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Central Connector opening to bring new energy to Redmond Lights on Saturday

Redmond Lights is this Saturday at City Hall and Redmond Town Center. - File Photo
Redmond Lights is this Saturday at City Hall and Redmond Town Center.
— image credit: File Photo

For the past decade and a half, the Redmond community has been coming together on the first Saturday of December to celebrate the area’s cultural diversity with Redmond Lights.

Now in its 15th year, the event will be from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday. There will be activities and entertainment in various locations including City Hall campus, 15670 N.E. 85th St., and Redmond Town Center (RTC), 7525 166th Ave. N.E.

This year’s tree lighting at City Hall will be at 5 p.m., and for the first time be accompanied by fireworks from the roof of City Hall, which City of Redmond events and marketing administrator Lisa Rhodes said they have been trying to do for six years.

NEW ROUTE, NEW ENERGY

Following the tree lighting, members of the Redmond City Council, Parks and Trails Commission and Pedestrian Bicycle Advisory Committee will lead the way on the traditional luminary walk on bikes decorated in holiday lights. As in previous years, the walk goes from City Hall to the town center. This year, however, instead of keeping to the Sammamish River Trail, it will connect with the Redmond Central Connector (RCC) and head east into the downtown core. The walk will end along the trail at 166th Avenue Northeast, near ERRATIC, public artist John Fleming’s sculpture of metal, glass and interactive light. Fleming will also be onsite throughout the night to discuss his work with the community.

Rhodes said the change in route was in honor of the grand opening of the downtown portion of the RCC.

“I am excited for the trail opening,” she said.

The new RCC trail runs from the Sammamish River Trail to the Bear Creek Trail, parallel to Cleveland Street and RTC. The one-mile paved trail is intended as a key destination in downtown featuring integrated art and landscaping designed by the Berger Partnership.

Rhodes said when the luminary walk was along the Sammamish River Trail, it was very peaceful. Bringing it to the downtown core will hopefully bring new energy to the luminary walk and Redmond Lights as well as bring more people to the downtown core.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL GRAND OPENING

RCC project manager Carolyn Hope added, “The opening of the Redmond Central Connector is very exciting for the City of Redmond, our residents and businesses as it provides a great pedestrian connection between key regional trails that will bring thousands of new people into downtown Redmond to shop, eat and play.”

She said the trail also provides a direct connection between RTC and historical downtown Redmond and adds 10 acres of open space to the downtown core.

“We are excited to celebrate the grand opening of the trail with Redmond Lights, as we will be able to showcase our new trail to thousands of people as they enjoy a luminary walk and holiday festivities along the trail,” Hope said. “This event will showcase our the centerpiece of our walkable city.”

To celebrate the newly finished trail, Rhodes said, there will be a special ceremony at 5:20 p.m. along the trail during which Redmond Mayor John Marchione will “flip the switch” to light the RCC for the walk.

“Instead of cutting a ribbon, we’re doing light,” Rhodes said.

She added that because part of the walk will be in the middle of downtown, there will be some road closures to keep walkers safe. From 3:30-8:30 p.m., all southbound streets off of Cleveland Street from 161st Avenue Northeast to 166th Avenue Northeast will be closed.

“We will have alternate routes,” she said.

NEW ACTS AND OLD FAVORITES

As usual, there will be entertainment along the luminary walk. Some new acts include a fire artist as well as Brazilian drumming. There will also be returning performers such as the Keith Highlanders Pipe Band and hot air balloon glow, though Rhodes said the latter will be dependent on the weather.

“We hope to have a calm day,” she said about Saturday.

Other Redmond Lights highlights include free kids’ activities, live music performances, ice sculptures, live reindeer and more. And due to the popularity of last year’s Centennial Bonfire, Rhodes said they will have more bonfires — though on a smaller scale — throughout the event, along with s’mores and marshmallow roasting.

At RTC, there will be a life-sized snow globes where people can take photos as well as the return of the Marriott Merry-Go-Round. Rhodes said the latter was so popular last year that they brought it back, and instead of just being open for one night, people will be able to ride it through Jan. 1, 2014, during mall hours. There is a suggested donated of $3, which will benefit Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Redmond.

“I’m super happy that Redmond Town Center and the Marriott were able to bring that back,” Rhodes said.

To help people get from one location to another, there will be shuttles, provided by Microsoft Corp., that will run back and forth between the Redmond Senior Center, 8703 160th Ave. N.E., and the back side of RTC by Gene Juarez, 7525 166th Ave. N.E.

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