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Santa's Home for the Holidays is here

Cloquet's annual Santa's Home for the Holidays runs Thursday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 2 this year.

Events kick off Thursday, Nov. 30, with Storytime with Santa at the Cloquet Public Library from 4-6 p.m., and with a free chili feed sponsored by the Cloquet and Fond du Lac police departments from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 515 Skyline Blvd. The chili feed is free, but they encourage folks to bring non-perishable food items for the food shelf, which gets very busy over the holidays.

"This is such a special event because so many different groups and businesses collaborate to make it happen," said Pine Knot editor Jana Peterson, in her second year of coordinating the annual event with co-worker Ivan Hohnstadt. "It's a bright moment of community togetherness, and a nice way to shift into gear for the holidays while we wander around in the dark."

On Friday, Dec. 1, Queen of Peace Catholic Church will again offer photos with Santa and dinner 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Enjoy spaghetti, holiday crafts and shopping, and photos with Santa by photographer Alan Johnson with the purchase of a meal. The cost is $10 for ages 13 and older and $5 for kids ages 3-12.

Saturday, Dec. 2, is the grand finale and one of the busiest days of the year in Cloquet in terms of community activities.

The day begins early at Churchill Elementary School with a pancake breakfast (8-10:30 a.m.) and lunch (11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 171.

The massive Holiday Expo and Craft Fair - also at Churchill - features an diverse array of crafters and other vendors selling their wares throughout the school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A $5 admission fee applies to adults all day.

Also Saturday morning is a new event: Pet pictures with Santa Claus. Come and get your dog or cat's picture with Santa from 9 a.m. to noon at the Cloquet Animal Hospital, 122 Second Street. Specifically, 9-9:30 a.m. is cats only (for those that are not dog-friendly), and 9:30 to noon for both dogs and dog-friendly cats. Cost is $10, digital photos only.

Starting at 11 a.m., the Cloquet American Legion Auxiliary is offering baked goods, coneys, and a silent auction at the Cloquet VFW, 210 Arch St. It's an all-day affair that doesn't end until after the parade at 7 p.m.

Families, mark this one on your calendars, too: Wood City Motors will have magic and cookie decorating 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Enjoy magic shows at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. along with Christmas cookies to decorate and eat.

Also new on Saturday afternoon, the Carlton County Historical Society invites residents of all ages to tour the museum at 406 Cloquet Ave. 2-5 p.m., make holiday crafts and enjoy hot apple cider free of charge.

For those looking to warm up outside before the parade, have some hot chocolate and make s'mores outside the fire station at 508 Cloquet Ave. 4-5 p.m., with fire rings to cook on and warm up next to.

The Santa's Home for the Holidays parade begins at 5 p.m., a feast for the senses of lighted floats and other vehicles, Christmas music and all things Santa Claus, who brings up the rear of the parade with his lovely wife and lots of helpers. Fireworks go off immediately after the parade, over downtown and Veterans Park.

"Minnesotans don't mind a little cold weather if there are good times to be had," Hohnstadt said. "But remember, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Dress for the occasion."

Get the latest updates at the Santa's Home for the Holidays page on Facebook.

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