Fireworks to me have always been a Fourth of July event. Something specifically for warm nights on a grassy hill. When my sister told me about a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony happening just south of the Minnesota River, in Shakopee, I was skeptical. They were doing all the small-town favorites for the kids, like Hot Cider, Music, Tree Lighting and ending with Fireworks. Did I really need another Holiday event to attend? Was this going to be a crazy grab filled with long lines and everyone looking for something free? I decided to give it a try since it was close to home. What I found was a new Holiday Tradition in the making.
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Holiday Fest in Downtown Shakopee
If you are unfamiliar with the area, download the map to your phone or print off a copy before you go. Trying to meet people at an event like this is a challenge, especially when you are less familiar with the backroads, and streets. Add nighttime into the mix, two kids that are bundled up to the extreme, both trying to hang on to their own thermoses of Hot Chocolate. Then attempt to make sure you are on the parade route. All I can say is how did we do this before the days of GPS and cell phones? Our meetup spot changed a few times during the walk with a lot of “OK, I’m by the train tracks.” “By the Library?”, “Wait, where’s the library?” Next time, just pick a restaurant to meet at or ride together.
We were there for the main event, the Holiday Parade. But on the way, we passed a lot of fun activities setup. Like the opportunity to take a picture with the Grinch. Music was playing, fire pits and drinks being passed around. Everyone didn’t seem to mind the winter temps. We eventually ventured down to the end of the parade route and found a spot to hunker down about 10 minutes before the start of the parade. Unfortunately, it was right outside of Dominoes Pizza. Defiantly regretting my decision not to eat before left.
The Holiday Parade
The parade started at 6pm. Parades are always a fun experience. During summertime, parades involve setting out blankets and chairs days before to secure to ultimate spot. Winter is a whole other story with everyone standing to avoid sitting on the cold wet ground. With crowd mentality, I may have spent most of the night reminding kids to stay back, but it was a lost cause.
The parade took a little longer to reach us, being at the end with an easy escape back to the car. It was non stop fun. Everyone added some type of lights to their floats. It reminded me of the classic Holidazel parades when I was young. The firetrucks and dance crews were out. Lit up bicycles and so much more. For being a winter parade, I was not expecting the candy. Thankfully my kids had some big pockets. While our location was great and less crowded, it was less crowded for a reason. The main float, Santa was stopping at the giant tree in the center of the strip about a block west of us.
Where is Santa?
We were notified of this when someone unceremoniously came down the parade route saying ‘Santa Stopped at the tree for the light ceremony’. We both grabbed a kid’s hand and did a mad rush down the block to get the crowd circling the tree, in hops the kids could catch a glimpse. Santa used his magic to lite the tree, followed by fireworks shooting up from behind the building. Then it was another mad dash to our original spot to view the firework.
In retrospect, we probably could have avoided all the running around and seen the tree lit from afraid. But crowd mentality kicks in. And when your child wanted to see Santa, and you’ve been promising he’d be at the end of the parade, you run for it. For me, the best part of the night actually was the fireworks. Having them launched at the park across the street, with an unobstructed view, on the cold night air, was something spectacular.
The Holiday Fest Downtown Shakopee was over on Friday night with fireworks for us. The event continued on through the night and into all weekend long with pictures with Santa and petty zoo, ice sculptures, holiday activities, and shopping.
Winter Parade Tips
- Get there early for the parking close by. Otherwise, utilize the side streets and prepare to walk. It will also allow you to take advantage of the photo ops.
- Bring hot beverages in a good thermos. We used some Recycled Plastic Mug and by the time the parade started, they were ice cold drinks. I am partial to Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mugs. I paid a little more but they are still under $20 and worth every penny. Your drink will stay steamy all night long
- Dress Warm in Layers. Hats, Mittens, Scarves or a Buff, good socks, snow pants, the works! After you find your parade spot, you aren’t moving around too much. I was turned on to Buff’s last year. I never go anywhere without them now.
- Bring a bag for treats. Also, consider bringing a bag to put all of your family’s thermoses when they are done. I think I ended up with one in each of my coat pockets, and my hands full.
Holiday Fest in downtown Shakopee is returning December 6th this year and I’ll be there again. I didn’t realize this is what I had been missing every December. For more fun holiday festivals this season check out: http://daytripper28.com/minnesota-adventures/christmas-lights-in-mn/