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Downtown events celebrate season
Photo supplied Santa Claus visited with children and their families at Wisconsin Bank & Trust following the annual Christmas Parade Dec. 4. Santa will be making a return appearance at the winter farmers market planned for this Saturday at the Masonic Temple.
MONROE - Hundreds of families gathered downtown Dec. 4 for Main Street Monroe's 14th annual Lighted Christmas Parade. Organized by Main Street vice president Tom Miller and Melisa Schmidt from Main Street's promotion committee and sponsored by PDC, 19 different participants were in the parade, a significant increase from last year.

Floats included private businesses, the Monroe Fire Department, Monroe High School band and vocal groups, the Monroe Farmers Market and Wisconsin Bank & Trust. Those gathered to watch the parade were treated to live music, nutcrackers, elves and Elsa from "Frozen."

Wisconsin Bank & Trust was also the location for the Noon Optimist's meet-and-greet with Santa Claus, where visitors were treated to craft tables, treats (including some served by Green County Dairy Queens), balloon elves from Jane "Dotty" Swiggum, and photos with Santa. Immediately following the parade, families waiting in line to enter the bank were treated to carolers from 4-H.

Downtown was transformed with the help of volunteers and city staff, putting up Christmas decorations around Thanksgiving. The Community Garden has been transformed into Santa's workshop, with children being able to drop off letters to Santa in the mailbox next to Sequel's Fine Interiors. Main Street's design committee was responsible for new wreaths and bows and expanded Christmas lights to match the streetscape, while Monroe Women's Club handled filling winter flower pots, including collecting redwood, for the season.

Dec. 3 also marked the final First Thursday Shopping Night of the year. First Thursdays began in spring, with nearly 20 stores staying open until 7 p.m., providing another opportunity for residents and visitors to explore Monroe's retail core. December's First Thursday was unique in that a handful of stores featured artists from the Driftless Area Artists group, which is affiliated with the Monroe Arts Center. Main Street is likely to build on the idea for a First Thursdays night next year when it resumes.

Main Street will have one final event before Christmas. A second winter farmers market will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Masonic Temple. The first winter market was Dec. 6.

Saturday's market will see additional vendors, including those selling craft items and dessert goods. Other vendors will be selling canned goods and meats. In coordination with Monroe Morning Optimists, Santa Claus also will be present, making one final stop downtown before Christmas.