Wausau Dining Week to come back for 2nd year

By:  Stacia Kulakowski at WSAW

Downtown Wausau Dining Week is celebrating its 2nd annual event April 17th-21st, and this year there's thirteen participating restaurants that have a lot of good menu items to try out.

"Last year we had eleven restaurants, and this year it's thirteen, so we're growing and it's a great feeling," Elizabeth Brodek from the Wausau River District said.

The week allows diners to enjoy different three-course menus, some even including specially made items just for the week.

"The meals range in price depending on the restaurant, but you'll get an appetizer, a dinner, and dessert and of course get to enjoy everything that downtown Wausau has to offer," explained Brodek.

The goal is to create a price fixed three-course menu for everyone to enjoy.

Brodek said that Wausau in general takes in thousands of people for this event, and that now that the river district is starting to grow, even more people should come out and explore the area.

The participating restaurants include: 
-319 Bistro
-Back When Cafe
-Chatterbox Bar
-City Grill
-Jalapeno's Mexican Restaurante
-J. Gumbo's Cajun Creole
-La Prima Deli
-Malarkey's Pub & Townies Grill
-The Mint Cafe
-The Paisley Mug
-Peking Restaurant
-Polito's Pizza
-Rosati's Pizza

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Downtown Wausau dining-deal week returns

By: Laura Schulte at the Wausau Daily Herald

Restaurants in downtown Wausau are gearing up to offer a week of deals on dining.

Downtown Wausau Dining Week will return for its second year, starting April 17 and running through April 21. During that time, downtown restaurants will offer three-course meals ranging from $7 to $12 for lunch and $10 to $35 for dinner, according to a press release from the Wausau River District.

Participating restaurants include 319 Bistro, Allister Deacon's Coffee House, Back When Café, Chatterbox Bar, City Grill, La Prima Deli, J. Gumbo's, Jalapeno's Mexican Restaurante & Bar, Malarkey's Pub/Townie's Grill, The Mint Cafe, Polito's Pizza, Rosati's Pizza and Peking.

Wausau hosted its first Downtown Dining week in 2016 and the event drew thousands of restaurant patrons, according to the press release.

"The main objectives of Downtown Wausau Dining Week are to show off the talent and diversity downtown restaurants have to offer," said Tyler Vogt, owner of Malarkey's pub and co-coordinator of the event, in the release. "There is a solid group of places that have 25 years of experience, as well as new places with hip and innovative menus. Within just a few blocks, you can get American, Chinese, Cajun, deli, bistro and great bar food. ... We want to help make it habit for people to stop downtown and dine anytime."

Customers will have a chance to win a package of gift certificates, valued between $130 and $260, to each participating restaurant. To enter the drawing, customers need to collect their receipts from three participating restaurants throughout the week and drop them off at the Wausau River District, 316 Scott St. with contact information. The winners of the three packages will be announced the week after Downtown Wausau Dining Week.

For more information or to see specialized menus, visit www.downtownwausaudining.com.

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Downtown Wausau Dining Week Returning in April

Source:  Logan Wenger at WSAU 

Downtown Wausau Dining Week will be coming back from April 17th through the 21st. Many downtown restaurants will be offering three-course lunch specials ranging from $7-$12 and/or three-course dinner specials ranging from $10-$35.

Executive Director of the Wausau River District, Elizabeth Brodek, says when they first tried this event last year, it was a huge success.

"It was phenomenal," said Brodek. "Every restaurant had a wait at some point. I know there were some that were turning patrons away because they couldn't keep up with the demand. The couple of times that I went to restaurants I had between a 20 and 45-minute wait for a table. It just packed the restaurants."

Brodek says the businesses will continuing using their normal reservation policies for that week.

She said, "Reservations are definitely recommended. If the restaurant takes reservations as is, as their normal operating plan, then they will continue to do that. If they don't then they won't. So basically it's business as usual plus they're adding a wonderful three-course price fixed menu for everyone."

Participating restaurants include 319 Bistro, Allister Deacon's, Back When Cafe, Chatterbox, City Grill, La Prima, J. Gumbo's, Jalapeno's, Malarkey's/Townie's, the Mint, Polito's, Rosati's, and Peking.

