Santa’s arrival in Woodinville was uniquely different. Rather than wearing out his reindeer before the big day, he allowed an antique fire truck to carry him to the tree lighting ceremony Saturday, Dec. 7.
Once reunited with Mayor Elaine Cook, the two joined forces to light the infamous tree and spread Christmas cheer across the city.
Woodinville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kimberly Ellertson said the tree was planted a few years earlier when Winterfest was moved to DeYoung Park.
“The tree grows with the community,” she said. “It will get much bigger.”
Event Manager Jeanie Rash said the event first started at Windermere Real Estate with a Santa event that grew over the years. Eventually, the annual celebration was taken over by the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce.
Ellertson said the day began at Wilmot Gateway Park for the Winterfest 5K and 10K, followed by a finishers celebration. She said Winterfest partnered with the Forgotten Children’s Fund to provide toys to children whose families may not be able to put presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Later in the evening, community members gathered at DeYoung Park. The holiday fair featured seasonal activities and treats provided by the Chamber and Winterfest sponsors. The property owner, TRF Pacific, also helps sponsor the event.
Ellertson said the mission of Winterfest is to encourage a sense of community and promote local wineries, breweries, businesses and agriculture.
The park was filled with activities and crafts sponsored by local businesses. Woodinville Sports Club provided games for children and adults. Sammamish Valley Grange hosted a wreath-making table. The Woodinville Rotary Club also offered arts and crafts. Chick-Fil-A even set up a booth with chicken sandwiches.
While children did crafts, parents huddled in the beer and wine garden. Lots of hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies were offered at various booths.
Choir students from East Ridge Elementary performed on stage for all to watch. Choir director Janie Anderson said the fourth and fifth graders started rehearsing in October.
The students featured festive winter songs for all holidays. Anderson said the students performed “Jingle Bells,” which is known as a classic Christmas song, but was actually meant to be sung on Thanksgiving.
She said the choir wants to “focus more on inclusion.” Instead, their theme places emphasis on holiday spirit, rather than celebrating just one holiday.
This year, a special surprise was provided by one of the singers in Teatro ZinZanni prior to the arrival of Santa.
Ellertson said this is the first year Teatro ZinZanni has made an appearance at Winterfest.