Pelican Rapids Lighted Horse Parade Kicks off the Christmas Season


-By Ley Bouchard-

A town nestled around the Pelican River and dam hosts the annual Horse Parade which is a Norman Rockwell/Terry Redlin landscape come alive in the northwest central Minnesota area. This annual tradition takes place at 6:30 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving.

Folks dressed up like true northern Minnesotans flock to the Pelican Rapids, MN in the afternoon to park their cars and get their sidewalk spot for the uniquely charming event that includes teamsters and their steeds pulling lighted and decorated floats presenting a Christmas message, carolers or advertising for the sponsor of the float.

Members of the local harness clubs, the Midwest Minnesota Harness Club and the Red River Harness and Saddle Club provide a large number of the floats while individual teamsters sans club affiliation are also welcome to participate. It’s an annual tradition for many. The spectators are provided voting cards to cast their ballot for their favorite float. 

Teamsters work with their horses all year to prepare them, train them to be “parade ready”, keep them fit and desensitize to noise, and kids darting out to get the candy many floats toss to spectators.

This years’ horse parade was viewed by hundreds of people lining the streets to watch the event.  Stores are open: the Strand Ace Hardware offers free beer, wine, cider or hot chocolate. There may be a couple Black Friday specials available as well. The Mercantile on Main serves an assortment of cookies and bars and keeps a large variety of household and personal items for sale including gloves, hats, scarves, jewelry, cards and food items.

Pelican Rapids has a lot to offer year round with Maplewood State Park nearby and lake country at its doorstep. The annual Horse Parade is a delightful experience not to be missed. 

Thank you to all the teamsters and horses who participate to make this special annual event possible.

The winner of team: -Carol Sheridan and Little Bit- Unit 12
The winner of Peoples Choice Float: Trinity Lutheran Church- Unit 20, driven by Steven Bedar.
The parade participants were:

1Heather WestbyPelican Dental
2Dennis SobtzakSanford Health
3Polly ThornessBell Bank
4Jeremy JohnsonPelican Motel
5Brett LeinLakeland/Corn
6Zachary MillerREA
7Becca BabolianKrekelberg Law
8Ardean JohnsonMN Nat’l Bank
9Steve BednarMercantile/Muddy Moose
10Jeff ClaypoolFarmers Elevator
11Brenna MoenPelican Drug/Lakeland
12Carol SheridanPelican Press
13Brian LaymonPark Region/Ballards
14Christy BjorganPetals/Larson Funeral
15Tyler ArmstrongHOL/Big John’s
16Matt JohnsonLarry’s Supermarket
17Jesse SchmitzLakes Inn at Dunvilla
18Adam JohnsonRiverview/American Family
19Jake NordickPelican Rapids School
20Steve BednarTrinity Lutheran Church
Participant information and winner supplied by Audrey Wifall.