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Holiday parades and light shows kick off across Cowlitz County this weekend

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Tree lighting

A crowd watches the Christmas tree outside Kelso City Hall illuminate Friday night during the 2021 Kelso Tree Lighting Festival

This weekend kicks off the holiday parade and celebration season for Cowlitz County, the most wonderful time of the year.

The Kelso Tree Lighting Ceremony took place along Pacific Avenue Friday night. The actual tree lighting happened at 6:10 p.m. and the city’s festival continued with an array of family activities, including a downtown Kelso hayride, cookie decorations, children’s crafts and a visit with Santa Claus.

This year’s tree lighting event centered on an artificial tree on the overhang at Kelso City Hall.

Saturday night marks the 40th year of Longview’s annual “Home for the Holidays” parade. This year’s parade is held in partnership between the Longview Downtowners organization and the Cowlitz PUD.

The parade starts near the intersection of Florida Street and Commerce Avenue at 5 p.m., shortly after the sun sets. The parade route will travel north through downtown Longview, lead from Broadway onto Civic Circle and end in front of the Monticello Hotel for a tree lighting ceremony.

Cowlitz PUD spokeswoman Alice Dietz said 88 groups signed up to participate in the parade and others could show up Saturday to participate and compete for awards. The theme for this year’s parade entries is “40 Years of County History.”

Castle Rock is holding its annual Festival of Lights on Dec. 11. The festival starts at 2 p.m. with a Santa Claus photo opportunity and a lineup of craft and food vendors. The holiday parade will start at 5:30 p.m., leading up to a Christmas tree lighting.

Kalama will try out a new holiday event this year in place of the Parade of Lighted Boats. During the Parade of Lighted Floats from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 11, First Street will be closed to cars so visitors on foot can enjoy the parade and lights along the Columbia River.

Weather permitting, Santa will land at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the field next to Drew’s Grocery in Toutle. He will hand out candy canes and he will meet and take pictures with children. After he leaves and when it gets dark, the community Christmas tree will be lighted.

Woodland’s Winterfest takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Hoffman Plaza. Activities include live Christmas music by Jonathan Sherrell and the Woodland High School Jazz Choir, along with treats and visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the Horseshoe Lake Shelter.

The Kelso Rotary is preparing for Lights in the Park, a new drive-through light show held in Tam O’Shanter Park. The lights are scheduled to turn on the evening of Dec. 16 and be available nightly until Dec. 23.

At 2:30 p.m. Dec. 18, the Cowlitz River Kayakers will hold a Christmas Lighted Parade in Lake Sacajawea.

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