Owatonna families come together for Lighted Parade, Lighting of the Lights - Owatonna MN: Owatonna Peoples Press

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Owatonna families come together for Lighted Parade, Lighting of the Lights

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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:13 pm | Updated: 7:45 pm, Thu Nov 29, 2012.

OWATONNA — Lights twinkled throughout downtown Owatonna businesses’ windows Thursday night as residents young and old crowded North Cedar Avenue for the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism’s Lighted Holiday Parade — a kick-off to its seventh annual Hometown Holiday Weekend.

For some, like Melissa Quaintance, attending the parade has become a tradition.

“I do this as a tradition with my kids,” Quaintance said. “It’s a good way to start off the season with caroling, cookies and lights.”

Her son, Jay, said he enjoys the lights the most.

Diane Valenzuela brought six grandchildren to the parade for their first time.

“It’s great getting together and seeing everybody,” she said. “I enjoy seeing the kids enjoy it.”

There were more than 40 entries in this year’s parade, which included lights, music, candy and mascots.

After the parade, families gathered in Central Park for the Lighting of the Lights where they enjoyed cookies and caroling. This year, long-time Owatonna businessman Bill Kottke lit the downtown decorations.

“I was flattered (the chamber) would even think of me,” Kottke said. “It’s an honor to do this, and look at this crowd. It’s great seeing everybody get together.”

Melanie Blanchette, the chamber’s MainStreet director, said the parade and Lighting of the Lights is a warm, welcoming community event and a great way to kick off the rest of the events this weekend.

“It is just a great event. It is great to see the community come out and show support and see the businesses decorate for it,” Blanchette said. “It’s about the community and businesses coming together and enjoying the holiday season.”

Reach reporter Ashley Stewart at 444-2378 or follow her on Twitter.com @OPPashley

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