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Kent to ring in holiday season with Winterfest

A Kent tradition: Santa Claus returns Saturday to greet the children at Winterfest. - Reporter file photo
A Kent tradition: Santa Claus returns Saturday to greet the children at Winterfest.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The holiday season officially kicks off in Kent with the 31st annual Kent Winterfest on Saturday.

The parade and tree lighting ceremony is expected to draw about 5,000 people to the heart of the city.

"Every year it's been growing," said Bill Westcott, event organizer. "We've had excellent weather in the past years."

The Kent Lions presents the celebration to the community each year. Foul fall weather has made it difficult to prepare for this year's festivities.

"We cut the tree down on Nov. 19, which was a really windy, nasty, rainy day," Westcott said. "So it was fun getting that tree erected in the park with all the gusty winds."

This year's 40-foot holiday tree comes from Berrydale Forest Christmas Tree Farm in Covington. Kent-based Mowat Construction brought a flat-bed trailer and crane and hauled the tree from Covington to downtown Kent. It took a day to assemble. It also took one full week to put up the 70,000 lights in Town Square Plaza.

The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. from Fourth Avenue and Ramsey Street and goes down Ramsey, stopping in front of the AMC Theater. There, Miss Cornucopia Kelli Sheldon will escort Santa and Mrs. Claus to a house at Kent Station. Mayor Suzette Cooke will welcome them to Kent.

The whole procession then will continue on holiday floats down Ramsey Street to Smith Street and Second Avenue, terminating at Town Square Plaza.

The parade includes the guests of honor, Santa and Mrs. Claus, Cooke, Sheldon and Bradon Davie, Kent Lions Club president.

Musical entertainment will be provided by the Kentwood Marching Band, Tahoma High School Drumline and the Kent Meridian Marching Band. The entire Kent Meridian Cheer Squad will be in the parade, as well as Relay for Life Marchers and representatives from Heavier Than Air Family Theatre.

There will be a float of 88 Girl Scouts, llamas and the city of Kent motorcycle brigade.

All parade participants will have some sort of lights or glow-sticks.

Merchants on First Avenue will be joined by members from community group Project Uth to help children create letters to Santa, cookies and ornaments from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Free popcorn, apple cider and hot cocoa will be available from 4 to 7 p.m. at Town Square Plaza.

Following the tree lighting will be an aerial fireworks display.

Cedar Heights Middle School Band, Mill Creek Middle School Choir, Kentlake High School Choir and the Soos Creek Elementary Choir will perform in the parade and after the tree lighting ceremony.

Winterfest has been well attended in the past, Westcott said.

"We have a hard time keeping up with the goodies," he said. "The line just snakes around the whole park for that stuff. As long as the weather cooperates it should be the same this year."

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Winterfest schedule, Saturday, downtown Kent

• 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. - First Avenue merchants provide children's activities

• 3:30 p.m. - Kent Library holiday reading

• 4-7 p.m. - Free popcorn, apple cider and hot cocoa in Town Square Plaza

• 4:30 p.m. - Santa Parade, beginning at Kent Station and ending at Town Square Plaza

• 5:30 p.m. - Tree Lighting at Town Square Plaza, across from Kent Library

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