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The annual Bridge to Wonderland Parade, shown here in 2018, attracts thousands of people to Chippewa Falls each year. This year’s parade takes place Saturday night.

Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls will host their annual holiday parades this weekend with illuminated floats and other seasonal units.

The 8th annual Clearwater Winter Parade begins at the Eau Claire County Courthouse at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The parade route travels on Grand Avenue, then heads down First Avenue to Owen Park.

“This year’s theme is ‘Superheroes of the Season,’ as parade entries are encouraged to capture the spirit of Wisconsin’s winter wonderland with illuminated floats and music,” a city press release states.

The parade will begin with a fireworks display shot from the Grand Avenue bridge.

Parade-goers are also encouraged to check out Downtown Eau Claire, Inc.’s pre-parade celebration, “Let It Glow,” at Phoenix Park. A lighted pathway from Phoenix Park to Grand Avenue will guide participants to the parade route.

Grace Lutheran Church will again be hosting its warming center with free hot cocoa for parade-goers from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Eau Claire Parks and Recreation staff at 715-839-5032.

Chippewa Falls

The Bridge to Wonderland Parade, a Chippewa Falls holiday season staple, turns 30 this year and is primed for the biggest offering in the event’s history on Saturday.

The parade is scheduled at 6 p.m. featuring 50 illuminated musical floats, walking units and a plethora of assorted lights and displays. The parade route starts at the intersection of North Bridge and Spruce Streets and travels down Bridge Street to Spring Street.

Teri Ouimette, director of Chippewa Falls Main Street, said the parade helps form new bonds between Chippewa Valley residents during the winter season.

“It’s become a Chippewa Falls tradition,” Ouimette said. “People love all the great traditions we have in the area and they provide a sense of community for people in this town. People come down, run into tons of people they know and meet new people especially at the Bridge to Wonderland parade. It’s a great thing.”

Over the 30 years of the event Ouimette said the parade has only gotten more popular with area residents and boasts an impressive amount of attendees annually.

The theme for the 2019 event is Christmas characters from movies, TV and books, so with the release of recent winter related movies like Frozen 2 and Abominable, many kids are primed to be dressed like their favorite pop culture Christmas characters come Saturday.

Immediately following the parade (weather permitting) an after-party will be held at Riverfront Park in downtown Chippewa Falls featuring ice skating, food trucks and a few surprises for the kids in attendance.