by Megan B. McCarthy

The Coeur d'Alene Resort and the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association have scheduled something for everyone this holiday season.

"We have done absolutely everything we can to make this the most amazing Christmas experience ever," says Steve Wilson, general manager for the Coeur d'Alene Resort.

The events kick off on Nov. 29 at 5 pm with a Christmas parade down Sherman Ave. The theme this year is an old-fashioned Northwest Christmas.

Following the parade there will be the lighting of 5,000 candles and a countdown to the illumination of the Holiday Light Show.

The show itself has more than a million lights featured in 225 different holiday displays. It is the largest on-the-water light fantasy in the Northwest. The extra-large exhibits are designed just for the show. The displays include toy soldiers, nativity scenes and other holiday traditionals. There are also some less-expected displays, such as a ski-jumping Santa and a fire-breathing dragon. One exhibit features Santa and Rudolph making a Christmas delivery; it registers as one of America's largest light displays.

As the show is lit, fireworks will also light the skies above. The fireworks will be one of the largest shows the region has ever seen.

"We'll be shooting off 2,103 shells from four barges," Wilson says, "including two of those 16-inch shells we call the Big Kahunas -- the largest shells ever shot on the lake, plus a special Roman candle shoot. It should be pretty exciting. With five shells per second, it'll blow your socks off to see that many fireworks."

Once the grand festivities begin, Coeur d'Alene will be offering downtown carolers, live nativity scenes and horse-drawn carriage and wagon rides through Dec. 21. Live nativity scenes will be performed by area churches on the corner of Second St. and Sherman Ave. every Friday and Saturday. The carriage and wagon rides will be available every weekend.

The Coeur d'Alene Resort will also host the Gingerbread Village competition. The Resort Boardwalk, which happens to be the longest floating boardwalk of its kind, will also be open for viewing the Holiday Light Show.

Of course, eyeing the Holiday Light Show from the shore really doesn't do it justice. The Santa Express cruises will depart nightly at 4:30 pm, 6 pm and 7:30 pm. The cruise is a 40-minute tour across Lake Coeur d'Alene.

"It's absolutely magical to see," Wilson says of the Holiday Light show, which will continue through New Year's Day. The cost for the Santa Express will be $9.75; children 12 and younger are free. For cruise reservations, call (877) 765-4653.

-- Megan B. McCarthy

Colville Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch @ Colville Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch

Through Oct. 31, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
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