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Pictured is the Long Lake tree lighting. This holiday season offers a variety of events for locals of all ages to celebrate the season. (File)

If you aren’t in the Christmas mood quite yet then the first weekend of December should help you get into the holiday spirit.

That’s because that weekend there will be three Christmas community events to help you get into the mood.

The weekend will feature two tree lightning events and Santa making its way through the area.

Long Lake will kick off the festivities with a Holiday Tree Lightning ceremony at Holbrooke Park on Friday, Dec. 3.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, Orono will have its annual Tree Lightning Event at the Orono Golf Course. Also, on Saturday, the West Hennepin Public Safety Police Reserves 41st Annual “View Santa” program will take place.

Here is a quick look at each event:

Long Lake Holiday Tree Lightning

Long Lake’s annual tree lightning ceremony is back thanks to the Long Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Orono Lions, and Long Lake Park Board; and this year moves to a new location.

In previous years, the event has taken place at Nelson Lakeside Park, but this year it moves to Holbrook Park (300 Harrington Drive) in Long Lake. The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. They last held the event in 2019 as the 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic.

The ceremony is a free, community, family-friendly event featuring holiday music, treats and warm beverages, activities, and of course, an official holiday tree lighting.

There will be fire pits set up around the park starting at 5 p.m. so family and friends can gather around and stay warm while enjoying some beverages and snacks provided by the Chamber of Commerce and the Orono Lions Club.

At around 5:30 p.m., the tree lightning ceremony will begin with a countdown led by Long Lake Mayor Charlie Minor.

After the tree lightning, the event continues until 7 p.m. with holiday music, Christmas carolers and a possible visit from Santa Claus.

“I think its going to be great,” Minor said. “It will be great at the new location.”

Orono Tree Lightning

If you can’t make it to the Friday event in Long Lake, head on over to the Orono Golf Course on Saturday, Dec. 4 for Orono’s annual tree lightning event.

The event at the golf course will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. and will feature live holiday music, food and beverages, reindeer, and a visit from Santa.

“This is a true community event - with sponsorship and assistance from a number of organizations and local businesses,” Orono Park Commission chair Brian Roath said. “The Long Lake Fire Department will be bringing Santa. The Orono Lions will be cooking brats and hot dogs. Much of the food (brats, hot dogs, buns, hot chocolate, supplies) was donated by Navarre Holiday. North Mallow (Long Lake) donated 100 plus gourmet S’mores kits for roasting. There will be four to five fire pits (donated by Orono Rotary) with fire wood donated by Paul Kubista (Twin City Seed Co.). There will be live reindeer and sleigh for pictures. And, Madd Jazz (a choral group from Westonka High School) will be signing Christmas carols.”

In addition to those fun events, there will be a fireworks show overlooking the golf course.

“Should be pretty spectacular,” Roath said.

Santa is set to arrive via fire truck at 5:30 pm. The tree will be lit at 6 p.m.

Josh Lemons, Orono Golf Course superintendent, said parking is limited at the golf course but that there will be overflow parking along Orono Orchard Rd S. The Orono Police Department will be providing support for directing traffic during the event, he said.

Roath noted that additional support for the event is be provided by Kottemann Orthodontics, Otten Brothers, Rev Logistics, Maverick Lead Generation, and the Orono Police Dept.

View Santa

Santa will be making his way to Independence and Maple Plain on Saturday, Dec. 4 for his 41st annual visit.

He will be accompanied and assisted on his early visit by the West Hennepin Public Safety Reserves and Officers as he travels on a decorated float with Christmas music.

Santa will be available to meet and take pictures with at the Independence City Hall Atrium (1920 County Rd 90) from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. From there he will move to Veterans Memorial Park (1664 Budd Ave., Maple Plain from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m.

After that Santa will make his way through Independence and Maple Plain, visiting areas in the two cities. To see Santa’s schedule and route got to https://westhennepin.com/view-santa.

The reserve officers will be using social distancing as they hand out bags with candy and small gifts to area youngsters. Officers will also be collecting food and cash donations for area food shelves. Food shelf donations may be left at the end of driveways for no-contact pick-up if you choose. For those who prefer donating cash, the money can be mailed to or dropped off at the West Hennepin Public Safety office, 1918 County Road 90, Maple Plain MN 55359, by Dec. 3, by 4 p.m.

Should anyone have questions regarding this year’s program, please contact West Hennepin Public Safety at 763-479-0500 or visit www.westhennepin.com.

If you can’t get to any of those events, the Orono Lions Club will be putting up Christmas lights at Nelson Lakeside Park for people to see throughout the Christmas season.

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