Arlington celebrates ‘Hometown Holidays’

ARLINGTON — The Arlington community marked the start of its winter holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 3, with the return of its “Hometown Holidays.”

For Venea Dahlgren, this year’s Santa parade was doubly special. Not only was it the first Santa parade she’d attended since moving to Arlington five years ago, but two of her children were on the float for Pacific Learning Solutions, from which they’ve received tutoring.

“We usually do the Fourth of July parade, but we’ve never done the Hometown Holidays before,” Dahlgren said. “We’re cold weather wimps,” she laughed.

“It really kicks off the Christmas feeling,” said Venea’s husband, Mark Dahlgren.

Marty Schoos moved to Arlington with his family in 2004, and he figures they’ve attended the Santa parade every year since.

“As much as the wife and kids complain about the cold, they look forward to it and drag me here,” Schoos laughed. “The candy from the parade is a big hit with the kids, and the wife likes the 20 percent-off ‘Super Saturday’ sales at the shops on main street.”

“Seeing Santa gets me as excited for the upcoming Christmas season as it does the kids,” said Marty’s wife, Liz Schoos.

While the Arlington Farmers’ Market drew crowds to Magnolia Hall with their “Handmade Holiday” of handcrafted goods by local artisans, the Arlington Relay for Life was getting a head start on its next fundraising season with a Christmas bazaar of similarly individually made items, ranging from jewelry and other fashion accessories to edible treats.

Hailey Hathaway was actually selling her handmade bead likenesses of lizards and snakes to raise funds for the Marysville Tulalip Relay for Life, but the 11-year-old was a welcome presence among the Arlington Relay teams’ tables.

“I told her not to bring her beads, because she’d just make a big mess, but they’ve been selling really well,” said Hailey’s mother, Stacey Hathaway. “She made probably $130 or $150 last year for Relay from selling her bead geckos.”

Jan Schuette made 3,300 pieces of caramel for the Christmas bazaar, and expected to raise as much as $1,360 for Relay in honor of Jesse Kendell Schuette, who lost the battle to cancer just shy of 15 years old in 1995.

“I’ve made 46 batches and sold it online as far away as California,” Schuette said. “I’m not subtracting any expenses from the proceeds.”

As members of the Arlington High School band and the Gamlen family carolers spruced up the air with seasonal songs, the line to see Santa in the Legion Park gazebo stretched around the block. This year marks Nicole Tyler’s second winter holiday season in Arlington, but it was her first time taking her kids to sit on Santa’s lap in downtown Arlington.

“I just didn’t know about it last year,” Nicole Tyler said. “I think the most fun they’ve had has been at the arts and crafts tables, making paper gingerbread men and candy cane holders.”

Of her kids, Lilyonna asked Santa for a Nintendo DSi, Aliyah requested a purple camera and Tyler wanted Bumblebee, the Autobot Transformer, plus Batman’s Batcave.

Rory and Angie Bolter live in Lake Stevens, but as an Arlington police officer, Rory chuckled as he explained that he felt compelled to support Arlington’s economy by taking part in its “Super Saturday” sales on Dec. 3.

“There’s just something special about Arlington,” Rory Bolter said. “It’s got a hometown neighborhood feel. I’ve done most of my Christmas shopping here today,” he laughed.

“We come here instead of the mall,” Angie Bolter said. “It’s just as nice, but not as pricey.”

“[My daughter] Abby wants a dollhouse for Christmas, and her mom and dad want to help the city balance its budget,” Rory laughed.

The Arlington Community Food Bank got a boost amidst all the shopping, as 25 families donated at least $10 each to have their family holiday portraits taken by incoming Arlington City Council member Debora Nelson within the first hour alone of the four-hour photo session.

“Some families paid $40 to have four different photos taken of their kids,” said Jodi Smith, as she checked in the families for the food bank fundraiser. “Last year, we raised $600 and 600 pounds of food.”

“We usually get big crowds for the Hometown Holidays, but we’re seeing way more people this year,” said city Recreation Coordinator Sarah Lopez, who also credited the local Lifeway Foursquare Church with providing hot chocolate and the crafts for kids. “It helps that we’ve had good weather and lots of different community groups involved, but I also think people who checked out our Hometown Halloween might have decided that it was so much fun that they wanted to come back for the next big thing here.”


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