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Light Up Monroe adds family activities to holiday event
MONROE - This year’s Light Up Monroe will offer more activities with a family focus.
Annique Bennett, executive director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, said she’s moving the focal point of the annual celebration away from vendors, and buying and selling, and replacing it with a warm and welcoming holiday experience with lots of things to do and see.
This year Bennett expects 1,500 to 1,700 people to attend the celebration.
“It’s for families to come together and experience stuff, and we’re going to let the shops sell their wares,” Bennett said. “We do hope that parents will go out and explore downtown, and we hope to bring people into the community to shop and check out the businesses downtown, but (Light Up Monroe ) is not going to be as focused on it.”
Light Up Monroe is Saturday, Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Live music will fill the air from several local groups including Voices Northwest and the Monroe High School band. Up to 20 people at a time will be able to ride an antique tractor-trailer throughout downtown.
The central area of Light Up Monroe will be in the parking lot between the Masonic Lodge at 125 S. Lewis Street and the Doloff-Key Building at Lewis and Main.
The kids are going to love the alpaca petting zoo, Bennett said. Both full-grown and baby alpacas will be on scene for festival-goers to pet and snuggle.
Mrs. Claus, who will be there in support of her husband Santa Claus, will be knitting scarves and socks from the alpaca’s wool.
“We have the most beautiful Santa,” Bennett said, who went on to describe Santa’s traditional full beard and exquisite velvet suit that is sure to impress.
Santa will be seated at the river-rock fireplace in the Masonic Lodge for pictures with kids. The chamber will have a photography team helping with pictures, Bennett said. Santa will be properly lit so that parents can take their own photos, or pay $10 to have one professionally taken.
The $10 will be part of a fundraiser for the chamber, as well as help to cover the cost of Light Up Monroe, Bennett said.
Besides photos with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies for $1 will be the only expense for Light Up Monroe participants.
The chamber was lucky enough to get five businesses to sponsor the event this year, including Open Road RV, Evergreen Health and Valley General Hospital. Bennett said she’s very excited about the collaboration between the business sponsors and the community.
“This is a cool partnership between the city and the chamber,” Bennett said. “It’s just a community pooling of resources.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, Bennett said, is the traditional countdown to lighting up of the Christmas tree at 5 p.m.
Mayor Robert Zimmerman will help with the countdown, Bennett said.
Granite Falls Museum donated the 16-foot tree that will be at the center of the festivities.
“It’s a beautiful tree,” Bennett said. “And it was being removed from somebody’s property so it’s not being cut just to be cut.”
Activity times
(1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
• Free antique tractor-trailer rides hosted by the Western Heritage Cultural Center and Museum departing and returning from the historic Masonic Lodge at 125 South Lewis Street in downtown. Rides will wind through the historic residential sections of downtown.
This is a great family and group activity — up to 20 people per ride.
(1 p.m. to 7 p.m.)  
• Sit with the Santa by the river-rock fireplace, take your own photo, or pay for a professional photo for only $10.
• Book a magical story-time session sitting with Santa by Kayla J. Photography in December
• Pet Santa’s friendly Reindeer Alpacas from Casa de Arboles Farm and see Mrs. Claus in her Fiber Farm Store for handcrafted gift items
• Enjoy hot kettle corn by Rock Brothers Kettle Corn
• Step aboard a luxury RV on site all day from Open Road RV
• Visit the EvergreenHealth, Valley General Hospital and Providence Medical Group booths
(3 p.m.) Holiday carols by the Monroe High School choir
(3:30 p.m.) Holiday caroling  by Voices Northwest
(4 p.m.) The Monroe High School Band performs holiday music
(4:30 p.m.) The mayor of Monroe and Santa lead the countdown from the Lodge for the 5 p.m. tree lighting
(5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) Light Up Monroe tree lighting


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