Holiday on Central returns

Fort Dodge will soon celebrate the season with carols, games, Santa Claus and more than 10,000 lights on the big tree at Ninth Street and Central Avenue.

The annual holiday lighting event, sponsored by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 2, beginning at the Ninth and Central Plaza and moving into the Trolley Center.

This celebration has been around in some form or other since the late 1980s, said Todd Redenius, community development director for the GFDGA.

“For the longest time it was called Silver Bells on Central,” Redenius said. “This year it’s called Holiday on Central.

“It’s had some different names and some different people involved in that time, but there’s always been some kind of downtown holiday event.”

“Another little change we’ve made is to really encourage businesses to be open that evening and ready for shoppers, Redenius added.

“We really encourage those who come to also check out the various businesses in downtown Fort Dodge, and do some shopping downtown while they’re at the event.”

As always, the businesses have been encouraged to decorate their storefronts for the season, and a hay ride will take visitors around to see them.

“A unique component of those is we’ll have a couple of local historians, Roger Natte and Pete Fritz, and they’ll provide a narrative history of downtown Fort Dodge during the hayrack rides,” Redenius said. “You’ll be able to learn more about how downtown Fort Dodge came to be.

“We want to encourage a lively and festive atmosphere, not just at the event but really throughout downtown Fort Dodge,” he said.

The Growth Alliance will be selling cards featuring holiday pictures of Fort Dodge. They can be purchased at the event, or before at the Growth Alliance building, at Mary Kay’s Gifts & Home Decor and at Candies & More, Redenius said.

Santa Claus will arrive at the plaza shortly after 5:30 p.m., escorted by the Fort Dodge Fire Department. Santa and Mayor Matt Bemrich will then light the outdoor tree, and the festivities will move across the street to the Trolly Center.

“Last year it was in the Wahkonsa. The thing we like with the Trolley Center is it just provides us more room,” said Redenius. “The Trolley Center gives us a lot more space to work with to deal with the increasing numbers we have seen over the years.”

Inside the Noon Lions will have hot chocolate and hot cider, kids can decorate cookies, and choirs from both Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond High School will sing carols.

“We’ll have face painting, a number of different fun games for kids and for families to do together. All with the holiday theme,” he said. “The Fort Dodge Public Library will be involved, Fort Frenzy be involved. They’ll be there to provide a couple games.”

Kids can also get their pictures taken on Santa’s lap.

“It’s just a great way to kick off the holiday season,” Redenius said. “I can’t think of anything better to do with family members, than to enjoy the sounds and sights that make the holiday in Fort Dodge something special.”