Local economic impact watchers will delight in the fact that the Harbes come to Mankato often to shop, but this year, in addition to visiting their family and joining their passel of grandkids along the parade route, they dropped a few hundred dollars at area retailers.
"Our city has nothing like this," she said. "It's such a great place to shop."
No one took their parade watching as seriously as Sheri and Bob Olson of Mankato.
They arrived early — roughly 3:40 p.m. — and found a parking spot right on the parade route. And they weren't the first ones. Sheri said there were already people looking for good seats, and workers putting out cones. What the Olsons did perfectly was vehicle selection. Bob rigged the back of his pickup with a wood plank propped up near the cab. With the truck running and heat building up in the cab, they simply slid open the sliding rear window and bathed in the wonder of car heater heat.
When asked why she came to the parade and to see the lights, Sheri couldn't quite put her finger on what makes it special. But she's knows it's there. Kind of like Santa.
"There's just something it brings out in everyone," she said. "Just a good feeling."
After the parade was over and the vehicles pulled away, a countdown commenced. When it hit "one!" the switch was flipped and the lights that everyone was waiting to see came one. Skaters glided across the skating rink, cold kids bustled into the concession stand for hot cocoas.
And you would have had to be a true Scrooge or major Grinch to not smile at least a little.
A photo gallery can be found at mankatofreepress.com.