Driving down Pacific Highway, there is a special spot that intersects Main Street. It is a little haven in the middle of the bustling sidewalks and busy streets. This little place holds the name of Liberty Park. This park in the middle of down town Tigard is where the city annually lights their Christmas tree, complete with a star on top.
This year, the lighting took place on November 30th at 6:45 p.m. where families gathered and watched Santa and Mrs. Claus light the tree. The Clauses arrive every year, starting off the holiday season for Tigard. The night began with the Tualatin Valley Community Band playing Christmas carols, along with an introduction from Mayor Craig Dirksen. Kimberly Maus of KPTV has also been the MC for past years. After the lighting the happy group strolled over to CrossFit P.A.W for some free cookies and drinks.
This tradition has been going on for around 20 years, but many still don’t know the effort that goes into making this spirited event possible. Tigard real estate agent Jane Davies is the woman who coordinates everything. Her duties include recruiting volunteers, fundraising, and partnering with local businesses for grants and sponsorships. Tigard Public Works plays an important part in getting everything ready, too.
Every Fall they test the tree lights, “to get it ready for Santa to do his magic,” said Davies.
There are a lot of problems that can happen to the lights in a year. Davies said this included anything from bulbs going out or squirrels chewing on the cords. During the holiday season the lights are set up on an automatic switch, turning on between 4:30 and 5 in the evening.
Davies’ role in coordinating the lighting will be coming to a close soon, and she will be handing the job over to Dianna Weston. Weston will become the new downtown event coordinator for the Tigard Chamber of Commerce. In the future she wants to have more events in Tigard involving activities, such as hosting “night outs,” and having people carol up and down Main Street. Past years have included music, crafts, and writing letters to Santa.
Santa and Mrs. Claus have been attending the event for about 10 years now. They say that what keeps them coming are the returning kids. Another reason they volunteer every year is because people can attend the event at no charge and get a free picture with them.
“For many children that come to it, it is their only chance to see Santa,” said Davies.
They recall some memorable moments when one girl’s wish was to make sure her mom was happy. Another was a boy that was very serious with Santa, crossing his arms and asking whether he was on the naughty or nice list.
Tigard will continue the tradition of lighting the tree, and can expect future events to include more businesses and activities. Weston says that a major goal is to encourage the community to, “come down and shop local.”