I was thrilled to read that the Holidazzle event is going to be hosted in Loring Park! I have always thought that the park is the perfect venue for such a celebration — after all, it is our mini Central Park. I love the idea of ice skating on real Minnesota ice. My family and I spent a Christmas in Belgium and Germany, and saw firsthand how wonderful a Christmas market can be and how it brings a community together. I have some additional points to offer to assist in making this a successful event:

1. It has to be free (now and forever).

2. Food and drink should be reasonably priced. In Germany, you can purchase Gluhwein (mulled wine) for about 2 euros. If you want the cup, you pay more; if you don't, you bring the cup back for a small refund.

3. Put lights in the trees in the park. Just imagine how stunning that would look as a backdrop against the city.

4. Put in an ice luge for an activity (I saw this in Germany and it was a lot of fun).

5. Have fire pits for sitting and warming by a fire.

6. Lastly, go, enjoy and be proud of an annual traditional that Minneapolis is capable of achieving.

Sue Crockett, Minneapolis

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Two recent letter writers were quite negative about downtown Minneapolis, a part of our city that in the eyes of most people is really on the move ("Downtown Minneapolis: Bit by bit, losing its qualities," Readers Write, Nov. 11). One expressed concern about the fate of Macy's. The other expressed a safety concern. Both ignored all of the incredible growth and associated vibrancy downtown is experiencing.

Fortunately, the Star Tribune has correctly reported that there is no looming threat to the Macy's store or building ("Macy's seeks venture partner for store in downtown Minneapolis," startribune.com, Nov. 11). Macy's is an important and active member of the downtown business community. I know Macy's and many others are looking forward to completion of the new Nicollet Mall outside the store's flagship location — a design that is greener, more pedestrian-friendly and anything but bland, as one of the letter writers suggested.

Safety is always a focus. One story of the nature relayed by the other letter writer is one too many. But the writer's experience is decidedly still the exception, not the rule. Our organization, law enforcement authorities, private security companies and many others are working hard every day to keep it that way. So be assured downtown Minneapolis is open for business as a great place to live, work and play.

Steve Cramer, Minneapolis

The writer is president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District.


Sad to hear of minimum wage and being replaced by machines

I thought the Republican debate about the minimum wage was quite discouraging for our country ("Candidates clash over immigration policy," Nov. 11). One respondent pointed out that we can't compete with Asia if we pay our people well. "Our businesses will just stop hiring." Another said the same thing, but blamed machines, not Asia. If we let wages rise at all, you will be served coffee from a machine, not a human being, I guess. Actually, I think I heard that line from another of the candidates regarding how they serve coffee in Europe.

How will we ever break out of this? Even if wage demand allows wages to creep up just a bit, some enterprising company will quickly move to replace the aspiring worker with a machine.

Is this the best that we can come up with? And Democrats are not off the hook here, either. Eventually, we have to create wage demand that will push wages up for everyone. A minimum-wage law should be a tool, not the answer. But if competing with machines or Asia is how we plan to win the economic race, our wealth disparity will continue to explode. And believe me, we will never win a pure cost race with hundreds of countries that would love to have our standard of living. Could someone in any of these debates please talk about having our base-level workers at least make what they did back in the 1970s? Aren't we as a country up to that?

Michael Emerson, Eden Prairie

• • •

That was a great debate on economic issues, taxes and defense. I hope you guys can find something positive to write about it!

Al Muerhoff, Bloomington


The key is to invest in diverse schools — and neighborhoods

The Star Tribune's Nov. 6 article "Suit seeks metro-wide school integration plan" brings up important issues for our community. Half of the children in our nation's schools are minorities. If our children and grandchildren are to prosper in a competitive global economy, children of our minority populations need to be well-educated. For those children who are enduring severe challenges, some may make progress only incrementally. But given a supportive school environment, even the most severely challenged can grow into adults who make a positive contribution to our society.

As reported in R.A. Mickelson's research brief, "School Integration and K-12 Educational Outcomes," all children, regardless of background, benefit from being educated in schools with diverse populations. Not only is their academic and occupational attainment higher, but they also learn to appreciate the strengths diverse populations bring. Further, they learn values like tolerance of other cultures and viewpoints, which is endlessly important in a global economy. Investing in every kid's education will not only help secure prosperity for our kids, but also for those adults moving into retirement whose benefits depend on a large productive workforce.

Jane Willis, Minneapolis

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When the wave of post-hippie idealism swept through in the 1970s, the thought of mixing black and white kids in the same schools seemed obvious. They would grow together, make friends. The absolute best way for this, everyone agreed, was to integrate neighborhoods. But very few neighborhoods volunteered to be first. And then, even when a white neighborhood did volunteer, which black family would volunteer? To move away from known neighbors, relatives, peer groups, safety net, etc., into that brave new world of not "seeing" skin color.

We are at the same impasse 40 years later. Either we pay for an expensive bus lacework to integrate schools or we save "neighborhood" schools by integrating neighborhoods. In my opinion, all humans are not "racist," but they are inherently "tribal." "We" are friends and co-workers and schoolmates and football fans and family and neighbors. "They" are foreigners, the other team, the rival company, the distant school. The whole world is not one tribe, not our tribe.

Marian Turner, Minneapolis


Remember who fought, and why

As a military veteran who comes from a long line of family members who served in the armed forces to defend our country, I would like to remind all of the illegal immigrant supporters and Donald Trump bashers that America is free because our soldiers paved the way to freedom with their blood.

Illegal immigrants have no right to our freedom that others fought and died for. When they violate our laws and sneak into our country, it shows a complete lack of respect for our laws and for those who died to protect our freedom, laws and nation.

Corby Pelto, Plymouth