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Christmas city, wonderful city ...

Any thoughts of another warm winter were put to rest as traditional temperatures greeted the thousands who turned out Friday night for the Christmas City of the North Parade.

Any thoughts of another warm winter were put to rest as traditional temperatures greeted the thousands who turned out Friday night for the Christmas City of the North Parade.
A cold wind made the low 20s seem considerably colder, and hundreds waited in the Holiday Center until the first school band was visible.
Duluth area high schools were well represented in the parade, as were many schools from across the bridge.
The crowd on Superior Street started gathering shortly after 6 p.m., and many stayed for another two hours. Most lined the sidewalk several deep while others watched from the Skywalk.
Some businesses took advantage of their street-side locations to host parade parties, and guests in bathing suits watched from the Holiday Inn pool deck.
About an hour into the event, the temperature dipped and people began ducking in and out of doorways during some of the longer gaps.
Unlike many of the parades during the past year in the Northland, this one wasn't packed with politicians. Instead, viewers were treated to more than a dozen bands, several dance groups, a lot of different vehicles, floats, animals and Santa Claus.
There were also festival royalty entries from surrounding communities and celebrations, along with flaming baton twirlers, sled dogs and a living Nativity scene.
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Crowd favorites, at least on Superior Street, were the floats from Maurice's, Cellular One and ICO. ICO's large float, which had a replica of the Aerial Lift Bridge, was accompanied by a separate people-powered truck.
Western Bank brought out the Grinch, and a walking sandwich represented the Subway chain.
The celebration actually began about 5 p.m., with the 16th annual lighting of the Community Christmas Tree. More than 100 people gathered for entertainment and a short presentation.
The towering evergreen now at the Minnesota Power plaza was donated by Dana and Heidi Rabold of West Duluth.
On a drum roll, the Duluth East Band, City Councilor Patty Edwards and a couple of kids threw a giant switch to light up the tree.
A proud Ann Lerette had her video camera trained on her daughter, Allison. The 8-year-old was part of the Hermantown Elementary Choir, which performed a couple of Christmas songs.
Taking off their gloves and mitts, the 8- and 9-year-olds performed one song in sign language as well as by singing.
"They learned it in just three weeks," said Lerette.
As the ceremony ended, the Salvation Army offered coffee or hot chocolate to fortify those heading to watch the parade.

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