Christmastime has finally begun, and local towns are planning ceremonies to inaugurate the season with tree-lighting events.
A tree, donated by Cindy Meyers of Hermiston, was harvested and brought onto Festival Street Tuesday, Nov. 23. The Hermiston Tree Lighting Celebration is Thursday, Dec. 2.
The Parks and Recreation Department welcomes people to be present for the annual event, which will feature Santa Claus. Old St. Nick will flip a switch to light the tree. Music, carolers, performances and vendors will also be part of the fun, according to Parks and Rec.
Hermiston High School groups Majazzty and the jazz band will be present, Brandon Artz, parks and rec director, said. Their performances start at 5:30 p.m. on Festival Street. The tree lighting is 6 p.m.
Artz added that a 2040 Vision Lab information booth will be set up at Victory Baptist Church, 193 E. Main St., Hermiston. Hot chocolate will be available for people to enjoy while they also learn about plans for the city.
He said that a lot of good information came out of the labs, and he is excited to share it with the public. New events should be of particular interest, he said. Also, there will be information about new space being proposed for community events.
Umatilla scheduled its tree lighting to take place during its Winter Festival, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4, at Village Square Park, next to city hall. Activities Dec. 3 include a tree lighting at 6:15 p.m. and a school choir performance 6-7 p.m. Santa will be at the Umatilla Public Library 5-6 p.m.
Entertainment Dec. 4 includes live holiday music 4-7 p.m., a visit with Santa 1-2 p.m. at the library and horse-drawn carriage rides 4-7 p.m. on Sixth Street.
Ice skating is planned for the event and will be open on both days of the festival. On Dec. 3, the schedule is 4-7 p.m. The schedule Dec. 4 is noon to 7 p.m. This is the first year for ice skating, according to the city.
Roak Ten Eyck, Umatilla council president, has a special role at the festival, as he will be the man behind the bushy white beard. It is Ten Eychk’s fourth year as Santa.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s an absolute joy to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and the wonder in their eyes. It warms your heart.”
Late last week, Boardman was gearing up for their celebration. A tree was brought in from the local senior center, and people began decorating it. This was a tall order, according to the Boardman Chamber of Commerce, as the tree stands more than 20 feet in height.
Boardman plans to light the tree at an event, which will also include music and a light show.
The chamber is also inviting people to have photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as they enjoy the festivities and refreshments. Mid-Columbia Bus Company is providing cookies and hot cocoa.
The event is Saturday, Dec. 4, 6-7 p.m. at the SAGE Center, 101 Olson Road., Boardman.
Local preschool classes will provide some of the music, said Renee Ortiz, communications specialist for the chamber.