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Wausau in running for Strong Towns crown

Source:  Laura Schulte at the Wausau Daily Herald

Wausau could be named the strongest town in the world in March Madness-like bracket competition between cities and towns from across the world.

Strong Towns, a nonprofit that works to strengthen financial resilience in America's cities, towns and neighborhoods, is hosting the competition for the second year. Towns from around the globe were invited to apply to the competition by answering a series of questions about their community, according to a news release from Strong Towns.

Sixteen towns were chosen for the first round of voting. Each location will be judged on criteria like financial solvency, citizen engagement, transportation options and ability to adapt to new challenges. The towns range from San Francisco to Wollongong in Australia.

From Feb. 27 to March 24, Strong Towns readers are invited to vote on each round of the competition. The first round is based on answers to the questions answered during nomination, for which voting ends at 11 p.m. Thursday. Towns that advance on to later rounds of the bracket will display photo galleries provided by the towns, podcast recordings created by the Strong Towns team and a final webinar showdown for the championship, the release said.

Liz Field, the executive director of the Wausau River District, said that the nomination for Strong Towns is an honor for Wausau because it means that a citizen filled out the form for the city.

"I think it speaks volumes about the citizens involved in the community," she said. "We're incredibly honored for citizens to think that we're a strong enough talent."

In its first round, Wausau is up against Ftichburg, Wisconsin. To cast your vote, visit http://www.strongtowns.org/strongesttown.

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Kolbe's folding windows bring the sights and sounds of Wausau's historic downtown to patrons

Source:  www.kolbewindows.com

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Thanks to a storefront update using Kolbe's Ultra Series folding windows, the restaurant guests now truly have a grand view.

After serving as home to the area's courthouses for over a century and a mixed-use property for another half-century, Wausau's historic Courthouse Square was cleared in 2002 to become a green space and gathering space for community events.

The newly purposed square positively transformed the views and street life of the historic buildings surrounding it, including the 1929 Mayer-Lotz building in the Chicago Commercial style.

The owners of this building, Kurt Kraimer and Ed Kraimer of GK 408 3rd St. LLC, saw an opportunity to foster a greater connection to the activity of the square and draw more patrons inside Malarkey's Pub and Townies Grill.

Given its proximity to the theater, the old Mayer-Lotz building is often called "Grand View" by Wausau's residents. Thanks to a storefront update using Kolbe's Ultra Series folding windows, the restaurant guests now truly have a grand view.

"Everyone wants to sit by the windows. It's the #1 question asked at our hostess station," says Tyler Vogt, co-owner of Malarkey's. "The windows definitely give our place a more modern, big city feel with a connection to the activities Downtown." "It creates a very unique atmosphere, something we have been working on for a long time and it turned out fantastic," praises Kurt Kraimer.

"We didn't want it to look out of touch or out of time with the other historic buildings. Kolbe made sure it looked correct, while meeting the City's requirements."

When Malarkey's opened its restaurant in 2007, it occupied what previously had been two separate, but connected locations. The building had been divided and built-out in the 1960s for various retail businesses, offices and restaurants. "There was a disjointed look to the existing storefront. It had been updated many decades ago using large, single-pane glass. It offered a mostly unobstructed view, but it was old and the seals had deteriorated," remembers Vogt.

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Wausau advocate: City 'isn't what it isn't'

Source:  Laura Schulte at Wausau Daily Herald

When Emily Voss graduated from college four years ago, she had a decision to make.

Should she move home and open her own photography studio, or take a chance and move to New York, where she'd be one of many trying to break into a competitive industry?

The decision was difficult, but the 2009 Wausau West High School graduate decided to move back home. She opened her own photography business, VOSStudios, just days after graduating from Luther College in Iowa. Aside from having a client base already established in Wausau, there were other things that attracted Voss back to the area. Specifically, it's a community that supports and fosters artists of all types. Voss, now 25, has become an advocate for the arts and their impact on the community.

"Being a photographer, I really love the arts community in Wausau. I just think we have ourselves a little diamond in the rough that people don't know about," Voss said. "But when people find out, it's like 'Holy cow! This is in a small community like this?'"

