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A Wadena Christmas: Holiday events in place for weeks ahead

Zain Waldahl, 4, meets Santa Claus at the "Holiday Fun: Favorite Holiday Stories" event at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School on Thursday night. In addition to an appearance by Mr. Claus, as well as treats and storytelling, the night featured a series of craft stations, each themed after a different classic holiday tale. Photo by Zach Kayser

Wadena is aflutter with Christmas activity as residents prepare for a treeful of upcoming holiday events. Some events are long-time traditions, while others are brand new to this season, but all can fill the weeks ahead with holiday cheer for people who live here.

Perhaps the most apparent sign of the holiday season in Wadena are the Christmas carols being piped in from loudspeakers above the KWAD radio station on South Jefferson Street. Station manager Rick Youngbauer said the speakers have been at KWAD as long as he's been in charge - that is, around 20 years.

"When we first starting doing it, it was on tape; on reel-to-reel," he said.

Youngbauer added that in the decades the music has been playing, people have sometimes asked for the Christmas tunes to be turned down, but to his knowledge, no one has ever objected to the idea of loudspeaker-powered holiday cheer itself.

"Sometimes we hear that the music is too loud, but 99 percent of the feedback that we've gotten has been nice," he said.

If you happen to be walking in downtown Wadena during regular 9-5 business hours in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you can hear an eclectic range of holiday music from every era.

A more recently established tradition can be found at 414 SW Third St. That's the home of Gerald Anderson, who for the past four years has set up thousands of lights on his house and yard to put on a nightly Christmas light show synchronized to music.

The approximately one-hour display runs Monday-Thursday from 5:30-9 p.m. and Friday-Sunday from 5:30-10 p.m. To listen to the musical portion of the show, listeners can turn their car radios to FM 88.1 while they watch. The event benefits Project Share, a local food shelf.

When looking for a more unplugged expression of Christmas spirit, folks can look no further than a holiday concert headlined by local singer and guitarist Robert Segovia. Segovia and his band will be performing selections from their Christmas album "Hope Is Born".

The holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Wadena Evangelical Church. Segovia says the style of the album represents an energetic, personalized twist on holiday classics.

"It's all traditional songs, but they're very much redone," Segovia said.

In addition to holiday music, Segovia will play tracks off of his two most recent albums, "Out of the Norm" and "When All Is Said and Done". Like many musicians, Segovia was reluctant to place his work within an exact genre, but he describes it as a form of contemporary Christian pop/rock.

Future plans for the singer include completing an album in Spanish that's currently in the works, entitled "El amor de mi amor", or "The Love of My Love".

There will be more holiday music to be heard at the Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School Choir concert at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17, and an elementary school concert on Dec. 20 at 1:30 in the elementary gym.

In all, Wadena residents will have plenty of opportunities to take in the music and lights that make the town's holiday celebrations unique.