Oregon's winter weather is never predictable, so there were plenty of umbrellas Saturday in both Sweet Home and Lebanon to greet the Christmas parades in both cities.
If the weather wasn't a certainty, one thing is certain now: Christmas time has arrived. That fact was made very obvious at Ralston Park in Lebanon, where a choir composed of Lebanon High School singers and community members filled the air with carols following the Twilight Parade. After their songs and a countdown, the large western red cedar — and every other bit of botany in the park — came to life with colored lights.
It was the classic American small-town celebration, where people gathered for the event, despite the rain, with kids hoisted on shoulders and smiling couples beneath umbrellas. Glow sticks and candy canes dotted the crowd. Fire trucks, illuminated Volkswagens, a dancing, elf-like snowman, and what may have been a Sasquatch tossed candy during the parade. One little boy turned out in his Batman costume, clearly owning his holiday experience.
Earlier in the day, over in Sweet Home, nearly the same event played out, with "A Christmas Toyland" as the parade's theme. There was music, elves, tiny horses and, of course, flying candy, too.
New this year was the Sweet Home High School Band, an entry that hadn't marched in the parade in 20 years. Junior Noah Dinsfriend, who plays trumpet and French horn, was instrumental in organizing the participation.
"There was not a lot of motivation for a while, but this year we made it back," he said.
His outfit, as well as those of his fellow bandmates, was inspired by the season. His red sweater was festooned with working lights, and others in the band sported classic holiday sweaters, celebrated for their garish appointments and demonstrative Christmas spirit. It was a fine way to jump back into the tradition.
Santa Claus, of course, was at both parades, as he likely was at events across the country. The man certainly gets around this time of year.
No matter the rain, both cities brought in the season as they have for generations: with a festive procession, witnessed by the people, making it clear that it'll be all toys, candy, warm fires and eggnog until the end of the year. That, no matter the weather, will always be certain.