Holiday stroll, Santa parade coming up

There will be plenty for families to see and enjoy starting Thanksgiving weekend
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many, and Shawano’s downtown is amplifying the holiday cheer with plenty of shopping and festive activities for families to enjoy.

First on the holiday lineup is Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25, with local merchants carrying on a nationwide promotion that recognizes the importance of mom-and-pop shops to the economy. Downtown businesses will be offering specials from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Our small businesses will have stuff going on all day long on that Saturday,” said Lindsay Johnson, coordinator for the Shawano Business Improvement District. “I remind people how important it is to shop local during the holidays. Our small businesses support so many activities and events throughout the year — somebody’s baseball team, the hockey league, all kinds of fundraisers. They are so supportive, so it’s important during the holiday season to support those who support us.”

Johnson noted that many of the businesses offer one-of-a-kind items to purchase as presents for loved ones, and some of them even gift wrap. The number of businesses has grown significantly in the last five years, she said, and so that provides more enticement for patrons to shop the stores.

“People see us as a destination and are coming here because they can go to a variety of shops in downtown,” Johnson said. “They know what they get here.”

For those who wish to ride through downtown in style, the BID is bringing the Holly Jolly Trolley to town for the first time this year, with rides being free courtesy of the city of Shawano. Trolley stops include Bottle House Antiques at 701 S. Main St., The Naberhood at 214 S. Main St., GENEX parking lot at the northeast corner of Green Bay and Main streets, and Glas at 511 N. Main St.

Family activities kick off in earnest at Franklin Park, 235 S. Washington St., at 3 p.m. where hot chocolate and sweet treats are available as visitors can check out the decorated Christmas trees via the holiday stroll. Santa Claus and his reindeer will be there, as will the St. Jakobi Lutheran Church Choir as it provides some Christmas caroling. Shawano County Library will also be the park to provide a story time for children, and the Shawano Optimist Club is handing out holiday goody bags.

“Park and rec has fire pits throughout the park where people can roast marshmallows,” Johnson said.

There will also be free horse and wagon rides sponsored by Wolf River Dental and Shawano Family Dentistry. Johnson noted that this year there will be two wagons to allow more participation by locals and visitors.

“They are such a popular activity that we had to put two of them in here,” Johnson said.

The day of holiday cheer will conclude with the lighting of the trees at 5 p.m. at Franklin Park, with 100 trees in all at the park and continuing through the Naberhood Plaza on South Main Street.

“What started as ‘Can we put a few trees in here?’ and I think we had 30 trees at the time has grown to 100 trees,” Johnson said. “They’re all sponsored by area businesses and nonprofit organizations. They get a sign, and then they come in and decorate it.”

She added that the BID hopes to someday fill the full plaza, including the main segment by Stubborn Brothers, with trees.

This is the sixth year that the holiday stroll and tree lighting has taken place. The trees will remain on display through the beginning of 2024.

The fun doesn’t end on Nov. 25, however. On Dec. 1, Shawano’s Santa Parade returns for its 29th year. The parade begins at 6 p.m. with the lineup on Elizabeth Street at 5 p.m.

“The theme for this year is Classic Christmas Movies,” Johnson said. “It runs along Main Street from Elizabeth Street to Green Bay Street.”

Santa will be greeting the community on a fire engine with his wife, Mrs. Claus, and then he will hold court for the children at Coldwell Banker Real Estate Group, 105 S. Washington St.

Johnson sees all the holiday events as something out of a Hallmark movie, especially the holiday stroll.

“It really continues to bring the community and families out and is a great family event to kick off the holiday season,” she said. “Because it starts Thanksgiving weekend, we see a lot of people who are home for the holiday and who will be out and about with grandparents and parents with their children and grandchildren, checking out shops, stopping at the candy store and participating in activities. These are great events to bring people together.”