HENDRICKS - It wasn't unusual to see a procession of ice fishing houses being towed down the street. That's tradition, said the crowds braving the after-dark cold along Hendricks' main street. What made the difference this weekend were the thousands of lights festooning the parade entries - fish houses, people, golf carts, a semi trailer, even a combine that drew some oohs and ahs from bystanders.
"It took about a day to put all the lights on," Chad Olsen said of the combine. Olsen estimated more than 30 strings of white Christmas lights, and "a lot of duct tape," went into illuminating the big machine.
The lighted parade Saturday night was the combined effort of Hendricks community organizations, local businesses and residents. Organizers said they hope to turn the town's annual fish house parade and downtown shopping event into a bigger holiday celebration.
Photo by Deb Gau
Mason and Kylie Ramlo had their eyes on some of Shelley Gates and Martha Pasco’s twinkling holiday headgear Saturday night during a holiday event on Hendricks’ main street. A group of local organizers helped turned the town’s annual ice fishing house parade into a festival of lights — and all you needed to participate, they said, were some lights of your own.
"All you need to be part of the parade are lights," said Shelley Gates, as a group of young customers checked out her selection of flashing wands and headbands. Gates said the idea to turn the ice house parade into a lighted parade came from members of the Hendricks Community Foundation, the Plant Patrol (a local volunteer group that helps provide planters and other downtown decorations), and local business owners.
"We would have the fish house parade every year, but it would be in the afternoon," said Kate Aydin, another of the crew helping to put the festivities together. "This year we wanted to light up the town." Aydin said her father, who is also a member of the Community Foundation, gave organizers the idea to put up a display of lights in Hendricks' downtown sculpture garden.
After a lighting ceremony and the parade Saturday night, participants and bystanders alike stayed to mingle and check out displays in Main Street stores.
"It's fun. It's a way to bring people together," said Hendricks resident Gary Johnson. Johnson, decked out in a Viking helmet as "Ole," rode on one of the lead floats in the parade with his wife, who was playing the part of "Lena."
Across the street, Darren and Angie Shumacher's family were getting ready to go see the sights after parking their festive fish house. Darren Schumacher said he had taken part in the fish house parade before, but this year's parade requirements were a twist.
"It was sort of a challenge," he said, to get lights on the house.
Local business owner Jay Nelson said Hendricks will be continuing the festivities for the next two weekends. Next weekend there will be a live nativity scene, he said, and the next weekend the downtown will participate in a Norwegian Christmastime tradition that Nelson described as being "like trick or treating for adults."
"You dress up, and then other people have to try and guess who you are," he said
"We hope it will get even better," Hendricks businesswoman Lori Olson said of the festivities. She said she was thinking of putting together an entry for her floral shop in next weekend's parade. Community members said they didn't know if the town would be able to draw in a lot of people for the next two weeks' events, but they were hoping for the best.
"We'll know in two weeks if it works for us," Nelson said.
In the meantime, Gary Johnson said, it was just good to see so many people getting together. "It seems like people don't go out and visit anymore."