FARGO — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in downtown Fargo and Moorhead, but come Tuesday, Nov. 26, the holiday season will be in full swing.

The annual Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade signals the official local start of the Yuletide season and this year will be among the most festive yet, organizers say.

“It’s incredible to watch all of the kids and their faces light up, we really enjoy putting on the parade,” says Melissa Rademacher, president and CEO of the Downtown Community Partnership. “It’s such a signature event for downtown. We get excited.”

She expects about 10,000 revelers to come see the parade next Tuesday.

A vintage Fargo firetruck moves west on Center Avenue during the Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade on Nov. 20, 2018, in Moorhead. Forum file photo
A vintage Fargo firetruck moves west on Center Avenue during the Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade on Nov. 20, 2018, in Moorhead. Forum file photo

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Adding to the excitement this year is the addition of Holiday Winterfest. Second Avenue North, from Broadway to the alley, will feature a variety of food and drink vendors, live reindeer, s’mores and a fire pit to entertain paradegoers of all ages.

Of course, the main attraction will be the 100 or so floats rolling on the route.

The parade will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at the corner of Eighth Street and Center Avenue in Moorhead and head west over the Center Avenue Bridge, following NP Avenue in Fargo. The route turns to the north on Broadway and continues to Sixth Avenue North where it ends.

Festivities start even before the parade starts moving, however. The Moorhead Center Mall lights up the season at 5 p.m. with some musical help from the Moorhead High School carolers, says Sheri Larson, executive director of the Moorhead Business Association.

Winterfest in downtown Fargo starts at 4 p.m., the same time Swing Barrel Brewing Co., 814 Center Ave., Moorhead, opens its doors as a warming house for paradegoers. The brewery isn’t open for business yet and won’t have beer to offer, but wants to open its doors to the community for attendees to stay warm.

Neighboring Michael J. Burns Architects, at 824 Center Ave., Moorhead, will also serve as a warming house.

The Grinch waves from the Vocational Training Center float during the 2015 Holiday Lights Parade in Fargo. Forum file photo
The Grinch waves from the Vocational Training Center float during the 2015 Holiday Lights Parade in Fargo. Forum file photo

Larson says by next year’s parade, more businesses on the developing block should be open, building more buzz in Moorhead for the parade.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she says.

Rademacher agrees that more businesses in downtown Moorhead along the route create a better overall parade.

She points to new Broadway spots, like Ecce’s new spot, 210 Broadway N. (formerly Pinch & Pour & Fowler's Heritage Co.), and the new bar and grill Cowboy Jack’s, 506 Broadway N., as spots to check out during the festivities.

While not on Broadway, a new downtown development for some will be the parking ramps located just a block off the parade route, both of which are free to use after 5 p.m.

“We’re hoping people utilize the ramps,” Rademacher says. “We want to make it as convenient as possible for people coming down and enjoy this signature event.”

No matter where you watch the parade from on Broadway, you’ll see the trees light up as the first cars pass by carrying the 2019 grand marshal, North Dakota State University President Dean L. Bresciani, and junior grand marshal Oskar, a 4-year-old from Fargo diagnosed with high-risk leukemia two years ago who is currently cancer-free.

Red lights and garland are also wrapped around lamp posts on Broadway.

“We’re excited,” Rademacher says. “The lights are beautiful, the streets are clean and hopefully the weather will behave.”

If you go

What: Xcel Energy Holiday Lights Parade

When: Parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26; Holiday Winterfest takes place 4-8 p.m.

Where: Downtown Moorhead and Fargo

Info: https://downtownfargo.com/xcel-energy-holiday-lights-parade/