Festival of Lights starts Friday night

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MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLDA bedecked logging truck with a load lit up like a batch of candy canes makes its way down Main Street during the Festival of Lights parade in Montesano last year. The Festival of Lights was voted Grays Harbor's best festival.
MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLD A Montesano fire truck inches through downtown Montesano Saturday night carrying the Bulldog drill team during the annual Festival of Lights parade.
MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLD A Quigg Brothers truck with Santa at the wheel cruises through downtown Montesano during the annual Festival of Lights Grand Parade Saturday night. A thousands of people lines the parade route to watch the illuminated procession despite freezing temperatures.
MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLD A Yule log fire warms Festival of Lights die hards at Fleet Park in Montesano Saturday night. The festival continues today with a yule log hunt at Schafer State Park and a Christmas Cantata musical presentation at the Montesano United Methodist Church.

Expect sugary smiles and sweet tooth-filled grins during this year’s Festival of Lights with the appropriate theme, “A Candyland Christmas.”

Organizer Moraya Wilson says the theme was chosen by this year’s committee to reflect the time families spend together.

“It brings back the memories of playing board games and family time,” Wilson said. “It’s little kids laughing and trying to beat your older siblings or getting together as siblings to beat the parents. It’s just about having fun.”

And fun is just what the Festival of Lights has always been about.

Here’s what the kids probably want to know first: Santa will be making an appearance from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Marni’s Petal Pushers, at Monte Square, 100 Brumfield Ave. No. 5. Right after, the big parade starts at 6 p.m. with the annual lighting of the yule log at Fleet Park at 7 p.m.

And there’s one significant change from previous year’s festivals — there will be no Cantata this year at the United Methodist Church. It has usually been on the Sunday of the same weekend of the festival. The timing just didn’t work out this year, despite what’s in the festival programs, church organizers told The Vidette.

And although there’s sure to be lots of smiles all over, some explanation is likely in order to tell the kids that there’s no special bus ride for folks to take this year to visit all of the houses decorated in great style.

The Festival of Lights will have to do without that favorite tradition — and this is one you really can blame the federal government on.

The days of Grays Harbor Transit picking up thousands of enthusiasts and taking them throughout the city on a look at some of the best-decorated homes across the Harbor is over. Instead, because of new federal regulations governing the way Transit allows the buses to operate, thousands of cars will have to take a self-guided tour.

Maps of the route will be handed out to residents at the annual parade on Dec. 14. And The Vidette has re-printed the map in this special section.

Transit Director Mark Carlin says that a re-examination of 2008 federal transit laws made him realize that the Transit service could be putting its federal grant funds in jeopardy. The thought is that government-owned Transit services should not be creating special services to directly compete with a private coach business.

The rules really came down hard on Transit services in the Puget Sound area and shut down special Seahawks and Mariners buses. Carlin said he honestly never thought the rules would impact small town services such as shuttling around residents and tourists in Montesano to look at Christmas lights. However, a recent examination by an expert with the state Department of Transportation led Carlin to believe different.

To be clear, Transit never received an audit finding from the State Auditor.

But Carlin didn’t want to risk it. It may have been possible to continue the Transit shuttles if it were on a regular route, but because Transit also no longer runs on weekends, that alternative also proved a problem.

Wilson said organizers looked into the possibility of shuttles or chartering buses, but it has proven too expensive in the past. Transit provided their buses for free as a community service.

“It’s sad but we’ll make do with the self-guided tours,” she said.

Extra police will be on hand the night of the Festival of Lights for traffic control, she said.


This year’s festival starts Friday at 10 a.m. with an art show by local artist Ken Hurley in the Whitney’s Chevrolet showroom, which continues Saturday and Sunday.

The big Friday event is at 6:30 p.m. at the Montesano High School commons with a music review featuring some of the best singers on the Harbor.

The event continues Saturday at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at Montesano City Hall. Cost is $5 per person and breakfast goes until 10:30 a.m.

The Craft Fair and Bazaar with many local wares and artist displays goes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Montesano Junior High gym.

The county courthouse will be open for special tours from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will stay open for a special concert Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., with the Simpson Elementary Choir at 1 p.m., the Montesano High School flutists at 2 p.m. (replacing the Sylvan quartet because half the singers are sick); and the Montesano High School choir and brass at 3:30 p.m.

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Montesano Fire Department is taking donations for its chowder feed at 310 E. Pioneer Ave. and the Moose Lodge will be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a home-made chili and cornbread at a cost of $3 per person.

The library will also be open for an open house from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.


The annual Jingle Bell Jog, a two-mile fun walk or a 10K race starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Pre-register at Montesano High School at a cost of $20 for adults or $15 for children or go to the event and the cost is $25 for adults on site and $17 for children. Meet Saturday morning at the corner of Pioneer and Fleet Street. Contact Justin Raines for more information at (360) 249-4041.