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The annual lighted Christmas parade, Christmas in the Pines and the Grimes Christmas Scene all launch this Saturday in Prineville

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The lighted Christmas parade returns Saturday evening after COVID restrictions kept the 2020 parade from happening.

For the past several years, the final weekend in November has officially kicked off the Christmas season in Prineville, and that will be the case again next weekend.

Kicking off the season is the lighting of the large evergreen "Christmas" tree that serves as the centerpiece of Prineville's west Y. Thanks to some recent donations, new and improved lights will adorn the tree. The tree lighting is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Then, shortly after sunset on Saturday, Nov. 27, three traditions will return to the community, all of which highlight the upcoming holiday season.

It all starts around 5 p.m. when the annual lighted Christmas parade returns. Canceled because of COVID protocols last year, the parade returns with a "Jingle All The Way" theme. The parade is presented by Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce and will feature a variety of floats, with participants encouraged to adorn them with holiday lights and other festive decorations.

The parade will follow Third Street from Northwest Harwood Street to Northeast Fairview Street. The parade will conclude with Santa Claus riding a Crook County Fire and Rescue firetruck.

"We can't wait to bring all of the holiday events back this year and have people get ready for the Christmas season," said Chamber Director Kim Daniels. "What better way to support local businesses and the local community."

Immediately after the parade concludes (around 5:30 p.m.), people are invited to head for the Crook County Fairgrounds where the Christmas in the Pines drive-thru holiday lights display awaits. The event is free, but donations of cash, non-perishable food or pet food are encouraged.

The roots of the display can be traced back to 2011, when fairgrounds manager Casey Daly and Beth Grimes, operator of the Grimes Christmas Scene featured at the fairgrounds, chose to decorate the entryway to the grounds. The following December, residents Debbie Smith and Holly Imbach pitched the idea of a drive-thru light display. Smith had formed a committee and helped launch the display.

The display has grown each year since, with numerous displays covering the fairgrounds, many of which are animated. Visitors will see some historic pieces starting with the kiosk at the entrance of Christmas in the Pines — which was once part of Cain Hall, named after Jesse Cain, who is known as the "Father of the Roundup." A painted wooden train can be found among the light displays, which used to occupy the old Erickson's Department Store. Owners Gary and Ramona Romine donated the train, and it can now be found adorned with lights each Christmas season.

While most of Christmas in the Pines is comprised of light displays, a live Nativity is featured each Saturday evening, thanks to residents Matt and Kim Griffin and other volunteers. People are welcome to park and pet the live animals.

Another stop along the Christmas in the Pines path, Santa and Mrs. Claus will again make appearances each Friday and Saturday evening at the Grimes Christmas Scene facility.

The duo is only part of what awaits visitors to the Grimes Christmas Scene, located at the northwest end of the fairgrounds.

"This year we celebrate the 84th year of this beloved tradition," Grimes said.

After a year of not being open, the Grimes family is eager to share several new changes and upgrades. Upon entering, visitors will see such additions The Fairies, The Big Rock Candy Mountain and a Bear Hosted Holliday Jubilee, which Grimes said includes a parade, a picnic and a concert. Other additions include the Story Book World, which includes WhoVille, Harry Potter and A Christmas Story.

"The Second Room is sparkling with a new arrangement of the glass pieces," Grimes said. "A big remodel was done for the Knights in Shining Armor, The Krustonian and the oldest pieces were lovingly given new property locations."

Grimes added that new pieces have found spaces in the fall scene, the Nativity and the center Island. "The big changes can be noted in the Nutcracker, the World of White, the Santa Village, a new Dickens Village, and the sweetest part is the Ginger Bread Village," she said.

Another huge change Grimes boasts is new overhead lighting. She said the very expensive undertaking is "about the most exciting thing to happen since we have been in the building at the fairgrounds."

Admission to the Grimes Christmas Scene is free with donations gratefully accepted.


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