By Emily Bialkowski
Winter Wonderland 2013 promises another weekend of constant activity and fun for the whole family.
Festivities start Friday, Dec. 6 when the Rotary Club hosts their annual soup and chili supper in the city auditorium basement from 4:30-7 p.m. The dinner ends just in time for folks to meander outside for a spectacular light parade.
The crisp night air offers the perfect backdrop for red-cheeked children to line the street and wait for what is for many the most thrilling part of the grand parade – the hot air balloon pilots igniting their burners.
Hauled on flatbed trailers, the balloon pilots stand in their baskets and periodically throw off a blast of warmth and light that can only be compared to a solar flare. The young audience squeals with delight and yells for more from the next pilot.
The end of the parade marks the beginning of yet another opportunity for residents. This year, the Caledonia Fire Department is opening its doors for tours. And, since the parade passes right through downtown near the department, anyway, the tour becomes another convenient option to make the most of the evening.
Also after the parade is Santa’s Magical Playland in the city auditorium. The playland includes treats, activities and games for children. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be there as well.
“It is a unique winter celebration,” Winter Wonderland committee member Sue Bauer said, alluding to the fact that the fun continues the very next day with a hot air balloon launch open and free to spectators. You’ll have to set the alarm clock, though, because that begins at 7:30 a.m. at the high school practice field behind the school.
The weekend continues with a full slate of options to fit all fancies.
Making this event possible is the Caledonia Community Celebrations Committee.
Bauer said this year they have changed the committee’s structure to better accommodate people’s interests. There are still the same number of volunteers but only five voting members.
“Some were hesitant with the responsibility of voting. Now members can choose to just help plan and put on events. That will hopefully make it a little more attractive,” Bauer said.
Voting members include: Helen Olson, president; Jackie Johnson, vice president; Kevin Jacobson, assistant vice president; Laura O’Heron, secretary; and Julie Augedahl, treasurer.
Other members include Tamiko Hubka, Lori Thillen, Eric Wurm, Kelly Meyer, Sue Bauer and Eric Halverson.
Be sure to thank these hard working volunteers if you see them at one of the many events that make Winter Wonderland so special.
Friday, Dec. 6
• Caledonia Rotary soup and chili supper is from 4:30-7 p.m. in the Caledonia city auditorium basement. Carryouts will be available.
• Grand parade begins at 7 p.m. in downtown Caledonia. The route extends from Grove, Pine, Main and Kingston Streets.
• Santa’s Magical Playland is open after the parade in the city auditorium. The playland includes treats, fun activities and games for children. Visitors can also meet Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.
This year the Caledonia Fire Department will offer tours, and the Caledonia Gymnastics Club will be selling cookies.
Saturday, Dec. 7
• Lions breakfast with Santa is from 7:30-11 a.m. in the city auditorium basement.
• Bluff and Valley Balloon Rally balloon launch is 7:30 a.m. at the Caledonia High School practice fields (in back).
• Sixth annual Winter One-Stop-Shop at St. John’s School gym runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Houston County Historical Society Old Fashioned Christmas Open House is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum at the Houston County Fairgrounds.
• Bluff and Valley Balloon Rally balloon launches begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Caledonia High School practice fields (in back).
• American Legion Auxiliary Christmas Home Tour is 4:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and includes five homes, entertainment and treats. Contact Judy St. Mary (507-725-2970) for more.
• Wine Tasting & Silent Auction opens at 7 p.m. at Ma Cal Grove Country Club with all proceeds to benefit the continuation of the balloon launches.
Sunday, Dec. 8
• Bluff & Valley Balloon Rally balloon launch is at 7:30 a.m. at the Caledonia High School practice fields (in back). (If weather prohibited Saturday flights.)
• Sunday buffet brunch with balloon pilots is from 8 a.m. to noon at Elsie’s Bar & Grill. All are welcome.
• Houston County Historical Society Old Fashioned Christmas Open House runs from 1-4 p.m. at the museum at the Houston County Fairgrounds.