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Parade of Lights, Minden Park lighting draw crowds

Linda Hiller

All that was missing was George Bailey and old Mr. Potter.

Saturday night’s setting during and after the Parade of Lights was an idyllic scene. As snow fell all day, float makers worked their icy fingers fastening bright lights to their respective floats.

By 5 p.m., if the last bulb wasn’t screwed in it was too late, because the parade was scheduled to begin.

One by one the parade participants fell in, all 30 of them having paid the $25 fee to be a part of this second holiday celebration. From businesses to service organizations, each entry was a labor of countless volunteer hours.

By 6 p.m., the first entries were reaching Minden Park, which was aglow with the lights that had been unveiled the night before, during “Light the Lights of Minden Park.”

Minden Business Group spokesperson and Tumblewind owner, Roxanne Stangle, said Friday night’s gazebo-lighting events were a big success.

“This was the first time we’d had snow for it, and it really made it seem like Christmas,” she said.

Stangle said that between the three businesses who were giving away free cookies and drinks – MBG, Heidi’s and the Carson Valley Inn – over 250 dozen cookies were given away.

She estimated that more than 300 people came to the festivities in spite of the unpredicted snow that blanketed the Valley all day Friday.

“We sold around 200 pictures with Santa,” she said, and the Minden-Douglas Elks Lodge 2670 spaghetti feed and Christmas tree bingo was also well-attended.

Saturday night, as each colorful, brightly-lit float reached the park and circled its perimeter in electrified color, the lights reflected off the fresh snow on the ground and high into the tall trees.

Could it be Bedford Falls?

Then, as parade-goers and parade participants alike intermingled in the snowy park, the winners from each of six categories were announced from the gazebo which was lit with hundreds of white lights.

In the business category, out of 15 entries, Silver State Roofing received the first place trophy and and Westridge Homes second place. In the youth category, out of four entries, Cub Scout pack 409 received a trophy. In the organizations category, out of three entries, Douglas County offices placed first. In the combined animal and individual category, out of three entries, Richard Morgan and Elaine Klavon came in first with their decorated motorcycle.

“I was so moved by this year’s parade,” said Leesa Hanson, Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority ambassadors member and parade chairperson.

“Everyone worked so hard on their floats, and the weather cooperated beautifully. Just before the parade began, the clouds parted and the moon came out – it was absolutely gorgeous.”

At the park, joyous hellos were interrupted with the rambunctious toss of snowballs by children and the young-at-heart, and as people crunched through the fresh white snow to buy steaming chili from the Kiwanis booth, hot cocoa from the chamber booth, or a sip of the hot buttered rum from the Sertoma booth, the thought that “It’s a Wonderful Life,” couldn’t have been far from many minds.