Northwoods Spotlight - Holiday memories Dec 25Submitted: 12/25/2013
Story By Joe Dufek

- Virtually no sports happening in the Northwoods until at least Thursday.

Many athletes including the Packers enjoyed Christmas with family and friends. Several shared some of their favorites holiday memories and traditions.

"I have two favorite Christmas presents," Joe Piskula - a member of the Nashville Predators organization and an Antigo native explains. "One was a snowmobile. The other was when we got a chocolate lab with my siblings. That was probably the best."

Elcho girls basketball star Makayla Raith was seven years old when she received her favorite gift.

"It was an American Girl doll. It had blonde hair, kinda looked like me at the time. Her name was Kaylee."

Packers wide receiver James Jones' favorite tradition is "on Christmas Eve, we all get to open one present."

Nicholas Cirese of the Phelps boys basketball team enjoys, "watching "Home Alone" alot. That movie is pretty funny. Just the two guys trying to chase the kid - I think they're the two funniest characters."

For some folks, it's a chance to get together with family who is several miles away.

Lakeland boys swimming star Nick Garcia's family is making a trip.

"We like to go down to Milwaukee and visit with my brother. We don't get to see him as much as I like."

"My family lives far away," adds Jackie Samuelson of the Phelps girls basketball team. "So my favorite thing is going to see them. It's so happy and fun. I just love it."

Packers fullback John Kuhn is looking forward to, "probably getting to open one gift on Christmas Eve, I think that's neat."

Justin Berg is a pitcher with the Colorado Rockies organization and an Antigo native.

"Being a baseball player, as crazy as it sounds, my favorite gift was a snowmobile. Either that or when my dad built a hockey rink in the back yard. My family all loves to play hockey too. That and a snowmobile."

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

Volunteers at Pointe Basse recreated a historical camp portraying lives of people from the 1700s and early 1800s.

Volunteers from all across the U.S. all had a piece of history to share.

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EAGLE RIVER - Eagle River hosted its 36th annual Cranberry Fest during October's first weekend.

Organizers say the weather this year brought in many more visitors.

"People come to this whether there's good weather of bad weather," said Executive Director of the Eagle River Chamber Kim Emerson. "And with this year being great weather, we had above-average crowds and it was just spectacular. We're so happy about that."

By 3 p.m. Saturday, the World's Largest Cranberry Cheesecake had already been devoured. Sales of slices go towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. 

Organizers said they also almost sold out of cranberries, but they said they would still have more to sell on Sunday. 

There were also dozens of craft vendors, food and wine and cranberry marsh tours.

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RHINELANDER - Harvest Hoedown started Saturday at noon at the Woodpecker Bar and Grill in Rhinelander.

The event had a hay maze, horse drawn carriage rides, food, and live music all afternoon.

"I think it's going great. We got a little sunshine right now. We got probably a couple hundred people here. People are buying food, spending money. It's what we're after," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hanson.

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WOOD COUNTY - Two people who stole a UTV led police on a wild chase early Friday morning. Friday night, those suspects were still on the run.

The Wood County Sheriff's Office tells us a sporting goods store owner walked in as the burglary was happening, just before 7 a.m. The suspects took off in a red Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer with the stolen UTV. They crashed through several gates to get out.

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MERRILL - One Northwoods farm wants to give all families the full Fall experience.

Grampa's Farm in Merrill has been a popular fall destination in Wisconsin since 2010.

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RHINELANDER - A Wisconsin brewing company executive wants businesses to hire more veterans.

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ACROSS WISCONSIN - Abbotsford 62, Thorp 6

Algoma 24, Sturgeon Bay 8

Almond-Bancroft 61, Tigerton/Marion 6

Amherst 56, Manawa 6

Antigo 42, Lakeland 28

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