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Santa train, fireworks, lighted park usher in holidays

Lead Summary
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Lori Sorenson

A holiday-decorated Ellis and Eastern train engine arrived at the Luverne depot at 4:30 p.m. Sunday with lighted Christmas trees and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Hundreds of children shared their Christmas wish lists with the jolly couple before exploring the train and enjoying hot cocoa and frosted cookies, courtesy of the Ellis and Eastern Company, which operates the short line railroad between Worthington and Manley.
This year Tony and Lindsey Schomacker played the role of Santa and Mrs. Claus. “Seeing the children’s faces light up when it was finally their turn to sit on Santa’s lap was well worth the long day’s work,” Tony Schomacker said about his new role.
In all, nearly 400 people visited Luverne’s iconic train depot, the last stop in an afternoon of Santa escorts.
“Eric Berning and his team at Ellis and Eastern deserve a heartfelt round of applause for all the efforts they put into making the day so special for children and families from Rushmore to Luverne,” said Luverne Chamber Director Jane Lanphere.
Families then traveled to Luverne City Park where they took their places in a line of vehicles on the park’s circular driveway to wait for the fireworks to begin at 7 p.m.
“Luverne's licensed pyrotechnician Jonathon Kurtz and his team shot off a wonderful display to usher in the park lighting,” Lanphere said. 
“Special thanks to all the sponsors of the fireworks. It was spectacular! What a wonderful free gift all of these partners gave to everyone.”
Kurtz was assisted by his wife, Krista, father Mark, and friends Jenn Wiebe and Aerick Dennis.
The last of the fireworks signaled the ceremonial lighting of the community-decorated displays in the park.
“Businesses, organizations and individuals who stepped up to the plate to decorate the park made ‘Light the Night’ possible, and we couldn’t be prouder of our partners,” Lanphere said the next day.
“Special thanks to the city of Luverne electrical and public works departments for going out of their way to make sure the power works and the general decorating was done.”
She estimated 150 vehicles entered the park for fireworks viewing and another 100 came through after the fireworks were done. Nearly 300 gift bags were shared with children.
“On behalf of the Chamber - we just can’t say how grateful we are to live in such a giving and supportive community,” Lanphere said. 
The displays in the city park will remain lighted through the holiday season. In 2021 it was estimated that over 8,000 vehicles circled through the park between Nov. 27 and New Year’s Eve.

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