Due to COVID-19 concerns, the City of Lakewood is reimagining two of its annual holiday festivities: its virtual tree lighting ceremony and Parade of Lights.
“Lakewood has had a lot of long-standing traditions since becoming a city,” said Sally Martinez, parks and recreation coordinator of Lakewood. “We’ve really continued to be nimble and flexible, and think outside of the box to carry on those traditions.”
The 24th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, which normally takes place in front of Lakewood’s City Hall, will happen virtually this year.
The event, which coincides with a city council meeting Monday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m., can be viewed live on the City of Lakewood’s YouTube channel. The ceremony will include special greetings from the mayor, deputy mayor, and city council members.
Holiday music will be performed by local artist Crystal Wolf.
“Community connection is really important to us,” said Shannon Kelley-Fong, the City’s senior policy analyst and acting communications manager. “Being able to have continuity during this time and finding ways to maintain those community connections is vital.”
Guests are welcome to drive by City Hall to view the tree’s bright lights for the rest of the holiday season.
Another fun Lakewood tradition is the annual Parade of Lights. Typically, the festivity normally includes a variety of lighted floats, vehicles, and marching bands passing through a downtown route as spectators watch from the sidelines.
This year, the parade will become a stationary display of decorated and lighted floats — in effect a ‘reverse’ Parade of Lights.
On Dec. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., onlookers can drive along Perimeter Road, beginning near Panera Bread at Lakewood Towne Center, to see the illuminated displays.
Many new and former participants will be there, including popular U.S. Army Stryker vehicles and Humvees, performances by the Lakes High School Cheer Team, as well as a bedecked Clover Park School District bus and Seahawks and Seattle sports-themed vehicles from the Wheels of Boom Car Club.
Prizes will be awarded for the most original, most spirited, and best-themed display. Those wishing to participate were encouraged to do so by filling out an application by Dec. 1.
A special visitor from the North Pole will be in attendance with his elves to hand out gifts to the first 500 guests that drive by. The Grinch, who has become a staple at many Lakewood holiday events, will also be joining the festivities.
“It’s great to see the progression of families attending events with their children and children growing up and in college; and as adults, they’re still coming back,” said Martinez. “We really want to keep those traditions going however we can.”
The City of Lakewood itself will mark its 25th anniversary this February. To celebrate the occasion, a 25th Anniversary Art Contest is in the works; it will open for submission around mid-December through January, and include monetary prizes. Check back for more details.