ARLINGTON — Arlington's annual Hometown Holidays will feature both familiar favorites and a few new twists this year on Saturday, Dec. 7, with perhaps the day's most noticeable shift in scheduling occurring immediately after the Santa Parade at noon on Olympic Avenue.
"The tree-lighting ceremony this year will take place at Legion Park, right after the Santa Parade," said Sarah Lopez, recreation manager for the city of Arlington. "It'll be a big reveal, and because of the timing, we'll be able to get everyone together for it, much easier than we did when it took place later in the afternoon."
Lopez credited the Downtown Arlington Business Association with contributing a whole new set of Christmas ornaments to decorate this year's tree, "with lots more lights," and promised that families who want to see Santa this year should find that process more convenient as well.
"Kids will get to visit with Santa in the depot at Legion Park from 1-3 p.m., so that we can keep the Legion Park gazebo free for musicians and other entertainers," Lopez said. "Rather than waiting in line, families will be able to take a number, and take part in all the activities that Legion Park has to offer that afternoon, before their numbers are called."
Lopez credited the Lifeway Foursquare Church of Arlington with stepping up to provide cocoa and crafts for children, as well as the Festive Sweater Contest hosted by Pastor Chad Blood.
"Last year, one of the Old Bags of Arlington won it," Lopez said. "She was totally decked out, and she'll probably be back this year, so the competition is sure to be fierce."
While free covered wagon rides will take Hometown Holidays attendees up and down the length of Olympic Avenue that afternoon, from 12:30-4:30 p.m., starting from Arlington City Hall, the rest of downtown Arlington will offer its own festively themed attractions, from the Handmade Holiday Market at the Co-Op Supply store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to the Old-Fashioned Bake Sale at the City Hall plaza.
Further north on Olympic Avenue, the Local Scoop restaurant will be conducting its annual gingerbread house competition, while as far south as Smokey Point, the Stillaguamish Athletic Club will be kicking off its Toys For Tots Fun Run at 11 a.m. that same Saturday. Even earlier, on the evening of Friday, Dec. 6, Cascade Valley Hospital will be hosting Santa from 5-6:30 p.m., while the Legends of the Blues Concert is set to start at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m., for $15 a ticket.
"It takes a lot of different organizations to make this happen," said Lopez, who expressed her appreciation to Arlington's churches for chipping in for prizes for the best entries in this year's Santa Parade. "Nola Smith of Pacific Learning Solutions helped coordinate so much of this, and we'll be treated to the musical talents of Arlington High School, through John Grabowski's band and Jeff Swanson's choir. And if any kids are wondering whether Santa is real this year, all they have to do is see his real beard."
Those who wish to enter this year's Santa Parade may preregister at City Hall, located at 238 N. Olympic Ave. in Arlington, or on the day of the parade at the lineup point, between Fifth and Division streets on Olympic Avenue, no later than 11:15 a.m. For more information, log onto the city of Arlington website at http://arlingtonwa.gov or call 360-403-3448.