The Camas-Washougal winter holiday season kicks off this week with two of the biggest events — the Washougal Lighted Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting and Camas’ Hometown Holidays celebration — taking place today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 5-6, respectively.
Washougal Lighted Christmas Parade
The annual Washougal Lighted Christmas Parade and tree lighting event, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. today at Reflection Plaza, 1703 Main St., Washougal, will feature illuminated floats sponsored by local businesses and community groups, a tree-lighting, complimentary hot drinks and cookies, and opportunities to have photos taken with Santa Claus.
The annual parade through downtown Washougal showcases vehicles and floats adorned with bright lights to cut through the dark winter night.
On Friday, Dec. 6, the city of Camas’ annual Hometown Holidays extravaganza kicks off at 5 p.m. and runs until 8:30 p.m., with the tree lighting taking place in front of the Liberty Theatre at 6:30 p.m.
“This is one of our community’s favorite events,” Camas Special Events Coordinator Krista Bashaw said of the Hometown Holidays celebration she has coordinated for the past 14 years. “It gets us in the mood for the holiday and it brings our community together to share some of the joy of the season.”
This year’s Hometown Holidays will feature photos with Santa, craft booths through downtown Camas, hay rides, fireworks (weather permitting), “snow” during the lighting of the tree, musical and dance entertainment by Camas School District students, refreshments and street food vendors. This year’s event features 22 school and community choirs, bands and dancers.
The Downtown Camas Association is hosting its monthly First Friday event in conjunction with the Hometown Holidays celebration, which means most downtown Camas businesses will have after-hours shopping and specials, and downtown Camas art galleries will be hosting artist receptions to kick off new works of art featured throughout the month of December.
Hometown Holidays, hosted by the city of Camas, continues to be free thanks to the financial support of Columbia Credit Union, Windermere Real Estate, Unitus Community Credit Union, Downtown Camas Association, iQ Credit Union, Equipment Rental Services and in-kind donors and volunteers. All of the event activities, except for the food vendors and shopping at downtown businesses, are free.
The Camas School District is sponsoring a free parking shuttle for the second year in a row to help make parking at Hometown Holidays a bit easier. Four color-coded parking lots within one mile of downtown Camas will be part of the service, which stops at each of the parking lots and drops riders on Northeast Fourth Avenue, near Camas City Hall and the Camas Public Library. For more information, visit cityofcamas.us/parks and click on the “Hometown Holidays” link.
The “pedestrian corridor” also returns this year, with the south side of Northeast Fourth Avenue between Northeast Birch and Cedar streets marked off for pedestrians trying to move around the crowd that gathers near the tree and bandstands near Liberty Theatre in anticipation of the 6:30 p.m. tree-lighting. No stopping or standing will be allowed in the “pedestrian corridor” between 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. The area will be roped off, posted and staffed with volunteers to help keep pedestrian traffic flowing.
Participants are asked to leave their pet dogs at home, as the event — with its crowds and fireworks — is not dog-friendly. Families with young children and infants will be glad to know they can park their strollers at the festival information tent, located near Santa’s tent and that Journey Church is offering a quiet room for diaper changes and nursing mothers.
Liberty Theatre will show the 2003 holiday comedy movie, “Elf,” starring Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner and Bob Newhart, at 8 p.m., after the annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Washougal Festival of Trees
The 10th annual Washougal Festival of Trees will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Hathaway Elementary School, 630 24th St., Washougal.
“The festival is a community effort involving many businesses, organizations, school groups and over 100 individuals,” the event’s website states. “They decorate over 20 trees, donate more than 50 baskets of merchandise and devote many hours to create what has become a high point of the Washougal holiday season.”
People can bid on pre-decorated Christmas trees, enter into a silent auction for baskets of merchandise and/or enter raffles. The event, sponsored by the Washougal Lions Club, will also feature live music and refreshments.
Trees are donated by Washougal River Christmas Trees, and the baskets and raffle items are contributed by businesses and individual supporters in the Washougal/Camas area.
The net proceeds from the festival are distributed to the seven schools of the Washougal School District. Each school contributes a tree to the festival and receives the amount of the winning bids from their efforts. The remainder of the proceeds from the event are equally divided among the schools.
Breakfast, prepared by Washougal High School culinary students, will be served in the Hathaway cafeteria from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 7, at a cost of $3 per person. Photo opportunities with Santa Claus will be provided during that time.
Christmas Ships Parade
The Port of Camas-Washougal’s 65th annual Christmas Ships Parade will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Parker’s Landing Marina in Washougal.
The Port will host up to 30 decorated vessels and participants can gather inside the Port’s meeting room to view the passing ships, where free, hot cider and cookies will be served and Washougal High School carolers will entertain the crowd.
The first 100 children to arrive at the event will receive a free book courtesy of Printforia, a Port tenant. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Santa Claus will make one more weekend appearance at Grove Field on Sunday, Dec. 7, for the “Santa Fly-In” event, put on by the Camas-Washougal Aviation Association.
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the airport, 632 N.E. 267th Ave., Camas. Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive in an airplane at 10 a.m.
People can meet and take photos with Santa, see airplanes on display, and talk with flight instructors and airplane builders. Civil Air Patrol members will present information about their emergency services, aerospace education and cadet program missions during the event.