We’re headed toward that time of year when we often fill the dark and cold with good food, festive lights and happy sounds. We open our homes to friends, family…and sometimes the occasional mysterious guest with a bag full of goodies. On Saturday, December 7th, a crew of holiday helpers will warm up the season with Holiday Harbor Lights, an afternoon full of treats and treasures.
I spoke with Carroll Solomon of the Blaine Chamber of Commerce, which is putting together the events, which are centered around Blaine’s G Street Plaza. “It used to be a much simpler event; just turning on the lights and caroling,” she says. “But over the years more and more people have gotten involved.”
This year’s festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. with the Holiday Obstacle Dash, a fun run with impediments that takes place in Lincoln Park. And although it’s set up like a race, the focus is not on competition—rather, it’s meant to put smiles on the faces of kids and adults alike, as well as warm everyone up for the rest of the day’s activities.
Christmas music begins at 4:15 p.m. with the middle school band and high school choir working their way down to G Street Plaza. “We close down Peace Portal Drive for two blocks so people can be out in the street,” says Solomon.
Visitors might notice a new attraction in the plaza this year, freshly installed and rising above the buildings around it. It’s the star of the show, and the centerpiece of the day’s events. “At about 4:30 p.m., the choir and band start ‘O Christmas Tree,’” says Solomon. “Then, as the song winds down, suddenly the lights come on on our Christmas tree.”
After the old-fashioned holiday tradition of music and tree-lighting, it’s time to focus on the youngsters. Santa arrives around 4:45 p.m. in a horse-drawn carriage, and then leads the kids down the street to Border Town Pizza. “They decorate a banquet room as a winter wonderland, or Santa’s workshop,” Solomon says. There, kids will have the chance to let Santa know what they’d like for Christmas, and have their picture taken with the big man.
And then Solomon says the words that quickly capture all of my attention: “Outside, there will be a petting zoo.” That’s right—as kids wait in line for St. Nick and parents watch over all the fun, cuddly critters will be in attendance to keep everyone entertained.
Events are also planned in the days before and after the lighting celebration. The public library will hold its annual book sale on Friday and Saturday, while a craft show takes place at St. Anne’s church, on Saturday. “There will be an arts show in the pavilion across from the high school called the Holiday Lights Art Show from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday,” Solomon says, and businesses in the area will also join in the festivities.
Blaine has been hosting the tree-lighting for a long time now—long enough, in fact, that an exact number of years was hard to come by. “At least 20 years,” says Solomon, who has been with the Chamber for 15. “I came in 1996 as a volunteer, and within two months there was a staff opening. Over the years news positions opened up, and all of a sudden, I’m the volunteer coordinator.”
Beyond that job description, Solomon values the opportunity to help out with the holiday celebration, and she is quick to credit the folks outside the Chamber who lend a hand, as well. “The event is sponsored by the Chamber, but the City of Blaine is a big partner in what we do. The Northern Light newspaper contributes a lot, and they help promote it in a lot of ways.”
Have a look at the event schedule, and don’t forget about the art show, book sale and craft show that help round out the weekend. With events that will appeal to the whole family, the Harbor Lights celebration is a great way to kick off the holiday countdown.