While it seems like the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic are about to get darker with the end of Daylight Savings Time, there is something to look forward to later this month.

During a year when many favorite things are being cancelled or postponed, Light Up Waconia will bring a new experience to the community the day after Thanksgiving.

Current gathering restrictions do not allow for the traditional community tree lighting ceremony that day, but a committee of representatives from the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, city of Waconia, fire department and other community members have come up with a plan to kick off the holiday season in a warm and spirited way in Light Up Waconia, according to Christine Fenner, Chamber president.

Fire Chief Chris Nelson sparked the idea and his team at the Waconia Fire Station are going to help with escort and lighting services.

Late Friday afternoon, Nov. 27, the Waconia Fire Department will be escorting Santa Claus throughout the city. Families are encouraged to turn on their holiday lights that evening as Santa passes by. The idea is to light up Waconia and build the spirit if the season, according to organizers, who hope to capture the scene so that everyone can enjoy seeing the magic happen.

Santa will not be able to go up and down every street, but event planners will be publicizing his route and approximate time he will be visiting different neighborhoods so children and families can come out to see him. Organizers ask that people maintain social distance in each neighborhood.

Later that evening, Santa will be featured live on the Waconia Events Facebook page, where he will count down and light up Waconia’s City Square Park. Plan to tune in and watch the park be transformed.

Thanks to an $8,000 donation from the Waconia Lions Club, there will be new dazzling snowflake lights on display to help illuminate the park. Long-time Lion and local lawyer Paul Melchert helped originate the park lighting, and called the additional lighting a way to beautify Waconia and give a meaningful feeling to residents and visitors during the holiday season, as well as benefit the community and the business district.

Donated funds also will go toward seasonal banners on First Street, and area business owners are encouraged to decorate and light up their own downtown buildings, according to Fenner.

Watch for details and updates at www.DestinationWaconia.org and the Waconia Events Facebook page.

Toy Drive tradition continues

The annual Waconia Toy Drive, sponsored by the Women of Waconia, typically is a part of the community’s holiday kickoff event. This year, the toy collection drive runs Nov. 1-30 at nearly 20 locations.

Bring new, unwrapped gifts for children infants through 18 years to any of the following donation sites: American Family Insurance - Eveslage Agency, Children of Tomorrow, Everson’s Hardware Hank, Hometown Bank, Mackenthun’s Fine Foods, Mainstream Boutique, MidCountry Bank, Mystic Fortress Games, Old National Bank (Waconia and St. Bonifacius locations), Regarding Dentistry, Safari Island Community Center, SNAP Fitness (Waconia), Trending Upward Thrift Shoppe, Waconia Brewing Company, Waconia City Hall, Waconia Ice Arena

Gift choosing day will be Friday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Waconia Fire Station, open to families who reside in the Waconia School District.

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