Scandia will celebrate the first Vinterlights! festival Sunday, Nov. 25.


As northern latitudes head into the dark and cold, visionaries in Scandia and Marine are giving new cause to revel in the season, with a small forest’s worth of trimmed trees, a lighting festival, bonfires and treats.

Enchanted forest

Thirty trees are headed for downtown Marine, courtesy of St. Croix Chocolate Co. and Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm of Lake Elmo.  The trees will be decorated by local businesses and organizations as a kick off to Shop Small Saturday, Nov. 24. 

The idea came from chocolatier Robyn Dochterman, co-owner of St. Croix Chocolate Co.

“The concept is kind of, let’s put up an enchanted forest and have people explore it,” Dochterman told Marine council members Nov. 8. “There will be signs by each tree so that people who might not be familiar with the businesses or organizations can learn about them.”

City officials gave the idea a warm response, approving the use of Gazebo Park and encouraging Dochterman to decorate a living pine on the property, possibly with help from Helke’s Tree Service. 

“It’s a draw,” said Councilman Bill Miller. “One thing the council can help out with is to draw people downtown.”

The trees will stand through the Christmas season.


Scandia will hold its first Vinterlights! festival the following day, Nov. 25. 

The event is named for a 4:30 p.m. lighting ceremony, when the Scandia Community Center, Elim Lutheran Church and Gammelgården Museum will illuminate their Christmas-light displays.

The event, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m., also boasts cold-weather refreshments and a bonfire.

As previously reported in the Messenger, the lighting festival is the combined effort of the Scandia-Marine Lions, Gammelgården and the City of Scandia. The idea grew, in part, as an offshoot of Elim Lutheran Church Foundation’s lighting displays at the corner of Oakhill Road and Olinda Trail. In addition, the city and Lions Club teamed up to buy $6,000 worth of holiday lights for the city streets.


Celebrations continue with treats, drinks and an evening campfire at Riverfrost in Marine, Dec. 1 and 2. Local businesses have coordinated their hours to make sure all are open. Additionally, they’ve pledged to offer specials to celebrate the season. 

Conceived by artist Mary Jo Van Dell, who runs the Judd Street Exchange, and HWY North shop owner Emily Anderson, the event is designed to encourage holiday shoppers to buy handmade and locally crafted gifts. Other participating businesses include the Marine Cafe, General Store, Surf Yogurt and the Brookside Bar and Grill. 

Event hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2.

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