The Duvall Christmas Tree done been lit.
And then it was unlit. And then lit again. But wait, no. Not so much. Unlit.
This happened several times and then people headed back to their cars in good spirits, confident that Public Works would get to the bottom of the mystery. These are the hazards you face in a city where the air is constantly breathing its moist mouth breath all over you and your children and your electrical circuits.
We should ask the Darringtons to count down from 10 again. If that doesn’t work, maybe we can switch back to lighting the huge evergreen tree near the entrance to McCormick Park. Remember how it used to shine like a gigantic glowing pickle, standing on end at the base of Stephens? Sweet memories.
Last evening started with a new and exciting twist on previous years’ events. It was announced that Santa and Mrs. Claus would travel down Main Street at 6pm, lighting the Christmas lights as they went. If I remember correctly, Santa normally goes stag to this event and he arrives by fire engine.
So, at 6pm we all stood around on street corners along 203, in front of the Old Armadillo BBQ and the old quilt shop and the old book store and the old library and the old Duvall Church, waiting and excited.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear but a Duvall police car making its way through rush hour traffic with lights flashing, as a person in a Grinch costume prowled nearby. Close behind them, the cutest ever Santa and Mrs. Claus stood on a sleigh being towed by the vintage True Value Hardware truck, smiling and waving as they commuted home with the rest of the Duvall workforce.
As they approached a particular block, the Christmas lights were not lit. But as they left the block, the lights were glowing. Like magic, pretty much.
If you’ve never been to the Duvall Tree Lighting, you’re missing out, and not because it’s a huge spectacular spectacle of epic proportions, but mostly because it’s not and everyone still goes and loves it and it feels like home.
I was talking to a friend at the event last night and he said, “It kind of feels like a family reunion every year.” And it does. If a Rockefeller Center or Westlake Center tree lighting ceremony is like the old Microsoft company picnics back when the corndogs and Indian food and bouncy houses were flowing like the Snoqualmie river in November, then the Duvall Tree Lighting is like eating peanut butter sandwiches your great aunt made, while sitting on a park bench and wondering where all your little cousins’ pants went.
The sandwiches taste good, you like your cousins, and they’re cute running through the sprinkler, but seriously, where are their pants?
There are certain staples every year, like the opportunity to take a picture with the Holiday Heifer. Inexplicably, in ten years I have never been able to convince my kids to do this. They think it’s weird. Well, I think they’re weird. So, I guess we’re even.
There are the Little League carnival games that remind you that, “Seriously? It’s time to sign up for spring baseball already?” Yep. It is. Now throw these rings over a few bottles and win a sticky hand, why don’t ya?
Hot drinks from the churches. Liquid sugar to warm you up, religion to warm your soul.
They always have a tent full of hay so kids can gleefully jump in and throw said hay in order to then become angry because hay is touching them.
Usually Duvall Performing Arts has something up their sleeve. This year it was reindeer candy cane crafts and matching reindeer dancers.
Cherry Valley Elementary choir always performs. They blew our faces off this year with their well-prepared holiday musical stylings. Props to Mrs. Farley. And the kids, I suppose.
There are carolers and dance numbers and emergency vehicles. So many emergency vehicles. And the fire engine and the patrol car and the aid cars are not there in case of emergency. They’re there so the first responders can have yet another opportunity to connect with the community. I’d say my positive to negative interaction with our police and firefighters and paramedics is about 30:1.
Okay 31:1 because rather than nefariously and illegally speeding through the eternal 20 MPH speed zone around Judd Park and getting pulled over yesterday, I chose instead to sit in the patrol car at the tree lighting and flip the red and blue lights off and on repeatedly while an officer smiled and offered me a sticker.
The Duvall PD Christmas giraffe glowed proudly in the background.
And it’s all included with the price of admission, which is free.
When I walked around at the tree lighting last night, it occurred to me that I probably knew at least one in four people at the event. That’s part of what makes it so special. We’re a small and tight-knit community. If you’re new or just haven’t engaged before, hang out at the library, sign your kids up for sports, come to a few events, volunteer at one of the schools, shop in town, or audition for a CCT play. In short order, you’ll be hip to the family reunion vibe as well.
The annual tree-lighting is a can’t-miss event put on by and attended by an army of volunteers and friends who love our city and know what makes it great. Us. All of us. And the heifer.
The tree is probably, most likely, almost for surely lit at this point.
Christmas is now.