The sounds of singing children and jingle bells rang through the Tumwater Fire Station on Saturday afternoon as the community officially welcomed the holiday season.
Busy volunteers prepared cookies for decorating, and a towering evergreen tree decked in lights stood outside, ready to be lit.
Kathryn Barria, a recreation coordinator for the city, said the rain never keeps families away from the annual event — between 800 and 1,000 people attend every year. She expected the same for the 13th Tumwater Christmas Tree Lighting Festival.
She said the cookie-decorating station is one of the most popular activities of the event. A team of volunteers prepared 500 cookies and large tubs of red and green frosting for the eager decorators.
“We always get slammed in here, so we try to get as much preparation done as possible,” Barria said.
One of the volunteers, Jillian Emerson, a 15-year-old Black Lake High School student, has attended the event several times, but this was her first time working behind the scenes.
“It’s a good way to support the community, and it’s a lot of fun,” Emerson said. “So I plan on volunteering a lot more.”
The event also included a raffle, ornament decorating and performances by several local choirs. Michael T. Simmons Elementary School performed shortly after the event started. Music teacher Gabrielle Taheri dedicated the performance to the city.
“We are really grateful to be a part of this community,” Taheri said.