Art has started to become its own form of marketing for the city, drawing in artists of all kinds.

"The draw for me would have been the arts community and all the different opportunities within that community," Voss said. "For me, it's seeing events out there that are unique and fun, whether it's dance lessons or the 10x10 (a $10 live music series) at The Grand or little concerts. Or even cool little quirky things or coffee shops, just the fun vibe in the downtown district. It's just a fun community."

The growing art scene wasn't the only factor attracting young professionals to Wausau.

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How the Wausau Club would become an art museum

By:  Nora G Hertel

 

Renovation of the Wausau Club into a Museum of Contemporary Art would take five months and up to $200,000 but would draw tourists and build community pride, according to an updated proposal to the city.

Two Wausau committees voted unanimously Tuesday to give the Wausau Club building to museum developer and artist David Anthony Hummer. The full City Council will consider the matter on Feb. 28.

Hummer laid out detailed and updated plans in a Feb. 6 report for the city's consideration. The proposal highlights the economic and social benefits of the arts, the success of Hummer's studio in Wausau and the cost and parameters of the renovation.

Hummer would serve as the project manager during the renovation and take out a loan to cover construction costs. Those costs could reach $197,000 and include lighting and security, plumbing and ventilation, some demolition, 5,000 square feet of flooring and new walls, according to a construction budget shared with the city.

The museum's annual expenses would be an estimated $182,000, according to the budget report. Hummer would pay rent to the museum, because it would also house his business and studio, The Bauhaus. That rent would cover the construction loan. Other funding would come from fundraisers and naming rights to exhibit spaces.

Eventually the museum board plans to set up an endowment and pay operating costs with the interest from that fund. The museum already has a board of directors and would seek tax-exempt status if the proposal is fully accepted.

Hummer's initial proposal included renovation of the full Wausau Club building, which is owned by the city. Current plans involve refurbishing the main floor first and tackling the rest in later phases of development.

A floor plan for the proposed renovation of the former Wausau Club into a Museum of Contemporary Art, spearheaded by artist David Hummer. (Photo: Image courtesy of the city of Wausau)

The renovated main floor would have two gallery spaces, a gift shop, restrooms, offices, storage space and The Bauhaus.

Hummer moved to Wausau in 2008 and started The Bauhaus as a picture framing and art sales business on Washington Street. In 2010 he started to teach painting there. He now has more than 60 students, many of whom return each month for his workshop on oil painting, according to the museum proposal.

Hummer and his wife, Becky Hummer, own another downtown Wausau landmark, Allister Deacon's Coffee House.

Because of its 100-year-plus history and large footprint, the Wausau Club is a downtown marker. It was a social club and banquet hall in the 20th century. But it has been closed for more than a decade.

Converting the old building on McClellan Street into the Museum of Contemporary Art would be good for the neighborhood and the larger Wausau community, say museum supporters. It would stir community pride and draw tourists from northern Wisconsin and skilled residents to live and work here, according to the Feb. 6 proposal.

"It is our expectation the creation of the Museum of Contemporary Art will be an added destination in the River District to enhance and complement the growing arts community and Wausau area as a whole," according to the proposal. The museum, in conjunction with existing sites such as the Center for Visual Arts, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and The Grand Theater, "will become a destination and can turn art into an export industry."

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Progress continues on Downtown Grocery rebuild

By WSAW Staff

Downtown Grocery is making some progress on their permanent store-front, and is announcing some big changes.

The store was destroyed after a fire in September of 2015, and since then the store has been operating out of a temporary location in the Wausau Center Mall.

Now, they're planning to expand by using the upstairs space as a way to increase their services.

"We're just really excited to have an opportunity to rebuild the business in a different way with many of the same features, but with new aspects that we haven't had before," said Kevin Korpela, owner of Downtown Grocery.

The store still has a long way to go before they're ready to open up again, but Korpela says community support has made that process go a lot faster.

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Wausau River District launches 'listicles' for Valentine's Day

By:  Hannah Anderson at WSAW

Elizabeth Field, Executive Director of the Wausau River District, stopped by NewsChannel 7 at 5 Feb. 13.

