Downtown holiday celebration planned; toy soldiers will be back

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
The toy soldiers are back.
For the third year, the Edward Jones toy soldiers will dance around during downtown Elk River’s annual holiday celebration. This year’s event runs from noon-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

Sandi and Scott Yeado and Joe and Penny Larrabee performed as the Edward Jones toy soldiers in 2009.

Sandi Yeado and Penny Larrabee of the downtown Elk River Edward Jones office, and Yeado’s husband, Scott, have been the toy soldiers from the beginning. This year they will be joined by Sandi and Scott’s daughter, Lexi Yeado.
Lexi appeared this year on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) reality show “Born to Dance: Laurieann Gibson.”

Sandi Yeado, meanwhile, said they wanted to add to the community event and were inspired to be toy soldiers by a love of nutcrackers. Both she and Larrabee collect nutcrackers, which are on display at the Edward Jones office at 305 Jackson Ave. They also drew inspiration from the Rockettes’ famous number where they are dressed as toy soldiers.

Sandi made the four toy soldier costumes that the Edward Jones group wears and also has made about 10 costumes that will be worn by dancers from Becky Burley’s Showcase Dance studio in Elk River, who will be part of the downtown holiday celebration.

She said sewing is a “nice, creative outlet” after working with numbers all day.

Both she and Larrabee enjoy being toy soldiers and said it has become a tradition.

“The kids just absolutely adore it and it’s fun being out there,” Larrabee said.

This year they will be handing out mochas.

They also will tie into the gift-giving spirit of the season by distributing information about 529 plans, which allow investments to grow tax free for college. They will be available to answer questions about 529s as well.

“The best gift you can give is an education,” Sandi said.

If you go:
River’s Edge Downtown Holiday Celebration
When: Noon-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Where: Downtown Elk River
What: Santa and live animals, including reindeer, will be at River’s Edge Commons Park in downtown Elk River. Other activities include the Command Performance choir singing at Olde Main Eatery and in the park, toy soldiers marching and dancing and there will be a mail box for letters to Santa. Downtown businesses will have special offers and promotions. There also will be a sleigh in the park for toy donations for Gifts Anonymous. Sponsored by the River’s Edge Downtown Business Association and Elk River Park and Recreation.
For more information: Find the River’s Edge Downtown Business Association on Facebook.