Decades of December

Images courtesy of Siuslaw News

1969 — 1979 — 1989 — 1999 — 2009

Dec. 24, 2019 — As the end of the decade nears and the 2020s prepare to roar in, families often reflect on memories of the past. In the following reminiscences from the past 50 years, relive Siuslaw’s holiday history, including visits with Santa, Christmas pageants and lights shining on Historic Old Town Florence.


December 1969

“40 Area Families To Have Happier Season”

Christmas in Florence and Mapleton will be a happier fay for 40 families thanks to the combined efforts of area school children, service clubs, individuals, county officials and churches. Through the efforts of these civic minded groups and individuals, food was distributed to the families in time for Christmas. “Operation Santa Claus 1969” also included the donation of 949 cans of food and 27 pounds of candy donated by Siuslaw Junior High School.


Season of Good Will

“Christmas decorations have started appearing around Florence as the annual countdown to the season of good will begins.” This included a painting of Santa’s Village on the window of Peterson’s Drug in Dunes Village Shopping Center and holiday decorations on Highway 101. Thanks to the Florence Volunteer Fire Department, Florence Cable TV and Central Lincoln PUD, downtown Florence showed garlands and holiday swag on utility poles.



“All I want for Christmas is …”

Area youth were able to visit Santa Claus at M&I Variety Store, Western Auto and at the stores in Dunes Village Shopping Center: Emery’s IGA Foodliner, Peterson’s Drug, Coast to Coast Store, Mode-O-Day, Sprouse Reitz, Coffee Break Café, Florence Laundromat, Don’s Barber Shop and Florence Cleaners.


December 1979

“Cruisin’ Christmas Show”

Cruisin’, the west coast’s longest running “Oldies but goodies” radio program, will present its ninth annual Christmas show Dec. 22 at midnight. Hosted by Florence disc jockeys Looney Lenny and Crazy Carl, the records played are classic rhythm and blues and rock n’ roll standards from the 1950s and 1960s, with a few newer ones, such as The Drifters, The Ravens, Elvis Presley, Commander Cody and The Ronettes.



“Santa & Reindeer to Arrive Today”

About 20 local merchants will be bringing Santa and his five reindeer to the Dunes Village Shopping Center. A small parade led by a city fire truck and containing antique cars will escort Santa through town. Santa and his reindeer also greeted patients at the Siuslaw Care Center. In a twist, Santa brought his pig Punkin to the Twin Lakes Store to visit with youth north of Florence.



“Sights and Sounds of Christmas Joy in Florence”

These included paintings, decorations and visits to Sutton Lake Tree Farm. Florence Evangelical Church youth put on “The Little Mouse’s Wonderful Journey,” directed by Kathy Bones and Barbara Knape, and Faith Baptist Church teens told the nativity story. In Rhododendron School, fourth-fifth grade students make snowmen to decorate Arlene Dodson’s classroom. One hundred children attended the Elks Christmas Party. Mapleton Cub Scout Pack 64 decorated Mapleton Elementary School’s tree.


December 1989


“Ho! Ho! Ho!”

Santa Claus arrived in Florence in time to hand out candy canes to children gathered at Florence City Hall. The jolly fellow lit the community Christmas tree and visited with boys and girls of all ages before looking for ideas in Old Town shops. Siuslaw students entertain with a band and choir concert. Residents celebrate Hanukkah. The Florence Jaycees coordinate area youth to decorate the Siuslaw Care Center. Foglio Trucking and Darlings Resort participate in the Central Lincoln PUD and Florence Area Chamber of Commerce annual Christmas Lighting Contest.



“Christmas in the ‘90s?”

Siuslaw Pioneer Museum volunteers dressed for “Christmas 1890” and welcomed 350 guest to a holiday open house. John Quay dressed as a gentleman from the 1890s and George Johnson posed as Father Christmas.


