Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From Faribault: Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree December 5, 2020

A star shines atop a tree at Central Park as the sun sets Saturday evening.

THIS WEEKEND IN FARIBAULT, we would have celebrated Winterfest, complete with a lighted holiday parade, fireworks and more. But, due to COVID-19, organizers canceled the celebration. And rightly so.

Santa at Central Park.

But then the Faribault Parks and Recreation Department got creative, coming up with a Drive-by Tree Display as part of the community’s annual Hometown Holidays celebration, which typically centers at the library with activities and the arrival of Santa on a fire truck. None of that happened.

Decorated trees line the sidewalk in Faribault’s Central Park.
Each tree is uniquely decorated.
The display is just across the street from the historic cathedral.

This year we have Christmas trees—a line of 19 decorated evergreens stretched along one block on the east side of Central Park next to Second Avenue and across from the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour.

We arrived around 4 pm with plenty of time to view the trees before dark.
Detailed ornaments grace many of the trees.
The lights turned on as the sun set.

Randy and I checked out the display around sunset Saturday evening. It’s beautiful. In daylight. And even more lovely when the sun colors orange into the sky and darkness edges in and the holiday lights switch on.

Randy walks ahead of me, northbound along the row of trees.
Among the many simple and beautiful toppers.
Looking to the south…

Meant to be a drive-by look-and-see, Randy and I opted to walk by. The timing of our visit meant few people in the park. We had our masks in hand if needed.

An angel tops a tree.
I loved viewing and photographing the wide variety of tree toppers.
Especially beautiful as the sun colored the sky.

Walking by and stopping at the trees provided a close up look of ornaments, of tree toppers, of all the details that made each tree a holiday delight.

A downtown hair salon decorated this tree.
A local church created a faith-themed tree.
Another tree sponsor: Faribault Heritage Days.

Each of the 19 trees was decorated by a business or non-profit or organization. I appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort put into decorating the trees, which will be given to St. Vincent DePaul and donated to needy families.

I’m reflected in a bulb as I photograph it.

But most of all, I appreciate this gift to my community. Now, more than ever, we need to feel uplifted, joyful, happy. And I felt all of those when I photographed these decorated trees.

A group participating in the Faribault Parks & Recreation Department’s version of The Amazing Race poses for a photo in Central Park.
Posted in Central Park for participants in Faribault’s The Amazing Race.
Santa is centered in the tree display.

If I would change one thing, it would be to leave these trees displayed for more than a few days. They went up on Thursday. Sunday, December 6, marks your last time to view the Drive-by Tree Display.

A star glows atop a tree.
The lovely trees drew both motorists who slowly drove by and also pedestrians.
The largest tree stands in front of the historic Central Park Bandshell.

What a gift. Thank you, Faribault Parks and Recreation and all who participated in what I hope will become an annual community tradition.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “From Faribault: Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree”

  1. Washe Koda Says:

    🌲Merry Christmas 🎅

  2. Ruth Says:

    A disappointment to cancel Winterfest but the trees look great. I like seeing your reflection in the pretty glass ball ornament, Audrey. Finding ways to make the season bright.

    • Yes, so many organizations and communities, and families, have had to adapt. I expect some of these new events will weave into the holiday fabric of these communities and become annual events. I’d like to try the local version of The Amazing Race next year.

  3. Gene Bertrand Says:

    You should see the lights in Sleepy Eye By the lake

    • Typically I would head that direction in December, driving through Sleepy Eye on my way to the extended family Christmas in rural Lamberton. But that won’t happen this year. Apparently Sleepy Eye offers a lovely holiday light display?

  4. Susan Ready Says:

    Thanks for the drive by photo tree event. What an uplifting and joyful gesture for the community and a wonderful way to close out the year. .

  5. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Only a few days, but some of those beautiful ornaments wouldn’t weather well. Even now they were taking a chance. Thank you for immortalizing a meaningful effort. Good thing we’re not in an energy crisis, lights everywhere are saving some spirit. I’m a “lights” person all winter. Patio tree is up, will stay up at least through March. Continue to take care!!!

    • Good point on the weather’s affect on the trees.

      Good for you to keep lights on your patio tree through March. Maybe I’ll do that with my Christmas tree once I remove it from the house. Then I can look out my kitchen window and see lights.

  6. Larry Gavin Says:

    Ever think of organizing all these posts into a guide book to the region? Towns, churches, attractions and geographic points of interest. It would be an interesting read.

  7. Perfect idea! Our town is doing a decorated window display and the high school is doing a drive through event Saturday with an outdoor display that we are hoping to go to. A group on Facebook makes a map of all of the light displays in the area at homes and I think people are really decorating this year. We hope to take that in as well. You have to be creative this year.

  8. valeriebollinger Says:

    I agree that it would be nice if the trees were on display longer…It would be fun to see them.

  9. Everyone has done such a nice job of being creative this winter. The trees look lovely, I agree with you, leaving them up longer would be nice. Seeing them flocked with snow would be twice a beautiful.

  10. Missy’s Crafty Mess Says:

    Awe they are beautiful. Thank you for sharing

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