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Its Christmas Time in the City

Annual Lake Oswego tree lighting kicks off the holiday season with a night of frosty fun
by: Vern Uyetake, Natalie Fagen enjoys a cookie, candy cane and the view  from the shoulders of her dad Jeff Fagen during Friday’s tree lighting event at Millenium Plaza Park.

It was a night fit for Frosty the Snowman. In fact, it was so cold that some people began to resemble Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

But that didn't stop an estimated 1,000 Lake Oswegans from pouring out for the 43rd annual Holiday Tree Lighting last Friday evening.

The event can be summed up in this way: In the Safeway parking lot a little girl was jumping up and down to keep warm, and she asked her dad, 'Why are we here?' Dad pointed upward and said, 'See that big tree?'

Yes, the big tree (a giant sequoia) was a big attraction, and it was immensely impressive once Mayor Judie Hammerstad switched on the lights.

Also promoting the Christmas spirit were hot drinks provided by Starbucks and a superb Christmas song sing-a-long led by chorale groups from Lake Oswego High School under the direction of Liz Serra. It didn't take long for people to start bopping and swaying to 'Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.'

Revving up the crowd was Jerry Wheeler, executive director of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

While the weather was cold, it did have a one great advantage, and that it is why attendance of the tree lighting nearly doubled that of last year.

'The weather was cold but it was nice,' said event director Kathy Kern of the city of Lake Oswego. 'We had a substantially larger crowd than last year, when it rained.'

Once the first tree was lit, the big crowd sauntered down A Avenue to Millennium Plaza Park for the lighting of the second tree, where there were plenty of cookies, hot drinks and lots of entertainment.

Dale Cleland and the Millennium Band played some rousing hymns of the holidays.

Company of Lakeridge High School, under the direction of Bill Campbell, put on a great variety show of singing and dancing.

Once the second tree was lighted, it was time for the arrival of Santa Claus. Accompanied by suitable hoopla, that ever-jolly eternal spirit received a huge line of children, who got down to the serious business of checking off their Christmas present lists.

Sponsors of this happy occasion were Tree Care Unlimited, Safeway, Starbucks, Marcia Kies of Hasson Realtors, the Lake Oswego Review, the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce and the city of Lake Oswego.

'Everything was very efficient and easy this year,' said Kern, who celebrated her 10th year as director of the event.

Kern had special words for the work of Lori Lauber and Sandra Kauffman of the chamber in organizing volunteers.

With such a large crowd, the Oregon Food Bank did quite well in collecting food. The OFB will continue to collect food with barrels at Lake Oswego City Hall and also the Lake Oswego Holiday Market this weekend, at the West End Building at 4101 Kruse Way.