I suspect it’s because so many Tri-Citians moved to Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland from somewhere far away. And thus we have wanted our Christmases here to acquire the warm, long-lived memories of our former hometowns.
Whatever the reason, we take great delight in our holiday lights. I noticed this not long after moving to Kennewick in 1976, when a casual office comment prompted Bill Bequette, then editor of the Herald, to tell me to take my wife and young son to see the displays on an area known as “Carol Lane.”
Homeowners there each Christmas set up elaborate displays labeled with mock sheet music for one of the dozens of our country’s favorites carols. Houses is the area, for Christmas at least, were known not by address but by their assigned Christmas carol — “Silent Night,” “White Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming,” and so on. Though some of the houses had been sold several times over, the displays and the themes remained, outlasting and outliving the original owners.
The first Christmas evening that we drove through the neighborhood west of Kennewick’s Garfield Street at the top of Garfield Hill was a delight. Bequette, who could be a gruff, hard-nosed boss, turned out to have a softer side, I had discovered.
And my family and I learned our new town had a side to it that brightened our Christmas, which was a little thin after absorbing all the costs of moving from Helena, Mont., and setting up a new household.
In the four decades since my family moved here, many holiday light displays and traditions have come, and alas, a few have gone. But at Christmas we still want a cheery, warm and bright celebration.
For any who might doubt it, they should drive through Pasco’s luminaria-lit streets, down Kennewick’s West Deschutes Avenue to see Senske’s amazing display of holiday lights (cited by one list-compiler as among the state’s top 10 displays of Christmas lights) or just take a drive through their neighborhoods.
You can count on it to make your Christmas a little merrier and brighter.
Ken Robertson, former Executive Editor