Submitted by: The Holiday Parade Committee of Downtown Beaver Dam, Inc.
The sound of a child’s excited laughter, the last minute attachment of decorations, the place in the lineup, the lights, the sounds of Christmas and the community standing on the sidewalks of downtown are all the ancillary events to the Holiday Parade held the first week in December in downtown Beaver Dam.
The first parade organizers and creators of the Holiday parade were the Jaycees, and they named the parade the Jaycees Beaver Dam Holiday Parade. The parade began in December of 1992. Their mission was to bring people downtown. Ken Jacob served as the parade chair for several years until he received help with co-chair, Aaron Holbrook. The Jaycees hosted the event until 2000. When the Jaycees dissolved, the Lake Days Committee began hosting the event in 2001 and did so for 10 years until 2010. Aaron Holbrook served as parade chair and members included Doug and Carrie Sackett, Dianne Bell, and Lisa and Kurt Tesch. Aaron stated that there were spectacular entries at times with Neuman Pools, Green Valley, the Beaver Dam HOG chapter motorcycle group, the Must-Skis, and the Beaver Dam Senior Center. Each of them has been a constant entry in the parade each year. The number of entries in the parade fluctuated each year with the average being about 35 to 40. Aaron recalls some memorable stories: The parade was about to start and three wise men appeared leading a llama (probably could not find a camel) to be a part of the parade. Another time a car was sliding and could not negotiate the hill on Park Avenue, so the Boy Scout troop behind them pushed them up the hill. A traditional entry was the young lady who brought her goats dressed as reindeer every year. Aaron also recalls the skateboarders’ entry negotiating carefully as they were scheduled behind a group of horses and vividly recalls the evening that it snowed four inches when the weather forecast stated just a flurry or two or no snow at all.
The first parade route started at Wayland Academy and traveled downtown. Later, the parade lined up in the lower Tower Parking lot and proceeded to Mill Street, to South Center Street, to Front Street, to Park Avenue, and ended at Swan City Park. Finally, the parade lined up on South Center, followed the same route to Vita Avenue, and then wound back downtown. This is the same route that is used today.
The party after the parade was held at Swan City Park for years. The prizes were awarded, carolers sang, and cookies and hot chocolate were served. When the parade wound back downtown, the parade committee selected the Elks Club and Dos Gringos for the party after the parade.
Two to four judges were selected to judge the parade entries. Judging was done by categories under the Lake Days reign. Some of the entry categories were: bands/live music, businesses, individuals, and non-profit organizations. First, second, and third place winners were awarded plaques in their categories. For years, parade judges have judged the parade entrants in front of McKinstry’s Home Furnishings, and for a number of years Ric Fiegel from McKinstry’s Home Furnishings sponsored the live broadcast of the parade. WBEV/WXRO provided the live broadcast of the parade. The long time hosts were John Moser and Bill McCollum. John continues today with a new sidekick each year.
Those that wish to enter the parade fill out a parade entry form and return it with a $10 entry fee. The form is mailed in October to those who have participated in previous years. The Chamber has assisted for years in providing parade entry forms at the Chamber office.
Downtown Beaver Dam, Inc. began hosting the parade in 2011. The mission remains the same: to bring people downtown. Kay Appenfeldt serves as parade chair. Members include Mayor Tom Kennedy, Glenna Vilmin, Ken Thomas, Betty Reals, Ric Fiegel, and for two years Susan Janssen. Don Zilisch served as Parade Marshal until 2014. Their first year, the committee continued with the entry categories; but at their wrap-up meeting, determined that entries were overcrowded in some categories and minimal in others. The Committee made the decision to give out cash prizes for first ($75), second ($50), third ($25), fourth, ($20) and fifth ($15) places in 2012, which continues today. Each year the plaques given to the winners have been created, designed, and crafted by the Woodshop at the Beaver Dam Senior Center. The committee began putting a theme to the parade in 2013 with “Ring in the Holidays.” Consistently, the parade entries have increased each year. The theme for 2014 is “Let It Snow.”
The Committee began the Business Decorating Contest in 2012. Participating downtown businesses decorate their store windows. The community judges the store windows and a traveling trophy is awarded to the winning business each year. A Bell Hunt was added in 2013. A bell was hidden in one of the participating businesses’ decorated contest windows. The community searched for the correct bell through a series of written clues which were printed in the Daily Citizen, broadcast on WBEV/WXRO radio and posted on LocaLeben.com. In 2014, a snowflake will be hidden. Mayor Tom Kennedy donates the $100 prize for the winner.
The After Party continues downtown. In 2011, the After Party was held at the Elks Club. In 2012 and 2013, Black Waters Coffee hosted the event. In 2014, American National Bank will host the After Party immediately after the parade.
For the 2014 parade, the committee has requested that “please for the children, no Santa(s) are allowed on any parade entry. There will only be one Santa in the parade, and he will make his grand entry at the end of the parade lineup.”
23rd Annual Holiday Parade (Theme “Let It Snow”)
Saturday, December 6, 5:30
After Party at American National Bank, 115 Front Street (immediately after the parade)
Business Decorating Contest
(Theme “Let It Snow” – judging begins December 6, the night of parade)
Snowflake Hunt – begins December 6
(first clue read at the After Party immediately after the parade)