Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Mercer Wonderland delights


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MERCER, Wis. - It was different but the town of Mercer still celebrated its Northwoods Winter Wonderland with a stationary drive-thru parade on Saturday.

Residents and visitors drove along U.S. 51 south of town in front of the Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce office and Claire de Loon statue. The nice weather canceled an ice-skating rink near the Mercer Community Center but the mild temperatures also brought a lot of people to the other outdoor events.

"It went really well for our first year doing it in this direction with the Northwoods Winter Wonderland," said Melissa Biszak, chamber executive director. 

As a first year event and in an unusual year of a pandemic the participation was greater than expected, she said. It was great to see people visiting from other surrounding communities and being involved with Saturday's events and the other holiday experiences such as self-guided lighted house tours and the business decoration contest.

"They can do those on their own and virtually," she said. "So it's just definitely a great way that they can interact in multiple different avenues throughout the whole event and throughout the whole season that we are able to work with them."

Lighted house maps are available online, at the chamber and at local businesses. Voting on the photos of the lighted houses and business decorations will be possible on the chamber's Facebook page through Dec. 26.

As Mercer Fire Department and public works departments showed off their highly shined and decorated vehicles in the stationary parade along with floats from other organizations and businesses, it was Santa and Mrs. Claus who had the attention of children. The couple set up their sleigh full of presents in front of Claire' d Loon rather than the community center in the interest of pandemic safety.

We love Christmas," said David Minisan, who is Santa, along with his wife, Louise Minisan, who portrays Mrs. Claus. "We do this every year; it's an annual thing for us."

The sleigh is usually pulled through town in the parade and they wind up at the community center to greet the children. This year the couple stayed outdoors near the chamber and in front of Claire' d Loon, where they greeted kids and handed out gifts and stockings, and took pictures with them. They also hit the switch for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

"It's a joyous time; it's a small community; everybody knows everybody," Louise Minisan said.

The couple have been in Mercer since 1997. They have been Santa and Mrs. Claus for 12 years. 

Louise Minisan said she has a letter to Santa written by a boy when he was 6 years old. Now he is 21 years old, she said.

David Minisan said he let his beard grow after a boy sat on his lap six years ago and promptly pointed out, "you've got a phony beard." He told the boy he shaved it over the hot summer but that he'd grow it back.

"I let it grow and next year he's sitting on my lap and I told him to pull on the beard, it's real," Minisan said. 

The boy promptly pointed out that Santa was also wearing a wig. So Minisan grew his hair out and told the kid to pull on that the following year.

The elves on the team include fellow Lions Club members Amy Burgess and Mike Burgess. Cameron Batton, a member of the Leo Club, a youth group sponsored by the Mercer Lions Club, is also an elf.

For more information on Winter Wonderland events and activities, visit, call the chamber office at 715-476-2389, or email ​[email protected]​.