PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregonians are embracing the return of public holiday events that were shuttered in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Friday was a busy night for three of the largest light displays in the Portland metro area.
The sights and sounds of the Christmas Festival of Lights have returned to The Grotto. Hundreds of people stood in line Friday to get in when the gates opened.
The choir also returned, singing in the newly renovated chapel.
Families like the Sauers were delighted to experience the beauty of the season at The Grotto once again.
“We were looking for something to do. You know, now that we can go out and do things more, definitely wanted to come back here,” Maddie Sauer said.
Christopher Blanchard, executive director of The Grotto said it was exciting to welcome the community back.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen this many people here at once,” he said.
Blanchard said there are more lights than ever in 2021.
“Our own Grotto carolers are going to be singing a lot. Our chapel has recently been restored,” he said. “It’s absolutely beautiful inside and I really hope folks will come out and enjoy the true meaning of the season, celebrating the birth of Jesus.”
For the 2021 season, visitors must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the Festival of Lights.
“The most important thing is that we are trying to keep it a very safe environment for everyone,” Blanchard said.
Crowds of people also flocked to Pioneer Courthouse Square Friday night to take in the tree lighting.
And at Portland International Raceway, cars lined up to drive through the lights.
Parents Rita, Travis and Uncle Ryan were first in line.
“It’s great. The kids are really loving it and it’s really nice,” Rita said.
Proceeds from ticket sales at the Winter Wonderland event go toward helping those in need through the Sunshine Division.
Tickets for PIR’s Winter Wonderland are available at Safeway stores. For The Grotto, they can be purchased at a discount online, or people can pay full price at the gate.