PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tens of thousands of people gathered in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to welcome the holiday season with the 35th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Friday evening.
Families and friends wore their warmest coats as temperatures dipped into the 30s by sundown, and gathered around the 75-foot Douglas Fir, which was wrapped in 14,000 lights. By the time the moon rose in the sky, the crowd was so big, it was pouring into the streets. Some folks had a warm, cozy view from their apartment. The rest braved the cold as they waited for the big moment.
Festivities started well before the tree was actually lit. The ceremony included a holiday sing-along with Thomas Lauderdale, members of Pink Martini and other local musicians. The countdown began shortly after 6 p.m. Mayor Ted Wheeler and Santa Claus flipped the switch to light the tree.
Jeffrey Halprin and his family watched the ceremony from the 15th floor of the Nines Hotel.
“I’m from Atlanta, and there’s nothing like this out there,” said Halprin. “My little sister, she’s 4, so I really came for her.”
His little sister told KOIN 6 News that she had fun, too, saying that the decorations looked like a rainbow.
“I love all the lights and the crowds—you can see that everybody is getting in the spirit for the holidays,” said another participant who stood in the Pioneer Square crowd.
Watch as the Holiday Tree is lit:
Attendees were encouraged to use public transportation but the MAX platforms at Pioneer Square North, Pioneer Square South and Pioneer Courthouse/SW 6th Ave. were closed from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Traffic was also blocked off from driving around the square starting at 3 p.m. but cars were allowed back through after the crowd dispersed.
Follow KOIN 6 for the latest news and weather