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West Allis -- Break out the holly and the Dancing Grannies, Christimastime is coming to West Allis.

The popular Dancing Grannies will make a comeback in the West Allis Christmas parade this year on Saturday, Dec. 3. But before the parade even steps off, the afternoon will be filled with Christmas fun including hayrides, food, Christmas carols and activities of all kinds. Then will come the annual lighting of the official Christmas tree.

Christmas on the Avenue from 1:30 to 4 p.m. along Greenfield Avenue between 70th and 76th streets will have a new twist this year. Instead of a single activity such as the scavenger hunt that was the highlight last Christmas, this year's event will feature opportunities to do all kinds of things at local businesses, some free, some for a fee.

Families will get to decorate a cookie for $3 at Aggie's Bakery, 7328 W. Greenfield Ave.; make their own Christmas ornament out of clay for $10 at Cream City Clay, 7105 W. Greenfield Ave.; participate in a lollipop pull at Model Empire, 7116 W. Greenfield Ave.; decorate a stocking at 7241 W. Greenfield Ave.; build a beaded candy cane pipe cleaner ornament at Supplement Warehouse, 7110  W. Greenfield Ave.; create a seasonal sticker scene at Kepis & Dream Catchers, 7123 W. Greenfield Ave.; and write letters to Santa at Staff One LLC, 1439 S. 70th St.

Other highlights

Other highlights include the chance to win a guitar at Sound Check Studios, 7234 W. Greenfield Ave.; be a snowman roller bowler at B&K Bar Supplies, 7100 W. Greenfield Ave.; take a holiday photo at Cricket Wireless, 7235 W. Greenfield Ave.; spin the holiday prize wheel at Eden Green and Pets, 1429 S. 70th St.; play holiday games and get a face painting at The Wedding Centre, 7140 W. Greenfield Ave.; meet holiday characters on the street, courtesy of West Allis Dental Care; win candy by guessing the number of M&Ms at Uncle Ned's Antiques, 1412 S. 73rd St.; ring the elf hat and win a prize at Big Ebe's Pizza, 1329 S. 70th St.; guess the number of chocolate pieces at Freese's Candy Shoppe, 7312 W. Greenfield Ave., and win all the candy; grab a holiday goody bag at Blue Smoke Shop & World Gifts, 7223 W.Greenfield Ave.; and take on the holiday movie trivia at Hawkins Clock Center, 7301 W. Greenfield Ave.

The perennial favorites of free hayrides and carriage rides and Santa's Cafe in the city hall lower level will be back, also, selling chili, hot dogs, hot chocolate and water. Back again also will be free s'mores courtesy of Crosspoint Church stationed at 75th Street and Greenfield Avenue.

Families should come early to get in on all the fun, said Dianne Eineichner, director of the Downtown West Allis Business Improvement District that sponsors Christmas on the Avenue.

Christmas music will float over the holiday scene. But at 1:30 p.m. at the West Allis City Hall, the West Allis Swing Street Big Band will entertain. Also at the city hall will be a free magic show at 3:15 p.m. All along the avenue, the planters that hold flowers in the summer will have holiday decorations.

Judging of the planters will begin at noon, with visitors able to see how their choices line up with the judges. Also, Scouts from Boy Scolut Troop 580 boys will give out candy.

Mitten drive

New This Year at Christmas on the Avenue will be a mitten drive in which students from Concordia University will collect new or gently used mittens, hats, gloves, and other winter wear for local homeless shelters. Students will be at West Allis City Hall in Centennial Plaza from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

The day of fun will actually start in the morning, with the first seating of the annual Breakfast with Santa at Mis Suenos, 7335 W. Greenfield Ave. A second seating will be at noon. The cost will be $10.95, adults, and $5.95 for children younger than 12. Reservations are being accepted at 414-763-5150.

As the afternoon winds down to evening, the tree lighting will begin at 4 p.m. at the city hall. There will be caroling and a sing-along and the lighting of the Christmas tree at 4:30 p.m.

Christmas parade

Then the Christmas parade will step off with lots of animals this year, in keeping with the theme: "Santa Paws is Coming to Town."

The husky huddle and malamute mingle breeds of dogs will march proudly in the parade, along with canines from the Milwaukee Mushers. Also, the Milwaukee Dog Training Club will be there with a variety of dogs.

"There will be a number of dog groups," said Don Falk, parade chairman.

New this year will be the US Army 484th Band playing Christmas music.

"It's nice having Army personnel in the parade," Falk said because so many service men and women are overseas.

In fact, there will be all kinds of Christmas music in the parade from a calliope, courtesy of Quad/Graphics, to Whistles on Wheels. Parade favorites, the Nathan Hale and West Allis Central high school bands, will play, too.

Beauty of a different kind will be represented in the parade by Miss West Allis Ashley Monti and by Miss West Allis Outstanding Teen Olivia Oskarsson.

Camels are coming

Camels are coming to lend a large note of authenticity to a Live Nativity scene in the parade. The Three Wisemen will be aboard the camels.

Probably bigger than anything else in the parade will be a huge crane from DAWES, the crane rental company located in West Allis.

"This is probably their second year," Falk said.

At least 10 floats will glide down Greenfield Avenue, "That's up a little," Falk said. A lot of the float folks will hand out candy, too.

"It'll be like trick or treat all over again," Falk said.

Santa Claus, of course, will be the one that all the youngsters will wait for. He and Mrs. Claus will be in a sleigh at the end of the parade.

The procession will step off at 4:45 p.m. from 81st and Greenfield Avenue, heading east on Greenfield to 65th Street.

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