After this season’s limited, eight-night run, the lights in the Holidazzle parade, all 350,000 of them, will be switched off for good.
Parade organizers and the Downtown Council, which sponsors the event, said Thursday that they plan to replace the 22-year holiday tradition, but haven’t revealed what they’ll replace it with.
Instead of just waiting for them to trot out their plans, we turned to local impresarios, event planners and visionaries to ask what kind of winter spectacle they’d like to see. What, besides the lighted floats and costumed characters of the Holidazzle, would lure Minnesotans out of their homes and into downtown?
How about a “Minneapolis version of Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens in Loring Park.” That’s what Dean Phillips dreamed up. Phillips is co-chair of We Day Minnesota, which encourages young people to become volunteers.
His “Loring Gardens” would be a magical winter wonderland with rides, games, restaurants and performance stages.
Phillips, who is chairman of the Minneapolis company Talenti Gelato, also said he would “flood Nicollet Mall and make a skating street all the way to the Mississippi River.”
Paula Goldberg and her staff, who mastermind the celebrity-studded Pacer Center fundraising galas, would turn the Minneapolis skyways into an indoor winter carnival, with music, face painting, scavenger hunts and dozens of cardboard snowmen for kids to color.
To connect the event to the city streets, Goldberg would set up a concert stage on the mall, which would be draped in holiday lights. As a special attraction for the kids, she’d book Bella Thorne and other kid-friendly Disney stars to perform. “It would be fun to change things up,” she said.
If Tom Fisher’s concept became reality, the Nicollet Mall would double as a tennis court, golf course and running track. To make winter more appealing, the dean of the University of Minnesota College of Design suggested creating designated areas where family teams can play typical summer games in the winter and win prizes from local retailers.
He also recommended that “the community should participate in generating ideas” for whatever new holiday tradition replaces the Holidazzle. It could even be a contest, he said. “When it’s done, people will go to see what won.”
Paul Ridgeway would turn the annual parade into a global event. He envisions lit snow globes depicting life-size winter scenes on every Nicollet Mall corner. Some of the globes would hold live singers and musicians performing holiday tunes under falling snow, said Ridgeway, the event planner who coordinated the 1992 Super Bowl and is currently a radio host and special events consultant.
His concept, which he calls “Globes Aglow,” would be part of a vibrant interactive environment, in which retailers would decorate their windows like those in New York City.
“It would be fresh and new,” he said “and wouldn’t take so many volunteers.”