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Pandemic can’t quash Clark County’s Christmas spirit

The Columbian has compiled a list of holiday events that will still happen this year — and those that are canceled

By , Columbian staff writer
6 Photos
Santa will be at Vancouver Mall for socially distanced chat with children.
Santa will be at Vancouver Mall for socially distanced chat with children. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

The lighting of the Christmas tree in Esther Short Park passed without fanfare because pandemic safety measures forced cancellation of the usual downtown Vancouver festivities. You can still find plenty of holiday cheer in local celebrations of the lights, sights and music that make this season so beautiful. Here’s a helpful list of what’s happening this year (and what’s not) in Clark County and Portland.

Tree lightings, festivals and community events

Battle Ground offers a virtual tree lighting at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 on Santa Claus will lead a storytime read-along at 6 p.m. Dec. 23 from his North Pole living room; join in at

Camas’ Hometown Holidays tree-lighting event is canceled, but visitors can enjoy the Downtown Camas Winter Wonderland, featuring holiday activities from Dec. 1-12, including window displays and holiday stories, a Giving Tree for local families, a Cookie Walk on Dec. 4, winter activity bags and winter-themed props for downtown selfies. Find details at or

Ridgefield’s Hometown Celebration offers lights and decorations throughout December. Drive around Ridgefield from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 to see houses lit up — and you may spot Santa awarding prizes to residents. Downtown merchants’ windows will be decorated and there will be selfie stations around town. Explore Ridgefield’s Arts Quarter on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 to search for hidden tree ornaments. From 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5, come to the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex, 3101 S. Hillhurst Road, Ridgefield, for a Drive-thru Tree Jubilee with music and other goodies. Find details at or

Washougal offers a virtual tree lighting at 6 p.m. Dec. 3 at From 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 5, experience the Ho Ho Holiday Drive-thru at the Plaza on Pendleton Way between C and Main streets. Santa will be there in his sleigh to wave to families as they drive past, and city officials will hand out goodie bags to children in the cars.

Pioneer Courthouse Square’s Holiday Tree Lighting will air as a pre-recorded special at 6:30 p.m. tonight on KGW-TV and is available for streaming on

The free “Home for the Holidays” Festival of Trees will be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5 on KATU.

Rotary Club of Vancouver’s Festival of Trees is canceled.

Washougal Festival of Trees is canceled.

Lighting Displays

The drive-thru Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show at Portland International Raceway, 1940 N. Victory Blvd., Portland, welcomes visitors from today to Jan. 2 to drive along the racetrack and see lighting displays. Tickets, $24 to $32, must be purchased at Proceeds benefit Sunshine Division’s hunger-relief efforts. Food donations are not accepted, but financial contributions can be made with ticket purchases. There are no dog walk or bicycle nights. Hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

ZooLights at Oregon Zoo, 4001 S.E. Canyon Road, Portland, is drive-thru only this year through Jan. 10, closed Christmas Day. Tickets, $40 to $65 per car, must be purchased one week in advance at The zoo is closed to all foot traffic.

The Christmas Ships Parade will float for outdoor viewing on both the Willamette and the Columbia rivers Dec. 4 to 22. All indoor viewing parties have been canceled. The complete 2020 schedule is available at

The Grotto’s Christmas Celebration of Lights is off this year. The Grotto, 8840 N.E. Skidmore St., Portland, welcomes guests from today to Jan. 1 during normal hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets, $8, are available at Displays include a Nativity scene, walking paths, visits to the Chapel of Mary, candle-lighting and holiday photo opportunities.

Portland’s Peacock Lane will be dark this year for the first time since World War II.

Family Fun

Santa Claus will be at Vancouver Mall, 8700 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive, on the lower level near H&M, daily starting today and continuing through Dec. 24. From today through Dec. 23, Santa’s hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a break from 3 to 4 p.m.; on Dec. 24, Santa’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a break from 1 to 2 p.m. Santa will be masked and all children and guests must wear masks. Masked children will talk with Santa and have photos taken from 6 feet away. Families should reserve a time before visiting at For more details, visit

Cinnamon Bear will appear at a Drive-in Holiday Sing-along at Oaks Park Outdoor Theater, 7805 S.E. Oaks Park Way, Portland. This drive-in experience features live music and a sing-along by the Cocklebur Cowboys, plus a story with Cinnamon Bear, Chipper the Squirrel and Santa Claus. Holiday treats and beverages will be available to buy. Sing-alongs will be held at 6 and 8 p.m. today and tomorrow as well as various nights from Dec. 3 to 31. Tickets are $49 per car and must be purchased online at

Pittock Mansion’s Critters Make Merry holiday exhibit has been canceled.

Chelatchie Prairie Railroad’s Christmas Tree Trains have been canceled.

The annual Holiday Express train rides from Oaks Station have been canceled and Santa’s Enginehouse at Oregon Rail Heritage Center has been postponed.

Online Theater, Music and Dance Performances

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert will feature holiday classics as well as famous arrangements with guest soloists such as clarinetist Ken Peplowski and jazz vocalist Clairdee. The performance will be streamed at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 and 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at Tickets are $30 online or at 360-735-7278.

Vancouver Master Chorale will offer a free holiday concert on Dec. 7 at featuring new and repeat programming, carols from around the world and special guests. It will be streamed for the entire month of December.

Re-Imagined Radio presents “A Radio Christmas Carol” at 3 p.m. Dec. 17, a free radio play featuring voice actors, Foley artists and carolers. Three local radio stations will carry the broadcast: KXRW in Vancouver at 99.9 FM; KXRY in Portland at 91.1, 107.1 FM and 1310 AM — or listen online at XRAY.FM.

Michael Allen Harrison offers a virtual fundraising concert from 4 to 5 p.m. Dec. 6 in support of Seton Catholic School. Tickets, $25, can be purchased at or by texting MAH to 41444.

Portland Center Stage presents Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” starring Tony-winner Jefferson Mays, who takes on 50 roles in this classic tale. Streaming begins Nov. 28. Check for tickets and times.

Portland Gay Men’s Chorus presents “Snowed In,” featuring choral music and performances from Cascade and Locomotions and other guests, ending with an at-home sing-along. The concert will be streamed at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 and 3 p.m. Dec. 13. Tickets are free, but reservations are required at

The Hip Hop Nutcracker was recorded live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and features contemporary dance set to Tchaikovsky’s music. The performance streams at 7 p.m. Dec. 12. Tickets are $25 to $55 at

Portland Baroque Orchestra presents a recorded performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” with soloists, organ and string quartet. It will stream for free Dec. 20 at

Portland Opera and Festa Italiana Portland team up for the free “Christmas in Italy” at 7 p.m. Dec. 12. For details, see

Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree at the Keller Auditorium will go online with a fundraising broadcast; see for details.

The Oregon Symphony’s “Gospel Christmas” and “Comfort and Joy” have been canceled.

Oregon Ballet Theater’s Nutcracker performance has been canceled.

Columbia Dance’s Nutcracker performance has been canceled.

Wire services contributed to this report.

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