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Holidazzle starts Christmas countdown with a bang

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Fireworks greeted the opening of the Minneapolis' Holidazzle celebrations Friday night.

After a troubled first year, the revamped seasonal celebration opened at its new location in Loring Park, offering a skating rink, outdoor movies, live music and a Christmas market that this year is free to enter.

KARE 11 reports that more than 1,000 people attended the opening on Friday, with the event moved to the downtown park for this year because of the ongoing reconstruction of Nicollet Mall.

The Star Tribune notes that last year's attempt at revamping Holidazzle, that saw the traditional parade replaced with a European-style market on Peavey Plaza, prompted an apology from organizers after visitors were angered by long lines and a $6 entry fee.

The early reaction to the Minneapolis Downtown Council's second attempt is much improved, with 72-year-old Gerald "Jay" Woldt telling the newspaper: "This is definitely better than last year. Even at this age, I still love fireworks."

This year's market features 25 local vendors, including the Fulton Brewery and the Faribault Woolen Mill Co., selling a wide selection of Minnesota's favorite foods, drinks and crafts.

Among those at the fair is iconic Minneapolis meat emporium Kramarczuk’s, which has made a special sausage for Holidazzle that WCCO's Jason DeRusha tried out on Friday.

The sausage is made from 25 percent-fat ground pork, a holiday blend of spices including thyme, nutmeg, sage, and celery powder, as well as dried cranberries and – to make them truly Minnesotan – wild rice.

Other delicacies available at the market are potato pancakes, cheese curds, dry-rub ribs and hot apple cider.

Holidazzle runs Thursday to Sundays until Dec. 20.

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