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Christmas cheers warm community with parade, mall event

Prairie Hills Mall and the Downtown Dickinson Association came together for the first time to collaborate on a day-long schedule of events this past weekend to help spread holiday cheer in the community.

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A float themed with the "Island of Misfit Toys" from the 1964 motion animated television special "Rudolph the Red Nosed" drives down Villard Avenue Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in downtown Dickinson as part of the Vintage Christmas Parade of Lights. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Whether some huddled inside the back of their suburbans or sat in lawn chairs donning blankets, snow pants, mittens and scarves, the Christmas spirit was alive this past weekend in downtown Dickinson, as all eyes were aglow for the Vintage Parade of Lights — as well as indulging in goodies at the Santa, S’mores and Bedtime Snores event.

For the first time, the Downtown Dickinson Association and Prairie Hills Mall collaborated to host the back-to-back events Saturday, Dec. 18, while also promoting local shopping throughout the city. Once the parade concluded, hundreds of families headed to the mall to cast their vote for the “People’s Choice” judging of the floats and attend the 3rd Annual Santa, S’mores and Bedtime Snores.

A total of 60 votes were casted in this year’s Parade of Lights, with the winner going to West and Co. — who received a traveling trophy and bragging rights.

"This team is an incredible group that loves giving back to the community and had a beautiful and unique float which included a mural showcasing their beautiful building downtown. Well deserved winners," DDA Executive Director Abi Rohrer said.

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A float from Roughrider Electric Cooperative is shown before the Vintage Christmas Parade of Lights Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in downtown Dickinson. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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A Badlands Big Sticks float drives down Villard Avenue Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in downtown Dickinson as part of the Vintage Christmas Parade of Lights. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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A family all suited up in winter gear awaits for the start of the Vintage Christmas Parade of Lights Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in downtown Dickinson. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

General Manager Peggy O’Brien noted she was delighted to see such a turnout for the mall event, in which proceeds go toward benefitting Best Friends Mentoring..

“Each child was given two tickets to redeem for two s’mores. Using the numbered tickets provided us with a fairly accurate count and also allows us to better plan for the next year,” O’Brien said, adding, “With that said, we had 203 children, not counting parents and grandparents as well as Parade of Lights participants and Prairie Hills Mall customers that wanted to see what all the excitement was about.”

In the past, the DDA has hosted the Old-Fashioned Christmas Stroll, tree lighting ceremony and the Parade of Lights all in one day. This year, as Rohrer’s first holiday season as directing the DDA, decided to switch it up and split the events into two different weekends to get people downtown in multiple weekends right before Christmas.

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"If there is one thing I have experienced in my position, it is that all of the hard work and lost sleep it takes to put on these events is always worth it when you get to see the event roll out. Weather seems to always be a factor in the success of an event, but I couldn't be happier that there was little wind, the magical feeling of fresh snow and Christmas cheer on every sidewalk downtown," Rohrer said.

The partnership between the two city entities is something that the two leaders hope to inspire other businesses.

“Getting to work with Peggy has been incredible to collaborate together and to join forces and show that even though we’re two separate entities, we can still come together for the number one thing that we both care about most and that’s our community,” Rohrer said. “And so, it has just been wonderful to work together to create this event to bounce off of each other to turn two events into one thing… I think the more all of us, as separate entities in our community, join forces like this, (it) shows that unified front and only really strengthens everything that we are trying to do and give back to everybody.”

O’Brien noted that the collaboration between the mall and DDA has been a long time coming.

“I can’t say enough about how happy I am with the entire event,” O’Brien said. “... Working with Abi, Best Friends, mall volunteers, family volunteers and Troy Kuntz, as our Santa, was so much fun and I can’t thank them enough for their time and talents. I visited with them following the event and everyone had a wonderful time.

She added, “I invite everyone to stop by and view the Christmas tree the kids decorated. It is so cute. The tree is located in the north concourse, in front of The Salon. I have been making notes all morning for next year. It will be here before we know it.”

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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