Red Wing, Minnesota - Christmas & Holiday
Holiday Stroll Celebration - Red Wing, Minnesota
The annual Holiday Stroll event kicks off the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season in Red Wing, Minnesota. We arrived on Thanksgiving day to stay at the historic St. James Hotel and enjoy their sumptuous Thanksgiving Buffet. Two years previous we had thoroughly enjoyed a similar Holiday weekend & Thanksgiving dinner at the equally historic Desoto Hotel in Galena, Illinois. So in 2009 we decided to go further upstream along the Great River Road to Red Wing.
The Stroll is held annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving and includes several activities throughout the day and evening. Downtown merchant's windows are decorated for Christmas and compete for awards for the best window display. Many merchants also have cookies, hot cider, and other holiday treats for customers. At noon, portions of streets are closed for food & beverage wagons, entertainment stages, and picnic tables. Later in the afternoon, horse drawn wagon rides begin, a big treat for the kids (big and little). The Chili tasting tent opens at 4:30 pm, the music begins, and the pace of activity increases for the big Holiday parade at 6 pm and the arrival of Santa Claus. That is followed by the annual Lighting Ceremony where special holiday light strings on several city blocks, plus a lighted tree on the top of Barn Bluff, are turned on simultaneously with the flip of a switch. Fireworks from Barn Bluff capstone the evening's formal ceremony.
In 2009 the weather was a little milder than usual and there was a record turn out for the Holiday Stroll parade - an estimated 12,200 people lined the streets to watch it. Quite an impressive showing given the Red Wing urban and rural population is only 15, 687; although I suspect we weren't the only out-of-town ers in for the weekend as the St. James Hotel appeared to be fully booked.
This quilt hanging in the mezzanine of the St. James Hotel depicts a number of people, places, and things associated with Red Wing's history including ski jumping, the riverboat era, Dakota native American heritage, Red Wing pottery, the Red Wing Shoe Co., historic churches, and other icons from its past.
The Red Wing Mural and adjacent parking lot, decorated for Christmas, was the center of many Holiday Stroll afternoon and evening activities.
Holiday Stroll Activities & Events
In the morning and early afternoon of Stroll day shops were open and offering holiday treats but the big events didn't take place until late afternoon and evening.
< < < One of the many brightly decorated downtown store windows.
We had lunch at the Staghead Restaurant and Pub. Jo had a large juicy burger that turned out to be a challenge to finish. I had a Reuben sand which made with red cabbage instead of sauerkraut, a slightly different Reuben taste, but still good. The side salads were excellent, nice size and compliment of vegetables.
< < < Joanne picks out a Holiday Stroll Tree Ornament at Bella Casa Interiors on Main Street.
At 3 pm the Saint James Hotel hosted the St. Brigid's Festival of Trees in the 5th Floor Summit Room. Various businesses and organizations designed and sponsored decorated trees.
The public was invited to view and vote on their favorites by making a donation in the canister by each tree. All proceeds went to benefit St. Brigid's health and care facility.
St. James and St. Bridig's volunteers provided Christmas songs, Christmas cookies, hot cider and hot chocolate for guests.
Towards evening, before the big parade, we enjoyed some entertainment and hot chili at the Mural Parking Lot festival area.
While the day was sunny, after the sun went down it cooled off fast and Jo and I welcomed the complimentary hot chili provided by the festival sponsors.