Light up Appleton! (Take Two)

Note: I wrote this piece before the tragic events unfolded at the Waukesha parade last week and I considered dumping it in the face of such inexplicable heartache. I’m still not sure posting it is the right thing to do, but I want to acknowledge all the hard work that went into last Saturday’s event in Appleton. It all seems so much more poignant now knowing what happened at the Waukesha Christmas Parade. My thoughts are with everyone there…

I stepped right into a Hallmark Christmas movie Saturday afternoon in Appleton when I strolled through the Light Up Appleton celebration.

Christmas market on the square? Check.

Carolers? Check.

Mrs. Claus? Check

Horse-drawn wagon circling through downtown? Check.

Impossibly cute children? Check.

Hot chocolate served from a Chistmasy vintage camper? Check.

Christmas scavanger hunt? Check.

Mrs. Claus? Check.

I can guarantee you somewhere in that cheerful crowd a hometown business executive bumped into a high school sweetheart and decided, at the very last moment, to rekindle a romance while simultaneously saving a family business.

There was a frisky penguin in an igloo too, but I’ve never seen that in a Hallmark movie so I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

Love, though? That was everywhere.

In the grandma cheering on her bundled up grandchild during the competitive and eco-friendly carrot cornhole; the amateur band playing carols and the enthusiastic crowd cheering them on; the light-up dancers making their way through the crowds with grace and good cheer; young Lilie Fouts whose gorgeous Christmas carols soared over Houdini Plaza and beckoned all comers; the mariachi band’s cha cha cha.

A dozen downtown businesses participated in the Sweet Treat Walk, in which you only had to show up to score a little candy.

Maybe you’re kicking yourself right now for not making it to Appleton for all the festivities. If so, I have excellent news.

The Window Walk Scavanger Hunt runs through Dec. 18, so there is plenty of time to submit your entries.

And, although the 50th annual Appleton Christmas Parade (the largest nightime parade in the Midwest) happened last Tuesday, you can see downtown Appleton in all its glory anytime between now and the new year.

The Angels are back on the Avenue and you can stroll down College Avenue at your leisure and enjoy. I hope you’ll treat yourself to a trip to Downtown Appleton for a little shopping, maybe a meal or a beverage, and a nice stroll through a holiday wonderland.

I may have taken a picture or two.

I love the new “RISE” sculpture at Houdini Plaz and both the optimism and call to action it represents. We rise to the challenges we face in this old world and, when we do, we celebrate with universal joy.
I mean, come on! How beautiful does the Avenue look right now? Angels? Lighted snowmen? Horsedrawn carriages? It’s a Hallmark Christmas Movie come to life.
Light Up Appleton indeed!
Mildly awkward visit with a penguin in an igloo, but it was all in good fun.
Vintage camper selling cocoa and coffee? Check.
Mrs. Claus was a delight.
Houdini Plaza is magical in any season.
The New Horizons Band is a group of amateur musicians who play for the love of music and community, the best reasons of all.
They’ve developed quite a loyal following.
Ice Sculptures will break your heart, man. They look just beautiful and then that crazy Midwest weather melts them down. This was a really interesting display of how those artists work their magic.
The line for carriage rides extended around the block but people were very patient.
Snowman corn hole with real carrots. So cute!!
I really enjoyed Lilie Fouts’ set.
These ladies danced through the crowds and posed for pictures.
I think the Cleos snowman seems especially magical this time of year. This little boy thought so too.

3 thoughts on “Light up Appleton! (Take Two)

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words and beautifully written recall of the event. Your words and photos captured the magic that we felt at Light Up Appleton!

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