12th annual event draws crowd despite freezing temperatures

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jeff Liebo, left, and Jim Wiechmann of the West Linn Community Chorus sing holiday favorites prior to Santa's arrival. Freezing temperatures couldn’t stop Santa from making an early pit stop in West Linn on Friday, as the city celebrated its 12th annual tree lighting at Cascade Summit Town Square.

Attendees enjoyed holiday carols from the West Linn Community Chorus, while children enjoyed playing in a bounce house and decorating cookies. Just minutes before the tree lighting, Santa arrived in a Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue van.

“He got too big this year,” a resident joked.

Santa led a countdown to the tree lighting before moving inside to visit with children. Even in the bitter cold, the holiday spirit was evident in the smiles and laughter from parents and children alike.

“In spite of the freezing cold, I think this is fabulous,” said Sharon Hayes, who attended the tree lighting for the first time with her daughter and grandson. “I like the music, and the popcorn smells delicious.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Hayley and Collin Warren check out the festivities at Friday's tree lighting.

Resident Heather Reagan was attending the ceremony for the second time, and said her son, Henry, was particularly excited to decorate cookies again.

“He loved decorating the cookies,” Reagan said.

As she spoke, the West Linn Community Chorus ran through holiday favorites like “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

For some, like Hayes’ 3-year-old grandson, it was a chance to experience a community holiday atmosphere for the first time. “He’s only 3,” Hayes said. “So we just wanted him to see the tree lit and everything else.”

That alone made the trip worthwhile, even in a cold that left attendees red-faced and clutching Starbucks coffee cups.

“It was pretty cold last time we were here,” Reagan said. “But I think it’s a lot colder this time.

As part of the ceremony, which was organized by the West Linn Parks and Recreation Department, residents were asked to bring cans of nonperishable food to be donated to the West Linn Food Pantry.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue workers and West Linn police officers were on hand to help organize the event.

Patrick Malee can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 106. Follow him on Twitter, @pmalee_wl

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Santa does a countdown for the lighting of the tree.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Isla Granger sneaks a peak of Santa while waiting in line.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Tatum Ray, 2, has fun decorating an ornament.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Dylan Smith devours his cookie after quickly decorating it.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Naiomi, 5, left, and Hannah Griggs, 3, give Santa their wish lists.

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