Celebrating the season!

(Above) The Christmas By The Lake Lighted Parade makes its way down Main Avenue. - Reporter photos by Chris Barragy.

by Marianne Gasaway

Christmas By The Lake: You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.

Clear Lake’s 25th annual holiday celebration amazed even the most seasoned of Chamber of Commerce committees and business owners.  Helped by picture-perfect December weather, tens of thousands of residents, guests and even bus loads of visitors got in the Christmas spirit in a variety of ways Saturday.

“This was one of the best ones we have ever had.  I’d have to rank it number one in all time,” said Gene Madson, chairman of the CBTL Committee for each of its 25 years.  “The weather was nice, the crowds were big, the entertainment was great, we had the most entries ever in the lighted parade and there were lines for everything— from Santa to horse and carriage rides.  There was something for everybody.  The committee did a fantastic job.”

Santa’s House welcomed more than 520 kids, while across the street at the V.F.W. the Clear Lake C.A.R.E.S. Post Prom Committee was taking photos of families with The Grinch.

Shops were also filled throughout the day, with many serving cider and cookies along with holiday deals.  Several churches and organizations also took part with everything from Cookie Walks to musical programs and craft activities.

Madson noted entries were at an all-time high for the lighted parade, including a large number of law enforcement who led a procession for a handful of World War II veterans.  Carroll Etchen (Army), Bill Otterman (Navy), Robert Peterson (Army) and Henry Martinez (Navy) were honored in the parade, which had the theme “Patriotic” and was held on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Jack Kennedy, who served in the Army during World War II, had hoped to ride in the parade, but recently broke his hip.

Stiff winds threatened to cancel the fireworks display over the lake, but the crew from Flashing Thunder determined they could be shot safely from City Beach and they did not disappoint.

The fun continued Sunday with the annual Polar Bear Club dip for charity.  An estimated 180 people ran into the lake, raising over $8,500 for Make-A-Wish and Toys for Tots.

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