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Parade, tree lighting usher in holiday festivities


The fridge is full of leftovers and downtown is bright with Christmas lights and decorations, two sure signs the holiday season is underway in Petersburg.

Friday evening kicked off with two Petersburg traditions, the parade of lights and the tree lighting ceremony. Gloria Ohmer and Don Koenigs were named as the honorary tree lighters for this year's ceremony.

Ohmer has been in Petersburg since 1949 when she arrived for a two-week visit from Washington state but never left.

"She's gone on to become a quiet hero, working behind the scenes making life better for people during her seven decades in Petersburg," said Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Hayes who introduced Ohmer and Koenigs. "Most people don't know of her contributions and she really likes it better that way."

A theme emerged as Hayes read Ohmer's many contributions to Petersburg– that of promoting the town through efforts to increase tourism. Ohmer helped initiate the hotel tax to bring more money to town through tourism and gave visitors a pleasant place to enjoy while here when she traded land at Sandy Beach so it could be used as a recreational area.

"Tonight's tree lighting is an apt symbol for a woman who always tries to bring light to the lives of others," Hayes said.

Koenigs' service to Petersburg includes his work in government serving on the city council and working as city manager for the then-City of Petersburg.

"Don values good citizenship and has dedicated much of his time to this effort...He's been a strong voice for many causes and pursues what he believes in with passion and conviction," Hayes said of Koenigs at the ceremony.

He's also active with the Catholic Church, supporting its work both locally and abroad through missions work.

"Don dedicates much of his time and efforts on his faith," Hayes concluded.

In the coming weeks there will be many opportunities to be merry at various events around town.

Preserved fish fans can help decide who in town makes the best pickled and smoked seafoods at the Sons of Norway's 35th annual Pickled Herring Contest. Judging begins at 7 p.m. for the Dec. 10 event.

On Sat., Dec. 13 parents can take their kids to meet Father Christmas himself at Breakfast with Santa from 9-11 a.m. at the Community Gym.

Carolers, story tellers and musicians will bringing auditory Christmas cheer at three events: the Holiday Literary at 1 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the Public Library, the Clausen Museum's open house on Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. and the community Winter Concert Dec. 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Lutheran Church.

The beloved Norwegian holiday tradition of Julebukking

will happen in businesses around town throughout Christmas

week starting Sat., Dec. 20. The

schedule for the event will be published in a forthcoming

edition of the Pilot.


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