Oct 12, 2023 - News

Chorus grows for Holidazzle to return to Nicollet Mall

People line the streets for a parade float during Holidazzle in 2009

The last Holidazzle parade in 2013. Photo: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images

As event organizers take a break from Holidazzle in 2023, there's a growing chorus of people who say the annual December celebration should be brought back to the core of downtown Minneapolis.

Why it matters: Holidazzle, started in 1992, introduced countless people in the region to downtown, where they sipped hot cocoa, watched the parade down Nicollet Mall, and dined at restaurants.

  • Downtown Minneapolis, which is still trying to find its way post-pandemic, could use some of that exposure again.

Catch up fast: The Minneapolis Downtown Council in 2013 ended the Nicollet Mall parade and instead created a European-style Christmas market village in Loring Park, which is on the fringe of downtown.

  • On Tuesday, the council announced Holidazzle will be canceled this year due to a lack of funds, but would be back again next year. In the meantime, it's collecting feedback on what people would like it to look like in the future.

What they're saying: Chris Sherman, president of downtown-based developer Sherman Associates, fondly remembers going to Holidazzle as a kid in the early 1990s, and he wants the event back on the mall.

  • "It could be a catalyst that time of year for retail business and activate downtown in the evenings for four or five weeks," he told Axios.

Yes, but: Don't expect the parade to be back, downtown council CEO Steve Cramer told Axios. It's become too expensive.

  • The city has provided the downtown council $400,000 a year to help with events, and that money is leveraged to raise another $1.6-$2 million, Cramer said. In the last year, the council has had to stretch its money further to organize spring, summer, and fall events in an effort to get people back to the city's center.
  • The parade, Cramer said, cost millions of dollars, whereas the Loring Park festival cost "high six figures," adding, "That's why the parade was retired 10 years ago."

The bottom line: Minneapolis Regional Chamber CEO Jonathan Weinhagen cited how much of a boost Super Bowl Live gave Nicollet Mall in 2018, and another activation of the same sort would help.

  • "Could this be the thing that brings people back downtown for some of the winter months to celebrate the cold and to celebrate downtown, just like we used to?"

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