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Arlington celebrates ‘Hometown Holiday’
ARLINGTON — The city of Arlington’s “Hometown Holiday” weekend drew celebratory crowds who were willing to support community causes on Dec. 4.
City of Arlington Recreation Coordinator Sarah Higgins described this year’s noon parade down Olympic Avenue as bigger than last year’s with 26 entrants. Even before Santa Claus had finished waving to the crowds from his covered wagon ride, an estimated 200 families had lined up at the Legion Park gazebo to have their pictures taken with the jolly old elf.
While kids of all ages waited to tell Santa what was on their Christmas wish lists, Arlington’s downtown resounded with melodic holiday cheer. The Gamlens, a quartet of Victorian-style singers, performed Christmas carols up and down Olympic Avenue, while in Legion Park, the congregations of the Lifeway Foursquare and Falcon Ridge churches came together to perform some holiday tunes of their own.
The Santa photos were free, but the Hometown Holiday family portraits in support of the Arlington Food Bank requested 10 cans of food or $10 for each group at the old co-op building. By 3 p.m., 52 groups had come in to drop off $302 in cash and 340 pounds of food.
“We’ve lived here forever and been coming to the Hometown Holidays that whole time,” said Oso resident Mike Gollihar, who was joined by his wife Sara and his two sons, Mason and Bryson, in taking part in the festivities. “What’s great about living in a small town is that it doesn’t change a whole lot.”
While Bryson was hankering for a new orange bike, 11-year-old Belle LaSalata expressed an interest in a new laptop, which her father Tony shot down while they waited to see Santa.
“I’ve already had a conversation with Santa, and he said, ‘No way,’” Tony LaSalata laughed.
“We’ve been coming to Hometown Holidays for the past five or six years, as long as we’ve lived here,” said Belle’s mom, Lisa LaSalata. “There’s music, kids can play with their friends and the whole community just comes together.”
The Arlington United Church and the organizers of the Arlington Relay For Life attracted their shares of attendees during the day as well, as the church sold the wares of local crafts-makers to fund its local mission projects at its fifth annual Christmas bazaar, while Arlington Relay for Life teams likewise encouraged visitors to the Presidents Elementary Holiday Fair to get a jump on their holiday shopping and support the American Cancer Society at the same time.
“This was a great way to kick-start our season,” said Kerry Munnich, event chair for the Arlington Relay For Life, who estimated that Arlington Relay teams raised more than $2,000 on Dec. 4 alone.