Community tree ready for its shining moment



Federal Way’s community Christmas tree will be lit tonight. And with any luck, it will stay lit.

When the switch is flipped and the roughly 9,000 lights blaze forth on the 37-foot fir tree as part of the Unite with Lights festivities tonight in a corner of the SeaTac Mall parking lot, organizers are hoping there won’t be a repeat of last year’s on-and-off lighting.

Buffeted by wind and rain, the lights went on and then almost instantly blinked out. They stayed off a half-minute or so before turning back on.

“Everyone went ‘ahhh’ and then ‘ohhh’” as the shining moment hiccupped, recalled Debbie Goetz, spokeswoman for the Federal Way Fire Department.

The Federal Way Firefighters Foundation, which bought the Grand fir last year and had it planted as a donation to the community, decorated it again for this year’s lighting.

Called a “Charlie Brown tree” by some in the community because of its somewhat scraggly appearance (to help it survive being transplanted, it can’t be pruned for the first two years), it nevertheless will brighten nights through New Year’s. A group of firefighters hung the lights Monday (red bows and some decorations made by schoolchildren also are on the branches) and has tested them in preparation for tonight.

The lights will go on officially at 6 p.m. at the corner of Pacific Highway South and South 320th Street, capping about two hours of live music and other entertainment beneath a tent.

Singing and playing holiday songs will be two local music groups, the Harmony Kings and the Merry Notes Brass Band, and two school groups –– the Wildwood Elementary choir and the Totem Junior High jazz ensemble.

At Santa Claus and J.P. Patches, the near-legendary clown of Seattle-area television, will make appearances. Also planned are pony rides for kids, prize drawings and food and warm beverages served by local Soroptimists and Kiwanians. Proceeds from the raffle (enter by donating two cans of food, a new toy or cash) and food will benefit food and toy drives.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and


The schedule for performances and special appearances during tonight’s Unite with Lights at SeaTac Mall:

4 p.m. –– Santa Claus

4:15 –– Totem Junior High School jazz ensemble

4:35 –– Harmony Kings

4:55 –– Merry Notes Brass Band

5:15 –– J.P. Patches

5:35 –– Wildwood Elementary School choir

6 –– Lighting of communityChristmas tree

(Prize drawings at 4, 4:30, 4:50, 5:15, 5:30.

Primary sponsors of the community event are Capital One, Weyerhaueser, the firefighters foundation, Eagle Tire and Automotive, the mall, Tents and Events, Edward Jones and the Mirror. In-kind sponsors include Starbucks, Qdoba, the Morning Kiwanis Club, the fire department, Federal Way Public Schools, Ivar’s, the city, Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and Soroptimists.

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