Kids can leave their mark on downtown Pasco for the Christmas season by helping hang traditional ornaments on a holiday tree in Peanuts Park.
The Downtown Pasco Development Authority will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting and decorating ceremony from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Executive Director Luke Hallowell said the goal of “Christmas en la Plaza” is for people to create great memories that keep them coming back to downtown Pasco in the future.
He calls the event “one of the coolest bicultural, bilingual events.”
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“I think it’s fun to celebrate Christmas with your community. You get a chance (to celebrate) with family and friends, but this is a chance with your community,” Hallowell said.
“People can share the spirit of the season, which isn’t all about the shopping and the trinkets, but being together.”
Hallowell still encourages people to browse and buy from downtown stores. The organization is working on getting better lighting in the area, not just for the holiday season, so customers feel safe when wandering from shop to shop, he said.
Peanuts Park is the concrete plaza along Lewis Street, adjacent to Viera’s Bakery and the Pasco Farmers Market.
The downtown authority — which is partially funded with taxpayer dollars — is collaborating with a number of businesses and community groups.
The event’s main sponsors are Goodwill and PayneWest Insurance.
“It’s a great community effort, and we love that about it,” Hallowell said.
Organizers have prepared for more snow — or even rain — with tents and heaters. But they’re really hoping that when people plan their attire for the evening, they consider joining in the inaugural ugly Christmas sweater contest.
Hallowell got the idea from his wife, Jazmin, who buys ugly Christmas sweaters that are maybe worn once a year to a private family get-together, he said.
People can show off their sweaters in public, and perhaps walk away with a cash prize of $100, $50 or $25.
The three judges likely will rely on the crowd for help with their decision-making, Hallowell said.
Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins is expected to address the crowd, and Santa Claus will be on hand to visit with kids young and old.
Participants also will be able to light luminarias, or Christmas lanterns, either in honor or memory of a loved one.
The downtown authority will have tamales, champurrado — a Mexican hot chocolate and corn drink — and other refreshments.