Lebanon Christmas gallery: Small town, big hearts make holiday cheer

The past few weeks have been a flurry of holiday delight in Lebanon as excitement for the Christmas (and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas and Winter Solstice) season builds up.
The Lebanon Downtown Association held its First Friday event on Dec. 2 with an endearing theme, “A ‘Hallmark’ Holiday: A Love Story Between a Small Town and its Community.” Santa was spotted walking up and down Main Street while a witching group of ladies in white sang carols to business owners and bystanders. Some who strolled downtown were taken by surprise to find snow drifting down around them. It was discovered the “snow” was soap-like suds being blown from the second story of the old Lebanon Hotel.

A witch-themed dance troupe performs under the gazebo at Ralston Park after the lights went live Dec. 3.

The following evening, Dec. 3, downtown was again the gem of the city as crowds lined Main street and packed around Ralston Park for the annual Holidays in the Park Twilight Parade. The Scalawags FIRST Robotics Team 1359 was this year’s grand marshall, which also delighted people with a sudsy-snow-blowing experience. The 2023 Strawberry Court made their first official appearance, followed by the Volkswagon club with its Christmas-lighted cars and one VW-drivin’ Grinch. A float from Cascades Elementary joined the parade with a lighted trailer (and warm fire pit) decorated according to this year’s parade theme, “Christmas Vacation.”

Prior to the lighting of the tree, Holidays coordinator Dala Johnson asked the crowd to spare a few minutes of their time for a special candlelight vigil in honor of 14-year-old Thomas Radley, who has been battling a rare cancer for a year (see our story at https://www.lebanonlocalnews.com/family-embraces-one-last-holiday-with-thomas-radley/).

The Road Maggots parade through town Dec. 11.

And once again, the Road Maggots did not disappoint with their annual Milkman Mike Toy Run on Dec. 11. The power of the run could be felt internally as dozens of motorcycles roared up and down Santiam Highway before landing at The River Center. There, hundreds of toys donated by the Road Maggots and other donors were gathered for the River Center’s Lebanon Christmas Toy Program. Santa Claus, the Grinch, and Buddy the Elf with his love, Jovie, were on-hand to spread Christmas cheer. A chili cook-off event followed at The River Center, with the Road Maggots as judges.

FFA elves, from left, Adria Harter, Erika Armstrong, Alyssa Baker and Autumn Newton gather around Santa Claus (Mike Varner).

Santa Claus made appearances at various other locations, including the Lebanon High School Land Lab where FFA students sold Christmas trees, handmade ornaments and wreaths. Santa posed for photos surrounded by presents, Christmas trees and… a sheep? That’s right. Those who posed with Santa were given an opportunity to include a real sheep or horse in the photograph.

~~Sarah Brown, Lebanon Local