Field said anyone looking for things to do on Valentine's Day should try the River District's newly-launched "listicle" blog. It details all the ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with the River District.

Every month Wausau River District will feature a new listicle with different things to see, experience, or learn about the River District and the over 220 businesses in it. This month, the blog highlights the many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the District.

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Downtown art gallery reveals remodeled spaces

By:  Laura Schulte at the Wausau Daily Herald

Art lovers will once again be able to browse works in galleries and take classes in remodeled spaces at downtown's Center for the Visual Arts following a renovation that took nearly two years.

The renovation, which started in November 2015, cost $1.1 million of the $2.4 million that has been raised by the capital campaign, said Bill Tehan, the president of the Grand Theater Foundation. Local foundations, corporations and private donors contributed to the campaign to ensure the life of ArtsBlock.

Volunteers took a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter on a recent tour of the facility during a reception organized to thank those who donated to improve and maintain ArtsBlock, the block of buildings in downtown Wausau that comprises the Grand Theater, the Great Hall and the CVA.

The CVA is a nonprofit organization that aims to engage Wausau area residents with the arts, both through displays of local art and classes taught throughout the year. The CVA rents its space in ArtsBlock.

During the reception, Tehan said the building had been restored to its original glory, highlighting features that had been hidden during earlier renovations. One of those hidden gems is an old safe door, which was found behind shelving units in a storage closet. The door has now been re-hung and can be seen in the Vault Gallery. The building was built in the early 1900s to be used as a bank.

The top floor of the building will house painting and drawing classes, and the Skylight Gallery, a brand new gallery, will allow students and instructors to display the art they create within the building. The gallery was named for the skylights found during renovations, which had been covered with drop ceilings. Also revealed were large northern and western facing windows, to aid in the lighting of the gallery and classroom.

In the basement of the building, the Pottery Studio will keep messes manageable during pottery classes. The studio is home to several new pottery wheels, a new ventilation system and other features to help keep classes running smoothly.

Rose DeHutt, the executive director of the CVA, looks forward to unveiling the renovations to the public in the coming months. The CVA hopes to have its doors open for art lovers by the end of February or beginning of March.

DeHutt said that the building hopes to be open by March 11 for a kids event.

Despite the update, the CVA's gift shop will still continue to operate in the Washington Square building downtown, because of its success during renovations.

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Sweets on 3rd set to reopen soon

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By:  Laura Schulte with the Wausau Daily Herald

Downtown will get a little bit sweeter in the coming weeks when a longtime chocolate shop reopens nearly a year and a half after closing.

Valerie Charneski, the owner of Sweets on 3rd said that the store will be open in time to pick out a sweet treat for that special someone, but possibly under a different name.

"We are poised to open in time for Valentine's Day shopping, with some familiar things and some new offerings," Charneski said through a Facebook message on Thursday afternoon.

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Wausau Center Mall to market with Wausau River District

By WSAW Staff  |  Posted: Tue 10:53 PM, Sep 27, 2016  |  Updated: Wed 5:38 PM, Sep 28, 2016

By WSAW Staff  |  Posted: Tue 10:53 PM, Sep 27, 2016  |  Updated: Wed 5:38 PM, Sep 28, 2016

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW)-- The new owners of the Wausau Center Mall are now working with the River District on marketing.

In a news release Tuesday, Mid-America Asset Management will work wit the district on an annual basis.

Wausau River District executive director, Elizabeth Field said, "We've been in discussion with them with what they wanna do. Basically they're looking to do community partnerships. And with us literally being just outside their door and already doing some of the programming they're looking for, it was just such a natural partnership. It was really easy to work on and enter together. "

Field said partnership is in an attempt to collaborate with events like First Thursday and the Painted Piano Project. Which are already in progress for 2017.

Painted Pianos Coming to Wausau Center

By Zach Hagenbucher 

The Painted Piano Project from Wausau River District is taking its next steps beginning this weekend at the Wausau Center Mall.

Anyone is welcome to make their mark on a new set of pianos during select studio hours on Saturdays, beginning this Saturday at 11am.

River District Executive Director Elizabeth Brodek Field said, "Any community member, 3 to 103, artistic skill or not, can go and leave your touch on the community through painting a piano. Some will be kept at the Wausau Center Mall, some will be placed throughout downtown Wausau when the weather gets nicer."

