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Nisswa City of Lights illuminates the night, ignites the holiday season with community gathering

Photo opportunities were everywhere, with people taking festive selfies or group photos with lights in the background.

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People enjoy the colorful lights covering trees and buildings along Main Street Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, during the 40th Nisswa City of Lights celebration. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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NISSWA — With their faces bathed in the glow of holiday lights, both children and adults appeared to be struck by the massive display of decorations in Nisswa.

People gathered outside in numbers for the 40th Nisswa City of Lights.

Main Street was closed off to traffic so people could walk along the street safely. Santa and Mrs. Claus had families lined up to meet them. Photo opportunities were everywhere, with people taking festive selfies or group photos with lights in the background. Bonfires provided an opportunity to warm up and colorful decorations filled the windows of numerous businesses. When there was no longer room indoors, people were eating outside, including a child with an ice cream cone and people sat at tables outside Rafferty’s Pizza and Big Axe Brewing Co. Temperatures were relatively mild, with the air temperature about 30 degrees although the slight breeze made it feel colder.

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Other activities for this year’s City of Lights included food vendors on main street, Santa letter writing at the chamber office, horse-drawn wagon rides, Polar Express storytelling, Santa photos at the gazebo near the Chamber of Commerce, s’mores at Up North Bike Rentals, a gingerbread parade at Woods to Water Real Estate, the Holiday Brass Band at Stonehouse Coffee, hot chocolate in the Pioneer Village, arts and crafts, a live Nativity scene and caroling.

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Fire works top off the night Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, during the 40th Nisswa City of Lights celebration. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

A display of fireworks topped off the night at the Nisswa Community Center and was visible from Main Street.

The popular City of Lights event typically gathers people across the area to attend for the first weekend after Thanksgiving as the holiday season kicks off in earnest.

Last year, the event was altered with COVID-19 precautions in place to be a drive-thru experience for the holiday lights including a drive-thru Santa stop at First Western Bank. This year people were back to experience the lights close up and gather at the many outdoor options to embrace the start of the holiday season.

Nisswa City of Lights Gallery

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Growing up in the Brainerd lakes area I realized that I never wanted to leave, so it is a true blessing that I was able to find a job at the Dispatch doing something I love. As a visual journalist, I work in the mediums of photography and videography to bring our readers everything from sports, hard news, weather and local events to slice of life documentation of our coverage area.
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