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Welcome, Santa

Santa, Mrs. Claus help light up Fort Dodge for the holidays

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
above: Santa and Mrs. Claus, played by Terry Cook and Laura Crowl, plug in the giant Christmas Tree in Veterans Triangle Park in downtown Fort Dodge on Monday evening.

Jolly old St. Nick made a stop in Fort Dodge on Monday night and he brought Mrs. Claus along for the ride from the North Pole.

The two were the guests of honor for the downtown tree lighting, welcomed by Mayor Matt Bemrich at the gazebo at City Square Park. The Clauses flipped on the holiday lights on the gazebo and hopped into a wagon to make their way down Central Avenue toward Veterans Triangle Park on North 12th Street to light the holiday tree.

The event was a partnership with MainStreet Fort Dodge, the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance and the City of Fort Dodge to help light the holiday spirit in local residents.

The Growth Alliance typically hosts its Holiday on Central at the Fort Dodge Public Library each year, but this year it became impossible due to COVID-19. So the organization teamed up with the city and MainStreet Fort Dodge to do something families could enjoy this year.

“We were trying to make this as socially distanced as possible, figuring if people are in their cars, it’ll be OK,” said Kris Patrick, MainStreet Fort Dodge executive director.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A tree at Veterans Triangle Park in downtown Fort Dodge is lit up with 1,000 lights this holiday season. The tree was lit during a ceremony on Monday evening.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ latest COVID-19 regulations did force Patrick to change some plans for the evening because she could no longer offer photos with Santa under the tree.

“We really appreciated the partnership because Holiday on Central as we knew it was not going to happen, so it was great when Kris was willing to have this collaboration and provide the opportunity for kids to come out and see Santa,” said Lydia Schuur, Growth Alliance communication specialist.

After Santa and Mrs. Claus plugged in the 1,000 lights on the giant tree in Veterans Triangle, families lined up in cars for free ice cream cones courtesy of The Dariette.

“I think it’s very important that we keep our kids realizing the world is going on,” Patrick said. “It’s not that everything has to stop. I think there has to be something to give us that feels good inside, knowing that maybe we’re not going back to the normal that we had, but we’re going to be OK. And Santa is still here making sure that those kids have that moment they look forward to all year.”

Next year, Patrick said, the two trees on either side of the lit tree will be strung with holiday lights as well.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
A tree at Veterans Triangle Park in downtown Fort Dodge is lit up with 1,000 lights this holiday season. The tree was lit during a ceremony on Monday evening.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Old St. Nick and Mrs. Claus lean out the window at the Dariette, greeting kids as they get their free ice creams on Monday evening following the downtown Christmas tree lighting.

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