Vancouver lights its Christmas tree

Esther Short Park event becoming tradition for many families

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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Lincoln Horn didn’t want to be late.

The 5-year-old Vancouver boy and his family were hustling along the sidewalk Friday evening toward Esther Short Park. That’s where Santa Claus was scheduled to flip the switch at 6 p.m., turning on thousands of lights draped over Vancouver’s Christmas tree.

His mom, Katy Belokonny, said that Lincoln started to worry when they were driving downtown. He noticed that a light in mid-air seemed to be over Vancouver, and it was at the end of its journey.

Why did he think that it might be Santa?

“Because it was coming down from the sky,” Lincoln said.

No worries. A few minutes after Lincoln and 2-year-old brother Preston arrived, Santa showed up.

After stepping up to the microphone, the guest of honor led the Propstra Square crowd in a countdown. Then the echoes of 5-4-3-2-1 were drowned out by exclamations of “Ooooh!” as red, green and blue bulbs popped to life on the 100-foot-tall Douglas fir.

More people were watching across the street, from upper-floor windows in the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

The annual ceremony, held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, has become a regular holiday feature for many local residents.

“It’s a tradition,” said Jennifer Taylor, an Orchards resident who took part in the tree lighting with her daughter Claire, 7.

“I have probably seen nine of them,” Sid Hess said. She and her husband, Alex, have been introducing their kids to the tradition. It was the second tree-lighting for daughter Haley, 3.

“She loves them,” Sid said.

And son Cooper is just a month old, so he’s definitely a first-timer.

The Hess family doesn’t play just a spectator role in holiday lighting, by they way: they’re players.

“We already have our lights up,” Sid Hess said. “My husband probably spent five or six hours on them.”

The Friday night festivities, which included a holiday concert by the Vancouver Pops Orchestra, were sponsored by the Vancouver Rotary Foundation.

Friday also marked the start of the holiday version of the Vancouver Farmers Market, inside the Hilton Vancouver Washington. It continues in the Heritage Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.