Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lighting up the holiday season in Faribault December 3, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:39 PM
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Among the units in Faribault’s first-ever Parade of Lights holiday parade, this beautiful sleigh.


HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES DEFINED the weekend for me in Faribault. From ringing bells for the Salvation Army for four hours to lunching at a church craft and bake sale, to buying a Christmas tree to touring an art gallery nativity display to shopping the Faribault Winter Farmers’ Market to touring the historic Alexander Faribault house to viewing Faribault’s first lighted holiday parade, my Saturday was jam-packed. But what fun to get into the Christmas spirit right here in my community.


Crowds gather along historic Central Avenue for the Parade of Lights as the sun sets.


While vehicles were banned from the parade route, one driver headed south on Central directly toward the parade just as it began. She was directed off the roadway.


Parked on a side street just off Central, this Chavis Vacuum & Sewing Center truck awaits the start of the parade.


Local merchants showcase the holiday spirit in window displays.



Large groups of people congregate outside Burkhartzmeyer Shoes for the parade. Co-owner Bruce Burkhartzmeyer served as parade grand marshal.


I especially delighted in the 20-minute holiday parade along Central Avenue in our historic downtown. As the sun slipped into darkness Saturday evening, families and others gathered to watch trucks and cars and floats roll by in bright holiday lights. Snowmen, penguins, elves, candy canes, Christmas trees and more incorporated into the units added holiday cheer. Kids scrambled for candy tossed by those dressed in festive attire.


This classic vintage pick-up truck decorated by Brushwork Signs rated as one of my favorite parade entries.


Students from Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault march in the parade, their holiday lights blurred by my camera shooting in too-low light conditions. Still, I like the results, showing motion.


Lots of snowmen on floats, but not a flake of snow on the ground.


Faribault’s sweet version of the Polar Express.


An oversized vacuum cleaner promotes as local vacuum cleaner store.


I loved this Parade of Lights, part of Faribault’s first-ever Winterfest which began on Thursday. And based on the crowds, they shared my enthusiasm. I could sense the excitement, heard the positive comments, felt the energy of a community embracing the joy of the season.


A Faribault fire truck follows police cars as a lead in the parade.


Kids await candy tossed from those walking alongside floats.


A city of Faribault snowplow ablaze in lights.


To those who organized this event (the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Faribault Main Street and local businesses) and to those who participated in the parade, thank you. You brought the Christmas spirit into the heart of our downtown, into our community, into the hearts of those gathered on a balmy December evening in southeastern Minnesota.


The back of the parade as it heads north along Central Avenue in downtown Faribault.


I expect the Parade of Lights to be back next year with even more entries and an even larger crowd.


Note: Check back for more stories featuring some of the holiday activities I enjoyed on Saturday in Faribault.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Lighting up the holidays in rural Faribault December 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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WHEN OUR KIDS were little, we made it a late December tradition to drive around Faribault viewing residential holiday light displays. It is a lovely, cherished family memory that connects to my childhood. Each December, my parents, five siblings and I packed into our Chevy and twisted through the Tangle Town neighborhood of Redwood Falls to see the lights.

Fast forward to 2015. My three kids are now adults, two of whom live out of state. Only one was home on Christmas Day. Three evenings before Christmas, my husband slid behind the wheel of our Chevy. I buckled into the front passenger seat. And the college son folded into the backseat. We were on our way to view a rural holiday light display about two miles east of Faribault.


Holiday lights, 6 trees and stars


Pulling into the driveway at Cathy Hoban and Pat Spence’s place, a sign advised us to tune into 103.1 FM and to turn on our parking lights. Before us, lights flashed as the magic unfolded.


Holiday lights, 15 1939 Ford pick-up truck


From towering Christmas trees to stars, Santa, snowmen, reindeer, candy canes, a Nativity and even a light-bedecked 1939 Ford pick-up truck, this dazzling music-synchronized show is wondrous.


Holiday lights, 17 circling the driveway


Randy crept the Chevy along at a snail’s pace, then stopped so we could take it all in. I stepped outside the car to snapshot the scene, hoping for a few good frames. He followed the circle drive then retraced his route.


Holiday lights, 14 star atop tree


We were mostly silent as we watched and listened, delighting in this gift from Cathy and Pat to the Faribault community. The couple loves Christmas. And it shows in the strings and strings and strings of colorful lights, in the effort it takes to put this all together, in the creativity and music.


Holiday lights, 21 reindeer


I couldn’t help but smile and feel propelled into the Christmas spirit while touring here. And I felt, too, the connection between past and present, in memories remembered and those being formed.


Holiday lights, 9 Nativity


How about you, do you drive around your community, or elsewhere, to view holiday light displays?

FYI: Cathy and Pat’s holiday light show is open from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. daily through the holidays. However, because of warm temps, which led to a muddy driveway, the display closed some evenings. That shouldn’t be a problem this week. The address: 4531 197th Street East, Faribaut.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling