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Building a home for the holidays

"We're just keeping the Christmas and holiday spirit alive, even when the weather's a downer."

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Icicles hang from the snow-covered brick building of Ma's Little Red Barn in Perham, adorned with twinkling holiday lights.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — The harsh Minnesota winters don't keep the residents of Perham from loving where they live. This year, the Perham Events Committee decided to celebrate this concept with one specific theme: "Make Perham your home for the holidays." From late November to the end of December, the committee organized event after event for Perham locals who stay year-round and brave the cold weather.

"The whole gist of the committee is to promote commerce in the community," said committee member Leah Monson. "And so, having all these different events, even though they're not exactly shopping related, it just brings people into town, gives people things to do, makes people think of Perham … (Winter) is definitely our slowest time of the year after the holidays. We just kind of support that — like, shop local."

These events include the famous Parade of Lights, sleigh rides, free bowling and — brand new this year — a Lego-building competition. Hosted at United Community Bank, locals flexed their building abilities by constructing different holiday displays, from a home decorated for Christmas to a busy lit-up mall, filled with people visiting Santa. All are on display at the bank for the public to view.

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Legos found inside United Community Bank have their own visit with Santa.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

The idea to hold a Lego-building contest came to Monson when she considered the theme of "Make Perham your home for the holidays." When she thought about something homey, she just visualized a Christmas village, and she thought it would be fun for community members to create their own unique Christmas villages.

"We're just keeping the Christmas and holiday spirit alive, even when the weather's a downer," Monson said.

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Community members can walk into United Community Bank and vote for winners based on three different categories: construction, creativity and Christmas spirit. Voting will be open until Friday, Dec. 23. Winners will get different prizes, such as gift cards.

"Perham is such a close-knit community, and it just goes with the holiday season, right?" Trevor Semann with United Community Bank said of the Lego displays. "All the way from the end of Thanksgiving, all the way through New Year's — all the holidays in there. It's one of those things where (community members) shop local and everyone comes together … Everybody's taking care of everybody. The idea of just everybody coming back to town and taking care of each other and seeing everybody again — it means more in a town like Perham."

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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