Lighting up the holidays in Gresham
Friends and families came together to start the holiday season in downtown Gresham with a variety of festivities that all led up to the grand finale — the lighting of the city's 60-foot ponderosa pine.
The 26th-annual Spirit of Christmas event was held Saturday evening, Nov. 25. There was live music, photos with Santa and free treats from the sponsors in the Gresham Arts Plaza, 488 N.E. Third St. Many local businesses and organizations also hosted holiday events focused on fun activities for kids, from decorating cookies to writing letters to the North Pole.
"Gresham may be the fourth largest city in Oregon, but we still celebrate that small-town feel at our annual tree lighting ceremony," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "It's this great community coming together to celebrate with our neighbors that is the heart of this special event."
Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted the crowd at the Arts Plaza, and listened to all the children's holiday wish lists. They then helped Bemis lead the countdown to the tree lighting. In the plaza the Gresham Arthur Academy, SALT Pac, and the Gresham High School Overtones sang holiday music, while visitors enjoyed free cocoa, hot cider, hot dogs, candy canes and popcorn.
Despite the rain and winter weather, around 500 people were in the plaza to help count down and cheer as the tree was lit.
"Merry Christmas everyone," Bemis told the crowd.
Some of the businesses and groups which had open houses included Amiton Furniture, Accent on Attitude, Anderson Martial Arts, Blondies Pizza, Café Delirium, Feather Your Nest, Frenzi, Gresham Library, iCandy, KMO, Pediatric Therapy, SALT Academy, St. Henry's Church, SugarCubed Cakes, Tsuru Island, and USWC Taekwondo.
During the event, Gresham also collected canned goods to support the Fill-a-Bag food drive, which supports SnowCap Community Charities. Gresham's Biscuits Café announced it was donating a check for more than 52,000 pounds of food to the charity.