From where the land where almond trees sway and tomatoes grow, ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ was the Christmas greeting during Williams’ Festival of Lights on Saturday. Thousands of miles from Hawaii, spectators swapped their leas for warm winter scarves.
Dubbed one of the largest turnouts in recent years, the streets of downtown Williams were filled with family and friends celebrating the season.
For its ninth year, the small area of E Street was packed with street vendors who provided a variety of treats for sale and shoppers the opportunity to browse a selection of unique holiday gifts.
At 6:30 PM, Bruce Rolen lead the crowd to a countdown for the lighting of the town tree.
“With all those lights on the tree Santa will, for sure, see our town,” Rolen said over the loud speaker.
Rolen said that the tree was made possible through the efforts of the Citizen for a Better Williams and the Maxwell and Stonyford Fire Departments.
“We couldn’t of done it without them,” said Rolen, who also thanked Blue Fire Farms and the Williams City Fire Department.
Citizens for a Better Williams President, Pat Ash said, “It was nice to see such a large turnout this year. We appreciate all who participated.”
Although the streets were filled with spectators, light parade entries were down.
“We had about ten entries,” said Ash. “We hoped to see more participation.”
Those who participated included the Williams Police and Fire Departments, the California Highway Patrol, the Williams Elementary Parents Club, the Williams High School Band, as well as a few local businesses.
In an effort to increase parade participation the group doubled it’s prize money this year. First place received $300, second place $200, and third place $100.
“We have some new members on the board and we are discussing what we can do to make the event even better,” said Ash.
Maryah Stoots, a new member of the group, said she is looking forward to planning activities for next year.
“We are working with the city to make the event even bigger and better,” said Stoots. “We hope to include more activities, implement some new ideas, and to try some new things.”
Stoots said that a major focus for next year is to start preparation earlier and to include surrounding communities.
“It was great to see the high school band and the elementary school participate,” said Stoots.
Both Ash and Stoots said the Festival of Lights is the work of a community and gave their thanks to everyone who made the event possible.
If you are interested in helping with the Festival of Lights next year, contact Pat Ash at (530) 520-0096 or email email@example.com.