Delighted crowds inaugurate Holiday Palooza
Last updated 11/28/2023 at 12:26pm
Mother Nature filled every wish Saturday for the first Holiday Palooza put on by Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD). Under sun-drenched, crystal blue skies, around 3,000 turned out for the first half of the double-feature event - a parade with 29 entries.
The long-held holiday parade, which in years past traveled eastbound on Hood Avenue, switched up and moved westbound on Main Avenue. The sun warmed paradegoers in their mittens, parkas, and knit caps, as temperatures hovered in the high 30s.
Attendees were often three and occasionally four deep between Spruce and Elm streets, with more choosing the north side of main to be in the sun's glow. Spectators lined Main Avenue all the way to Oak Street, and a few caught the colorful affair as far along as Pine Street.
The best seats in the house were pickup trucks, nosed to the curb with tailgates open to the passing parade. Some had elaborate seating arrangements and most had a passel of kids or grandkids or dogs, or all three.
Dogs were everywhere - in the parade as entrants and on the sidewalks. Horses, too, joined in, with a half dozen or so decorated to match the season and spirit. They were dutifully followed by the poop brigade, who wowed the onlookers with their scooping skills.
As usual the crowds were heavy with visiting relatives in town for Thanksgiving. Acquaintances were renewed, stories updated, and there was no talk of the dark events in the world. It was pure joy and fun and nothing more. It was a celebration of family and friends and tradition.
The Nugget interviewed dozens of visitors from Bend and Redmond, especially many who were making an annual journey. As the Gutierrez family said: "It's just so magical here."
Locals beamed with pride as they engaged tourists and heard how special the day and place was.
"Can you imagine anything like this in L.A.?" asked Celinda Larkin from Pasadena. "We have the world's most famous parade (the Rose Parade) but I'd rather be here."
Rick Benvenuto and his wife, Holly, and their three kiddos were visiting family in Black Butte.
"We're from Anaheim, you know, Disneyland - and this is so much more real life," he said. "Yah, it's a little hokey, but that's the charm," Holly added.
"I mean Santa Claus in a fire engine and not in a sleigh... that's a hoot; that's priceless," Rick cracked.
Indeed Santa was last in the parade, riding in Engine 726. He circled back to Fir Street Park after his ride up Main Avenue, for picture-taking and to chat with the hundreds of kids who scooped up candy thrown by passing floats.
Predictably the horses and big trucks were kid favorites - but there was a little something for everybody. The Sisters Dance Academy got big applause for its members' synchronicity and energy.
Leading the parade were Sisters military veterans, some in uniform, trooping the colors as spectators saluted or placed hands on their hearts as they passed by.
"It's obvious Sisters has a lot of patriotic pride, one of the reasons we wouldn't miss the parade," said Al Nolan, taking in the parade with his wife, Bev, and their four grandchildren, who were visiting from Chicago.
The second stage of Holiday Palooza was the annual tree-lighting ceremony at Fir Street Park. At last year's lighting of the 65-foot tree with 2,500 lights, Rotary Club of Sisters served about 300 cups of hot chocolate and around 200 cups of hot cider. This year's refreshments were courtesy of Holiday Palooza's sponsors, Sisters Woodlands and Kizziar Property Co.
Chilly temperatures seemed to keep some Sisters folks home by the fire; the crowd was smaller in size than last year's balmier edition by roughly 200. However, those on hand were no less enthusiastic as mayor Michael Preedin led the "three, two, one" countdown to lighting the tree. After the tree burst into luminescence many in the crowd joined in singing and dancing.
"I don't care how cold it is or that we were here for the parade, no way we're missing tonight," insisted Cory Franklin. He and his wife, Heidi, had their three children and nine grandkids on hand.
"It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving in Sisters without the tree lighting," Heidi said, with accompanying nods of agreement from her entourage.
"Now we can start Christmas," Mel and Dory Halloran said, as the crowd shifted from "Happy Thanksgiving" at the parade to "Merry Christmas" as the tree erupted into light.