Downtown Park Rapids starting to look a lot like Christmas – Park Rapids Enterprise

Downtown Park Rapids looked a little different than usual during the Yuletide Sampler on Friday, November 24th.

Elsie Dottenwhy, Charlotte Kalash, Annabeth Dottenwhy, Lilah Dottenwhy, Stella Kalash and Evelynn Kalash roast marshmallows at one of the fire pits set up along Main Avenue for Friday’s Yuletide Sampler. His grandparents are from Park Rapids, but the Dottenwhy sisters are from Staples and the Kalashes are from Thief River Falls.

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

To begin with, the second block of the main avenue was blocked off to vehicular traffic, with lit bonfires set up at intervals along the street.


Teresa Conway, left, and Jan Kellner try out their marshmallow roasting skills in the middle of Main Avenue during Friday’s Yuletide Sampler.

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

A stage was prepared for the community Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which began an hour later, with Christmas carols played over a public address system.


Joanna Wallenberg, right, helps Evelyn Johnson (with a very shiny nose) and Bentley Bower collect a bag of reindeer food in front of Beagle & Wolf Books and Bindery. “You spread it on the lawn on Christmas Eve,” Wallenberg explained, “so Santa and the reindeer can see from above, and then the reindeer can munch on it while Santa is inside.”

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

The windows were lit more brightly than usual for that time of day, with many stores staying open late. As the crowd grew, they swarmed with customers, many of them stopping to grab snacks and hot drinks.

Observant eyes might even spot children with glowing reindeer noses, dogs snuggled in winter coats, and a Nigerian dwarf goat dressed as Santa Claus, escorted by Annette and Mark Bethel.


Carmen Arellano serves Native American-style frybread and cups of chicken and wild rice soup to Nancy Rutherford, Camdyn Quinn, Rachel Eischens and Cecilia Quinn at the salon formerly known as A Hair in the Moon, soon to be A Wild Hair.

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

Cookies, cocoa and DIY roasted marshmallows were also on offer, with the promise of time to visit Santa still to come.

Park Rapids Downtown Business Association (PRDBA) member Bryan Hirt, owner of Aunt Belle’s Confectionary, commented on how well-received the sample was.


April, Ashley, Tyler and Troy Becker stop by Wild Bare Care’s cocoa counter with their comfortably bundled up dogs, Daisy and Cookie.

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

“The Yuletide Sampler, I thought, went really well,” he said. “Customers came in and out and raved about how everything was run, how many businesses were participating and how they loved going into every store with their families.”

Hirt estimated that more people came into his store this year than last.

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“Santa Claus” John Nierenhausen and Greg Holder of Rustic Cabin Decor serve treats to customer Rose Williams. Many downtown stores stayed open late and served cozy winter treats during Friday’s Yuletide Sampler.

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

“People were commenting on how cold it was outside,” he said.

But they came anyway. “They said, ‘We always come,’ and they didn’t really care about the weather,” Hirt said. “I’m grateful that our city does things like this, to bring people together and showcase what our downtown and our community has and does. It is very cool.”

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Nancy Utke pours herself a cup of “fireball cider” at Greet & Gather in downtown Park Rapids as co-owner Anthony Schiller looks on.

Robin Fish/Park Rapids Enterprise

Robin Fish is a reporter for the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.

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