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HEART OF STEELE

Owatonna lighted parade thrills–and chills
By
Joni Hubred, News Editor
Owatonna lighted parade thrills–and chills

I have been to several lighted holiday parades over the past five or six years, but none like the glorious celebration that rolled through downtown Owatonna last Thursday.

Yes, my limbs were frozen after more than an hour in the cold. My joints ached, and I couldn’t feel my toes.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Main Street Director Lisa Cochran told me they try to accommodate everyone who wants to participate, and in this year of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone wants to participate in everything.

Still, the steady stream of lighted vehicles and costumed characters and floats and dancers and students marching in groups seemed exceptional. Businesses, nonprofits, high school sports teams, and even local government were all represented along the route.

Some of the entries were downright inventive. Parade judges chose Above & Beyond Abilities, with its gorgeous Frozen-themed entry, as the overall winner. But how many other lighted parades have had a Stars Wars AT-AT walker and Christmas-sweater-wearing Chewbaca?

What struck me most was how many businesses and organizations participated. People spent hours on decorating and lighting (not to mention the expense) just to bring some holiday cheer to the community.

We cover stories like this almost every week. Not all of them are this grand and glorious, but on the pages of this issue alone, you’ll read about 4-H volunteers who set up a shopping experience for local children and a group that rescues cats–including more than 70 this year from the home of a hoarder–and finds them new homes.

Businesses come to the table here; the new Holiday store with a $500 check for United Way, and Federated Insurance with $575,000 in scholarship dollars that will transform the lives of high school students.

Thursday’s marathon lighted parade was just another example of the community spirit and generosity that keep our hearts warm through a cold Minnesota winter.  

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