Event organizer seeks team to help bring more residents to annual holiday event
TIGARD - Drivers along Highway 99W have likely seen the large pine tree near Southwest Main Street, adorned with Christmas lights and topped with a large star.
It's been a tradition in Tigard for years to light the tree in celebration of the holidays, but Jane Davies wants more.
Davies, who has organized the tree lighting event for years, is starting a task force made of community members to change the event and make it something that more people in the community will want to participate in.
'I'd like to see something grander,' Davies said, standing in front of the evergreen Tuesday afternoon. 'It's up to the community to tell us what they want out of it.'
Davies envisions strolling carolers down Main Street, lights, music, dancers and shops selling goodies to families.
'I go to other tree lightings and Christmas events and they are just amazing,' she said. 'We could have a parade.'
Davies said many members of the community don't realize the event exists at all, and many of those who do feel like the tree lighting needs some updating.
'I think most people want to see it grow,' she said.
Davies has pitched her idea for a tree lighting task force to local businesses and organizations and said that a small handful of people have agreed to help, but she is hoping to get members of all walks of life represented.
'Tigard is incredibly diverse,' she said. 'You can bring in all those diverse elements of the community and make it into something grand and you can add onto it.'
The task force will be open to suggestions, she said, even moving the event to another tree in town, or doing something else entirely, like lighting all the trees along Southwest Burnham Street.
'There are plenty of trees,' Davies said. 'We can do whatever people want us to do.'
For years the annual tree lighting has taken place at Liberty Park, a small patch of grass between Pacific Highway and Southwest Main Street.
'The first time people hear it you think 'Where is that?' and then when you realize where it is you think 'You've got to be kidding,' Davies said.
This year's tree lighting, held Dec. 2, was the same as it has been for years. A portion of Main Street was closed off so families could watch the lighting in the only space available - the middle of the road - and Santa arrived on a fire truck driven by Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue firefighters to light the tree.
From there, families walked down Main Street for hot chocolate and music at the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce building.
'The way it is now, a lot of the people that come to it are the kids who wouldn't otherwise get to see Santa, and that element of it really makes it,' she said, but her goal is to make the event bigger and better so that more people can participate in it.
Davies said that something needs to change if the annual lighting of the tree is going to continue.
'Why, when you have 48,000 people living in Tigard, do you go to all of this work to create an event for 100 people? It's not worth it the way it is now,' she said. 'It really can't go on the way that it is.'
Davies said that the tree lighting is important, because it helps to create a sense of community in town.
'Part of my ultimate goal is to make Tigard more of a cohesive community,' Davies said. 'When people move here, they want to be a part of the community, but Tigard seems kind of lost in the community spirit.'
Davies looks to communities like Tualatin for inspiration. Organizers light a tree of Christmas lights at the Lake of the Commons every year and the event features school choirs from across the city and attracts hundreds of people every year.
'Events like this are a stamp for the community's identity,' Davies said. 'We need these city-focused things.'