From street project to annual celebration – The evolution of the Tree Lighting Ceremony

There’s no doubt this City knows how to put on a show for Christmas.
This year marks 15 years of Creswell’s Tree Lighting Celebration, though it has evolved significantly since its Dec. 18, 2003 debut.
The tree lighting celebration was first identified as an ”Oregon Avenue streetscape project dedication ceremony” in the 2003 Chronicle archives.
Helen Hollyer first reported that between 250 and 300 attendees showed up between Front and Third streets to admire the just-lit streetlights dressed with bows and banners. Live music by keyboardist Maurice McConnell, saxophonist Sean Flannery and the Creswell Presbyterian Church choirs set the tone for the evening. Santa Claus, played by Hugh Turnbull, set up shop at Apple Annie’s Espresso and Deli.
The idea of this event was to ”make downtown flourish” with continuing efforts to attract businesses to Creswell’s central business district, according to Chronicle archives.
Looking back years later, it seems the project has done just that, and still continues to do so.
This year’s 15th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration, put on by the Creswell Chamber of Commerce and its warriors of volunteers, has evolved to include breakfast with Santa, a holiday market, a festival of trees, library activities, a light parade, face painting and balloon-making, as well as a slew of live music to boot.
Creswell Kiwanis Club puts on Breakfast with Santa, hosted by Joe’s Diner, 230 E. Oregon Ave., from 8 to 11 a.m. and dedicate funds to the Food4Kids backpack food program at Creswell School District.
Kiwanians have raised and reinvested over $250,000 back in to programs such as this in the Creswell community since being organized 26 years ago, said Donald Ehrich, Kiwanis president.
”Last year, that meant nearly $1,000 went to stock backpacks with food that kids in our community pick up on Fridays after school to ensure they have something to eat over the weekend,” Ehrich said.
The Creswell Holiday Market was jumpstarted a couple of years ago, and saw much success last year. The Holiday Market runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Creswell Community Center, 99 S. First St. Hours have expanded and so have the amount of vendors. There will be 22-plus local vendors from Creswell, Veneta, Lorane, Pleasant Hill, Cottage Grove, Springfield and Eugene.
There you’ll find local crafters such as custom woodworking by Creswell’s John Rea and wooden gifts by Creswell’s Kurt Blachnik; Sudsy Sasquatch soaps by Tiffany St. Clair of Cottage Grove; aprons and quilts by Lorane’s Jeri Porter; and unique wall hangers by Springfield’s Nancy Sampson, to name a few.
During the Market, there will be raffles for two trees, with decorations by Burlap & Lace and Creswell Insurance. This is a fundraising effort for the Chamber. The Chamber will also be selling pizza, soda and water during the event, as well as a variety of homemade Christmas candied and caramel apples.
The City of Creswell will host a Build a Park activity at City Hall, from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Children and parents can take miniature equipment, place it on a green board and design a park for Creswell. Check out this week’s ”Park design input” story on the front page for more information.
The Creswell Festival of Trees – a Creswell Library fundraiser event – will be held for the second year, after a hiatus, and will be held at Creswell Grange, 298 Oregon Ave. You can check out the trees from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Creswell Girl Scouts – with the help of residents Shelley Humble and Patti Scott – are spearheading the fundraiser.
There will be child craft activities and storytime with Mrs. Claus at Creswell Library, 64 W. Oregon Ave., from 1 to 3 p.m.
There will also be a cookie decorating at Creswell Grange during the Festival of Trees at 298 W. Oregon Ave., where kids can decorate cookies.
The Second Annual Holiday Light Parade and Tree Lighting will be from 5 to 7 p.m., and will run along Oregon Avenue from Fifth to First streets in downtown Creswell. Creswell High School Band, Blondie’s Blooms, Springfield’s Logos Christian Academy Band, the Leonard family and Sanipac will be participating in the parade. And of course, Al January will be carting around Santa Claus in his classic red convertible.
Santa will arrive at the Creswell Community Center at the end of the light parade. Crafters and food will be available until Santa leaves around 7 p.m.
The Tuba Ensemble and Creswell Community Singers will perform live at the South Lane County Fire & Rescue Firehouse from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Attendees can warm up with free hot chocolate at the Creswell Chamber office from 4 to 6 p.m., located at 95 W. Oregon Ave. and hop over to Creswell Dental Clinic at 225 W. Oregon Ave. for some fun. The clinic’s Dr. Greenwood and his staff will be offering face painting, balloon animals, temporary tattoos and Christmas cookies.
For more info, contact the Chamber office at 541-895-4398, and check out the holiday advertisements in this week’s edition.
Happy holidays, Creswell!



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos