The City of Yelm is preparing for its Christmas in the Park celebration that kicks off the holiday season on Friday, Dec. 2.
The free, two-day event continues a tradition that stretches back to the 1980s and aims to bring the community together for the holidays.
“A lot of work goes into events like this. We are so lucky that the City of Yelm, Yelm Community Schools, and the Yelm Chamber have such a strong partnership that allows us to work together to give this to our community,” Line Roy, with the City of Yelm, said. “It would absolutely not work if the three organizations weren’t working together like we all do.”
Friday night starts with a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. at Yelm City Park. There will be opportunities to take pictures with Santa, which is sponsored by the City of Yelm and coordinated by city staff. Other activities include a Snow and Glow Dance Party and the Cocoa Trail.
“From the city side, it takes full cooperation from nearly all of our departments. Our IT and planning departments work with Santa to take pictures of hundreds of kids and families,” Roy said.
The public works and police departments generally also work to make sure the streets are prepared for the parade, but this year that was canceled due to a lack of participants. Roy said the city’s executive department is also heavily involved in the planning and execution of the event.
From the side of Yelm Community Schools, it’s also a big effort to organize.
Andrew Kollar, the community relations coordinator for the school district, said they organize the choir performances from each school, prepare thousands of hot dogs and serve several gallons of hot cocoa. They also coordinate the essay contest and oversee the Youth of the Year application process.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, beginning at 10 a.m., local businesses and organizations will host free, family-friendly activities for kids to enjoy at Yelm City Park. People can also listen to local choirs perform, while band students play holiday tunes during the day.
“I hope that people who attend feel a sense of small-town community togetherness,” Roy said. “I hope that the weather holds out for us and everyone has a great time.”
During the Cocoa Trail on Dec. 2, kids and families can take a walk through the park to pick up ingredients to create the perfect cup of cocoa which they can take home and put together. The Snow and Glow Dance Party will take place on the basketball court with glow sticks, music and hopefully snow.
“We want to provide a meaningful start to the holiday season at no cost to families,” Kollar said. “There is already a lot of pressure for parents to spend an exuberant amount of money during this time of the year and we want to provide our community an opportunity for everyone to enjoy a little holiday cheer.”
Kollar said the years of the COVID-19 pandemic helped bring new ideas to the event. Last year, the Christmas lighting ceremony on Friday night was known as “Christmas Eve in the Park” where the “Masters of Merriment” were honored and turned on the lights. Kollar said this year they will organize Youth of the Year at the same time the city provides free pictures with Santa.
“It’s set to be a wonderful weekend in the park,” Kollar said.
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