Tree-lighting events ignite holiday cheer
As he approached the Grinch, Isaiah Farrouge tried to be brave.
Even in the safety of his mother's arms, the 17-month-old in a grey knit cap let loose a few cries when he was finally eyeball to eyeball with the famed grump of the Columbia River Gorge.
But the deal was done, and moments later Isaiah was contently sucking on a lollipop. Hardly a bad haul for mother or child, who were both attending their first Christmas tree lighting at Mayors Square in Troutdale.
"It took having a kid to come this," explained mom Shannon Farrouge.
Hundreds congregated at the plaza off the Historic Columbia River Highway on Friday, Dec. 1, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Attendees sipped on coffee, cider and hot cocoa donated by Black Rock Coffee Bar and The Chapel — and donated cash and canned goods to SnowCap Community Charities.
There were free toys for kids, courtesy of the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce, and the Fireside Carolers and Expressions choir of Reynolds High School sang holiday favorites. Just like last year, Councilor Dave Ripma issued a short exhortation to the crowd of hundreds before giving the signal to set the towering evergreen atwinkle.
"Let's get this over with before it starts to rain!" Ripma exclaimed.
With the tree illuminated, the throng turned toward the street, where a jolly ol' St. Nick was arriving in a Gresham Fire truck with lights blazing. Mrs. Claus hopped out of the front passenger seat of a Multnomah County Sheriff's squad car. Standing nearby was Tory Eaton, an Oregon native and a member of Open Door Baptist Church. The 17-year-old said he was excited to celebrate the birth of Christ and all that accompanies the holiday.
"It's a very important time," he remarked. "It brings a lot of hope."
Councilor Glenn White said he wasn't pining for anything special under the tree this year.
"I'm trying to sell all the stuff I've bought myself over the years," he said with a laugh. "My cup runneth over."