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Holiday season official kick-off Friday

Park Rapids' tradition of a tannenbaum on Main continues, Daryl Robbins donating the tree this year. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The annual Park Rapids Community Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, Yuletide Sampler and Live Nativity are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 23 on Main in downtown Park Rapids. This celebration is made possible through the dedication of many volunteers, merchants, Chamber board members, Chamber staff and their families, and even Santa is making time for a special visit from the North Pole during this busy season.

This year's tree was donated by Daryl Robbins and delivered by Steve and Robin Walsh of Dick Walsh Forest Products. "We extend a big thank you to Steve and Robin Walsh for their generous help with getting the tree cut and placed on Main Avenue," said Katie Magozzi, Chamber executive director. "The brothers have donated their time and equipment for many years to make the Park Rapids community Christmas tree the holiday centerpiece we all anticipate and treasure."

Magozzi also extends a thank you to Minnesota Power, Chamber Board Member Peter Young of the Y Steak House, Ron Ahmann of R&R Rental, Police Chief Terry Eilers, Scott Burlingame and the city of Park Rapids. "We thank all of you for giving your time and talent to cutting, delivering, lighting and decorating the tree," she said.

Park Rapids downtown merchants and area businesses provide a delicious Yuletide Sampler from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23. "We also thank them for their support of the delightful Christmas tree lighting festivities and Santa visits," Magozzi added.

The Park Rapids Area Home School Association will present two performances of a Live Nativity complete with a stable and live animals on Main. Performances will be at 5 and 5:30 p.m.

The Christmas tree lighting events will begin at 6 p.m. "The evening is always a magical one, filled with caroling, food, shopping and good cheer."

Lance Bagstad, superintendent of the Park Rapids Schools, will emcee the tree lighting ceremonies. Paul Dove will conduct the choir and lead the audience in carols. Sherm Anderson, Anderson's Starlight Bay Resort, will provide the sound.

2012 marks the 25th anniversary of partnering with the St. Joseph's Area Health Services Hospice "Light Up a Life" program to light the tree with bulbs honoring the memory of a friend, loved one or someone living you wish to honor. The Hospice family of Zelda Little, wife of Guy Little, will light the tree this year.

To sponsor a bulb, contact St. Joseph's Hospice for Light Up a Life at 732-4552.

Santa invites kids to share their Christmas wish lists when he visits and brings reindeer corn treats to Bella Caffé this holiday season. He'll be there following the tree lighting ceremony Friday, Nov. 23 and return from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22. Remember to bring your camera!

Free Christmas matinees also start Friday, Nov. 23, sponsored by Park Theater and local businesses.

The child-friendly movie matinees open with "Madagascar 3," showing at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23 and Saturday, Nov. 24. Matinees will continue at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 ("Dolphin Tail"), Dec. 8 ("Three Stooges"), Dec. 15 ("Happy Feet 2") and Dec. 22 ("Dr. Seuss: The Lorax").