Eye on KELOLAND: Parading into the holiday season

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A longtime holiday tradition in downtown Sioux Falls returns Friday night.

Last year would’ve been the 29th Parade of Lights, but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Soon the festive displays will be lighting up Phillips Avenue once again.

From sweeping the trailer to checking bulbs, the Sioux Falls lodge of the Sons of Norway has been sprucing up its float up before it parades through downtown.

The display shines a light on Norwegian heritage.

“This painting on the side is rosemaling,” Lodge president Michael Paulson said.

Lodge president, Michael Paulson, says the organization has been part of the Parade of Lights lineup for as long as he can remember, with different generations coming together.

“We usually have people from ages one all the way up to 91, so people walking and riding,” Paulson said.

Another familiar sight this year: Catfish Bay and its seasonal spectacle.

“We decorate one of our boats that’s got the twin engines on it, and the team members really kind of vie who’s going to be in the pyramid, who gets to climb, stuff like that. And they look forward to it, but we have a lot of fun,” Catfish Bay president and founder Jim Bruns said.

This year’s Parade of Lights will feature more than 60 entries.

“There’s going to be floats from the past. We’re bringing back the hot air balloons, the train, Santa Claus of course, but also we’re excited to have some new entries this year,” DTSF community outreach manager Sadie Swier said.

Dimming the lights on the holiday tradition last year was tough for Downtown Sioux Falls.

“We tried internally to make a different format and we went to all of the businesses and stakeholders, working with the city, working with the health department, but ultimately we knew we had to cancel it last year, and so as people are coming together again we can’t wait to have a huge turnout,” Swier said.

In fact, DTSF community outreach manager Sadie Swier says attendance may be up this time around because it was called off last year.

The event holds a special place in her heart.

“I grew up right outside of Sioux Falls in a small town called Hartford, and we had a family tradition of coming to the Parade of Lights every single year. No matter the weather, we were dressing up and coming out to the Parade of Lights,” Swier said.

Many families return to the Parade of Lights year after year.

Mrs. Murphy’s Irish Gifts co-owner Dick Murphy set up shop in the community more than 20 years ago.

“The tradition started long before we even started our store. We would absolutely bring our family to the Parade of Lights. It became sort of a tradition and an extension of our family gatherings,” Mrs. Murphy’s Irish Gifts co-owner Dick Murphy said.

“It’s been a wonderful event for almost 30 years,” Paulson said.

And that decades-old tradition is parading into the holiday season once again.

This year’s grand marshal is retired Sioux Falls Public Health Director Jill Franken.

The junior grand marshal is 7-year-old Carter Martens.

The parade starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

If you can’t make it to Phillips Avenue Friday night, KELOLAND News will livestream two holiday parade events on November 26 and 27. Click here for more information.

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