One thing is certain about this yearâ€™s â€œSantaâ€™s Home for the Holidaysâ€ Christmas celebration: it will look like Christmas outside with plenty of white stuff and Christmas lights galore lighting up the town. It will also be cold (the high Saturday is predicted to be 20 degrees), so warm clothes, hats and mittens are de rigueur.
This weekendâ€™s events begin at 5 p.m. Friday at Queen of Peace school, where there is a chili and soup dinner with Santa ($5 adults, $3 for children and free for kids 3 and younger), free photos with Santa by photographer Alan Johnson, as well as an ornament-making craft session. Once their bellies are full, folks can head to Veterans Park, where Santa Claus will light the Christmas tree at 7 p.m. and then spend the night collecting coats, hats, mittens and toys (new or only gently used). Activities at Veterans Park actually begin at 6:30 p.m. and include caroling, fire pits, fire twirlers and sâ€™mores. Volunteers will also be collecting non-perishable donations for the local food shelf as well as cash contributions for the Churchill Elementary School playground.
Saturdayâ€™s usual pancake breakfast was cancelled this year, organizers said, explaining that the Cloquet National Guard Armory had been double-booked. However, activities Saturday afternoon should make up for a quiet morning, as revelers have the option of traveling via wagon (either horse- or tractor-drawn) or finding their way to three different locations offering warm drinks and entertainment, including the Curves parking lot downtown, Members Cooperative Credit Union (MCCU) and Cloquet Ford Chrysler. Curves will have a bonfire, food vendors, coffee and hot chocolate, caroling and horse-drawn trolley rides with Colleen Rivera, while event sponsor MCCU will have Christmas crafts, cookies, popcorn, hot chocolate, stories with Mrs. Claus, face painting by tattoo artist Mara and visits with Santa Claus from 2- 5 p.m. Fellow event sponsor Cloquet Ford Chrysler Center will have magic shows at 2:30 and 4 p.m., plus folks can decorate and eat a Christmas cookie washed down with a cold soda from 2- 5 p.m.
The annual parade kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday and will travel down Cloquet Avenue from 18th to Eighth Street. The new Miss Cloquet will also be introduced at the parade, as she and outgoing Miss Cloquet Bethany Lindberg ride immediately behind the Grand Marshals Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Other weekend events include a craft fair at Churchill Elementary (admission free and more than 50 vendors) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday as well as performances of â€œThe Homecomingâ€ by the County Seat Theatre Company at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights and 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.