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Redmond Lights to include special Centennial Celebration this year

People gather at Redmond Town Center for a previous Redmond Lights festival. - File photo
People gather at Redmond Town Center for a previous Redmond Lights festival.
— image credit: File photo

The days are growing shorter and the weather is getting colder. Thanksgiving has come and gone and the search for the perfect gifts has begun.

All of these are tell-tale signs that the holiday season is here, but one indicator specific to the City of Redmond is the annual Redmond Lights festival.

This year’s celebration will be Dec. 1 and in addition to the usual festivities that come with the event, there will be special daytime activities to mark Redmond’s Centennial.

“That’s a once-in-a-hundred-years event for us,” said City of Redmond event and marketing manager Lisa Rhodes.

AN EXTRA-LONG DAY OF FESTIVITIES

The Centennial Celebration will be from noon to 4 p.m. at the Redmond City Hall campus, 15670 N.E. 85th St. and Redmond Lights will be from 4-8 p.m. at City Hall and Redmond Town Center, 7525 166th Ave. N.E.

During the day, there will be food, music and activities with “a little different twist than what we would have at night,” Rhodes said. That twist will lean toward the more old fashioned, in honor of Redmond’s 100th birthday and activities will include a performance from local bluegrass group The Tall Boys, a Penny Candy Hunt for kids at 1 p.m. and artifacts on display, courtesy of the Redmond Historical Society and the Eastside Heritage Center. There will be a traditional Native American performance by the Snoqualmie Tribe and art demonstrations by local wood carver Tomas Vrba. The Redmond Chorale will also be performing a special, centennial-themed song written by chorale director Laurie Betts Hughes at 12:30 p.m.

Rhodes said local organizations are also participating in a gingerbread building contest, recreating  historic buildings throughout Redmond to be displayed in the City Hall lobby.

“People are getting really into it, so that will be interesting,” she said about the groups’ competitiveness.

In preparation for the centennial time capsule, citizens are also encouraged to donate items of interest or historical significance. Suggestions include Redmond High School class of 2012 memorabilia, Derby Days ribbons or historic photos. For details, visit 100years.redmond.gov. Rhodes said capsule items will be on display at City Hall through Dec. 30. After that, the items will be put in the capsule, which will be placed into the city vault, not to be opened for another 100 years, hopefully, Rhodes said.

Because the event will be running longer than usual, Rhodes said they will be selling food for the first time. Metropolitan Grill will be at City Hall from noon to 8 p.m., offering warm beverages and a selection of hot meals, including barbecued pulled pork and salmon, prepared onsite in their traveling smoker.

There will also be a free carousel in the City Hall parking lot, sponsored by Puget Sound Energy. Like the Metropolitan Grill, the carousel will be up for both the Centennial Celebration and Redmond Lights.

THE RETURN OF OLD FAVORITES

This year’s Redmond Lights begins at 4 p.m. with food, music and children’s activities, until 6 p.m. Musical entertainment includes Northwest Boychoir Apprentices singing holiday songs and The Fire Inside, a Celtic group, on the main stage.

The Candy Cane Hunt returns this year, as well. Children of all ages can participate beginning at 4 p.m. in the City Hall parking lot. Santa will be arriving just before 5 p.m. to help with the tree lighting, which Rhodes said will also include a special centennial twist.

There will be music and entertainment along the Luminary Trail from 5-6:45 p.m. Performers include the Redmond United Methodist Handbell Choir, barber shop harmonies, Croatian singers, traditional holiday carols and more.

The ever-popular hot air balloon glow is returning in three locations: Luke McRedmond Park, Bear Creek Meadow and Redmond Town Center.

“As long as the weather cooperates,” Rhodes added.

Festivities at Redmond Town Center begin at 5 p.m. continuing until 8 p.m.

The Redmond Lights Chili Cook-Off returns. Chili participants include the Redmond City Council, Redmond Fire Department, Matts’ Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge and a new entry: Redmond Public Works.

Entertainment will include Taiko drum group Kaze Daiko and local Beatles cover band Crème Tangerine with a holiday twist.

Kid’s Row will offer free arts and crafts hosted by faith communities from throughout the Redmond area.

Sleigh bells will ring as Santa arrives at the town center. Participating merchants will give away silver bells for a community chorus of bells (while supplies last) at 7 p.m. at Center Court for  Santa’s arrival.

Parking for the evening event is available at either Redmond Town Center or in the City Hall parking garage. Free shuttle service is available, courtesy of Microsoft Connector, outside of Gene Juarez in the south parking lot of Redmond Town Center and at the Redmond Senior Center. Shuttles will run every 30 minutes between 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

For more information about Redmond Lights, visit www.redmondlights.com.

A TRADITION OF DIVERSITY

Redmond Lights has always been about celebrating different cultures within the community and Rhodes said this year is no different as the event features Hawaiian, Japanese American and Celtic performances and more.

“We have all different kinds of cultural music,” she said. “For us, it’s the traditional part of this event (and) we try to do the best we can.”

Although different cultures have different traditions for this time of year, many involve light and Rhodes said Redmond Lights is a chance for the entire community to get together and celebrate — whether it may be Christmas, winter or family.

“That’s kind of what sets us apart (from other communities’ celebrations),” she said about Redmond Light’s inclusiveness.

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