Longtime organizer of Tigard celebration puts on one final show

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard real estate agent Jane Davies shares a laugh with Micharl Carlson at the Tigard Holiday Tree Lighting. After years of putting on the annual Christmas event, Davies is retiring. Few noticed Jane Davies standing quietly in the shadows during the annual Tigard Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday night.

It’s how Davies prefers it, working in the background as local celebrities such as Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen and KPTV host Kimberly Maus lead a crowd of hundreds in a Christmas sing-along.

“It was really good, and so many people came,” Davies said. “It should grow every year. That’s what I’ve been hoping for.”

But after years of organizing the annual event from the sidelines, Davies is hanging up her Santa hat.

“I just think it’s time to turn it over and let more people get involved,” Davies said. “I’ve heard so many kind words from people.”

It’s the largest crowd at the yearly lighting that anyone can remember. Hundreds braved the elements Friday night, standing together at Liberty Park at the corner of Pacific Highway and Southwest Main Street in raincoats and carrying umbrellas.

Children craned their necks anxiously looking for any sight of Santa, Tigard’s official tree-lighter.

Davies, a Tigard real estate agent, for years has run the annual Tigard Tree Lighting event along Pacific Highway.

It takes Davies several months to plan the evening’s festivities. It has grown significantly under her care, as she worked to bring in local businesses to host an after-party of cookies and music where children could snap a photo with Santa Claus and tell him what they want for Christmas.

“That’s what is exciting about it, is that’s all about the kids. That’s important. For a lot of the kids who go, that is their only chance to see Santa,” she said.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Kenzie Hunt, 3, walks with Santa and Mrs. Clause at the Tigard Holiday Tree Lighting at Liberty Park in downtown TigardDavies has said for years she wanted more out of the tree lighting. Some day, she envisions strolling carolers down Main Street, lights, music, dancers and shops selling goodies to families.

“I would like to see it involve more of the downtown and more of the community,” she said. “I’d like to see it be huge and have it be a weekend or maybe a couple of days with a breakfast the next morning.”

The large pine along Main Street is now decorated with lights, and a large star shines from the topmost branches.

As this year’s festivities wrapped up, Davies admitted she would be open to seeing even more changes at the 2013 event and isn’t opposed to moving the celebration to a new tree across town.

“I’d like to see it decorate more of the city,” Davies said. “We could maybe light up Burnham Street — it would be so beautiful — or have a holiday parade. There are all kinds of possibilities.”

But those plans are for someone with more time to devote to the event, said Davies, who along with working full time is also a volunteer at Broadway Rose Theatre Company and operates the city’s website for her neighborhood near Mary Woodward Elementary School.

“People call me and are so positive and tell me to keep going,” she said.

The event is being passed on to Dianna Weston, who is working to organize local events downtown throughout the year as part of the city’s efforts to revitalize downtown businesses.

Weston said she won’t let Davies retire completely. She is also open to ideas, including moving the tree lighting back to City Hall, where it was once held, or to the Tigard Public Library.

For Davies, saying goodbye means stepping away from people she has worked with for years.

“It kind of became my micro family, in a way,” she said. “You are seeing something come together for the community, and it’s free. I take a lot of satisfaction in that and seeing it come together.”

Davies said the thing she will miss most is that feeling she has done something for others in the community.

As for what Davies plans to do with her free time, she’s not sure.

“There needs to be an Easter Egg hunt,” she said. “But I don’t know whether or not I’ll start doing that.”

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