“All I Want For Christmas from Community Leaders”

Christmastime, for many, is when we dare to peek into that secret place inside ourselves — that hidden, and sometimes remote, spot where we’ve tucked our dreams, hopes and all our special wishes. Mayor Rob Ward wished for “the spirit of Florence to grow throughout the community.” Florence Area Chamber of Commerce President Jon Thompson, general manager of KCST Radio, wished for an FM license for KCST. Port of Siuslaw President Wilbur Ternyik said, “My wish is that the city and the port get their acts together and try to attract some jobs that aren’t minimum wage, but that would provide a good living wage for our young people. We just have to do that; otherwise, we’ll export all our people.” Siuslaw News owners Paul and Beverly Holman wished, “May all the news be good news!”


December 1999

“Florence Decks the Halls for the Holidays”

During the past week, visual indications that the Christmas spirt is alive and well on the coast have been popping up all over the city. Celia and Leah Twombly are among the guest to the Callison Building who visit Santa Claus. According to Merchants of Old Town representative Gayle Sisson, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Old Town featured music for the first time.



Lighting Up the Christmas Season

Love lives on in the joy of remembrance and in the twinkling lights and gold and silver stars adorning Peace Harbor Hospice’s Light Up a Life tree of celebration at the Florence Events Center. Professional dramatist Chuck Neighbors performs the one-man show, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Jones” at Florence Evangelical Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints performs “A Very Special Night in Bethlehem.” Rhododendron Elementary fifth graders sing and dance in an evening performance. Other events included Soroptimist International of Florence’s sock tree, the Elks Christmas Party, and community donations to Habitat for Humanity and Siuslaw Area Women’s Center.



“Santa Presides Over Final City Council Meeting”

It was the hand of Santa that swung last night’s Florence City Council gavel, wielfed by a white-bearded Mayor Alan Burns, who was clearly captured by the Christmas spirit during what would be the council’s final meeting of the decade. “I hope for everyone in our community that honesty and respect will enter in all our decisions and ideas. As for my gift to the community, I will do my very best to keep Florence and its citizens proud of its government. On a personal note, I would like help taking down the Christmas lights and decorations,” Burns said.


December 2009


“The Weather Outside is Frightful”

Area residents wary of recent freezing weather should prepare for more frigid temperatures. Temperatures dipped into the 20s, and even the Siuslaw River began to freeze near Mapleton, something that hadn’t been seen since 1972. This didn’t stop Santa from traveling via U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River’s motor lifeboat on his way to holiday celebrations in Old Town.


“Volunteers Hustle to Prepare Annual Christmas Baskets”

Soroptimist International of Florence has sponsored the annual Community Christmas Basket for the past 30 years, providing food boxes and toys to thousands of local families and children during the holidays. More than 100 volunteers distributed 550 food boxes to local families.



“Florence Fa-La-La-La-La’s”

The central Oregon coast was filled with holiday cheer this past weekend as A Dickens Christmas 2009 got into full swing. Celebrations included Florence Food Share’s Empty Bowls, caroling by local Girl Scouts in Old Town, Mayor Phil Brubaker and the 2010 Rhody Senior Court lighting the community Christmas tree, visits with Santa and the Elks Lodge’s Victorian Christmas Dance. Shop owners, including Ellen Traylor, in Historic Old Town Florence dresses in Victorian-era clothing “to enhance the spirit of a Dickensian holiday season.” Dunes City held a crafting day as children meet Ellie the Elf. Nouvelle Lune Ballet and Youth Company present “The Nutcracker” at the Florence Events Center. Siuslaw Public Library Youth Services Librarian Gayle Waiss held a Holiday Craft Extravaganza for kids to create gingerbread houses and gifts.


“Polar Bears for Charity”

Siuslaw High School’s Polar Bear Club dove into Woahink Lake on Dec. 12 to raise money for Charity Water, a nonprofit organization that provides fresh drinking water to people in developing countries. “Since it’s been so cold, we thought we could start a new tradition at Siuslaw and get a Polar Bear Club together,” said adviser Dean Chambers.



“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”

Good Stuff Antiques produced Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County’s Holly Jolly Follies variety show. The jolly performance included dancing reindeer, a roller-skating snowman, penguin tap dancers, and a saxophone-playing Santa.


From all of us at Siuslaw News, a joyous holiday season.