he's 24 now," said Wilson.

Bonnie Weidenborner was muffled with a Gator face mask and tucked under a double wedding ring quilt with her family - her husband, Blaise, son Hunter, 15, and daughter Whitney, 12.

Whitney said she would climb out from under the quilt when the candy started flying.

A first-timer at the parade was Dick, a 2-year-old, 140-pound white American bulldog, whose people, Laura and Jesse Johnson, describe him as a big baby.

However, Laura said she always watches the First City of Lights Holiday Parade.

"Every year - I make it a habit," she said.

Tami Jo Cook and her son, Dominic, 7, dusted several inches of snow off a sidewalk bench as the parade got under way. She said she looks forward to welcoming back the Pioneer's Dancing Snowmen.

The businesses that stayed open downtown enjoyed the activity, too.

"It's the prettiest parade they do in Bemidji," said Janel Hart, owner of Chocolates Plus.

"It's been a busy night - it's been fun," said Jessie Fisher, cashier at the candy store.

The family of Great-Grandma Pat Moen got even more in the spirit of the event in holiday costumes. Family members included a tall Grinch, two large elves and one small one - Lily Krona, 7 - a Santa - Bjorn Krona, 4 - and a snowman - Jayda Everhart, 6.

Bjorn said his favorite part of the parade is the finale when the fire truck carries Santa in triumph into downtown.

Parade winners

- Best All-Around Parade Unit: Frohn Willing Workers 4-H Club, $250, sponsored by First National Bank.

- Best Use of Lights: Beltrami Electric Cooperative, $250, sponsored by Deerwood Bank.

- Best Community Unit: Bemidji National Guard, $250, sponsored by RiverWood Bank.

- Best Commercial Unit: MarketPlace Food and Drug, $200, sponsored by Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

- Best Club Award: Go & Whoa Harness Club, $250, sponsored by Bemidji Woolen Mills and Ken K. Thompson.

- Best Youth Unit for Creativity: Bemidji Youth League Baseball, $250, sponsored by TruStar Federal Credit Union.

- Best Youth Unit for Use of Lights: Bemidji High School Blue Angels dance team, $200, sponsored by Bemidji American Farm Insurance, Bob Sandbo, John Carlson and Ron Otterstad, and Tutto Bene Ristorante.

- Media Challenge: R.P. Broadcasting.

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Pioneer staff reports
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