Downtown Issaquah welcomes Santa at tree lighting

November 30, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Santa Claus poses with Snoqualmie resident Ellen Ke and her daughter, Carol Gong, as husband and father Jeffrey Gong snaps a photo, during the 2009 Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pedestrian Park. By Greg Farrar

Carolers and artists add holiday magic to Christmas kickoff

Though nighttime darkness falls at about 4:30 p.m. this time of year, Issaquah’s annual Christmas tree lighting is poised to light up the night with colorful ornaments, caroling, hot cider and cookies.

As always, Santa Claus will make an appearance, lighting the Christmas tree and taking gift requests from the boys and girls of Issaquah.

Michael Johnson, DownTown Issaquah Association events director, has coordinated Santa’s visit for years.

“It’s just priceless to see little kids excited about the season,” he said.

After the lighting and Santa’s appearance, the group will carol its way down Front Street North until it reaches Northeast Dogwood Street, where it will turn around and carol its way to the new UP Front Gallery and artEAST Art Center.

Members of artEAST will offer art, music, refreshments and holiday cheer during their daylong open house. The event kicks off with a free art-appreciation slide lecture, titled “Winter Wonderland,” by North Bend art historian Susan Olds.

Olds plans to review a variety of artists, including Grandma Moses, Currier and Ives Andrew Wyeth, Monet and the Impressionists, Kandinsky and American folk artists.

The public will also have a chance to learn more about artEAST programs and meet local artists.

“This open house is really a great example of how the art center can really be a community gathering place,” artEAST Executive Director Karen Abel said. “Our doors will be open all day long.”

Across the street at the Issaquah Depot Museum, the community is invited to meet with Santa and make holiday ornaments. Santa is a busy man about town, but he is making time for children from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for his sixth annual visit to the depot.

Karen Klein, Issaquah History Museums volunteer coordinator, said participants are encouraged to bring their own cameras for Santa pictures.

A free crafts table will have antique ornament making from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“It’s a take off of how people made ornaments out of tin,” Klein said, though the crafts table will use silver paper in lieu of metal.

Cookies, handmade crafts will be for sale and live music, by Essie Blue Band, will entertain people who want to tap their feet or dance to bluegrass, fiddle tunes and country music.

Essie Blue Band guitarist and singer Janis Legacy said the train depot is the perfect place for her band to play during the holidays.

“We love the old train station,” she said. “Our music is the kind of music that was played there historically. Some of our music goes back to the Civil War.”

Santa has also promised to visit Gilman Village the next three Saturdays for photos with whimsical winter scenes. Bring your own camera.

If you go

The city transforms into a winter wonderland to welcome the holiday season Dec. 4.

Downtown Issaquah Christmas tree lighting

  • 5 p.m. Dec. 4
  • Pedestrian Park, corner of Front Street and Sunset Way

ArtEAST Art Center open house

  • 1-6 p.m. Dec. 4
  • 95 Front St. N.

Issaquah Depot Museum open house

  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4
  • 50 Rainier Blvd. N.

Santa at Gilman Village

  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 4,11,18

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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