Downtown Park Rapids looked a little different than usual during the Yuletide Sampler on Friday, November 24th.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
Robin Fish is a reporter for the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-252-3053.