The Williams Ministerial Association, in coordination with the Williams Community Church, took over the holiday parade and vendor fair after Citizens for a Better Williams decided to pull the plug due to a lack of volunteers.
Rev. Jason McMullen, pastor of the Williams Community Church, said the possible loss of the community event inspired a new group to come forward.
The vendor fair will be held from 4-8 PM on Dec. 14 on E Street, between 6th and 7th streets. The parade will step off from Venice Park at 7 PM.
The event is pretty much as CBW planned it, except the new group hopes to return to a single large tree as the primary focus in Town Square.
“A Christmas tree or holiday tree is symbolic of our community, especially symbolic that we almost lost our Christmas event,” McMullen said. “We would be the only community in our county that would not have one.”
City Officials approved the event, but were split on allowing the new group to scrap the dozens of artificial Christmas trees and lights the city purchased last year.
In 2018, CBW, with the City Council’s approval, decided against cutting down a living tree, then and in the future, after much of Northern California’s forest land when up in smoke.
“We went away from the big tree and went with smaller trees in the park,” Kennedy said. “Citizens for a Better Williams didn’t feel right to go into the forest and cut down an additional healthy tree with all the fires going on the area.”
Kennedy felt having a large cut tree brought in and decorated also expended unnecessary city resources, and that returning to a single large tree failed CBW’s vision for Town Square during the holidays.
While CBW announced last year that it would discontinue the parade and vendor fair unless volunteers stepped forward, the group had not canceled their initial plans for Town Square.
But after much discussion at their Nov. 20 meeting, the City Council voted 3-2 to allow the Ministerial Association to move forward with their own plans on a compromise. The council requested the group scale down their vision for a very large tree in order to incorporate some of the lighted trees, due to a limited amount of power available at the small park.
Councilmen Robert Mendoza and John Troughton voted against going back to having a tree cut from the forest.
“There is a fire now in the Mendocino Forest and we don’t know where that’s going to go,” Troughton said. “I’m also concerned about what we are going to do with the other trees.”
Last year, the city spent $4,200 on new holiday decorations for City Hall and Town Square, in support of CBW’s vision for the Festival of Lights, which incorporated pre-lit trees to eventually host a decorating contest in which non-profits, businesses, and other groups would compete for a prize.
While McMullen said the new group believes the single large tree is more symbolic of Christmas, he said volunteers would help decorate the park with the artificial trees if they can’t get a cut tree delivered to the city.
“We are not going to reinvent the wheel,” McMullen said.
Councilmen Santos Jauregui and Sajit Singh, along with Mayor Alfred Sellers, voted to allow the Ministerial Association to move forward this year with their own vision for the festival, although expressing some regret for the group’s decision to scrap the lighted village scene.
“I appreciate what (they) are doing; stepping up to do this because the CBW are not able to do it this year,” Jauregui said. “I also remember that with some of the small trees, the wind had knocked them down and they were down for several days. I say bring in the big tree if it works out. If not, (they) are willing to help set up the small trees.”
McMullen said the Ministerial Association would work with city staff to see just how much power is available to the park to possibly incorporate a lighted scene, and appreciates the City Council allowing them to pursue the big tree first.
McMullen said there is still time to sign up for the parade or vendor fair. There are at lease 15 entered in the parade so far. Vendors will be limited to 20. ■