A 20-minute fireworks show preceded the simultaneous lighting of holiday displays in the Luverne City Park. Addison Johnson captures photos from her perch in the car sun roof. A lighted Ashby Memorial Trail guides visitors to the displays.Pastor Harry and Marilynn Flanagan admire Rock River Community Church’s lighted display in the Luverne City park Sunday night.Santa and Mrs. Claus (Pat and Katie Baustian) pose for photos with the “Santa Squad,” Ross, Gavin and Veronica Loosbrock as their mom, Kristy Loosbrock, captures the image on her cell phone camera. Hundreds of families lined up at the Omaha Depot in Luverne to greet the jolly couple as they rode in on the decorated and lighted Ellis and Eastern train.

Christmas arrives by train, fireworks and lights

Christmas officially arrived Sunday with Santa, festive train engines, fireworks and dazzling lighted displays.

“It was awesome,” said Luverne Chamber assistant Amber Lais.

“I thought it was an outstanding turnout. It was a perfect day. The weather was perfect. I don’t think it could have gone any better.”

A festively decorated Ellis and Eastern train engine transported Santa and Mrs. Claus through communities in Nobles and Rock counties.

They stopped in Rushmore, Adrian, Magnolia and Luverne where the jolly couple (Pat and Katie Baustian) greeted more than 400 children and posed for photos.

After a gathering with families at the Omaha Depot, the train brought the Clauses to Luverne City Park for fireworks and simultaneous lighting of Christmas displays.

According to information from the Luverne Area Chamber, nearly 50 organizations decorated lighted displays and park equipment, and 170 cars paid admission to enter the park for fireworks and a first chance at viewing the displays.

“I didn’t know if they’re going to stop coming,” Lais said about the procession into the park. “I couldn’t believe how many cars we fit in the park.”

Families in the vehicles received locomotive bells, cookies and milk. By the end of the night, Lais said the Chamber had distributed 450 of each.

Prizes were awarded for Most Creative Display (Star Herald was first and Bantam A Hockey second), Best use of Polar Express Theme – Rock River Community Church was first and St. Catherine Confirmation Class second) and Brightest Display (Buffalo Ridge Insurance was first and First Farmers and Merchants Bank second).

Hundreds of vehicles, counting the ones already parked, inched their way, bumper-to-bumper, around the park and were at times lined up on East Main Street back to Blue Mound Avenue.

Pyrotechnician Jonathon Kurtz, assisted by Seth Miller and Jen Wiebe, produced the fireworks show, which was launched from the south bank of the Rock River and sponsored by dozens of local businesses.

“It was a good day,” Lais said. “Everything was great.”

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