Holiday season in full swing with Parade of Lights events

The Christmas season came to the Carson Valley in grand style over the first weekend in December. The annual Minden Park lighting Friday evening, presented by the Minden Town Board and lead by Santa with a wave of his magic hand, set the 100-year-old park aglow with hundreds of lights and the new addition of eight dancing carousel horses prancing in succession around the Minden gazebo.

Santa then led a Pied Piper style parade of children, along with their parents, down Esmeralda Avenue, to his temporary Minden cottage at the German Christmas Market in the C.O.D. Garage. There he posed for pictures and heard the Christmas wishes of dozens of children while parents browsed the many craft booths in search of special gifts. Across Esmeralda Avenue, the Elks annual Spaghetti Feed and Christmas Tree Bingo at the CVIC Hall drew a large crowd for food, fun and a warm place to get out of the windy and cold evening air.

Saturday the festivities continued as 35 entries lined up along Lampe Park in Gardnerville, waiting for sundown, to begin the 12th annual Parade of Lights.

For John Moss of John Moss Construction, the parade has become a six-year tradition for the contractor and his family. Moss discovered the parade by accident one year while he and his family were still living in Lake Tahoe. They had come to Gardnerville to do some shopping and got caught up in the parade traffic. The next year they had moved to the Valley and decided it would be fun to be a participant in the parade instead of just being spectators.

"Because the theme was Christmas Tradition Around the World, my granddaughter, Maddi Moak, went online and found the theme for this year's float," Moss said. "She will be 10 next week and she thought this Hawaiian theme would be fun to do with Mele Kalikimaka, Hawaiian for Merry Christmas, written on the sides of the outriggers on both sides of the float."

Line-up and staging of the parade is no easy job but, Sendi Stockle and her daughter Erin have mastered the job of organization. The mother-daughter duo have been in charge of this daunting task for the past 11 years. Cruising up and down Waterloo Lane in golf carts, greeting entrants, passing out parade entry numbers, making sure entries are in the right order, they turn chaos into organization in a matter of minutes.

As the parade made its way from Lampe Park down Highway 395 to Minden, spectators waved and cheered, wrapped in quilts, some huddled around kerosene or butane heaters, others watched from the warmth of businesses and parked cars along the parade route. Children darted in and out of the many entries in search of candy tossed from the passing floats.

Braving the cold at the announcer stand in the parking lot of Francisco's restaurant in Minden, ambassador-committee chairperson Jessica Jensen and local media personality, Lloyd Higuera, along with Sendi Stokle, introduced each entry as it passed by.

Jensen, who has been part of the parade organization since its beginning 12 years ago, was enthusiastic about the entire event.

"It's great every year," she said. "It's just like a Currier & Ives picture of a small hometown parade."

This year's Parade of Lights winners were the following: Best Business - ASJ Small Engines, Best Youth - Douglas County 4-H, Best Service Club/Nonprofit - Tahoe Youth and Family Services, Best County/Government - Town of Minden, Best Creative Theme -General Electric and Best Overall - Great Clips.

The weekend of Christmas festivities were topped off on Sunday with the annual Christmas Tree lighting in the Town of Genoa.


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