Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holidazzle 101

Every holiday season leading up to Christmas, Minneapolis features a festive event called the Holidazzle Parade. This is it's 20th season. Here's a rundown of what to expect, including photos and tips for planning your own Holidazzle visit. (The photos are in random order and not at all related to the "Best" and "Worst" labels below. I just wanted to include as many photos as possible.)
The Nutcracker
The beauty of the the Holidazzle Parade is that it begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues every Thursday through Sunday night for four weeks. This year there are fifteen opportunities to see the parade. This is important for a number of reasons:
  1. The parade is at night in the December. The parade starts at 6:30. If you've ever been to Minnesota in December, you know it gets COLD. And once the theoretical sun goes down, it gets even colder. So if you have plans to head to the parade and it's snowed 14 inches with -34 windchill, you can stay home, be safe, and go a different night! *Tip: The Holidazzle Parade does occasionally get canceled for bad weather. It's always a good idea to check local broadcast stations for cancellations if it's extra cold, windy, or snowy.
  2. Its a fun and FREE event to take any family and friends who may be visiting. We had family visiting from out of state and decided to meet up at the parade. Fun! Free! Festive! *Tip: I talk a lot about the hot seats in this post, because that was our experience this year, but there are plenty of free options for viewing the parade. People do bring a blanket and cozy up outdoors. If you get there early, you can view the parade from above in the skywalk. The parade route spans Nicollet Mall, a pedestrian mall lined with shops and restaurants. You can easily enjoy some pre-parade shopping and view the parade while enjoying a snack or meal by sitting at a window seat.
  3. It's not a big commitment. The parade lasts about 20 minutes. Some of you may be wondering if a 20 minute parade is worth it. I'd say it's worth doing at least once. And trust me, you don't want to be out there much longer than 20 minutes. And did I mention it's free?
  4. It keeps the crowds down. We went on a Thursday night, so it may be more crowded on a weekend evening or perhaps a milder evening, but I guess the good thing about a parade in December is that no one is anxious to get there early...and it's not necessary.
This was our first year attending the parade. Here's a list of what I considered the best and worse of our Holidazzle experience:

Best: It's a parade at night. The lights are festive and the floats are creative. The parade participants are wonderfully cheerful...or they are just moving as much as possible to stay warm. Many of the costumed characters from the stories are riding on or walking near the floats. The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz was pretty awesome riding her bicycle. And pretty much everything is illuminated, including marching band costumes and choir robes.
Worst: It's a parade at night in December. I'm hardy, but it's December!
Dancing Christmas lights--There's a person in each one!
Best: Avoiding traffic by taking the light rail. *Tip: This year on December 10 and 17 from 4 to 8 pm, ride Metro Transit buses and light rail FREE or ride the Northstar train FREE after 3 pm on both days to Holidazzle.
Santa's workshop
Worst: Trying to get a squirmy toddler to understand she has to sit during the train ride. "I walk! I walk!"
The Wizard of Oz
Best: Hot seats--a paid seating area in heated tents. *Tip: Buy your hot seat tickets early. They go on sale near the end of October. Check the website often. They sell out quickly. Hot seat tickets for 2011 are sold out. I did see see someone looking to sell/trade tickets on the Holidazzle Facebook page, so it might be worth checking there in a pinch. Adult tickets this year were $9. Kids three and under are free  when sitting on the lap of an adult. I'm not sure of the price for big kids.
Illuminated choir
Worst: Hurriedly walking with two small children six blocks from the light rail station to the hot seats. In full winter gear. And then carrying them in full winter gear so you can get there faster. *Tip: Don't be late. No one is admitted to the hot seat tent after the parade starts (or so the sign said). 
Not sure what this was
Best: Free hot chocolate and hot cider in the hot seats tent. *Tip: Don't tell the kids ahead of time about the hot chocolate in an attempt to make them walk more quickly. It's more trouble than it's worth. If they don't know it's available, they won't be disappointed when you decide not to get some.
Hansel and Gretel
Worst: Scalding my hand three times while waiting for the hot chocolate to cool enough to drink (as the last float was passing by), while holding a squirmy preschooler in full winter gear and taking photos. *Tip: Skip the hot chocolate if possible. It will spill, and you don't need another thing to hold. And don't wear anything nice. Even if you skipped the hot chocolate, the person above you or squished in next to you or walking by you may not have.
Illuminated marching band
Best: The floats are really impressive. This year's theme was A Fairytale for All, and each float had a fairytale theme. I didn't get a photo, but one of my daughter's favorites (and mine!) was a zoo-train themed float (Dumbo, perhaps?) with kids in adorable, vibrant animal costumes in circus rail cars. I also missed a photo of the Little Red Riding Hood Float. I found the scale of the Peter Pan float awesome.
Peter Pan
Worst: Climbing our way up the bleachers in the hots seats. We arrived just minutes before the parade started, and our family had saved us seats on the second row from the bottom. Yet it was so crowded in the hot seats it was still difficult to get us all up that one step. *Tip: There is plenty of room for children to stand at the front of the tent to view the parade. It's expected. There's even a sign to let you know it's a children's viewing area.
Spinning Snowman
Best: Everyone clapping as Santa closes out the parade.
Santa and his reindeer
Worst: Walking the six blocks back to the light rail station with two tired toddlers in full winter gear. *Tip: We considered bringing a stroller to haul at least one kid but were worried about finding a place to stash the stroller while we were in the tent. There is stroller parking in a cordoned area at the tent entrance. Wish I had known that!

Overall my preschooler had a blast. The toddler just soaked it all in. Next year we'll bring a stroller and skip the hot chocolate.

No comments:

Post a Comment