White Salmon is bringing the cheer to this year’s holiday season with new holiday decor, a virtual tree lighting, and with some help from Community Partners, angels and ornaments which line the drive up Dock Grade road. In the virtual tree lighting event, hosted last Saturday on Mayor Marla Keether’s Facebook page, viewers are treated to a special presentation involving messages from city officials, community leaders, and, of course, Santa Claus.

“This isn’t quite the way tree lightings have looked in the past. But as we have all had to do this year, we’re continuing to rethink the ways things are done in order to keep a lot of traditions and practices that matter in an unusual time, and this is one of them,” said Keethler. “It is my hope that for these 10 minutes or so, by experiencing the same thing at the same time together, we can be a community together.”

The 13-minute-long video gives a history of the White Salmon tree lighting, presented by Community Partners president Lloyd DeKay.

“This has been going since 2006 now. It started with the White Salmon Arts Council and has been carried on for the past 10 years or more by community partners, with the help of a bunch of community elves, so we need to thank them,” said Dekay in an opening statement. “I want to thank the city for carrying it on this year when we couldn’t get together and have an in-person (ceremony).”  DeKay also talked about the lighting being a celebration of resident Bill Werst’s life, who passed earlier this year. He was heavily involved in community events and always wanted to do more for the community, DeKay said.

“If you didn’t know Bill, you missed something unique and wonderful. And if you did know Bill, you can’t help but miss him now,” said DeKay. “As far as I’m concerned this tree of hope and light is a tribute to Bill, and I miss his spirit every day.”

New to the community are snowflakes donned on light poles downtown, and the Season’s Greetings banner is up this year in time for the holidays (they were ordered in November 2019 and were not set up until after the holidays). Community Partners put up the ornaments again this year along Dock Grade road, and new to the arrangement are little “angels”, repurposed from ghost decorations created to celebrate Halloween. 

“My hope is that we will be able to add additional holiday decor in our downtown district each year to brighten up the season and people’s spirits,” said Keethler. “I think especially with the difficulties we’ve all faced due to COVID-19 throughout 2020, the extra cheer is a welcome greeting.”

To view to the virtual tree lighting, visit www.facebook.com/MayorMarla/videos/162111535596854.

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