“But we made the tree lighting; that was the important part,” Dave said. “We all cheered and clapped. And we saw Santa Claus.”
Cody and Christine Anderson — with their children Sydney, 4, and Joel, 2 — were in Vancouver from Montana, visiting for Thanksgiving, and stopped at the tree lighting.
Sydney’s old enough to get excited for Christmas, Cody said, and she loves it.
“Joel gets excited ’cause Sydney’s excited,” Christine said.
Mia Isse and Jaden Torson, students at the Journey Theater Arts Group, were dressed as elves and handed out candy canes to children — and, when the time came, they helped introduce Santa Claus.
“It’s interesting, and cold,” Mia said.
“We’re elves, so you know this is actually pretty good weather for us,” Jaden said.
When the big man appeared to switch on the tree’s lights, the kids went nuts.
That’s the best part, said organizer and Rotary member George Francisco.
“You know what I think I like more than anything, is when Santa gets here, and the joy on the kids’ faces,” he said.
Francisco, with Jim David, organized the tree lighting, and had been out at the park since 9 a.m. getting things ready.
Crews in cherry pickers spent a good part of Wednesday hanging 16,000 lights on the 100-foot-tall Douglas fir at the park that serves as the event’s centerpiece and Vancouver’s community Christmas tree.
Francisco estimated about 3,000 people showed up Friday night, compared to last year’s 1,500 or so.
The festival is Rotary’s primary fundraising event, he said, and the money goes to scholarships for local students in high school, college or trade schools.
If You Go
• What: Vancouver Rotary Foundation’s Festival of Trees, featuring festival tree-viewing, visits with Santa, family scavenger hunt, model train display, entertainment, music, holiday market.
• When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
• Special events: “Hello Vancouver!” talk show at 5 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.
• Cost: Suggested donation $5 per family; tree raffle tickets are $5 each.
• Schedule of events: http://rotaryfestivaloftrees.org