A Downtown holiday family tradition

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October 17, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Laurence Farah
Laurence Farah

A Downtown holiday family tradition

As they boarded the bus last winter, Pat, Melissa and Stephen Stockhaus added some unusual characters to the bus’s usual ambience. “The bus kind of looked like any Mother Goose fairytale you could think of,” said Melissa Stockhaus, 25, who was then dressed as a twinkling object.

The bus was headed to Nicollet Mall for the TCF Holidazzle. “We were the stars,” said Pat Stockhaus, 46. “Literally.”

Every December, Pat and his wife Beth Stockhaus take time off of work to share the Downtown holiday experience with their daughter, Melissa; and two sons, Ryan, 21; and Stephen, 15.

First, they go to the 8th-floor holiday exhibit at Marshall Field’s, 700 Nicollet Mall. Then they go to the TCF Holidazzle parade.

Last year was the first time that any of them had volunteered for the show. “It was fun to be a part of it, instead of watching it go by,” Pat Stockhaus said.

Like most family traditions, the Stockhaus Downtown holiday outing has changed over the years.

Before the Holidazzle, the Stockhaus family tradition was to see Dayton’s 8th floor exhibit and get their picture taken with Santa Claus. Before that, Dayton’s animated holiday window displays and Santa was reason enough to make the trip.

“It was a tradition when I was growing up, too,” Pat Stockhaus said, “My sister would always take us down to see the windows … it was a special thing.”

That’s why it is important for them to continue their holiday tradition, even though the kids have grown and developed tighter schedules. “It’s a tradition you never really grow out of,” Ryan Stockhaus said. “It’s nice to still have something to be able to do with your family.”

Beth Stockhaus, 45, also made childhood visits Downtown during the holidays with her family. “Grandma started it all, and she would take us. Then as they got older, we were taking them to the Holidazzle,” she said

Pat and Beth Stockhaus made their first holiday trip Downtown together with a group of friends in high school. They were married a few years later, and the rest is history.

The Stockhaus family has gone to the Holidazzle every year, so they have found some simple, but important tips to make the best out of your trip:

- Bring extra kids. They’ll keep each other occupied, Pat Stockhaus said. Another kid to play with will come in handy when you find yourself waiting in line at Marshall Field’s on the 4th floor to see an exhibit that’s on the 8th floor.

- Go to Marshall Field’s first. Avoid problem number one altogether and get there early. You won’t regret leaving work early.

- Check the weather. Sure the cold weather is part of the seasonal effect, but there is a difference between cold and ridiculously cold. The show will be canceled if the wind chill is minus-25 degrees or colder at show time. Many people watch from the heated skyway, but Beth Stockhaus said, “It’s no fun because you can’t hear the music.”

Many memories have come from this Stockhaus family tradition, but they believe that sharing in the experience together is the most important thing.

The past 13 holiday seasons, thousands of Minnesotans have gathered along the Nicollet Mall to fight the cold and enjoy TCF Holidazzle’s bright lights, carolers and floats.

The Holidazzle runs from Nov. 25-Dec. 23, Wednesday-Sundays, 6:30-7 p.m. It’s free, and you can get heated seats if you spend more than $150 with Downtown merchants.

Marshall Field’s will display Cinderella as this year’s theme Nov. 5-Dec. 31 during store hours. Admission is also free.