A Lot Like Christmas
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Merrill. And the community is kicking the season off with the 22nd Annual Lighted Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 1. The parade begins at 5 p.m. on the west side (corner of West Main & Genesee streets) and ends at the Lincoln County Courthouse on East Main Street.
The Jolly Old Elf himself, Santa Claus, will bring up the rear of the parade and will light the "forest of trees" on the Courthouse lawn immediately following the parade.
But let's rewind and take a sneak peek at what else is happening on Saturday to kick-off the Christmas season in Merrill…
It all starts downtown with the annual Holiday Customer Appreciation Day! Shop your favorite locally owned stores for great deals, specials, and treats all day long. Courtside Furniture, Merrill Ace Hardware and the Chamber will once again sponsor Music on Main. Local high school music students will be playing brass instruments and singing Christmas carols on East Main Street and in local downtown stores throughout the day to entertain shoppers.
Besides shopping, you can support local food pantries in the afternoon. Stop by Thelma's and The Guys Shop from 2-4 p.m. for Art from the Heart. Purchase a piece of artwork by local artist's ages 4-7 years and the proceeds will benefit Trinity's Open Hearts Food Bank. Or go next door to Johnson's Gifts and let the kids play Quarter Carnival Games with proceeds benefitting the Merrill Food Pantry from 2-5 p.m.
While at Johnson's let the kids visit with Santa and they can also take part in creating Christmas crafts for free from 2-5 p.m. Stop down before the parade for chili, coffee, cocoa, goodies and more from 3-6 p.m. sponsored by Our Saviors Good Neighbor Relay for Life Team.
Something new this year is the Kids Corner at Brose's Floral. Bring the kids to Brose's from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to shop for the perfect Christmas gift for mom, dad, siblings, grandparents or teachers. The kids will be escorted by a Brose's staff member to a special area to shop for a gift $5 and under. They can also wrap the gift right there so they can surprise the recipient on Christmas morning.
And it would not be a Merrill Christmas without a couple of traditional specials like the Park Lane Manor Luminaria and the O'Tannenbaum Tour. The Luminaria tour takes place immediately following the parade from 6-8 p.m. right up the hill in the Good Samaritan and Bell Tower area neighborhood. View the neighborhood streets filled with thousands of luminaries, lights, music and decorations from your car, on foot or catch a hayride leaving from the back of Bell Tower Residence. Stop in Assisi Hall afterwards and enjoy hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies and popcorn. This event is free, but good-will donations will be accepted.
The O'Tannenbaum Tour will be held at St. Stephen's Church on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. There will be decorated Christmas trees with raffles and silent auction on trees and gift baskets. Cost is $3 for adults and $1 for kids 6-12 years of age. Proceeds from the event benefit Lincoln County 4-H projects.
New this year is the Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Adopt-a-Tree program. Traditionally the chamber and foundation have decorated the large trees surrounding the courthouse. Unfortunately almost all of the trees have been lost due to recent storm damage and age, so a new way to light up the courthouse was necessary. Temporary Christmas trees, donated by Northwood's Evergreen, have been brought in and have been decorated by local businesses, organizations and individuals. Santa will light the "forest of trees" immediately following the parade. Then stick around and wander through the forest of decorated trees and enjoy hot cocoa, coffee and cookies sponsored by the Merrill Rotary Club.
And remember to wish everyone a Very Merrill Christmas by purchasing the Chamber's 2nd annual Christmas card. This year's card features the historic Old City Hall building and the Christmas parade by local artist Ted Nicholson. Prints are also still available in sizes 10x13 and 8x10 and make great Christmas gifts.
For additional information on Christmas activities and events in Merrill, contact or visit the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce, 705 North Center Avenue, (715) 536-9474 or on the web at www.merrillchamber.org.