Nov. 21, 2018 — Tomorrow marks the beginning of Florence’s holiday season, with Thanksgiving opening a weekend filled with holiday cheer and community spirit.
People are welcome to attend Kiwanis Club of Florence’s free Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Florence Elks Lodge 1858, 1686 12th St., from noon to 2 p.m. This annual feast allows everyone to eat a restaurant-style meal prepared by Kiwanis and community volunteers. Donations of canned food and money will be accepted, but are not required.
Then, on Friday, people are encouraged to start their holiday shopping with Black Friday deals. Those hoping to support local businesses can “shop small” on Saturday for Small Business Saturday. Created to emphasize keeping money local, the “shop small” movement gives back to consumers with promotions and refreshments.
“By shopping small and local, you help support your family, friends and neighbors,” said local business owner Jo Beaudreau, who is promoting Small Business Saturday in the Siuslaw region. “Keeping things local allows communities to thrive. Your dollar does make an impact.”
A Facebook event page has been set up to encourage people to explore area shopping.
Saturday is also the official beginning of winter holiday events in Florence, with the Florence Festival of Trees, Light Up Your Boat Float, Florence Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting and Seacoast Entertainment Association’s “Christmas Roadshow” with Ken Lavigne.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Florence Festival of Trees Family Fun Day at the Florence Events Center is open to the public to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, take pictures with the holiday Bassett Hounds and preview Christmas trees hand-decorated by local businesses that will be auctioned the next day at the Festival of Trees Gala of Giving. Wreaths and small trees will also be available to purchase Saturday. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be face painting with Kassy Keppol of Dragon Art. There will also be refreshments.
All proceeds of the Festival of Trees go to the Oregon Coast Military Museum.
Then, from 3 to 7 p.m., the Port of Siuslaw Marina will be lit by the twinkling lights of the Light Up Your Boat Float display on the Siuslaw River. People are invited to call the port to be included — all boats, canoes, rafts and even kayaks are welcome. Even U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River plans to be involved
Light Up Your Boat Float is sponsored by the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, Breen Marine and the Port of Siuslaw. Contact the Port of Siuslaw at 541-997-3040 to reserve a slip for your boat.
At 3:30 p.m., Santa Claus will officially arrive on a Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue firetruck in Historic Old Town, heralding the beginning of the Florence Holiday Festival on Bay Street. Featuring carols, hot cocoa and cider and hay rides, the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s family-friendly event also highlights Old Town merchants.
Local singers with Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshops (CROW) will perform live music at 4:30 p.m. As a special treat, nationally-touring swinging crooner Ken Lavigne will sing beginning at 5:30 p.m. before heading to his SEAcoast concert.
Florence Public Works and community volunteers will finish putting up lights, evergreen garlands and the holiday banners by this weekend. All eyes will be on the Siuslaw River Bridge Interpretive Center at 6 p.m., when Florence Mayor Joe Henry flips the switch to light the city’s 23-foot living grand fir and the light displays in the park.
“Our Old Town area is getting decked-out for the holidays,” said Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan. “Last year, the City of Florence planted a gorgeous live tree for our town to enjoy year after year.”
Those wishing to warm up but continue the celebration are encouraged to attend a free pre-concert talk with Lavigne at 6:15 p.m. at the Florence Events Center. Tickets are still available for his “Christmas Roadshow” at 7 p.m.
“Come on out to be a part of the festivities!” Hannigan said.