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Holiday parade returns to downtown Worthington

Brian Korthals Marisa (left) and Maranda Thier drop off their letters to Santa Claus Saturday afternoon at Santa's mailbox, in front of his workshop at the corner of 10th Street and third Avenue in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Just days before the biggest shopping day of the year, the Christmas season will officially kick off with the annual Holiday Parade Tuesday night in downtown Worthington.

Nearly 20 units will parade down 10th Street -- quadrupling last year's number of entries -- and participants have all been encouraged to add festive lighting to their holiday floats this year.

Darlene Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, said the parade will feature the local Boy Scouts presenting the Color Guard, the Worthington High School marching band, floats sponsored by several businesses and of course, a special visitor.

"Santa will be in the parade," Macklin said, adding that he will ride through downtown on a fire truck.

Additional entries for the parade will be taken until noon on Tuesday, and interested groups or individuals may call the Chamber office to sign up at 372-2919. A prize will be awarded to the first place entry.

Free popcorn will be served Tuesday night by Bank of the West, and businesses will be extending their hours to welcome shoppers downtown to see what the community has to offer.

Maria Thier, owner of Lit'l Wizards and member of the Chamber's retail committee, said the holiday parade is a good way to showcase local businesses.

"It's kind of a chance for everybody to celebrate what we have right here in Worthington and (it) just represents what a great community we have right here at home," said Thier. "It just brings everyone together and kicks off the holidays. It's fun and something different from other parades."

"The whole point is to add a festive atmosphere to the holidays and to bring people into our community and support our local businesses," added Macklin.

The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, however both Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at Santa's Workshop on the Nobles County Government Center lawn by 5 p.m. Children are encouraged to come early and meet the jolly couple before the parade begins.

Downtown stores, which are typically open until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, will remain open until 8 p.m. or later, said Thier. To brighten up the event even more this year, several of the businesses will sell lighted snowman necklaces.

"We want people to purchase these in advance and wear them the night of the parade," said Macklin. "We're trying to pull the community together."

Returning for the second holiday season is Santa's Mailbox, which will have a new location this year next to Santa's Workshop. Children are invited to write out their wish lists and drop them in the box for Santa Claus.

At special times during the Christmas shopping season, Santa will be in his workshop to also visit with the kids. His hours will be Tuesdays Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 5 to 7 p.m.; and on Saturdays Dec. 11 and 18, from noon to 2 p.m.

Holiday lighting contest begins

Again this year, the community improvement committee of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce is encouraging people to light up their homes and businesses for the holidays. Cash prizes and credits on utility bills are paid to those who have the best lighting displays.

Macklin said people do not need to sign up to have their place judged -- committee members canvas the town to see who has the most Christmas spirit.

"Anyone who has lights on their home will be considered," said Macklin.

The rules are that people have their Christmas lights turned on by this weekend. Judging by the committee will take place sometime between Dec. 6 and Dec. 14.

Prizes for top residential displays are: $100 credit on your December utility bill and $100 cash for first place; $75 credit and $75 cash for second; and $50 credit and $50 cash for third. A first and second place will be awarded in the commercial displays, with first place receiving $100 credit on Chamber membership dues and $100 credit on their December utility bill. Second place will receive a $75 credit on Chamber dues and $75 utility bill credit. Sponsors of the lighting contest are Worthington Public Utilities, the Daily Globe and the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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