The secret to having fun at a winter parade is to: 1) have it in St. Cloud, Minn., 2) make sure plenty of college students and staff decorate and participate, and 3) light up yourself and your vehicle as much as possible!
Those were some of the lessons learned by Minnesota School of Business volunteers at the Downtown Winter Nights and Lights parade. Defying frigid temperatures and a dark, dark night, MSB-St. Cloud staff and students enjoyed the festival hosted by the St. Cloud Downtown Alliance and Downtown Council.
“It’s amazing how many people are willing to brave the cold (and the threat of snow) and come together as a family or a community to enjoy the holiday season,” says Michelle Schreifels, academic assistant at the St. Cloud campus. “It’s also a fun chance to involve our students in community events and show that volunteering can be fun.”
Schreifels persuaded her father to donate his pickup truck for the MSB float for the evening, and even coaxed him, her mother and sisters to join the parade. “Everyone said they had a lot of fun,” Schreifels said.
This year’s parade was themed “Santa’s Workshop” and the Minnesota School of Business float included a large Santa sack brimming with gifts and a North Pole sign.
Interactive Media and Graphic Design students worked on the props for the float in the week prior to the event, and several came to walk the night of the parade as well.
Business degree student Cory Ley noted that “trying to create something out of your imagination and working with a team was pretty cool. Merging everyone’s ideas to reach the final product was a great process.”
The participants handed out candy canes to children along the parade route and even the occasional wrapped gift: either a Minnesota School of Business t-shirt or teddy bear for the kids.
Schreifels admits, “My favorite part of the night was seeing all of the little kids’ faces light up when they were given candy or one of the presents.”
Admissions Representative Ashley Hahn liked the community aspect of the night. “I want the community to know how much we [MSB] truly live our ‘We Care’ philosophy.” She added that her son Logan loved it, but wants to dress warmer next year!
Nearly 9,000 people attended the Winter Nights and Lights parade this year. Ley reflected that “events like this make me want to stay more involved within the community. Not only is it . . . a networking opportunity, but it makes you realize there’s something bigger within the city limits. Having all the schools, businesses, and people gather for one event is truly inspirational.”