What If Duluth-Superior Was The Location Of A Hallmark Christmas Movie?
Love them. Hate them. There is truly no escaping them. We're talking about Hallmark Christmas movies - those feel-good, made-for-TV films that first hit the airwaves over 20 years ago with a random sporadic program or two. Fast forward to 2021 and the entire schedule of that network is consumed with Christmas films this time of year - wall to wall.
And, if it seems like they run Christmas movies all year long - that's because they do, almost. The 2021 season started in the middle of October. If the network holds to its usual operating procedure, the shows will run well past the December 25 holiday - until sometime in January. The network also often airs special "Christmas in July" events - with weeks worth of - you guessed it - Christmas movies. It's no wonder people feel like the supply is never ending.
The pandemic was especially generous to the Christmas movie schedule on Hallmark; in an effort to provide comfort to those of us sheltering at home, the network amped up the schedule and it seemed like these holiday-themed films aired all year long.
Nothing against fans of these holiday fairytales, but even they would probably admit (if pressed) that the plots of these films come down to one generalized story: Successful person (usually female) who has moved to a larger city, needs to come "home" to the smaller town they grew up in for some reason - always near the Christmas holiday. While back in town, the lead character bumps into someone they used to know from long ago. Some unforeseen problem arises that makes the two newly-reunited characters spend time together (often grudgingly at first). Usually it's because a long-loved "something" in their hometown (an event, a store, a restaurant, etc) is at risk. A romantic relationship ensues - albeit tentative. More problems come up. The lead character needs to abandon the small town "home" they just started to love again as problems in the "big city" come calling. Once back in their normal daily routine, they realize that they truly love the small town, the people, and - perhaps most-importantly - the person they were recently reunited with. The final scenes always see our star couple - and the town - live happily ever after.
The sameness of the plots of each of these films and the vast quantity in which they air on TV got me to thinking: what if Duluth-Superior (the Twin Ports) was the location of a Hallmark Christmas movie? We all know that the plot would follow its usual form, but what location-specific landmarks would factor into the storyline? What things that are unique to our area would play a role in the storyline?
Here's a look:
The Christmas City of the North Parade / Bentleyville: If you're scripting a Hallmark Christmas movie, you need a long standing tradition that's in danger of disappearing. If our Twin Ports was the location, then there would be no greater or loved holiday tradition than the Christmas City of the North Parade or Bentleyville. A plus: both would offer plenty of festive backdrop for the story to unfold.
Aerial Lift Bridge: What more picturesque setting is there in Duluth than the Aerial Lift Bridge. The locale would be perfect for the "first kiss". Or, the reunion scene.
Enger Tower: Just like the Aerial Lift Bridge, Enger Tower just naturally presents itself as the perfect setting for a romantic love scene in our fictitious movie.
Canal Park: As Duluth's most-visited tourist destination, the popular part of town would definitely have to play a part in any holiday-themed Hallmark film set in our area. The DeWitt-Seitz Building would also be a perfect setting for a fictitious shop from the movie to be set in.
Outdoor Ice Skating: Twin Ponds. Bayfront. The Municipal rinks. Clyde. One thing we're blessed with in the Duluth-Superior area: outdoor skating rinks.
Glensheen / Fairlawn: The vintage wonder of both of these mansions is exceptionally accented with the Christmas decorations; I could see both of these locales playing a role in the Twin Ports storyline.
Christmas Tree Farms: The Northland is home to a variety of small, family-run Christmas tree farms. Any of these would make perfect locale shots for our film.
The Long-Lost Restaurants: Many in the Twin Ports love to reminisce about their favorite landmark restaurants that are no longer around. The Flame. The Bellows. Chinese Lantern. Elbo Room. Everyone seems to have a favorite that's no longer around anymore. Many Hallmark films focus on these sort of long-lost places or their recipes. Duluth's history has a lot to offer in this regard.
Spirit Mountain / Mont Du Lac / Lutsen: Every Hallmark holiday movie needs a snowy activity. Our area is blessed to have a few ski hills that naturally lend themselves to an afternoon (or evening) activity for the couple in our storyline.
The Iron Range: With its small towns and unique holiday traditions, the Iron Range offers a great "get away" location for the story's couple. Maybe they visit the Christmas village in Biwabik.
So now that we've established the settings and landmarks for a Duluth-Superior-based Hallmark holiday movie, all that's left is writing the storyline and production. And then it can air 80 times between now and Christmas!