Christmas lights on Philomath tree
Pacific Power’s Troy Malos strings lights near the top of the community tree in front of the Philomath Museum. The tree will light up Friday night. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The pandemic won’t stop Philomath from lighting up its Christmas tree. The Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce invites the community to celebrate the arrival of the holiday season from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 with a drive-through viewing of the tree in front of the Philomath Museum.

Santa Claus will make an appearance with his helpers passing out candy canes to children passing by in vehicles. In addition, each vehicle will also receive a special coupon sheet from local businesses.

The chamber opted to expand the duration of the event to two hours in hopes of avoiding a bottleneck of traffic. Cars will enter and exit the loop on Main Street in front of the Philomath Museum.

“We want to allow people plenty of time to just drive through at their leisure,” said Shelley Niemann, Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce director. “We’re asking everyone to stay in their vehicles.”

The lights will be turned on prior to the event’s start time, so there will be no countdown. Santa will wave to the kids as they pass by in vehicles and receive their candy canes. Holiday music will play in the background to bring an extra layer of cheer to the occasion.

Christmas light on Philomath tree
Jered Warner, left, and Cody Brown of Shonnard’s help Pacific Power put lights on the Christmas tree in front of the museum on Monday. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Niemann said the chamber’s board of directors always had the intent of having a tree-lighting event despite the challenges connected to pandemic restrictions.

“It was never an option to do nothing, but there was discussion to do even more than this,” Niemann said, “especially since the Pastega lights display wasn’t going to be open this year and we know that brings a lot of joy to people during the holiday season.

“We had thought about possibly having local businesses set up their own displays, maybe even there at the museum, but once the freeze hit just shortly after our planning, we just decided to pare it back to what our plans are now,” she added. “We were hoping to do more but given the recent spike in cases, we had to pare it down.”

The chamber saw a large turnout for the Reverse Trunk or Treat drive-through and drive-in movie event on Oct. 30.

Christmas tree lights
The lights went up on the Philomath community Christmas tree on Monday. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

“Based on that, we felt like this would be well-received, also,” Niemann said. “The difference is this year, people aren’t going to see the lights actually come on. They’ll already be lit by the time everybody arrives.”

The chamber receives support from local businesses to put on the annual event. For example. Shonnard’s and Pacific Power teamed up Monday to put the lights on the tree.

“We couldn’t do it really without them, so we’re very grateful that they help us out every single year,” Niemann said.

Beyond the tree-lighting, the chamber is hoping that the business community will get into the holiday spirit and put up decorations to brighten the mood that’s collectively been darkened by the events of the past year. 

“We’re encouraging local businesses to deck the downtown … decorate their storefronts with festive lights and decor just to brighten the holiday season a little more than usual,” Niemann said.