Tree lighting set to shine even brighter

Annual holiday event in downtown Vancouver adds farmers market booths, more concerts

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



Event schedule

Most events in the Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees are free, but organizers suggest a donation of $5 per family for tree viewing.

• Festival of Trees viewing (at Pearson Air Museum 1115 E. Fifth St.): noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 23; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 24; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 25.

• Downtown Holidazzle community tree lighting events (at Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St.): 3 p.m. Nov. 23, Vancouver Farmers Market vendors open; 3-7 p.m., train rides available around the park; 5:30 p.m., Combined Vancouver High School Choirs performance; 6 p.m., Community Tree Lighting with Santa.

• Concerts (at Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.): 3 p.m. Nov. 23, Woodwinds Anonymous; 4 p.m., Vancouver Community Concert Band; 6:20 p.m., Vancouver Pops.

• Hot Buttered Run and Kids Kandy Kane Race (start and finish at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St.): 8 a.m. Nov. 25, registration; 8:30 a.m., kids zone and gear check-in; 9:40 a.m., 12k run starts; 10 a.m., 5k walk/run starts; 11:45 a.m., kids races start; noon ,awards ceremony. Admission: $40 on race day for 12K and 5K, $10 for Kids Kandy Kane Races. On the Web: Hot Buttered Run.

• Gala dinner and tree auction (at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St.): 5:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1. Cost: $95 per person. Reservations required. Call 360-750-0409.

The addition of the word "Holidazzle" isn't the only change this year as part of the Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees.

The event, which includes a tree lighting ceremony, music, train rides and an auction of professionally decorated trees, has grown with new offerings for its 17th year.

"We always do the tree lighting, but this year we're expanding with more concerts and farmers market booths in the park," said Katlin Smith, chairwoman of marketing for the event.

The tree lighting ceremony, renamed "Downtown Holidazzle," will also include the Esther Short Express, a train around the park for kids to enjoy while they wait for festivities to start. The train holds about 15 kids and will run from 3-7 p.m. Friday. Even better, it's free.

"Also a number of downtown businesses will offer discounts on Friday night for people looking for special deals," Smith said.

Those deals will be listed on the website.

The free hot drinks that were donated by a variety of groups last year won't reappear this time around. But organizers hope the addition of booths from the Vancouver Farmers Market selling drinks, food and even a chance for a little gift shopping will help remove the sting.

"From 3-7 p.m. we're going to have a mini-market for people while they're waiting for the lighting," said Jordan Boldt, executive director of the Farmers Market. "It won't be super-big, maybe 10-15 vendors. This is the first time we've done this, and we're trying it out."

If it's successful, the mini-market could become part of more festivals in the future, he said.

Some of the items on sale will be roasted nuts, kettle corn, snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, cider and a few crafts made by local artists.

"It will be pretty limited on crafts, but we'll probably have candles, soaps, maybe some wreathes," Boldt said.

The Combined Vancouver High School Choirs will perform at the outdoor event starting at 5:30 p.m.

More acts have been added to the usual post-lighting Vancouver Pops concert across the street at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. Music at the hotel will kick off at 3 p.m. with Woodwinds Anonymous, followed by the Vancouver Community Concert Band.

"The tree lighting brings about 2,000 people to downtown Vancouver and we wanted more for them to do," Smith said. "Rotary started this event when it was looking for a way to raise funds for scholarships and community grants."

The fundraising portion includes the auction of trees, which will on display at Pearson Air Museum. That part of the event begins at noon Friday and continues through the weekend. It's capped by a Gala dinner and tree auction at the museum on Dec. 1.

Funds from this year will go to support scholarships for Vancouver High School students, Smith said.

Also part of the festival on Sunday will be the Hot Buttered Run and Kids Kandy Kane Race, put on by Energy Events. It starts next to the Pearson Air Museum

The run includes 12K and 5K races for adults and shorter races for kids. Drinks for adults are included at the end of the race, said Brian Davis, president of Energy Events.

"Hot Buttered Run, it's a play on words, of course," Davis said. "You get a hot buttered rum at the end of the run. It really gets you in the holiday spirit."

About 250 to 300 children compete in the kids race and perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 adults participate in the 12K and 5K races. Cost is $40 for adults and $10 for kids.

"We raised about $2,500 for the festival last year, and we also gathered a few hundred pounds of food for SHARE," Davis said.

This year's run will include a kids zone area with day care, games and a bounce house. Racers can drop off children ages 3-10 for $10 each during race times, although space is limited.

The event mixes well with the tree showing at the museum, he added.

"People can come, hang out, see the trees," Davis said. "And then Santa will come out and start the races."