Santa lights up the town

December 8, 2008

By Jon Savelle

For lovers of the Christmas traditions, there could hardly be more cherished moments than a child’s visit with Santa and the lighting of the tree.

The city's Christmas tree comes to life with lights, and Santa Claus hands candy canes to children of all ages, during the annual tree lighting ceremony. Photo by Greg Farrar.

The city's Christmas tree comes to life with lights, and Santa Claus hands candy canes to children of all ages, during the annual tree lighting ceremony. Photo by Greg Farrar.

Both took place Dec. 6 at the corner of Rainier Boulevard Northwest and Front Street North, where the annual tree-lighting party and Santa appearance drew a crowd of about 100.Sponsored by the city and the Chamber of Commerce Festivals Office, the event started off with socializing and cookie decorating — the latter perhaps aimed at the very young, but striking everyone who was young at heart.

One of the cookie artists was Thomas Gotuzzo III, 7, a Forest Rim resident who came with his 4-year-old sister, Lauren, and dad Thomas Gotuzzo, Jr. The youngest Thomas had slathered his cookie with a mixture of white and green frosting and sprinkles.

It looked like a little Jackson Pollock painting, but no doubt tasted delicious. In any case, Thomas wasn’t planning to take it home and hang it on the tree.

“I’m going to eat it right now,” he said.

While he and the crowd waited for one of the main events — the arrival of Santa — event volunteer Robin Kelley and City Council members Eileen Barber and Fred Butler led the singing of such favorites as “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells.”

Other visitors dropped donations for the food bank, filling a garbage can and contributing cash, too.

It wasn’t long before police sirens and flashing lights, zooming up Front Street, heralded Santa’s approach. He proved to be jolly indeed.

“The trip was a bit different this year,” said Santa, otherwise known as John Hicks.

His reindeer were resting, he said, so “I rode fish today from the North Pole.”

After another round of carols, Santa presided over the lighting of the tree. A magnificent, towering specimen that stands regally apart, it was strung from tip to ground with thousands of lights.

“This is one of the top things in the Santa hall of fame,” he informed the appreciative crowd. “It is the best.”

A brief countdown ensued, and presto! Half the lights went on. The top half of the tree remained dark, puzzling the crowd, but soon, the fault was corrected and the tree was revealed in all its glimmering glory.

The lights will remain up through the holidays. It is hoped that they will return next year, but the City Council recently decided not to contribute funding for them. It will be up to the community to bring the lights back, and history has shown that this community has the heart to do it.

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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