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CdA prepares for lighting ceremony, festivities

Tue., Nov. 24, 2009, 5:35 p.m.

Some 30,000 people are expected to attend Friday when Coeur d’Alene launches the holiday season in style.

The 18th Annual Lighting Ceremony Parade begins at 5 p.m., followed by caroling and the simultaneous lighting of candles held by thousands of people in the crowd. The evening will culminate in a fireworks display over Lake Coeur d’Alene.

In 2007, the Christmas celebration was featured on Good Morning America, which picked Coeur d’Alene as one of 15 cities nationwide with the best holiday light displays.

“I think it’s because of the parade and the singing and the fireworks and the lighting, all in one evening and all totally free for the community. It’s become such an amazing family tradition,” said Gay Glasson, events coordinator for the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association, which stages the parade with sponsor STCU.

Following the singing of “Silent Night,” the crowd counts down to the launch of a fireworks display over the lake from The Coeur d’Alene Resort. The fireworks show includes 2,300 shells that explode over the course of about six minutes. When the display ends, the Resort’s lights are illuminated, including 60,000 on the 70-foot-tall tree topping the Hagadone corporate building.

The parade theme this year is “A Cool Yule,” and it will include floats from the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, the Spokane Lilac Festival, Stomp Out MS, the Kootenai Humane Society and many others. Marching bands from Coeur d’Alene and Lake City high schools will participate. At the end, Santa Claus will ride in on a fire truck, Glasson said.

“I like that everybody is smiling and happy, and with all the lights it’s so colorful and beautiful,” said Beth Dagastine, who will ride in the Stomp Out MS float with her husband, Gary, and granddaughter, McKaylee Sloane, 7. Dagastine, who has multiple sclerosis, said the parade provides her an opportunity to educate people about MS.

Following the fireworks, visitors also can attend the Festival of Trees, Kootenai Health’s annual fundraiser. The event brings 40 beautifully decorated Christmas trees to the Resort for sale and auction at a series of events through the weekend. The Friday night community opening for the fundraiser costs $2.

Visitors also can board cruises for a Journey to the North Pole on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

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