Jen Martens, a volunteer at Portage Presbyterian Church's Harvest dinner hands Jenny Wakefield a slice of pie on Saturday.

As the weather changes to colder temperatures, Baraboo and Portage are preparing to host a plethora of holiday events to welcome in the season.

In Portage, Santa will be flying into the Portage Airport at 10 a.m.Nov. 29, this year in a helicopter instead of an airplane. Following Santa’s fly in, there will be meet and greets with Santa. At 6 p.m. on Nov. 29, there will be a holiday parade throughout downtown Portage, which ends with Santa lighting the Christmas tree in Commerce Plaza.

“It’s really a great opportunity for people to come out into the community and celebrate,” said Marianne Hanson, executive director for the Portage Chamber of Commerce.

On Nov. 30, the community will have the chance to meet with Santa’s Reindeer, where attendees can take their pictures with the Reindeer and visit with Santa. There will also be an elf hunt happening throughout Commerce Plaza, which features small elves hidden throughout businesses. Once participants find the elf they will receive a prize at each store, said Hanson

In December, there will be a cookie walk throughout downtown Portage, where people can purchase a box and walk throughout different stores and businesses and receive a cookie. Each store provides a different cookie. Hanson said the cookie walk has been a long standing tradition for many throughout Portage.

“This was one of the first holiday events that started in Portage,” said Hanson. “A lot of people have done this as a tradition for years, we’ve had young kids who do this and now they come back and do it.”

The Cookie Walk will be from 9 a.m. to noon, Dec. 7.

On Dec. 14 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., actors will recreate history Portage history or Holiday scenes in the windows of store fronts in downtown Portage.

“Theres a lot for people to participate in, for the holidays,” said Hanson.


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New this year, Downtown Baraboo Inc. is hosting a Christmas launch party, which features a preview of Christmas and holiday goods that stores downtown offer. The event will be start at 10 a.m., Saturday and will feature a holiday decoration contest for the businesses.

Lacey Steffes, board member for Downtown Baraboo said the stores downtown are encouraged to decorate the outside of their shops for the chance to win a cash prize. Members of the public will choose the winner by taking social media photos outside of the store with their favorite decorations and posting them using the hashtag “downtownbaraboo.”

Steffes says whichever business has the most photos using the hashtag will win the cash prize.

“We’re trying to make all of the store fronts look like photo backdrops, so everybody can come downtown and take pictures and post them on Instagram, just to show how great our little town is,” said Steffes.

In addition to the holiday preview, Downtown Baraboo will host traditional holiday events like the Christmas Lights Parade, which will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 23. The parade will feature hometown organizations and businesses, with Santa ending the parade and lighting the Christmas tree at the top of the Al. Ringling Theatre marquee.

After the Christmas tree is lit, there will be a free magic show at the Al. Ringling Theatre and visits with Santa.

Downtown will host black Friday events from 8 a.m to 10 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving.

“We want to bring holiday shopping local, and have people explore our downtown,” said Steffes. “We kind of pitch it as a relaxed black Friday. Grab a cup of coffee, hangout with your girlfriends.”

Following these kick off events, every Saturday throughout December there are free house and wagon rides throughout downtown and visits with Santa from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will also be showings of traditional Christmas movies at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Al. Ringling Theater on Saturday’s in December.

“We’re really trying to create that hallmark Christmas in Downtown Baraboo,” said Steffes. “We have all the components, we have the smiling shop owners, the beautiful store fronts and Santa, and hopefully we’ll get a little snow to put the icing on the cake.

Follow Nicole on Twitter @Nicole_Aimone

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