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Parade-goers asked to consider financial donation

Lori Paris hears every year from people who love the Night We Light parade and the lighting of the trees at the Lake Bemidji waterfront.

The family-friendly event, held the Friday after Thanksgiving, is sponsored by the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Development Authority and typically attracts about 4,000 people to downtown.

This year marks the 16th year for the waterfront lights and 15th year for the parade.

But fundraising for the event is always a struggle.

Paris, the president of the Chamber, is asking the community to consider a donation toward the cost of the event.

"If you love this event and look forward to it every year, help us," she said.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the First City of Lights through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, at 4225 Technology Drive NW.

The funding issues facing the Night We Light events are very real, Paris noted.

In 2008, the fireworks for the annual event were canceled and have not been held since. Even without them, the cost is about $23,000 a year for the parade and lights.

Funds for this year are "close" to meeting the total goal, Paris said, but that would leave no seed money at all available for next year.

The event is always at risk, she noted.