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Rotary Lights brings back parade, introduces mascots

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La Crosse residents may think of 2020 as the year without Oktoberfest, Riverfest and some other local traditions.

Rotary Lights, however, went on as usual last Christmas — in a limited basis. The holiday festival plans to bring back some favorite events for 2021, including the downtown parade on opening night.

“New floats would be great,” parade organizer Tim Ehler said Tuesday. “Businesses, non-profits, schools,” are all invited to submit entries, he added. “We’d love to get some bands, we haven’t had bands in a long time.”

The parade, on Nov. 26, will start at 6 p.m. — an hour later than in past years — to avoid traffic problems downtown.

Rotary Lights has operated every year since 1995 between Thanksgiving weekend and New Year’s Eve at Riverside Park.

This year, lights will be extended to the portion of the park south of the State Street entrance, and live entertainment will be featured again at the bandshell, and in the large warming tents.

Light bulb mascots for Rotary Lights, yet to be named

This year, two mascots are being introduced for Rotary Lights, one male, one female. The public is asked to submit ideas for names to the La Crosse Tribune website, and the people who enter the winning names will win Rotary Lights-related prizes.

Rotary Lights is a major fundraiser and food collection project for area organizations.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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