Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brightening up the riverside: Grand balloon display greets participants at RedmondLights

Every December, for the past eleven years, the City of Redmond has held a community celebration called RedmondLights to mark the coming of the winter season, including the holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's.

It's one of my favorite holiday traditions because it revolves around people coming together, getting some good exercise, and sampling tasty food.

I just returned from this year's RedmondLights and wanted to congratulate the organizers for making the 2009 celebration the best yet. It was bigger and better than ever in almost every respect, despite the recession.

That's a tough feat to pull off.

Historically, RedmondLights has begun at City Hall with a stage choir, tree lighting, Santa's arrival, and a welcome from the Mayor of Redmond, followed by a walk along the illuminated Sammamish River Trail to Redmond Town Center, where local restaurants have booths set up offering free food and goodies.

Participants are always given little blinking lights at the beginning of the walk. Originally green and red lights were distributed in the shapes of Christmas trees and stars; then, for a few years, the lights were ball-shaped and could double as tree ornaments. More recently, organizers have selected blue and yellow star shaped lights. (This year's were exclusively blue). Along the trail, decorative lights, musicians, and a kayaking Santa usually enthrall walkers.

RedmondLights Grand Balloon Display
But in addition to the usual festivities, this year's RedmondLights included a grand balloon display at the trail's end, which was a huge hit.

The balloons were parked in a field not far away from a Living Nativity and hot chocolate stand, and they made for a picturesque scene, brightening up the riverside as walkers made their way into the heart of Redmond Town Center.

Everyone I talked to about the organization of this year's event raved about the balloons. I urge the organizers to make them a permanent fixture in the years to come. They're a great sight to see at the end of the RiverWalk.

Those who missed RedmondLights this year can feel free to mark their calendars for next year; the celebration is typically the first weekend in December. It has been on Sunday for most of its history, but was on Saturday for this year.


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