The Millwood Community Association and Inland Empire Paper Co. are teaming up to host the annual Millwood Christmas tree lighting ceremony and community events Friday beginning at 6 p.m.
The “Gateway to the Holidays” festivities begin with the 6 p.m. Christmas tree lighting on the lawn of Inland Empire Paper Co. at 3320 N. Argonne Road.
Millwood Community Association board member Shirene Young said the company used to do a similar tree lighting ceremony at least as far back as the 1920s but no one is sure when it ended or why. It was revived about a dozen years ago.
“They did it way back in the ’20s,” Young said. “The city of Millwood wasn’t even incorporated until 1928. Back then the mill was the center of the community.”
No one seems to know how long the ceremony was on hiatus. “We don’t know how long,” she said. “I’m not entirely certain when it stopped.”
Young is also the business manager at the mill. Inland Empire Paper is owed by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.
Santa, who will arrive Friday on a Spokane Valley Fire Department engine, will lead the countdown to the flip of a switch that activates the lights. The West Valley High School Band will perform, as will some local ballet students. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served to help keep people warm on what is expected to be a chilly night.
Three years ago the Community Association started organizing other events to go along with the Christmas tree lighting. There is a Christmas Market featuring local crafters from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dalton Avenue between Bottles and the Corner Door Cafe. Young said it’s like a Farmer’s Market, but without any produce.
The Argonne Library will sponsor a gingerbread house build at the Masonic Lodge next to Bottles, 3223 N. Argonne Road, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. People can make a gingerbread house, decorate it and take it home.
“The library provides all the materials,” Young said. “Some of these things can be time consuming at home and it’s just nice to have everything there.”
The goal of expanding the activities tied to the Christmas tree lighting is to bring attention to Millwood’s new and existing businesses, Young said.
Many of those businesses and other local organizations help put on the event, and some will have special sales that night. Some locations allow decorative lights to be plugged in to their outlets. Millwood Presbyterian Church provides the sound system. Bottles arranged to have a food truck come by. The city of Millwood blocks off Dalton Avenue.
“It’s done as a benefit,” she said. “It really is truly a whole community event.”
People attending the event can park at Millwood Presbyterian at 3223 N. Marguerite Road and in lots behind the businesses that line Argonne Road. Street parking is also available.
Young said the events all happen within a fairly small area.
“It’s all right there,” she said. “You don’t have to go far.”
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