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Light Up Night marks start of Christmas season in Hudson

Santa Clause gives a youngster a high-five greeting upon his arrival in downtown Hudson on Friday night, Nov. 29. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)1 / 8
A big crowd surrounds Santa Claus in the middle of Second Street after he arrives in downtown Hudson last Friday night. Santa officially lighted the holiday decorations, marking the start of the Christmas shopping season. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)2 / 8
A girl views Santa with wide-eyed wonder. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)3 / 8
Santa Claus reaches out to a youngster after arriving in downtown Hudson last Friday night aboard the fire department’s classic 1934 engine. He was welcomed by a crowd of several hundred children and family members. Santa turned on the Christmas lights in the downtown with a wave of his staff, and then withdrew to Kelley Frame & Fine Art Gallery for individual meetings with children. See pages 10A and 11A for more photos. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson) 4 / 8
Children perch on their parents’ shoulders to get a better view of Santa Claus. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)5 / 8
Santa counts down to turning on the Christmas lights. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)6 / 8
Santa Claus arrives in downtown Hudson aboard the fire department’s classic 1934 engine, decorated with American flags. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson) 7 / 8
Tom Zeuli, a Hudson firefighter and the city’s Public Works and Parks director, serves as Santa’s chauffer. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)8 / 8

A temperature in the teens didn’t keep several hundred children and parents from greeting Santa Claus when he arrived in downtown Hudson last Friday night.

In a departure from past years, Santa came to town on the Hudson Fire Department’s classic 1934 engine.

A horse-drawn sleigh was used to carry him down Second Street in former years. Organizers of the Light-Up Night worried about the horse becoming nervous and bolting when surrounded by the crowd of children and parents.

Santa’s official duty was to turn on the downtown Christmas lights with a wave of his staff.

He then waded into the crowd of wide-eyed children and parents -- asking the youngsters about their Christmas wishes and whether they had been good -- on his way to Kelley Frame & Fine Art Gallery for individual meetings.

The annual Light-Up Night on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the holiday shopping season in Hudson. It is sponsored by a Celebrate the Holidays Committee supported by some 50 local businesses.

The group’s second big event is the downtown Candlelight Stroll from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. this coming Friday night. On Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., Santa and his reindeer will make their annual visit to Lakefront Park in downtown Hudson.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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