PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After Thanksgiving thousands are expected to gather at tree-lighting ceremonies across Portland and Vancouver, and as always, safety is a top priority.
Over the next few weeks, holiday events are expected to bring out throngs of people across the tri-county area but none quite as big as the crowd expected to gather at Pioneer Courthouse Square for Portland’s 38th annual tree lighting ceremony. Friday night, a 75-foot Douglas fir will be illuminated with over 9,500 lights.
The tree lighting will be an in-person event this year for the first time since 2019. The event kicks off at 4 p.m. with music from The Beat Goes On marching band and the Portland interfaith gospel choir.
In terms of security this year, Portland police say they have established a unified command with the sheriff’s office and Portland Fire & Rescue, so people can expect to see more police officers this year. Central Precinct Commander Craig Dobson addressed what people can do to better protect themselves in a crowd, especially as this week the country is dealing with two tragic mass shootings.
“I think anytime that you’re in a crowd the importance is to be paying attention to who’s around you and what’s going on,” said Dobson. “It doesn’t matter what crowd you’re in, you want to be paying attention to your surroundings, and if something feels odd, you should be paying attention to that. If you feel like you’re unsafe, that’s a time that you should probably either go find a police officer and explain why you’re feeling unsafe or be able to just remove yourself.”
The tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Vancouver at Esther Short Park also kicks off on Friday afternoon. There will be food and entertainment for families, and the event has drawn crowds of over 5,000 people in the past. Vancouver police said they will have extra personnel in the area for the ceremony.
Like Portland, it’s the first time people will be back in person to light the tree since 2019.