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Otterdazzle: the great holiday kickoff

A Measure of Healing Hearts for Childhood Cancer Michael Denny/Perham Focus1 / 4
Santa Clause during Otterdazzle 2018. Michael Denny/Perham Focus2 / 4
Runners prior to the 5k run. Michael Denny/Perham Focus3 / 4
Holly Becker, was runner 575 in the "Freezin for a Reason" 5k run. The cold was rough on her but it wasn't going to stop her from running. Michael Denny/Perham Focus4 / 4

Otterdazzle, the annual holiday celebration, started early Saturday.. Otterdazzle is comprised of many events including a pancake breakfast, visits with santa, hay rides, and much more.

Christmas cheer was in full swing. The residents of Ottertail braved the cold to welcome the month of December and the good tidings that come with it. Children scurried about, excitedly waiting for their coveted visit with Mr. and Mrs. Clause. Runners dressed in Christmas themed athletic gear and prepared for the "Freezin for a Reason" 5K run. They danced about in an attempt to keep the blood pumping while the cold wind mercilessly battered them.

Lynsey Maloney, organizer of the "Freezin for a Reason" 5K and kids fun run, praised the celebration. Proceeds from the run go toward A Measure of Healing Hearts for Childhood Cancer, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about childhood cancer and supports the families afflicted by it. Maloney stood patiently in the brisk cold waiting for runners to register. "It's cold, but it's Freezin for a Reason, so you're freezin for reason," said Maloney, playfully joking about the cold that her runners would soon face. Maloney and her organization are in constant need of volunteers and urge anyone interested to contact her on the company website.

Registration closed, and one by one, elves, reindeer, and other festively decorated runners began lining up on Maple Avenue. Holly Becker could be seen gleefully jumping in a desperate attempt to retain body heat prior to the run. "Its cold but it's worth it," said Becker, decked out in full elf gear. This is her first time participating in the run, her nervous jumping quickly turned to excited anticipation as the runners took their mark. Officials thanked them for their participation and sent them off down the road. Their pace was controlled, the group knowing the length of the run and the cold would require disciplined endurance.

However, one runner did pull ahead rather quickly. Robert Wagenman charged forward not letting the cold slow him down. He was the first to finish the 5k with a noticeable gap between him and the other runners. His finishing time was 25 minutes and 13 seconds.

Elsewhere, kids were gleefully lining up for a hayride. Children and parents sat tightly together for a fun winter ride through the streets of Ottertail. "It's a fun experience; everyone has a good time, even in weather like this," said Jeff Wiebe, after dismounting his tractor. This is his third year giving hayrides during Otterdazzle. Wiebe went on to say that seeing the kids and adults really enjoy traversing the town of Ottertail via his hay trailer is his favorite part of Otterdazzle.

Within the halls of the Ottertail Community Center, children and adults enjoyed hot dogs and soda, as they perused the many vendors set up in the garage. Additionally, crafts and games were also present to occupy the kids as they waited to meet Santa Clause. Excitement was truly in the air, kids buzzed about asking parents every few minutes when the jolly Christmas icon would make his arrival. After much anticipation, Santa made his way through the community center to his throne as droves of children lined up to tell him their christmas wishes. Santa amplified the christmas cheer by tenfold. Children rushed to his knee as parents frantically took pictures, documenting the beautiful moment to be enjoyed for years to come.

The rest of the day included a lighting of the trees in the park, fireworks, and a chili bar at the community center. Otterdazzle is sponsored by the Ottertail Business and Community Association. Ottertail Lions also sponsor activities throughout the day. Much work and preparation goes into this holiday tradition, and it was evident Ottertail residents look forward to it all year. The weather outside was indeed frightful but the Christmas splendor defeated the icey cold.