Winterfest is a gift from the Kent Lions to the community of Kent. Traditionally the day includes activities like games, cookie decorating, music, tree lighting with the mayor and the arrival of Santa Claus.
Due to recent statewide COVID-19 restrictions, the festival will be much different this year with no official programming. But the Kent Lions Club will continue the tradition of supplying the lights which are installed by the Kent Parks Department staff. The lights will go on over Thanksgiving weekend at Town Square Plaza, 115 Second Ave. N., across from the King County Library. An earlier announced public event sponsored by the Kent Downtown Partnership on Nov. 28 has been cancelled.
“The Lions have been putting together a Winterfest event for the city of Kent in various forms for over 40 years,” said Lions Club President Emily White in a Kent Downtown Partnership news release. “Earlier versions included a winter parade, in some years, the Lions partnered with local businesses and gave out bicycles as prizes.”
After the Town Square Plaza was built the event largely moved to that location. In past years, the Lions purchased a live tree for display at the park; however, when the location was updated to include a flagpole, a live tree was no longer an option. The Lions purchased and donated the current tree set-up to the city, whose parks staff installs and stores it when the tree is not in use.
The tree holds 54 strands of lights with over 10,000 lights in total. Including the lights in the trees and shrubs throughout the park, the displays add up to over 100,000 lights. The Lions supply the electrical needs for the tree in addition to the music program that accompanies the tree. The Lions also donate the cost of the lift and other equipment used to decorate the tree.
In typical years, the Lions host a hospitality tent, entertainment from local choirs and bands, storytelling at the library, a free raffle, and a visit from Santa Claus on the day of the tree lighting.
The Lions could not produce the tree lighting without the partnership and manpower from the city of Kent Parks Department. The city spends hundreds of hours in labor decorating the park as well as maintaining it throughout December to keep it in tip-top shape for the holidays.
The lights will be displayed Thanksgiving through Dec. 31.