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Santa Claus will make a special appearance for the City's 53rd annual tree-lighting celebration

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jack Barbee watches in wonder from dad Jason Barbee's shoulders during last year's holiday celebration in Millennium Plaza Park. Lake Oswego's 54th-annual event kicks off Friday at 5:30 p.m.For the 54th time, Lake Oswegans will gather downtown on the day after Thanksgiving to welcome the holiday season with two tree lightings, a joyous parade and a much-anticipated visit from a jolly old elf.

"The Christmas Tree Lighting Festival is the official kickoff of the holiday season in Lake Oswego," says Jamie Inglis, who organizes the event for the City of Lake Oswego. "It's the perfect way to celebrate all that is merry and bright here!"

Inglis says she loves the history behind the event.

"Lake Oswegans fought to save the giant Sequoia at Bigelow Plaza (Fifth Street and A Avenue at Safeway) many years ago," she says, "and the event remains a holiday tradition for many families throughout the community."

This year's official Christmas Tree Lighting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23, at Bigelow Plaza in the Safeway parking lot at Fifth Street and A Avenue, where the Lake Oswego High School Choir will lead the crowd in singing favorite holiday songs.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Keith Dickerson and City Council President Jackie Manz will help light the tree. And then once those lights are aglow, the crowd will surge down A Avenue to Millennium Plaza Park for the lighting of the Millennium Tree. Santa Claus will be among the parade participants, City officials say, although he is likely to be riding atop a Lake Oswego Fire Department engine instead of his sleigh.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Santa visits with Sullivan Fillmore during last year's holiday celebration in Millennium Plaza Park. The jolly ol' elf will make a return appaearance at this year's event on Friday. Company, the talented song-and-dance troupe from Lakeridge High, will perform in the park. So will the Millennium Concert Band, and there will be plenty of free candy canes, cookies, coffee and hot cocoa. All of that will set the stage for Santa, who has promised to hang around long enough to hear the holiday wishes of every good girl and boy. Visits with Old Saint Nick will begin around 5:50 p.m.

The Lake Oswego Police Department will also be on hand to continue its annual holiday campaign called #youandblue, which celebrates the relationship officers strive to nurture with the community in the course of their duties. Officers will be at Millennium Plaza for photos with police K9s, decorated police vehicles and cops in blue. Community members are invited to share their photos with law enforcement officials using social media and the hashtag #youandblue.

And speaking of the police: The LOPD warns that during the parade from Bigelow Plaza to Millennium Plaza Park, which takes about 20-30 minutes, cars and buses will not be allowed to turn on or cross A Avenue from Second Street to Fifth Street. So plan to arrive early, officials say. Parking will be available in the City Hall parking lot (380 A Ave.) or in the public parking lot at Lake View Village (310 N. State St.).

Santa's artsy helpers

Santa will leave the holiday celebration with wish lists in hand, of course, but that doesn't mean you can't do a little shopping for yourself — especially if your tastes lean toward the unique and artistic. Two festive shops have opened just for the holidays; both are within easy walking distance and both will be open on the day of the tree lighting.

— The Arts Council of Lake Oswego's all-media Holiday Marketplace (510 First St.) will feature a curated and hand-selected collection of work from local and internationally exhibited artists. Proceeds benefit the artists and the community-enriching programming of the Arts Council. Holiday Marketplace is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 29. For more information, visit or call 503-675-3738.

— Local artists will also offer their work for sale at the pop-up Rain Spark Gallery on A Avenue in Lake View Village between Fleet Feet PDX and Sur la Table. Shoppers can expect to find everything from fiber art, clothing and jewelry to paintings, ceramics, photography, woodwork and more. Hours through Dec. 31 are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Receptions will be held each Thursday from 5-7 p.m., featuring Tumwater Vineyard's wines.

In addition, the gallery's popular Community Treasure Hunt will begin Dec. 1. A number of handcrafted porcelain ornaments will be hidden around the downtown Lake Oswego area; people who find an ornament get to keep it, but they also receive a discount on purchases at Rain Spark Gallery.

Clues will be posted daily at 4:30 a.m. to the gallery's Facbook page and website. To learn more, visit www.rainsparkgallery.com.

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Sam Stites at 503-636-1281 ext. 101 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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