Northwest NEWS

December 4, 2000

Local News

Woodinville Light Festival: present, past and future

* by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   On Dec. 8 people will be in the dark at Wilmot Park. That is, until 6:30 p.m.
   At that time, Mayor Randy Ransom and Santa Claus will flip the switch and a 90- foot Christmas tree will burst into a shower of dazzling white lights while lighted displays illuminate the park and river. Music piped through speakers will add to the festive mood at 6:45 p.m.
   This light-up ceremony marks the beginning of Woodinville's Light Festival. Over at Brittany Park and also beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the same night entertainment, Santa photos, crafts and a teen art show will commemorate the event.
   The Light Festival has become a Woodinville tradition and a part of the City's holiday celebration since 1997. Organized by Cindy Shelton, Recreation Supervisor of Woodinville's Parks and Recreation Dept., the festival has had various themes and activities each year.
   In 1997, for example, the event was held in a large circus tent on Sorenson field. The tree that year was only 40-feet tall and glowed in bright green lights.
   A horse-drawn covered wagon offered rides from the Park and Ride, down NE 175th to the Sorenson field.
   The following year, the festival moved from a country feel to a concert atmosphere with evening music and a magic laser show in De Young Park.
   Shelton has been behind-the-scenes each year, dreaming up activities and putting the festival together for the community's enjoyment. But her purpose for the festival is for more than a good time.
   Said Shelton, "A Council goal is to bring people together to feel a community connectedness."
   This is something she is familiar with, having grown up in Steamboat Springs, Colo. a resort town where community events are commonplace.
   "It's an old ranching community turned into a ski area," she said. Participating in community activities in Steamboat Springs gave Shelton the background skills she uses in organizing holiday events for Woodinville.
   Looking ahead to future light festivals, the Parks and Recreation Commission has an idea for connecting the tourist district to the downtown. They envision businesses along the Sammamish River decorated in lights during the Christmas season while gondolas carry tourists down the river to take in the spectacular view.
   But for now, Shelton is looking forward to this year's Light Festival and is working to make the 2000 event successful.
   Volunteers, ranging from kids to seniors, will assist in placing thousands of lights in displays, collecting canned food for Hopelink and helping with skate rentals.
   Lights will glitter from the 90-foot Christmas tree, located at GC Construction and seen from Wilmot Park, from 6 to 10 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 24.
   Other festival events include: 'Tis the Season Swing Dance at the Northshore Senior Center at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9.
   At the same time and place, Holiday Kid Zone will be available for a $7 fee. Pre-registration at Parks and Recreation is required. On Sunday, Dec. 10, doors are open at the Kingsgate Ice Arena for a free Santa Skate.
   For further information, visit www.woodinville-city.com.