Light up Lake Elmo tries again this weekend, hopes for warmer weather

Therese Ruzsa of Lake Elmo Inn helps decorate their Christmas tree. The Lake Elmo Inn chose to decorate the tree with interesting salt and pepper shakers to reflect their business. (Gazette staff photo by Avery Cropp)

Therese Ruzsa of Lake Elmo Inn helps decorate their Christmas tree. The Lake Elmo Inn chose to decorate the tree with interesting salt and pepper shakers to reflect their business. (Gazette staff photo by Avery Cropp)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This event was originally scheduled for Dec. 7 but was postponed a week due to cold temperatures.

Local businesses and community members are about to light up Lake Elmo this Saturday, Dec. 14.

Community members have been talking about creating an event called Light up Lake Elmo for several years. For the first time this year, it will be a reality. The idea, first floated by John Schiltz of the Lake Elmo Inn, is meant to brighten up Lake Elmo’s downtown during the holiday season and bring the community together to have a fun time with neighbors.

“These last couple of years I wanted to spark some life into town over the holidays,” Schiltz said. “We don’t have a lot of events like this, but I wanted to find a way to bring the community together.”

Schiltz’s idea was sparked during a trip with his wife.

“In Santa Fe they had a massive Christmas tree that was 100 feet high,” Schiltz said. “It was all lit up near the retail center of town. It had about 132 Christmas trees, and the city rallied around the whole event, and it was absolutely beautiful.”

The event features 31 trees sponsored and decorated by local businesses and one large community tree that will be lit up and decorated Saturday evening. The event has been in the planning stages since at least October. Organizations which have helped get the idea rolling include the city of Lake Elmo, the Lake Elmo Inn and other businesses, Krueger’s Christmas Trees and Lake Elmo’s NextGen group, which was created to get the younger demographic in Lake Elmo engaged in city government.

The event will be 4-7 p.m. in the large empty lot near the corner of 34th street and Lake Elmo Avenue, across from the library. The trees are set up and ready for decorating, and many businesses took part in decorating their trees Dec. 3. Lake Elmo’s communications professional Alyssa MacLeod has asked that those who attend bring an ornament to put on the large community tree, and those ornaments will be donated to FamilyMeans and the Cimarron youth group. There will be hayrides, a visit from Santa, carolers, hot cocoa and cider, as well as various activities in local businesses that kids can check off on a passport book they’ll be given when they arrive.

The passport features activities at eight businesses and include things like writing a letter to Santa and creating an ornament, intended to keep the kids busy and out of the cold for a bit.

At 6 p.m. everyone will gather around the trees, and the lights will be switched on.

Schiltz hopes the event is a success and can grow expand to include features like a skating rink or a mini Christmas village.

“It can only get better and better,” Schiltz said. “The first time is always difficult, and I hope people will reserve their comments and be positive. It’s hard to get it down right away, and there’s always room for improvement.”

“It’s very exciting, and we’re getting a lot of good feedback from everyone,” MacLeod said. “There are neighborhoods that are coming out and wanting to decorate a tree. One person has already brought a bunch of handmade ornaments to put on the tree since she can’t be there but wants to be part of it. It’s been great for all the businesses.”

Dana Bloyer a member of the NextGen group said the process has been busy but really fun.

“This is the first time we’ve done this event, so everybody’s had a part in putting together the activity,” Bloyer said. “Getting Santa, organizing carolers, creating the passport and getting the trees. Everyone has been really great, and it’s so exciting to see everyone. I’m looking forward to seeing my neighbors. We like to hibernate in the winter, so to get everyone out to do something like this is great. I hope everyone braves the cold this Saturday so we can have a great time.”

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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