Secret Santa Shop may return to SL
Prepare to be electrified at Santa's Castle this year - quite literally.
"We will be putting together a whole light display for the first time for the Castle, and we are very excited about it," said Marilyn Monson, Director of the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Several thousand lights will be installed on and around the Castle, to dance in time to holiday music.
The chamber has turned to Loren Pearson, who has in the past created a computer-sychronized, attention-grabbing dancing lights display at his home.
"Right now, we are beginning work on drawing up the plans," Monson said.
Santa's Castle, the largest exhibit of antique holiday animation in the country, will open for the season on Thanksgiving Day, 2-5 p.m.
The following evening, Friday, November 23, a Lighting Ceremony will be held to unveil the new light show - with music, entertainment, the annoucement of the Scrooge Contest winner and a live nativity scene presented downtown by Lakeside Presbyterian Church.
There will be caroling at the Castle, the auction of an Old World-style Santa carving donated by Runaway Saws, and a new "Christmas Courtyard" display on the courthouse green.
Area novelist Barbara Derksen has written a new children's book based on Santa's Castle, which she will be reading to young visitors during the events on Friday. The book, along with a whole array of new theme merchandise, will be available at the expanded Santa's Castle shop.
Some new displays, such as an antique dollhouse exhibit and an animated three pigs (plus, of course, a wolf!) scene have been added to the lower level of the Castle. The model railroad is also being expanded, and plans are in the works for live entertainment events on selected nights during the Castle's seasonal run, which goes through Christmas Day.
The Chamber hopes to have available a new computerized photo system, so that children can receive a picture of themselves with Santa, and the makings for a letter they can mail to Santa themselves. Saint Nick gets a makeover as well, with a new ornate wooden throne donated when the former Masonic Hall closed downtown.
In other "Home for the Holidays" events:
A chili supper is being planned at the Elks Club, and Metabank is planning to host a wine and cheese reception. A special reading of the "Polar Express" story will be held at the Public Library.
The new "Home for the Holiday's three-day event continues on Saturday with the Christmas parade at 10 a.m. downtown, followed by live entertainment in the store windows until noon.
The chamber hopes that moving the parade up in the season and holding it during the daytime may increase participation.
"We encourage everyone to get out their golf carts, decorate them, and load the family up - in addition to the business and organization floats. We want this to be an opportunity to create family memories," Monson said.
In addition, an effort is underway to restore an old tradition to Storm Lake - the Secret Santa Shop. The shop for years had offered a place for children to go to pick out inexpensive gifts for their parents, guided by local volunteers. It is an attraction that should be restored, Monson believes.
"We are working on a Secret Santa Store, and that's all I can say right now."
The new "Home for the Holidays" campaign has a lot of events to pull together in a short period of time, but Monson said that a volunteer committee has been doing a great job planning out the Nov. 22-24 activities.
"The overall goal here is to involve entire families - so we are working to have something for everyone," Monson said. "We also recognize that with Project AWAYSIS, we will have more visitors in our community. We hope this will be a good reason for people to get busy and plan to get the whole family together for Thanksgiving, and then to enjoy a whole weekend of fun events in Storm Lake."