Festive fun: Mayor's Tree Lighting event to feature holiday parade for 1st time Saturday

Diane Bretthauer, left, looks on as Vicki Starcher gets the lights just right Monday in downtown Tonganoxie. The longtime residents are gearing up for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting festival, which will be Saturday night on Fourth Street. Enlarge photo

November 17, 2021

A new parade tradition is coming to town this weekend.

The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting festivities will kick off with a parade starting at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The parade will start near Tonganoxie Public Library and then make its way east along Fourth Street to Main Street.

After the parade, Mayor David Frese will read a story and turn on the Christmas lights on the city tree in the pocket park at Fourth and Delaware streets. Santa Claus then will be available inside the former council chambers just north of the pocket park.

The annual event took on a different look last year during earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Motorists could drive through the downtown area looking at lights and decorations and then turn onto Delaware where Santa Claus was waiting to greet them while being socially distant.

This year many regular activities are back with the addition of the evening parade.

Parade lineup will be 4-4:30 p.m. and then parade will start at 5 p.m.

Diane Bretthauer, one of the evening’s organizers, said that there were 15-20 entries so far as of Monday afternoon. Others can register a parade entry or get more information by contacting Bretthauer at or at 913-645-4726. They also can register or get other general information by calling City Hall at 913-845-2620. Early registration is not required and no horses will be allowed for this particular parade.

Winning classes in the mayor’s canned food drive from Tonganoxie Elementary School and Genesis Schools will be able to walk in the parade with the mayor.

The reading of the Christmas story and lighting of the tree are slated for 6 p.m. Santa Claus then will be available to meet with children until 8 p.m. at the former council chambers. Anyone visiting Santa Claus will be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing. Masks are recommended, but not required based on the number of COVID-19 cases locally. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the Santa’s winter wonderland in the former council chambers.

There also will be some new decorations along Fourth Street for this year’s event, which has the theme “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

There will be a DJ at the event Saturday night and a food truck. Some of the planned food and beverages for the tree lighting festival are waffles, hot dogs, desserts, hot chocolate and cider.

The Mirror also will livestream the parade and other festivities Saturday night as well for those who can’t attend the event in person.

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