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Carols and lights usher in Christmas for downtown Hermiston

Hermiston’s biggest Christmas tree yet was lit up on Thursday.
Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on December 7, 2017 8:56PM

Last changed on December 8, 2017 5:27PM

Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Santa Claus, a.k.a. Hermiston city councilor Doug Primmer, waves to the crowd after arriving at the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris Santa Claus, a.k.a. Hermiston city councilor Doug Primmer, waves to the crowd after arriving at the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

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William Kern, 14, takes a photo with a cell phone of Caela Nygren, 15, Anani Medina, 15, and Jahaira Arteaga, 16, during the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

William Kern, 14, takes a photo with a cell phone of Caela Nygren, 15, Anani Medina, 15, and Jahaira Arteaga, 16, during the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

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Faith Stubbs, Derek McBride and Keali’imanaole Hamilton sing “So What” by Pink with the Hermiston High School a cappella jazz choir, Majazzty,  during the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Faith Stubbs, Derek McBride and Keali’imanaole Hamilton sing “So What” by Pink with the Hermiston High School a cappella jazz choir, Majazzty, during the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

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People queue in a line with their children to see Santa Claus underneath the Christmas tree at the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

People queue in a line with their children to see Santa Claus underneath the Christmas tree at the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

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Becky Buckmaster and her daughter Alexis, 6, pet one of the mules pulling a carriage at the  tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Becky Buckmaster and her daughter Alexis, 6, pet one of the mules pulling a carriage at the tree-lighting festival on Thursday in Hermiston.

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The temperature outside was frightful, but the choir was still delightful during Hermiston’s annual tree-lighting festival downtown on Thursday.

Cori Applegate, a teacher at Armand Larive Middle School, braved the cold specifically to hear Hermiston High School’s a cappella jazz choir Majazzty (pronounced “majesty”) sing before Santa Claus arrived to throw the switch for the 40-foot Christmas tree just down the street from city hall.

“I have a lot of past students that sing and I like to support them when they’re doing something fun,” she said.

The festival tied in with the Hermiston Downtown District’s First Thursday event for December, which drew some of the attendees into Main Street businesses with special deals and entertainment, but Applegate said she was waiting until after the choir was finished to take a peek at what the businesses had to offer.

On the other side of the massive tree, Rebecca LaBell was warming herself by one of the metal fire pits set up to add some break from the cold. She said she and her daughter came down to the city-sponsored event because they enjoy any excuse to get out of the house and mingle.

“We come to almost everything they have,” she said. “It gives us something to do.”

After Majazzty finished performing HHS junior Derek McBride said it “felt great” to be up there performing in front of the community. He said his favorite song the choir performed was Michael Bublé’s “Sway.”

“You can dance to it,” he said. “You can do a little cha cha, and I love the music break the piano and guitar have.”

After the choir, Mayor David Drotzmann warmed up the crowd for Santa.

“I think it’s awesome we as a community can get together and celebrate the season,” he told the crowd before thanking the event’s sponsors.

Drotzmann said this year’s giant Christmas tree was originally located in Victory Square Park and had been scheduled for removal because it was crowding out other trees and hanging over the street. If anyone has a large pine tree they’re looking to remove from their property, he said, let the city know and they can put it on the schedule as next year’s tree to decorate.

He encouraged everyone to take some time to check out the businesses participating in First Thursday before they headed home.

“There’s no place better to spend your money than downtown,” he said. “These are the guys that support your basketball teams, support your football teams, support your cheer team, and those dollars come from you spending your money here.”

Drotzmann’s speech was followed by sirens, as Santa Claus arrived on a fire truck and flipped the candycane-striped switch that lit up the towering Christmas tree for the holiday season.

“I wanted to get here in the St. Nick of time!” he said when Drotzmann teased that he had to stall for time.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.









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