Coon Rapids Christmas in a Small Town promises to once again be a magical experience. In its 13th year, event organizers are adding live reindeer, lighted Christmas parade and drive-in movie to the line-up of family-friendly activities on Saturday, Dec. 5.

“We’ve been trying to get a reindeer and lighted Christmas parade set up here for years, and this year we pulled it off,” said Gayla McCool who has been on the Christmas in a Small Town Committee since it began. “It’s every kids’ dream to get to see a live reindeer at Christmas.”

Iowa Reindeer Rental will be downtown from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. with a live reindeer hooked up to a magical red sleigh. Families can sit in the sleigh and take their photo with the beautiful animal. Make sure to bring your own camera or cell phone.

The holiday shopping kick-off will begin earlier this year with retailers extending their hours from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. for holiday shopping. As you shop, stroll up and down the streets of downtown enjoying the holiday décor that will fill the windows and sidewalks. Businesses will fill storefront windows with finely ornamented trees. Creatively crafted pallet trees will be placed at businesses across town and an online contest will let the community judge their favorite trees. Look for the contest link to appear on the Main Street Coon Rapids (MSCR) Facebook page after Thanksgiving. The newly landscaped boulevard will also feature five lighted trees and a new 14’ lit evergreen.

If you’d prefer to ride instead of stroll, TAGA Ranch owned by Toni Robbins will be offering horse-drawn carriage rides from 1-5 p.m.

A Giving Tree will once again be placed at Frohlich’s SuperValu. Grab a tag(s) from the tree if you want to purchase Christmas gifts for kids in need. Frohlich’s staff will also have pre-filled bags of groceries that can be purchased for the Coon Rapids and Bayard Food Pantry. Stop by the Raccoon River Social Club (RRSC) to pick up a grab-and-go kids’ craft with cookie decorating and ornament making kits. Pre-order details are posted on the event webpage (www.coonrapidsiowa.com). While at the RRSC, purchase a raffle ticket for the Mighty Clover 4H Club’s Grocery Grab and Dash. The winning raffle ticket holder will be given one minute to dash around Frohlich’s SuperValu and put as many grocery items in his/her cart as possible. A second grab and dash participant will do the same but the grocery items will be donated to the Coon Rapids and Bayard food pantry. The Mighty Clovers will pay for the groceries for both participants.

Local restaurants will be open all day and into the evening offering Christmas dinners and other tasty meals. Make sure to spread some holiday cheer to our local chefs by supporting their businesses (free delivery, dine-in or take-out available). This year there will not be a community meal at the Legion building.

As the sun begins to set, get settled in your lawn chairs for Coon Rapids first lighted Christmas parade. The parade will be led by Coon Rapids finest, sirens blaring and lights blazing. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make a grand appearance riding in a horse drawn carriage at the end of the parade. The parade will begin in front of Thomas Rest Haven on Main Street at 5:30 p.m. and travel up and down the streets of town ending back on Main Street. Check out the event webpage (www.coonrapidsiowa.com) for the exact parade route and details to register an entry. All varieties of vehicles are welcome to enter. The theme of the parade is “Christmas Movies”. Parade staging will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Following the parade, a drive-in movie will be set up in the Hartung parking lot (between 5th and 6th Avenues south of Main Street). Pile your kids or grandkids into the family vehicle to enjoy a showing of “The Grinch” provided by the Coon Rapids Library. Parking will begin at 7:00 p.m. and the show will start at 7:30 p.m.

Christmas in a Small Town is hosted by Main Street Coon Rapids and financially sponsored by over 40 local businesses. Check the event webpage for a list of sponsors. MSCR asks everyone to practice social distancing and wear a mask if that is not possible during Christmas in a Small Town.

In addition to the day’s festivities, MSCR and the Coon Rapids Development Group have employed Santa’s helpers to surprise local shoppers with $20 Coon Buck Gift Certificates between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If Santa’s helpers catch you patronizing a local business, you’ll be rewarded with more spending money. Over $2,500 will be given away.

Santa has also volunteered one of his Elf on the Shelf staffers to spend time watching over the community’s children from local retailers. Rumor has it, that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, his elf will move around to different storefront windows around town. MSCR will post his/her whereabouts on their Facebook page daily once he/she is discovered. Take your kids and grandkids to see the elf and tell him/her what good little boys and girls they’ve been this year.

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