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City kicks off holidays

by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn city officals kicked off the city’s holiday celebrations with the anual tree lighting Saturday.

More than 200 people kicked off the holiday season Saturday at the sixth annual West Linn holiday tree lighting held at city hall.

The event, sponsored by the West Linn Parks and Recreation Department, and coordinated by Denise Kai, West Linn parks program director, featured a variety of activities and talents, including a sing-a-long and brief performance by the West Linn Community Chorus, an appearance by the West Linn Old Time Fair princesses and cookie decorating.

'This event seems to be growing in popularity with each year, which is great,' said West Linn City Council President Scott Burgess. 'The chorus is really excellent, and watching the kids enjoy (the event) is fun. It's great to have so much fun happening in this space (the city council chamber).'

With mayor Norm King out of town, Burgess presided over the event, welcoming those in attendance and leading the countdown to the outdoor tree lighting with the Old Time Fair princesses - amid good-natured requests to hurry up so that the gathering could move inside to escape the frigid wind.

Princesses Isabel Valentine, Kelsey Bradshaw, Rosa Bhutarak and Stephanie Kruger, all West Linn High School freshmen, represented the Old Time Fair Court at the ceremony, and took part in the cookie decorating after the bedecked sequoia was illuminated.

'It was fun to eat cookies, and we got to help some of the little kids make their cookies,' Valentine said.

Children and parents flocked to the cookie decorating tables that were set up in the city council chambers after the chorus performance and enjoyed assorted treats. Gingerbread people, icing, candies and sprinkles were provided, along with hot chocolate donated by Starbucks.

'I thought it was a great event for the kids,' said West Linn resident Heather Lane, who came with her son, Jackson, 2, and her mother. Jackson shared the four cookies he decorated with his grandmother, and had fun running around the room with friends.

'(My favorite part of the event is) just watching the kids; they have so much fun and it's not too structured, so they can be creative and just play,' Kai said.

Meanwhile, the adults shared in the holiday spirit too, visiting with one another, sampling the various treats and enjoying the chorus performance. The performance, which included the traditional Christmas carols 'Christmas Bells,' 'Carol of the Bells' and 'I Saw Three Ships,' was the chorus' fourth appearance of the day.

Chorus members sang at three local nursing homes that afternoon: Rose Linn Care Center, Tanner Spring Assisted Living Center and Berry Park Retirement Community in Oregon City.

They're just getting started, too. The chorus will be performing again at 8 p.m. on Friday at First Presbyterian Church of Oregon City and at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16 at Marylhurst University.

'It's fun to have these community events,' Burgess said. 'You won't get everyone out here, but it's nice to have events like these, and the more you have, the more people in the community you will touch.'

Admission for both events is a suggested seven dollar donation. Tickets are available at the door or can be obtained from a chorus member.

For more information , visit www.ci.west-linn.or.us.