The festivities that ring in the season start in Monmouth at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 — all centered around the campus of Western Oregon University, celebrating its 52nd annual tree lighting.
At 6 p.m., the holiday parade marches through downtown Monmouth and onto campus.
The parade includes lighted entries from campus groups, local organizations and Polk County Fire District No. 1.
Santa Claus rides a brightly lit fire engine to the Werner University Center, where he will be available for photos with Mrs. Claus throughout the evening.
The entire campus will go dark before the 132-year-old sequoia tree will come alive with lights in dramatic fashion, and then festival-goers can make their way to the Werner Center or down to the Historic Gentle House.
The Werner Center will bustle with activities, from music to crafts for the whole family.
Perhaps the most fun is the annual cookie bake-off, where students, staff and faculty submit their best cookies, and the public gets to be the judge. Before you leave campus, make your way to Gentle House for the annual Wine, Warmth and Music, starting at 7 p.m.
Making Spirits Bright
The second annual Making Spirits Bright event starts with a 5K Reindeer Fun Run on Dec. 7 at Main Street Park.
The full event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Main Street Park.
The 5K is made possible by a recreation grant from the city of Monmouth and is being organized by Western Oregon University’s campus recreation and athletics departments.
All proceeds will go to Toys for Tots and Hungry Like A Wolf Community Food Pantry. It’s a chance for all ages and abilities to get out and about in the city and campus neighborhoods.
There also is a 1K geared toward families who are invited to participate as teams and dress up in themed costume.
The 5K is a more traditional course with all paying participants receiving a commemorative T-shirt. There will be a holiday bazaar, kids craft corner, entertainment, sing-along, games, food trucks, and passport for prizes.