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When the Christmas Light Parade kicks off Nov. 23, so will the holiday shopping season in downtown Baraboo.

The annual parade of lights returns to the downtown streets next Saturday evening. Leading 45 entrants on its traditional route through the business district will be Jack Young Middle School teacher Jane McMahon. She was chosen grand marshal after being named Wisconsin’s Middle School Teacher of the Year this fall.

“I am thrilled to be the grand marshal of the Light Parade,” she said. “I love our vibrant downtown, and when the lights go on for the holidays, I think we are able to showcase what a beautiful and warm city this is, even in the coldest of winters.”

The parade will feature marching bands from Baraboo, Milton and Reedsburg high schools, plus singer Nancy Rago’s band riding a Circus World Museum wagon. Other entertainers include monocyclist T.J. Howell, the Prairie Thunder Cloggers, the Jolly Giants stilt walkers and a new entry this year, high-wheel bicyclist R.J. Gross. Forty businesses and community groups have signed up to enter illuminated floats in the parade.

As always, the parade will culminate with Santa Claus lighting a Christmas tree atop the Al. Ringling Theatre marquee. After the parade, families are invited to visit Santa and attend a magic show presented at the theater by Circus World illusionist Tristan Crist.

The parade is the first of a series of holiday-themed events planned downtown throughout the season. Plus, sleigh rides and visits with Santa will be offered every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Melissa Rank, event coordinator for the Downtown Baraboo, Inc. business group, said the parade offers family fun while providing a reminder of the many shops open around the courthouse square.

“This is a great event to usher in the holiday shopping season,” Rank said.

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter

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