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Christmastime is here
Christmas in the Park, Santa.jpg
Changes were made to this year’s Christmas in the Park. One was protecting Santa Claus from COVID-19 by having him stationed in the window of McMinnville Florist and allowing children, like Shawn Fox, to climb into a sleigh to pose for pictures. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

Visitors to historic downtown McMinnville were chilling in the spirit of Christmas on Tuesday night. 

Junior Auxiliary of McMinnville held its annual Christmas in the Park on Dec. 1, a tribute to the joy of the season that was accompanied by a spectacular light display placed by city employees over the last two months.

It was a frigid night, but visitors were pleased.

“We are just glad Christmas in the Park wasn’t canceled this year,” said Leslie Caldwell, who was in attendance with Leeloo Grissom. “This is our fifth year. It’s our time together. We enjoy this event so much.”

Leeloo said her favorite part was free hot cocoa offered by at least two businesses: Citizens Tri-County Bank and The Collective Salon Spa.

Shawn Fox’s favorite part was Santa Claus, who was safely stationed inside McMinnville Florist waving and posing for pictures from a display window.

“I want a car for Christmas – a toy car. A blue Mustang,” said Shawn, who asked if he could visit with Santa again. 

The event included flipping the switch to illuminate the downtown Christmas tree by McMinnville Mayor Ryle Chastain, a luminary presentation, the pledge and national anthem, holiday music by The Sound Machine, and live performances by Paula’s Dance Academy and Warren County High School Pioneerettes.

Participating businesses offering sweets, hot cocoa or other items were Magness Library, TOPZ, Wink, Kimmi’s Tea Room, Evelyn Taylor Avenue, Vintage Market, Renewed Creations, Vanilla Bean, Doodle Fish, The Collective Salon Spa, Ashley’s Attic, First National Bank, and Citizens Tri-County Bank which also provided the Balloon Dude.

Christmas in the Park is geared toward children.

Ben Lomand provided phone booths with direct lines to the North Pole, McMinnville Post Office had a drop-off box for letters to Santa, and Covenant Church reminded visitors what Christmas is about with its nativity scene commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Temperatures dipped into the mid-20s.

“It was a cold night, but our hearts were warmed by the turnout,” said Hannah Johnson, a chair member of Christmas in the Park. “Everyone, including us, seemed to need and enjoy this boost of Christmas cheer. Times like these are when community really matters.”

JA members urged social distancing and offered facemasks throughout the event. At a table in front of City Hall, they provided visitors with complimentary bags with items and ornament kits.