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Dashing through the snow: Northland welcomes holidays with annual parade

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The official start of the Northland's holiday season begins in Duluth Friday night, with the annual Christmas City of the North Parade.

The parade, which is in its 56th year, starts Friday at 6:20 p.m. and features floats, performers – and an appearance from Santa himself. (It hasn't been reported how far in advance they had to book St. Nick during this busy time)

Northland's NewsCenter says it's now the most-attended public event in the Northland. (Note: KJBR-TV sponsors the event.)

The Duluth News Tribune says there will be more than 80 parade "units."

The paper also profiled one of the groups behind one of those units – the Duluth Owls Club, which last year "unofficially won" the parade with its giant owl float. Its eyes lit up, its head turned, and the bird emitted a "hoot" sound. It will be back this year with a new feature – flapping wings, the News Tribune reports.

For kids hoping to get in touch with Jolly Old St. Nick, U.S. Postal Service employees will be in the parade with their own float, and will collect kids' letters addressed to the Claus family of the North Pole as they pass, Northland's NewsCenter says. The notes to Santa will be shipped express that night – USPS just asks you remember to put a return address on the envelope.

In addition, FOX 21 reports nine restaurants along the parade route will offer free food for kids.

The parade will run on a 13-block stretch of Superior Street, starting at the Fitger’s Complex, threading through downtown, and ending at Fourth Avenue West.

If you're looking for a place to park, the city of Duluth has a list of spots that will offer free parking the Friday of the parade.

The National Weather Service says tonight will be cold, but not uncomfortably frigid.

Temperatures will likely hover in the mid- to upper-20s, but there is a chance of freezing drizzle after 10 p.m.

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