Samantha Waldenberg and her friend Isla Phillips pose for photos below the Christmas tree.
Samantha Waldenberg and her friend Isla Phillips pose for photos below the Christmas tree.

Downtown Monroe was lit up with the beams from thousands of tiny, vibrant bulbs, the sounds of carolers and holiday cheers shortly after sunset Sunday.

The city’s Christmas trees have been illuminated once again. Hundreds of residents turned out to Traveler’s Park for the annual Light Up Monroe event that starts off the holiday season; Santa himself conducted the countdown for the tree lighting ceremony.

To get to the event, Mr. and Mrs. Claus were towed down Main Street in their giant red sleigh. Families crowded around their carriage once the couple parked. Children offered treats. Parents snapped photos. Festive songs by a choir rang through the air.

Rachel Adams and her son Dorian posed together for a selfie in front of Old Saint Nick. It was their first time attending the festivities and the second time the 2 1/2-year-old met Santa, Adams said. 

“We came to be a part of the community,” she said.

Adams has lived with her husband and son in Monroe for 12 years. She said they came out to celebrate as a family. The trio wanted to support and encourage the community organizations putting on the event; to create a special moment together.

Each year the Monroe Chamber of Commerce pairs up with local businesses and the city to put on the traditional activities. Hot cider is poured, fires are lit to warm cold hands, and candy and popcorn are devoured.

Sponsors, such as Sam’s Cats and Dogs and the Monroe Boys and Girls Clubs, ensure strings of lights are hung high and holiday goodies are plentiful. Windermere Monroe spearheaded this year’s campaign to raise $18,000 so the trees could be professionally decorated, said chamber executive director Yvonne Gallardo-Van Ornam. It was the first time the park’s large cedar was bedecked, she said.

The Church at Maltby and Monroe choir donated their time and voices for the event. Member Francine Chick said it was their first year volunteering. Group leader Naomi Marquez-Black said the congregation chose to participate to serve the community and spread kindness.

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas addressed the crowd prior to the tree lighting. He said Monroe was coming upon the time of year that emphasizes gratitude, love and joy. He said Light Up Monroe is a place for the community to gather and celebrate the season.

“I just love small-town traditions,” Moriah Waldenberg said, standing illumined beneath the tree with family and friends. Her daughter Samantha and her friends Isla and Embry Phillips rooted themselves at the trunk to flash a few grins at their parents’ cameras.

The families have been coming to Light Up Monroe for years. Jessica Phillips said the event grows annually — activities are continuously added.

For the first time this year the chamber put together the Electric Holiday Light Parade. At 4:30 p.m., vehicles decorated with strands of twinkling Christmas lights were escorted by law enforcement down Main Street. The Original Pilot House Coffees’ car and a Snohomish County Fire District 7 fire engine were among those in tow.

While munching on popcorn with her mother, sisters and a friend, Alyson Hale chatted about her favorite parts of the night. Sister Katie Hale said she liked the holiday songs and the two Christmas trees.  Gallardo-Van Ornam said both will be lit each night for the next month.

“I like how there are so many lights,” Alyson Hale said, looking out across the park. “I also like hugging Santa.”