Downtown Medford will look a lot like the North Pole on Saturday, Dec. 1, when Medford Parks and Recreation holds its annual Winter Light Festival featuring a children's holiday parade, candy-cane hunt and marshmallow roast. Photos with Santa Claus, live music, booths and activities also will be available.
All events are free and will take place in Hawthorne Park and Vogel Plaza.
Drop your child's personal letter to Santa in the North Pole mailbox at the Santo Community Center with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and Santa will mail back a personalized letter in time for Christmas. Letters will be accepted through Dec. 3. They also can be mailed to Medford Parks and Recreation at the Santo Center, Attention: Santa, 701 N. Columbus Ave., Medford, OR 97501.
"Everybody will end up in Vogel Plaza where the Christmas tree will be lit," said Quinnan Picton of the parks department.
The fun starts at 4 p.m. in Hawthorne Park with a candy-cane hunt, which is similar to an Easter egg hunt but with peppermint treats. The event, for children up to 12 years old, concludes with an all-ages marshmallow roast.
The children's holiday parade kicks off at 5 p.m., and attending parents and children can be part of the marching festivities.
"It's more for kids," Picton said.
College sports mascots Puddles the Duck and Benny the Beaver, from University of Oregon and Oregon State University, will join the procession as grand marshals. Dancers and a marching band will be part of the action.
Main Street will be closed from Hawthorne Park to Central Avenue during the parade, which will end up at Vogel Plaza near the Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts, where the official tree-lighting ceremony will be held.
"The official lighting time kicks off at around 6:30 p.m.," Picton said.
Until the ceremony begins, attendees can get their photos taken with Santa Claus, Puddles and Benny, listen to live music, check out vendor booths and join in a coloring contest. Hot chocolate also will be given out.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.