Families, friends flock to Nisswa for City of Lights fireworks, festivities

City of Lights events curtailed, but stores were open, Santa saw kids and everyone enjoyed fireworks

Santa Claus holds up a letter he received from a child who visited him and Mrs. Claus in the drive-thru at First Western Bank and Trust on Friday, Nov. 27, as part of the annual Nisswa City of Lights event. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

There were no bonfires along the Paul Bunyan Trail and Main Street. No horse-drawn wagon rides through town. No crowds in the caboose to hear "The Polar Express" read aloud. No activity in the Nisswa Pioneer Village.

But the 39th annual Nisswa City of Lights festival on Friday, Nov. 27, featured events that allowed social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with so many holiday lights the city is known for at this time of year. The event culminated with a crackling fireworks display in the cold night sky that drew applause after the grand finale.

Stores were open and welcomed shoppers, and kids were still able to see Santa and Mrs. Claus, who spoke to them from the drive-thru window at First Western Bank and Trust (formerly BlackRidgeBANK). Kids were able to pass their letters and wish lists to Santa through the drive-thru drawer.


On Saturday, Nov. 28, Stacy Johnson, of Howard Lake, won a two-night stay at Quarterdeck Resort on Gull Lake by making a purchase at a participating business and dropping off her receipt at the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce. The chamber then drew her name as the winner.

The Nisswa Chamber still offers $5 City of Lights buttons that qualify shoppers for deals at participating retailers through Dec. 31.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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