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It's time for a parade



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Home for the Holidays is the theme for the 26th annual Lake Geneva Great Electric Children's Christmas parade - set for Saturday, Dec. 3, starting at 5 p.m.

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November 30, 2011 | 08:16 AM
This weekend will be bustling with holiday activity in Lake Geneva.

A parade, caroling, storytelling, a tree lighting ceremony, music and Santa will all be part of a festive few days. On the other end of the lake, in Williams Bay, waterskiers and wakeboarders will be on the water.

Home for the Holidays is the theme for the 36th annual Lake Geneva Great Electric Children's Christmas parade — a holiday tradition set for Saturday, Dec. 3, starting at 5 p.m.

Local businesses and organizations are expected to light up the streets in a parade for all ages. Along with an expected 15 lighted floats, there will be Renegade Clydesdales, Grand Geneva's Trolley with a cast from "Hooray for Holidays," area school marching bands and the official arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

While the parade is the culmination of the weekend, the fun really starts Friday night.

- Local author and playwright John R. Powers will read "The Polar Express." He will start at 6 p.m. at Caribou Coffee in front of a packed house of children, according to organizer Roberta Pepper.

There will be songs and children who attend will receive a bell. Following the reading and activities, at about 6:30 p.m., the group will walk down to the Riviera where Santa Claus will be waiting on a Lake Geneva Fire Truck. There also will be free cookies, cupcakes, coffee and hot chocolate. The Friday event kicks off the annual Festival of Lights celebration, which features a variety of holiday-themed activities throughout the downtown area during the holiday season.

"The Festival of Lights celebration marks the beginning of a special time of the year in the Lake Geneva area," said George Hennerley, executive vice president of the Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. "The weekend is full of activities for the entire family to enjoy and we're thrilled that John Powers will once again kick off the weekend festivities with the reading of a classic tale."

- Also spreading holiday cheer during the festival will be St. Nick as he parades through the downtown area on Saturday afternoon accompanied by his trusted elves and a team of prancing reindeer.

- The arts take center stage throughout the weekend as live performances ranging from instrumental to small one-act plays are presented in stores throughout the downtown area. Pepper said local orchestras and choirs will perform at the stores Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. There also will be some one-act plays. Pepper said the live performances give local students in orchestras to get involved and perform in front of people.

- Also on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Freeze4Life will take to the lake at the Gage Marine Boat Yard in Williams Bay. It is the third year the event is being held after a hiatus in 2010. The event, which was previously held at Riviera Beach, is in memory of Kevin Waldeck, who taught in the Lake Geneva area for 37 years, before he died of pancreatic cancer in 2007.

Skiers and fans can brave the elements to get on the lake in December and help raise money in the meantime. The minimum donation to participate is $40. Friends and fans also can watch the action from the heated Grande Belle, one of the popular passenger boats in the Lake Geneva Cruise Line fleet.

Dalton Waldeck, Kevin's son, said he's thrilled for the event this year and said the move to the Bay will provide more options for the event because the water is isn't as rough on that side of the lake. Among the "cool" things Waldeck described for this year include hot tubs and heated changing areas floating on barges. There also are raffle prizes.

Proceeds from the activity will go to fund a college scholarship for students who attend the Alternative High School in Elkhorn. Also, money will go to the Lustgarten Foundation for pancreatic cancer research. See the Williams Bay page for more on this event.

- For the 36th year, the Great Electric Children's Christmas Parade will start rolling down Broad Street toward the lake beginning at 5 p.m. from the corner of Williams and Marshall streets. Featuring marching bands, illuminated floats and a final appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus, the parade is presented by the Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Local radio station WLKG, Lake961, general manager Nancy Douglass will provide commentary as the emcees, from in front of the Geneva Theater on Broad Street.

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