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Bigger and brighter: Holly Dazzle adds, refines events as popularity grows

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Clayton Vetter of Point Paradise Stables steers a wagon led by two of his ranch's horses Sunday in East Grand Forks during the Holly Dazzle Festival of Lights. The horse ranch from East Grand Forks added a second wagon this year for the sleigh rides, which have been a popular attraction for the event. (April Baumgarten/Grand Forks Herald)2 / 3
Savannah Machovsky, 6, of Grand Forks, right, decorates an ornament with the help of her stepmother, Sarah Glass of Tennessee, Sunday in the Freedom Church in downtown Grand Forks during the Holly Dazzle Festival of Lights. (April Baumgarten/Grand Forks Herald)3 / 3

The Holly Dazzle Festival of Lights is only in its third year, but it has already distinguished itself as a winter highlight for Grand Forks.

The Sunday event in the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks downtowns attracted thousands of people to enjoy holiday festivities, including sleigh rides, a movie, fireworks and a lighted parade. Hosted by the Downtown Development Association, the event continues to expand in size and attendance.

"It's grown exponentially," DDA President Matt Winjum said. "It's definitely become one of our most popular events."

The event was built around the Downtown Light Parade, which was held for several years before going on hiatus in the early 2000s. The Festival of Lights revived the parade in 2015, but more events have been added in the following years to make it a full day of celebration.

This year brought the addition of a free movie showing at River Cinema. The downtown East Grand Forks theater showed the holiday hit "Elf," which expanded the festival from its initial start time from 3 p.m. to 11 a.m.

Other events, such as singing from choral groups, ornament decoration and s'more roasting, have been refined, Winjum said.

It's hard to estimate how many people attend since it is free to the public, but it has grown in attendance since the inaugural year, from hundreds to thousands, Winjum noted.

It's a way for people to enjoy outdoor events while embracing winter, he added.

"We're happy that people get out, even though it might be cold," he said. "We're just hoping for another successful year and hope we can keep it going for a long time."

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248
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