ARLINGTON — While there were a few new wrinkles to this year’s seasonal celebrations, Arlington’s “Hometown Holidays” on Dec. 7 still featured plenty of familiar favorites for the whole family, starting with the 20-minute Santa Parade at noon.
“The attendance and the weather were both great,” said Sarah Lopez, recreation manager for the city of Arlington. “I wasn’t sure if there were more or fewer people than last year, but Maxine Jenft said there were lots more people in town than usual.”
Before Santa Claus rode shotgun in his traditional seat on the covered wagon that provides rides up and down Olympic Avenue that Saturday afternoon, the rest of the Santa Parade’s entrants preceded him, from the Arlington Fire Department engine that’s been festively decorated to conduct the annual “Santa Run” throughout Arlington’s neighborhoods through Dec. 15, to the local packs of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
The Kent Prairie Elementary Coyotes marched south down Arlington’s main street, before they sang in the Legion Park gazebo that afternoon, while the Arlington School of Dance’s students strutted their stuff for onlookers lining the sidewalks.
Drill teams from as near as Everett and as far as Seattle and even Ballard likewise descended upon Arlington for the Santa Parade and subsequent tree-lighting in Legion Park, while the religious reason for the season was evident in the nativity outfits of the First Baptist Church and the Arlington Nativity Festival itself, the latter of which runs from 3-8:30 p.m. on Dec. 14-15 at the Arlington Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Lifeway Foursquare Church of Arlington treated the community to free cocoa and crafts for children of all ages, among them Gianna Morales and her mom Laura, as well as Jayona Battle and her grandfather, Bruce House, all of whom expressed their appreciation for the activity.
Adam Boylan, a 13-year-old student of Post Middle School, was chosen by Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert to conduct the tree-lighting at its new time this year, immediately following the Santa Parade.
“He got the Student of the Month award for October, he has perfect attendance and he just barely missed the Honor Roll,” said Don Boylan, Adam’s father. “Oh, and he’s also a member of Boy Scouts Troop 29. He’s a good kid.”
“It was nice having everyone join us at Legion Park right after the Santa Parade,” Lopez said. “That was the biggest crowd yet for the tree-lighting, and folks were saying this was the best the Christmas tree has ever looked.”
The Legion Park depot hosted Santa after the parade, as he posed for photos with the kids and listened to their Christmas wish lists. At 3 years old, Asher Wilson was still hesitant about getting too close to the big man in the red suit with the bushy white beard, but his 7-month-old sister Johanna was largely indifferent. By contrast, 15-month-old William Irwin and his 4-year-old sister Ella could hardly be dislodged from Santa’s lap after their photos had been snapped.
“She wants a Princess Bike, and I told her that, if she was an excellent girl, that might happen,” laughed Amy Jo Irwin, William and Ella’s mom. “This is only our second year here, but the Hometown Holidays have already become a family tradition for us.”
Lopez reported that Santa photo attendees were pleased with this year’s take-a-number innovation, which allowed them to shop, go on wagon rides and enjoy the entertainment in Legion Park, rather than waiting in line.
“What I enjoyed the most was that I had more help than usual this year with this event,” Lopez said. “Robin Miller helped with the Santa Parade and Santa photo lines, out IT Manager Bryan Terry also helped inside the Legion Park depot, my husband Dan took photos, the Lifeway Foursquare Church managed the emceeing, the Cub Scouts provided a warm fire and Nola Smith coordinated the musical groups in the Legion Park gazebo.”
Lopez invited anyone with any comments or suggestions for next year’s “Hometown Holidays” to call her at 360-403-3448 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.