Holiday festivities in Camas, Washougal take on new flavor during COVID-19

With traditional celebrations canceled, cities plan alternative events

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many traditions in Camas and Washougal this year, including high school graduations in June, the annual Camas Days celebration in July, the Washougal Arts Festival in August, sporting events throughout the fall and even big family gatherings this Thanksgiving.

Now, the pandemic has canceled two more popular local traditions: Hometown Holidays in Camas and the annual lighted Christmas parade and tree lighting event in downtown Washougal. 

To make up for these cancellations, city and business leaders in Camas-Washougal have created new winter holiday festivities to help families enjoy a little bit of the holiday spirit this December without sacrificing their own safety or contributing to rising COVID-19 transmission rates in both communities. 

‘Winter Wonderland’ coming to Camas Dec. 1-12

The city of Camas’ annual Hometown Holidays celebration, which includes a tree-lighting ceremony, photos with Santa Claus, free hot cocoa and entertainment on pretty much every corner of the historic downtown, regularly draws thousands to Camas in early December each year. 

With COVID-19 rates on the rise, however, city leaders were forced to cancel the 2020 Hometown Holidays celebration. 

Instead, the Downtown Camas Association, downtown Camas merchants and Camas Parks and Recreation Department have teamed up this year to create a new Winter Wonderland celebration in the city’s historic downtown, Dec. 1-12. 

Included in the Winter Wonderland festivities are the following events: 

  • Holiday window stories: Each day of the 12-day event, starting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, the DCA will post the first half of a locally written winter- or holiday-inspired short story on their Facebook page at facebook.com/downtowncamas. A participating merchant will then post the rest of the story in their storefront window. To learn more about this event, visit downtowncamas.com/event/for-the-love-of-winter-stories-that-warm-your-heart. 
  • Winter Wonderland window displays: Shoppers can vote on their favorite holiday window display in downtown Camas on First Friday, Dec. 4. Participating merchants will decorate their windows and have a hidden woodland critter in the display for children to find. Voting slips are available at Papermaker Pride, 339 N.E. Fourth Ave.
  • Cookie Walk: Grab a “cookie bag” at Papermaker Pride at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, during the December First Friday celebration and visit participating merchants for free, individually wrapped cookies. 
  • Giving Tree: Participating merchants will have “giving trees” in their businesses, donated by Craft Warehouse, with tags showing gifts needed to help local families in need. Visitors can grab a tag, purchase the gift and donate it to help families who are struggling to make ends meet this holiday season. 
  • Children’s activity bags: Camas Parks and Recreation Department is donating winter-inspired activity bags for children. The activity bags can be picked up at City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave., during business hours, Monday, Dec. 7 through Saturday, Dec. 12.

Washougal plans virtual tree lighting, ‘Ho Ho Holiday’ drive-thru

The city of Washougal had to cancel its traditional Downtown Washougal Christmas Tree Lighting and Lighted Parade due to COVID-19, but Rose Jewell, the city’s event coordinator, said city leaders still wanted to celebrate the holiday season with the community. 

“Our two new special holiday celebrations have been designed to help our community enjoy safe, socially distanced connections and bring some joy at this time of uncertainty,” Jewell said. 

The annual tree lighting event at Reflection Plaza will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook site, at facebook.com/WashougalGov, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, and will include duets performed by Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton and community member Rod London. The event will culminate with Santa Claus, Washougal Mayor Molly Coston and other special guests lighting the 40-foot tree with a touch of a button.  pushing the button to power the 40-foot lighted tree at the Plaza.  The entire event will be available to watch via live stream on the City of Washougal Facebook page at facebook.com/WashougalGov

The city will host its new “Ho Ho Holiday Drive-thru at the Plaza” even from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 on Pendleton Way between “C” and Main streets in downtown Washougal. 

“Santa will be there in his sleigh to wave to families who will drive past,” Jewell said. “Then, city officials will be handing out safely prepared goodie bags for each child in the cars. We can’t hold a big parade, but we hope having Santa available to say hello will create a special afternoon for our Washougal families.”

For more information visit cityofwashougal.us/HoHoHoliday.