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Yuletide Sampler and tree-lighting ceremony kickoff 'Heart of the Holidays'

Holiday shoppers can enjoy the annual tree-lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, caroling and nibbles in downtown Park Rapids businesses. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24. (Enterprise file photo)

The giant spruce on Main Street, lighted trees on every corner, fresh evergreen wreaths on the carriage lights and window displays set the scene for the holidays in downtown Park Rapids.

Enjoy hot cider, hot chocolate and other treats at the Yuletide Sampler from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24. Participating businesses host this annual event as a way to thank the community for their support all year and invite the start of your holiday shopping. Freewill offerings from the Yuletide Sampler will be donated to CHI St. Joseph's Health Hospice Care.

Family and friends of Rita Blake will provide a Live Nativity during the Yuletide Sampler. The Live Nativity will be set up south of the tree on Main.

Then gather at 6 p.m. for the CHI St. Joseph's Hospice Care Light Up a Life Community Tree-Lighting Ceremony on Main Street. The tree-lighting ceremony is a celebration of life and memories. This year's event will honor the memory of Guy LaFontaine, former owner of the Outdoorsman Cafe in Walker. By giving a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one, the funds help bring individualized care to hospice patients in our area. All donations are used locally.

In the spirit of the season, a Christmas carol sing-along, roasting marshmallows over fire pits, the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus and the countdown to light the beautifully decorated Main Street tree complete the celebration.

Many people describe the annual event as a Norman Rockwell moment.

All season, Park Rapids' giant tree brightens Main Street on winter nights and stands as a symbol of small-town cheer and goodwill, lighting the way to a New Year.