Brodek Field says Mid-America Real Estate, the current mall management, jumped at the chance to bring some pianos into the mall itself since the inception of the project.

"They were completely on board with it. It's actually in our agreement with them. They specifically asked for that project to go in," she said. "It's a really great way of bringing people in and engaging them."

"Mid-America has really been about community engagement, and this is the perfect way of bringing people into the mall, into doing something fun and creative, and really is an experience that they're trying to get associated with the mall in general right now."

Inspired by similar projects in larger cities, the first painted piano was placed for public use on the corner of 3rd and Scott Streets late last summer.  Some of the new pianos will remain in the mall, but they won't be tuned until the painting is complete.

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Painted pianos to return to downtown

By:  Laura Schulte at Wausau Daily Herald

Downtown-goers will see some newly painted pianos popping up around downtown Wausau this year.

The painted piano project, which places pianos painted by community members around the downtown area for all to play and enjoy, was started last summer by the Wausau River District. In 2016, the first piano was painted by more than 40 visitors to the downtown business event First Thursdays in June and July, in front of The Violet Loft. The piano was then placed on the corner of Third and Scott streets, said Liz Field, the executive director of the River District, a nonprofit organization that advocates for businesses in the district.

That piano remained on the corner until this month, when damage from the rain and snow caught up to it. It was replaced with one painted during last year's Artrageous Weekend.

The River District will add four new pianos to the project this year, and the painting studio hours will allow the community to participate in the project once again.

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Public invited to paint pianos for the Wausau River District

By WSAW Staff

The Wausau Center Mall transformed into an art studio Saturday as part of a project to brighten up the Wausau River District.

A splash of color and some tuning is all that's needed for these pianos to see new life outdoors.

Each Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the public is invited to leave their mark by painting on the instruments.

The Wausau River District says they will be painting seven pianos total, and they should be placed sometime in May.

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New Stage, Jazz Series and 400 Block Sign in works

By: Laura Schulte at Wausau Daily Herald

Catch some jazz this summer, right down the steps from the library.

A reoccurring weekly jazz series is just one of the projects that the Wausau River District has in the works, to add to the lively culture in the downtown area during the summer months, said Liz Field, the executive director of the nonprofit agency.

The River District plans to install the stage on the concrete patio behind the Marathon County Public Library. The stage will be home to a new weekly jazz series that will start in July and span eight weeks.

When the stage isn't being used for jazz music on Sunday afternoons, it will be open to members of the public to reserve for free. Performers can make reservations as few as two days before using the stage.

Field said the idea is to have a smaller stage, which makes performances more intimate for those not ready to rock The 400 Block.

"It's a literal platform for local artists to build their performance chops," Field said.

The stage will be set up on the patio behind the library, with the dam in the background. It won't be a permanent fixture though; it will be taken down each fall and likely stored by Wisconsin Public Service.

The idea for a jazz series came from Denise Sauter, a board member of the River Valley Jazz Society.

"We have a rich culture of jazz in the area," Denise said. But she also noticed that there aren't many venues where musicians can perform.

Sauter hopes the stage will encourage not only jazz artists but also all types of performers to take the stage for an intimate audience.

"The performing arts are such a great opportunity to step outside of the box and bring a gift to people," Sauter said. "And share the gift of performing."

The River District will purchase the stage later this spring, using money won through a community enhancement grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, worth $12,950. The nonprofit is currently searching for a stage to fit its needs. It will likely go up in May and be ready for performers by the beginning of the summer.

The River District is also working towards installing an upcoming events sign, where residents can find information on what's coming to The 400 Block.The sign likely will find its home somewhere along Third Street, according to Field.

"It will show that there's a lot going on here, and make it easy and accessible to (see) what it is," she said.

The sign will be labeled "Upcoming Events" and will have space for several posters for event organizers to hang posters. It will be placed off the road, and will be a permanent structure. The River District is currently waiting on local companies to submit ideas and prices for building the sign.

