Before we moved to the cities, Becky and I attended Holidazzle, a downtown Minneapolis parade of lighted people and floats. Becky watched it on tv growing up, but I don’t recall ever hearing about it before. But I was game.
I remember waiting outside after finding our spot on a bench where Becky would be able to stand to see over the crowd. It was pretty cold but not asininely cold. Still, we waited a good 40 minutes along Nicollet Avenue. No bathrooms in sight except an overwhelmed Starbucks a block away. The parade itself was underwhelming for me, but I know Becky loved it. And I was glad it existed for kids.
Becky here: Going to watch the Holidazzle Parade in real life was a childhood dream come true. Every year, KARE11 TV would broadcast it just once, and I remember watching how awesome the costumes were on kids and bands and everyone because they had to be covered in lights. I remember the walking lightbulbs and star collars made of lights. I loved it FAR more than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade because I just don’t get balloons. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE BALLOONS?
Anyway, going to the Hollidazzle Parade was akin to seeing the Rockettes in person. Magical.
I will freely admit that the bathroom situation was not ideal. At that time, every store closed an hour before the parade was to start preventing people from using the bathroom. The one that stayed open: Starbucks. Yes, we had a line. We had a line everywhere we went. I thought, it’s the cities. Joel! JUST get in the line! Plus, we brought books because I had to get there super early to make sure I didn’t miss it, so the lines was just standing reading time.
As Joel so often does, he left out what that weekend was really all about. That was our first Christmas weekend in the cities, and we had ton of amazing Christmassy stuff. One of which was ice skating outside the Landmark Center in St. Paul. Seeing it for the first time, we knew that was where we were getting married. Needless to say, I got a soft spot for Christmas in the cities.
The parade itself was only a small bit underwhelming. We’d only get like a chunk at a time because they would have to stop for stop lights. Watching it on tv, those were commercial breaks. In spite of its start-stop jilty nature, it was a fond memory that has since mixed in with all of the ones we had that weekend.
Several years later, the decades old institution was done. I think their funding dried up but can’t say for sure.
Then the idea was revived as a Christmas Market in a small corner of Nicollet Avenue, the response was overwhelming. People I work with that went said it was a madhouse with no room to move and long lines for nothing. We didn’t go.
The year the parade ended BROKE my heart because I wanted my mom to come to the Cities to see it someday. She loved it so much more than me, and…well…life happens. So we boycotted anything the city deemed to be Holidazzle.
Holidazzle was reborn once again as a Christmas Market in Loring Park, where there was much more room to spread out. This year, we went to take in the spectacle and the fireworks, which I don’t remember ever seeing in the winter come to think of it. Maybe New Year’s at some point, but nothing comes to mind.
Why this year? Marketing. Here is the whole page ad that changed the tide for me.
Doesn’t it look dreamy? The holidays are hard for so many reasons. Its back to that…well…life happens, bit again. This year I really needed Yuletide cheer. And, Fireworks. All year we tried to see fireworks, and it just never happened. We would go and be in the wrong place or get there too late. It’s been a struggle for fireworks. The marketing and fireworks had this girl lacing up her snow boots.
We parked at the Walker parking ramp across Hennepin Avenue from the park. Hollidazzle was set up on the far end of the lake, which was a pleasant walk. We had prepared with winter boots, two layers of pants, and plenty of layers of shirts and coats.
The booths were set up like a craft fair, but with a focus more on clothing and food items, including a tent for syrup where people were sampling by shot glass.
The syrup shots brought forth images of Elf and thoughts of “Only in Minnesota” would this be something that had a long enough line, Joel wasn’t able to capture a picture of it. What did not have a long line when we got there, was the cookie line. Here’s a nice shot of the cookie and a shout-out to my friend Jenna who made the mittens for me. These mittens have gotten me out of many a jam!
There were some fascinating kinetic sculptures of a wolf and a moose that could be manipulated by rope and bicycle pedals underneath.
Joel’s categorization of them being “fascinating” does not do them justice. The sculptures were of a moose and a wolf. Each of them were powered to move as a kid would pedal the bike underneath them. The moose was my favorite because when the kid peddled, it made the sound of a heartbeat. The sculptures are an experiment of the power and strength of humanity to keep the heart’s beating in the animals. I thought it was a lovely callout to nature and climate change awareness. Or, they could have just been there for something for kids to do.
We got a Hollidazle Brat made by Kramarczuk’s that was A-MA-ZING. We definitely recommend going just for this brat. It’s a long line, but so totally worth it. You can even get some Fulton brews or hot cider from the tent next door to help you wait for the fireworks.
He continues to skip around. The other cool part about Hollidazzle is they had live performances of different music groups around the Cities. The night we went, the University of Minnesota Drum Core was there. Having been in drum core a few decades back, I’m ALWAYS up for a Drum Core! I was cold, and I wanted to see them, so BAM! I pushed my way to the front of the audience to watch them. They were AMAZING! If you ever have a chance to see a Drum Core, even if it’s a high school one, go.
Before long, the fireworks started. We are big fans, and saw a few new effects.
Plus they played Yuletide music in the background. This was a new high for this girl and fireworks. You may think they’d be a small, little spit of a show, but no. Holidazzle went all out. If you haven’t gone, be sure to go on Saturday. And we highly recommend only getting there a half hour before the fireworks because it can get so cold waiting. Plus, if you want to stick around afterwards, there’s always that.
Oh, and yes, there are port-a-potties and places to stop to use the bathroom along the way.
I’m totally glad we went this year and highly recommend going – the food, sale items, fireworks, and even a drum line or two make this a new tradition for this couple.
You can still make it there yourself. They are open this week Thursday through Saturday before Christmas. Fireworks on Saturday!