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Parade of Lights returns to downtown Sioux Falls

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 11:00 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - People in downtown Sioux Falls saw the return of a holiday tradition Friday night as the streets were lit up by floats in the 29th annual parade of lights.

The festivities kicked off with the Christmas tree lighting at the Washington Pavilion, then one after another floats started coming along Phillips Avenue.

“We put on the parade of lights to get people downtown, get them excited about the holidays, and it’s really kind of a magical sort of experience for people,” said Joe Batcheller, Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. President.

Some people who put together a float for the parade, have been doing so for over a decade. Some even call it a family gathering.

“Years ago, one of my sibling’s sons had cancer and we built a float for him, just to get his mind off of the cancer,” said David Lebahn, one of the float builders. “Then we started doing it every year, and now it’s just kind of like our own Christmas and Thanksgiving.”

With the parade being canceled last year due to the COVID pandemic and many people not being able to go out and do things they are used to; this year was all the more special.

“I think people are really eager to get out and experience events and celebrate their community with their fellow citizens, neighbors, friends, and family,” said Batcheller. “The parade of lights really offers a great opportunity to do that.”

After all the difficulties brought by the pandemic, some people and organizations decided to participate in the parade for the first time.

“That’s exactly why we did it because with Covid and all the shutdowns we haven’t all of our events and we’ve done everything creatively possible to spread the cheer and we talked about this in years past, but this was the year it all came together,” said Johna Thum, Special Olympics of South Dakota Float Designer.

Many organizations use the parade as a chance to connect with members of the community.

“It’s huge for us, we’re all about helping kids, helping the families, we help people, it’s great to get our name out there and let people know who we are and what we do.” Said Gator, Guardians of the Children President.

The parade had over 60 floats, with six awards given out.

Thorton Flooring & Design Center for Best Use of Lights. Best Workmanship went to A Plus Towing. Schulte Subaru took home the Spirit of Sioux Falls award. Mayor’s choice went to Revolution Yoga & Cycle. The Downtown Sioux Falls award was won by Special Olympics SD & Bluestone Landscape. Lastly, the First Bank & Trust Hometown Pride Award went to Roosevelt High School Color Guard & Drumline.

DTSF says if you weren’t able to make it for the parade, you should still come downtown for the holiday season as it will be lit up like never before.

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