It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in MI Town with the Monmouth Garden Club Annual Greens Sale, followed by parades and the 49th annual tree lighting on the Western Oregon University campus last Friday. What a treat to see the giant sequoia tree all decked out for the season and to enjoy music and laughter, and to see friends and family members gathered together at campus events.

When Santa arrived in Independence via train on Saturday afternoon to visit happy and excited kids of all ages, the saying, “It takes a village …” was reinforced even more because of the cooperation of local merchants and organizations. Chase Bar and Grill sponsored Santa’s visit, FCR provided candy; Arena Sports Bar and Grill gave candy canes; the Independence Women’s Club served hot dogs; and Grove Community Church gave cups of welcome hot chocolate. Thanks to Toys for Tots for the gifts provided to all children in attendance. The warm and happy feelings and kindness shown will keep us celebrating the Christmas season all month long.

Companies are hiring, and the economy is improving, but there are many individuals and families in MI Town who need some assistance, especially this time of year when cold weather means higher utility bills and other expenses. Central High School students are coordinating with several local churches and the Independence Elks Lodge to provide 250 local families with food baskets for Christmas dinner, and could use donations of money and time to help make good things happen for those who need a little help. Those who would like to volunteer can come to the downstairs dining room at the Elks Lodge beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 21 to put food boxes together. For more information, please call 503-838-1850. The lodge is located at 289 S. Main St. in Independence.

How about taking a trip down Memory Lane without leaving MI Town. Enjoy the songs and stories at this beloved musical event. This evening through Saturday, Central High School presents “White Christmas” at 7 p.m., with a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. Prices are $8 for adults, $5 for students with ID. Exceptions: the Saturday evening performance will include dinner for $20, and tonight’s opening ticket price for students is $3. Jeff Witt and Wendy Boyack co-direct an enthusiastic and talented cast. We’re looking forward to a good time.

There’s still time to participate in the Gingerbread House Contest at the Monmouth Public Library. Bring your decorated creation to the library by Saturday. All ages can enter, library patrons can vote on their favorite house, and the winner will receive a prize.

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