"These projects have showcased some of the best public-private partnerships," she said. "From the city committee of parks and recreation to the River Valley Jazz Society, we've had so many partners participate. We're really fortunate to have community support that will create a more vibrant place to live, work and play."

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Ribbon Cutting on Wausau's West Side

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by Logan Wenger at WSAU

 

After nearly 4 years of work, the "Gateway to the West Side of Wausau" was opened Friday.

The Wausau Chamber of Commerce and the Wausau River District were both in attendance for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Elizabeth Field, Executive Director of the Wausau River District, explains everything that's been done over the past 4 years.

"There's been some beautiful street-scaping that's happened," said Field. "Brand new sidewalks, roads, beautiful stone pavers, Wausau's first table-top intersection, new lamp posts and garbage cans on the near west side. So really just a great re-investment in the area."

Mayor Robert Mielke was in attendance for the ribbon cutting as well and says that it was the west side's "turn" for a renovation.

"Respectfully, we've done a lot downtown," Mielke said. "We've done stuff on the east side, now if you want to call it - it's the west side's 'turn'. And this is the start as far as trying to attract new business. The infamous 'if you build it they will come', this is what we're trying to aim for."

Shoppers can get an extended look at the new improvements on Saturday, November 5th from 9 to 5 and Sunday, November 6th, from noon until 4 during the 24th annual Christmas on First Open House.

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Road improvement now complete on River District's westside Streetscaping on 2nd Ave. Complete

By Holly Chilsen at WSAW

Improvements to 2nd and 3rd Avenue in Wausau between Stewart Avenue and Elm Street are now complete.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday to mark the completion.

The upgrades include stone sidewalks, plants and trees, LED street lights, and redgranite boulders.

The streets and sidewalks were also built at the same level make it easier for pedestrians to get around.

"There's no difference between the sidewalk and the street. Basically calm traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to get around. Wausau's been focused on becoming a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly community and this is one of those things that really showcases and highlights the fact that it's actually happening,” explains Elizabeth Fields from the Wausau River District.

She adds that the improvements will help attract new business to the area as well. And make this a destination shopping area in Wausau's River District.

Maggie Christians is the owner of Navieve Fromagerie. She said the construction was a bit of a headache for her business.

"It's been a rough summer, especially for new businesses," she said. "It's been pretty slow. We noticed quite a drop off."

Now, Christians is breathing a big sigh of relief and is looking forward to seeing more customers in her store just in time for the busy season.

"With Christmas and Thanksgiving, cheese sales always pick up, and we're adding to the shop now too, so we're going to add olive oils and vinegars."

The holiday shopping season for the Wausau River District gets kicked off with "Christmas on First" Nov. 5 - 6.

During the last two years, the west side of river has scene numerous changes including a new R Store gas station at the corner of 3rd and Stewart. Covantage Credit Union moved from its location at Alexander and S. 1st Ave to the former Associated Bank location on Stewart Ave. And Rosati's Pizza has taken over the former Pizza Hut location on 1st.

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Crews starting to build ice rink on Wausau's 400 Block

By Brianna Hollis, Multimedia Journalist at WAOW

It's almost time to lace up your skates in Downtown Wausau.

Crews began working on the 400 Block's ice rink Friday.

After weeks of above-average temperatures, it was finally cold enough to start the project.

Locals said they're excited to hit the ice and spend time skating with their families.

"They enjoy coming down here, especially during the evenings when the lights are on," said Bob Schneider of Wausau. "And going to some of the local restaurants down here."

The rink is expected to open Dec. 17. 

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Share Your Holidays begins at Wausau Holiday Parade

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By Emily Davies at WSAW

The Wausau Holiday Parade officially kicks off the holiday season for the Wausau Area put on by Wausau Area Events.

The parade begins Friday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. with floats beginning to emerge from Marathon County Park, walking along the route to Downtown Wausau. Sunrise 7 spoke with Mrs. Claus who will be walking along the route as well. She said throughout the parade starting at 7 p.m., a warming party will be available in the Great Hall at the Grand Theatre with free hot chocolate and cookies for people to munch on, card-making station, music from the Wausau Symphony and Band, and she will host a story time at 8 p.m. At the end of the parade, Santa will be at the 400 Block for the tree lighting.

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