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Holiday cheer

A crowd roars its welcome for Santa Claus, who rode atop a fire truck Friday in the Holiday Stroll parade.

Minneapolis resident Theresa Olson could have just stayed home Friday.

After all, there was another well-known holiday celebration going on there.

"If you were in Minneapolis, you wouldn't feel like you could smile and talk to people," Olson said, cozied up next to a wood-burning barrel near the Red Wing mural at Third and Plum streets.

Red Wing's Holiday Stroll drew what organizers said was its largest crowd yet, despite coinciding with Minneapolis' Holidazzle opening night.

Organizers estimated attendance at more than 12,000 people.

"It's like the whole town came out for the event," said Mt. Horeb, Wis., resident Ross Reinhold.

He and his wife Joanne spend every other Thanksgiving holiday visiting a different city. After spending Thanksgiving at the St. James Hotel, the couple caught wind of the ensuing Holiday Stroll.

So they stayed another night.

"It's a good town," Joanne Reinhold said.

Holiday Stroll-goers munched on fire-roasted chestnuts, sipped hot cider, listened to carolers and watched a fireworks display.

A short parade through downtown saw the likes of the Red Wing High School band, Santa Claus and reindeer.

"It's just festive," said Olson's daughter, Red Wing resident Tammy Rothstein.

The event marked a memorable homecoming for former resident Tony Herder. He brought his family back for the holidays from their current residence in Geneva, Switzerland.

"It's just awesome," Herder said of the event.

For a full-page of additional Holiday Stroll photos, pick up a copy of Saturday's print edition.