Embracing Family Traditions: Part II

For over twenty years, Minneapolis has been dazzling the minds and imaginations of its citizens in the weeks leading up to Christmas with the annual Holidazzle Parade.   The Parade runs Thursday through Sunday night starting the Thursday of Thanksgiving and has become a family tradition for many Minnesotans.

We started this tradition three years ago when our children were two and four years old and have embraced it ever since.  My husband works downtown Minneapolis making it convenient to meet him after work.  The parade runs down Nicollet Avenue and can be viewed either outside along the streets or in one of several skyways above the street.  In my opinion, the best view is on the skyway linking Macy’s and the IDS Center as it gives kids a bird’s-eye view of the parade while keeping them warm and cozy.  This has been our preferred location for viewing the parade yet you have to get there early to mark your spot.   The parade starts at 6:30 pm and families with children and picnic dinners began to arrive around five.  It is a fun-filled night of family, lights and celebration that we truly enjoy. Here are the pictures of the night.

The Holidazzle dazzles.  It simply amazes the eyes, hearts and minds of a young child.

Heading downtown as the sun begins to set at 4:45 pm….

One thing I love about the city is how festive it is.  All the office buildings are lavishly decorated in lights, colors and trees.  During the lunch hour there is music playing in all the buildings…piano, harp and Christmas carols.  It is one of the things I enjoyed best about working downtown. 

The US Bank Building has a gorgeous tree! 

A blurred view looking down Nicollet Ave where the Holidazzle parade runs….

Max and Sophia in our spot on the skyway (one of the wonderful things about Minneapolis is that almost all the office buildings are connected by skyways making it easy to get around in the frigid winter months). 

The enormous tree in the IDS Center.  Here during lunch time you can hear children singing holiday carols.  When my son reaches fifth grade, he will be here singing with his classmates. 

By 5:30, the sun has long set and a few brave souls have started to gather along Nicollet Ave to get their spots for the parade.  Thankfully it wasn’t the standard 10 degrees F.  It was windy, damp and a cool 30 degrees.

I love the decorated street lights!  So beautiful and festive.  

To pass the time the time and feed the family, we usually pick up a pizza and have an indoor picnic in the skyway before the parade.  The kids love it and so do I (given that one of my favorite foods is pizza, especially with kalamata olives!). 

The Gavidae Building is brilliantly decorated and warms the heart.

The skyway is getting filled.  By 6:30 pm, it is completely packed.  There are several other skyways along the parade route yet this is one of the best since it is right in the middle of Nicollet Ave. 

Outside the crowds are forming too.  The one main benefit of being outside is getting a close-up view of the parade and also you can hear the music!  

Light sticks are sold for the kids who adore them.  

Max is anxiously awaiting the start of the parade. 

And the parade begins….get ready for a festival of lights! 

The music begins, the floats start coming and the children stare in wonderment and joy. 

I love the people dressed in lights!  Here are the “stars”!

Many of the floats are geared towards children.  Here is the float of Pinocchio.  There is also the Wizard of Oz, Santa’s workshop and a toy train.  

This is my favorite picture of all: A tired yet happy Max saying goodbye to another wonderful year of the Holidazzle parade. For Christmas is a magical time of year, especially in the eyes of a child.

Stay tuned….One more post of Embracing Family Traditions as well as more China. I have one more to write on Beijing which is jam-packed with photos of daily life. Coming soon!


  1. What an amazing holiday parade with your family. I haven’t see quite a spectacle other than Disney parade. A great Christmas celebration indeed! Thank you for sharing. Thanks for the last comment. The 18 ornaments I will do as an inspiration from you. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Best wishes….

    • Thanks for reading! I really enjoyed your post on the self-portrait. Beautiful post and truly deep thinking. I think it is nice for readers to see the author’s full face…hopefully you’ll share! It helps them connect with the writer! Get started on the ornaments! We also order them on Shutterfly (the ceramic ones with the pictures). You could probably back-date them if you would like to do one from the last seven years! Otherwise nice to start now. Then when your son is off to school, and starts his own family some day, you can give him all his childhood ornaments!

  2. The skyways is the place to be to view the parade. It can be cold down on the street level. I have not seen a light parade since moving away from the Twin Cities until last weekend. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed! It hasn’t gotten cold at all yet and we have no snow! I am wishing for a white Christmas but thinking it will be brown! Oh well. We are headed your way on Monday for the holidays with my family in Tucson. Should be nice to be out west yet I’ve heard their weather isn’t that red hot lately.

  3. I especially love the photo of your kids feasting on pizza in the skyway! They have a Christmas parade here in Antigua, Guatemala too but it’s a little different. I’m sure it will be a blog post some time in the future.

    • Yes isn’t it funny? THe skyways here have a culture of their own. It is kind of strange. Anyway great place for viewing the parade and eating pizza. Would love to see a post on Guatemala at Christmas!

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