When he’s not delivering toys to the world’s children, Santa Claus spends a lot of time sitting. At events across the country, Santa spends hours sitting in a chair as children clamber onto his lap, impart their Christmas wishlist and pose for a photo.
With other Pendleton community events already hosting their own seated Santas, the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Department is deciding to change things up with a pair of events it’s collectively calling “Santa in Motion.”
Instead of a “carb-heavy” meal at the department’s usual “Breakfast with Santa” event, Casey Brown, the department’s special events coordinator, said the Helen McCune Recreation Center will host “Dodgeball with Santa.”
Instead of just sitting on his lap, the city is challenging locals to play a friendly game of glow-in-the-dark dodgeball.
Competitors who play in the 8-16 or adults divisions will get a shot at prizes, spectators can get popcorn and everyone will get a chance to take a candid photo with jolly ol’ St. Nick himself at the Helen McCune Recreation Center. Although Santa will be on hand for the festivities, Brown said he’ll act as a referee and not as a player.
Teams of five can register for $20. The registration deadline is Nov. 27.
Brown said physical activities like dodgeball are more in line with one of Parks and Rec’s mottos: “Go play outside!”
Kids will get the chance to do just that with the second half of the department’s new initiative — “Skating with Santa.”
Kris Kringle will don a pair of ice skates and take to the ice rink at Roy Raley Park on Dec. 16.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Santa will be available for pictures while other children’s activities are available on the ice. Department staff will be on hand to provide warm drinks at the concession stand and maintain a bonfire.
The event is free, but children under 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
• The Pendleton Holiday Stroll is back for another year of downtown sauntering.
Like last year’s inaugural event, the Pendleton Downtown Association gathering will feature sales and special offers from several downtown restaurants merchants, including Pendleton Music Company, Antiques on Main and Calico Country Florist.
Some restaurants and stores will also be offering free hot chocolate to visitors.
It will also arrive with some new twists.
Association Executive Director Molly Turner said attendees can grab a punch card when they arrive, and if they get it stamped by seven of nine participating businesses, they’ll be entered into a raffle for a new guitar.
This year’s event will also feature the lighting of a community Christmas tree to mark the beginning of the holiday season.
Located in front of Hamley’s at the corner of South Main Street and Court Avenue, Turner said Pendleton City Councilor Neil Brown will give an introduction before the 12- to 14-foot tree is lit. Once the holiday season is over, Turner said the tree will be planted in a city park. Anyone who is interested in helping decorate the tree can contact the association at 541-304-3912.
The stroll is on Dec. 9 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the tree lighting at 5 p.m.
• It may go under a new name, but the event formerly known as the Festival of Trees offers similar holiday fun for a good cause.
The festival is now known as WinterFest, but will still feature the St. Anthony Foundation transforming the Pendleton Convention Center into veritable winter wonderland.
Soundtracked by a local jazz band, attendees won’t just get to stroll among specially decorated Christmas trees, but they’ll get a chance to bid on them. Pre-lit trees and centerpieces will also be available for sale.
Those that participate in the “Find the Pickle” scavenger hunt will get a chance at winning prizes like wine and holiday decor.
The “evening celebration” will be at the Pendleton Convention Center from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Dec. 1. Tickets are $35.
Visitors will also be treated to a prime rib and seafood dinner. The event will benefit the Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon, Pioneer Relief Nursery and the hospital foundation.
The convention center will host a follow-up “family day” with a visit from Santa Claus and other children’s activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 2. Admission is free.
• Just down the road, Pilot Rock has a winter fest of its own under a slightly different spelling.
Organized by the Pilot Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Winterphest Holiday Bazaar & Light Parade will start with a bazaar at the Pilot Rock Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Once everyone has had their fill of homemade goods, the annual light parade will start at 5 p.m. Stick around longer, and the chamber will provide chili and hot chocolate in the Pilot Rock City Council chambers as organizers announce prizes for the best floats.