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Turning on the holiday lights

Plaza, Trolley Center are new sites

November 20, 2011
By KATHLEEN KOCH, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Santa and Mrs. Claus are trusting the Fort Dodge Fire Department to make sure they go to the right place for this year's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Fort Dodge.

The ceremony, which was previously held at the City Square, has a new downtown home. Festivities will kick off at the plaza at Ninth Street and Central Avenue, then move inside the Trolley Center.

The move reduces the role weather plays in the ceremony, said Sharon Hill Tilton, Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce program director.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Amy Bruno stands among some of the Christmas items that are available in their offices including ornaments, the “Taste of Fort Dodge” cookbook and cards featuring a store window from 1955. The Chamber office is located at 1406 Central Ave.

Also, "the Trolley Center allows for expansion of the event for all the Christmas activities," Tilton said.

Activities begin when the Clauses arrive at the plaza, via fire truck, at 5:30 p.m. to watch the Christmas tree illumination.

Following the tree lighting ceremony, children can visit the Trolley Center, which will be decorated in a Santa's Village theme. There, they can have their photo taken for free with St. Nick.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: Annual downtown holiday tree lighting ceremony

When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 28

Where: Plaza at Ninth Street and Central Avenue, then the Trolley Center

Cost: All events are free

Other children's events include crafts; decorating cookies; face painting; writing and mailing letters to Santa; story time with Barb Shultz, Fort Dodge's librarian; winter golf; and getting temporary holiday tattoos with the volunteers from the Iowa Central Community College dance team and cheerleaders from Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond.

Adult activities are scheduled, too. Free hot chocolate, hot cider, and cookies will be provided, along with a variety of live holiday music by the choirs from Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond; the barbershop sounds of the Harmony Brigade; the Riley Bird Band, Ernie Kersten on acoustic guitar; and a string quartet.

Christmas shopping opportunities with a Fort Dodge flavor are also available. The Chamber is selling Christmas cards with a vintage photo of downtown Fort Dodge in 1955 , the inaugural edition of a Fort Dodge ornament and "A Taste of Fort Dodge" cookbook.

Businesses in the downtown have been invited to decorate their windows with a theme of "Winter Window Wonderland." Hayrack rides will be provided by the Webster County Conservation and Becker Florist for everyone, and those who participate in the rides will help judge the "Winter Window Wonderland" businesses. The business with the window judged to be the favorite will receive a plaque.

"Bring you family, friends and co-workers, and celebrate the simple joys of the season," urger Amy Bruno, executive director of the Chamber,

The events - which are free, open to everyone and handicapped accessible - are hosted by the Chamber and Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District. Many organizations and businesses are also involved including: the Fort Dodge Fire Department, Noon Lions Club, Candies and More, Frontier Communications, Monterrey Mexican Store, Target and Heartland Communication.

Contact Kathleen Koch at (515) 573-2141 or



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